There are many ways through which one can learn programming. However, nothing beats learning from a robot. It is more intuitive and the practical nature of it enables learners to understand how to apply different sensors and actuators in real life situations. There are several open source-based robots that are designed for learners. A good example is the easy Arduino programmable robot by Arcbotics, known as Sparki.
As a beginner, one does not usually know much about the Arduino platform and can barely tell head from tail when it comes to selecting hardware parts. There are beginner packages online that come with hardware that is ideal for beginners, but one has to spend a lot of time connecting the hardware together. Sparki solves this problem as it comes with all parts intact and ready to play.
Sparki is an Arduino-based robot that is designed for everyone. It is easy to use, affordable and packed with numerous features that are ideal for beginners and experts as well. It comes fully assembled and with a pre-loaded sketch. Therefore, you can start using it as soon as you get it.
One of the unique features it has is Infra-red remote control. This is not a common feature on most open source robot kits available in the market. The IR remote controller works by rapidly blinking an infrared LED to the IR receiver on the Sparki. You can control different aspects of the robot, such as direction, gripper motion and some of the on board actuators, by pressing on different buttons on the remote controller.
Apart from the Infrared receiver, there are numerous other sensors and actuators that are on the Sparki. Some of them include:
There is also a Bluetooth module that you can use to give the robot Bluetooth capability. All these sensors and actuators allow you to learn more aspects of hardware programming.
In addition to the numerous hardware resources, Sparki is one of the most supported open source learning robots in the market. It comes with its own fully functional programming environment that allows you to code using C and C++. Also, if you are an Arduino fan you can still use the Arduino IDE to program thanks to the Sparki Arduino library. Younger programmers who might not enjoy programming using C or C++ can exercise their programming skills with miniBloq, which supports drag-and-drop block programming.
When it comes to tutorials you need not to worry, for there are many lessons available online for beginners and experts. Android lessons are also available. They train you on how to send commands from android apps to Sparki using Bluetooth. With all these resources, you will have so much to learn and lots of help while learning.
You can use Sparki for learning purposes as well as in robotic projects. If you are using it for learning you have to utilize all the resources that are on Arcbotic’s official website. The tutorials and lessons on the website will enable you to get started and advance your programming skills in a great way.
Sparki is a very important robotics prototyping tool. This because is hosts most of the sensors and actuators that are used to build robots. You can use Sparki to calibrate sensors for another robot, regardless of its design. Moreover, you can use it to test code for another similar robot that uses sensors and actuators that are available on the Sparki.
Some of the projects you can work on using the Sparki are Robotic projects that involve room navigation, line following robotic projects, IR remote controlled robotic projects, android app controlled projects and autonomous robot projects among many others. The kit can also be used to teach children how to program.
Sparki usually comes with all the extra hardware that is required to program and operate it. However, it is good for you to know what the extra hardware is, just in case something falls off the package while on transit – don’t worry, that won’t happen. So, apart from the Sparki robot, you also need a USB cable for programming, an IR remote for controlling the bot wirelessly, a Bluetooth module for adding Bluetooth capability, and a line following poster.
Sparki has many positives. However, nothing is perfect. Right now, the only downside that can be pointed out is the fact that Sparki comes completely assembled. This limits the amount of flexibility that one has when using the robot. There are some expansion ports available, but it would be awesome if one could fully dismantle and assemble the robot. This would also help beginners to know the pin configurations of the different sensors and actuators and how to connect them to the controller.
Arcbotics Sparki is an all-rounded robot designed specifically for learning purposes and prototyping, especially in the robotics field. Moreover, it is fully supported by Arcbotics, with numerous tutorials and well-designed programming environments. Therefore, if you are a newbie and you are eager to learn, Sparki is the robot for you.