Choosing Your First Robot Kit

Congratulations, you finally decided to take the plunge and build your first robot! Now it is time to search for one that looks challenging enough, but still within your skills.

Deciding for a robot kit, especially if you are a beginner is a difficult task, because there are many options to consider before buying your first kit:

Budget: fix your budget before starting your search. You will be able to find good kits starting at less than 50$, but you can also be tempted to buy one of those highly sophisticated that can cook your dinner for 2 times your monthly pay. The good news is that the entry level kits are good to learn and provide hours of fun.

Experience: do you know the basics of electronics? Can you use a “hot iron”? If you have some experience building or fixing electronics, a soldering robot kit may a good choice. Even if you have never used a “hot iron” before, you can look for the number of parts, and choose one with a low component count; that will reduce the challenges while building the kit. But if soldering is not for you, there are kits that come with the electronic part pre-built, and you just have to do the assembling.

Time available: building your first robot will require some concentration and time. Pick a big project and you may loose interest before finishing, choose something too basic, and you will be bored. The solution to this is to decide in advance how much time you will like to spend to build it. A basic kit can be ready in two to four hours, but a larger kit will take weeks to complete.

Fixing problems will also take considerable time, and that is where your character will be tested. It is very common that after spending hours mounting a robot, it refuses to behave. Troubleshooting is one of the skills that a good robot builder has to master, and is part of the fun if taken as a challenge.

Control logic of the robot: the control logic of a robot is the brain of it. The techniques used to control the robot can be mechanical like the B.E.A.M. robots, using transistors, and for the more complex using their own microcontroller. Transistors kits are still accessible for the beginners, and give the hobbyist a good chance to learn basic electronics principles.

More sophisticated robots use an on board microcontroller, which is programmed to control the functions of the robot. This adds a lot of power, at the expenses of adding software development to the skills that are needed. They are also more expensive to build. (click to know more about robot hardware )

Kits are the best tool for learning by experience. Just get one, take the time, and enjoy!

Juan Pablo
PS: Don’t forget to send me a picture of your own creation.

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