Since there are many Arduino robot kits available, it is important for one to know what to look for when acquiring a kit. For starters you should look at the ease of putting together the robot kit. Most of the kits are usually sent in parts that you have to assemble. Trust me, you don’t want to spend days trying to figure out where a certain screw goes or find out that you assembled the whole thing backwards once you are done.
The ease of attaching sensors and actuators to the kit should also be considered. Well, you can use the robot kit with the sensors and actuators that come pre-installed, but where is the fun in that? You should be able to add other sensors on your board easily and, if possible, without having to solder anything. This gives you versatility and allows you to maximize the usage of your robot kit.
Structural flexibility also plays a huge role in determining the Arduino robot kit to use. A kit that can be changed to different kinds of robots or used for a wide variety of functions enables the user to learn more when using it. It also allows the use of sensors and actuators in different ways, which is not only fun but also a good learning experience.
Microcontroller integration is another aspect that needs consideration. There are some kits that come with a microcontroller on-board, and others that don’t. With the microcontroller on board, you don’t have to purchase an Arduino board to control the robot kit. This also makes the kit compact since we don’t have to stack any arduino boards onto it.
Price is always a contentious issue, even with open source robot kits. It is always good to make sure that you get value for money. Expensive does not necessarily mean exemplary, nor does cheap mean mediocre.
The Parallax Arduino robot kit is an ideal electronics, robotics and programming learning tool. It comes with a Board of Education shield which plugs onto an Arduino board and mounts on the Boe-Bot robot chassis. Using the setup, you can follow some of the Arduino robotics lessons provided together the Board of Education Shield.
The kit comes with lights and speakers for status indication. There are also touch sensors for navigation by contact, phototransistors for navigation by light and infrared sensors to measure distance and follow or avoid objects. The wheels are driven using continuous motion servo motors. This enables easy tracking of wheel position. All these features make the robot ideal for preprogrammed navigation applications. An Arduino can be easily mounted onto the kit, thanks to the Board of Education shield PCB. The kit also comes with all the assembly hardware that is needed including a parallax screwdriver for fastening the screws. Therefore, assembling the kit is easy.
Another important feature of the parallax robot kit is that it comes with lessons on how to use it. The lessons have 40 hand-on activities that will enable you to learn how to use the different sensors and actuators on the robot kit. This makes the learning process quicker.
The Official Arduino robot is an educational robot kit that is designed with the sole purpose of giving users a platform to learn about programming, electronics and mechanics. It comes with an array of inputs that include five buttons, two potentiometers, 5 floor sensors, an SD card reader and a digital compass. The outputs include a speaker, color screen and two motors that control the wheels.
One of its main features is that it has 2 on-board Atmega32u4 microcontrollers. This eliminates the need for mounting external microcontroller boards onto the kit. The microcontroller on the top board handles the control functions of the robot, while the microcontroller on the bottom board controls the motors.
In addition to that, there is plenty of prototyping space on the robot. The TinkerKit connectors allow for expansion of the board without having to solder anything. There is also space for soldering components on the board, so users are not limited to using expansion boards only.
The numerous input and output devices on this board provide one with countless tutorial possibilities. Moreover, since the control board can be separated from the motor board, you can use the control board for other prototyping needs that don’t require motion.
Selecting best Arduino robot kit is not that easy because each kit has something unique to offer. However, since the main purpose of the robot kits is to help beginners learn about electronics, programming and robotics, we will settle on the ArcBotics Sparki robot. This is because it is the most comprehensive robot kit in the group.
The Sparki usually comes assembled and ready for use. Moreover, it has wireless control over Bluetooth as well as Infrared communication and has a wide array of sensors and actuators integrated into its design. Moreover, the kit comes with more than 100 lessons with practical exercises and has an active support and community for learners. Therefore, it is ideal for both learners and professionals.