Best Robot Kits for Beginners
Beginners in search of the best robot kit to learn about robotics have some excellent choices. The lower cost of sensors, circuit board manufacturing and microcontroller chips allows the creators of current robot kits to offer a fairly sophisticated robot for a reasonable cost. A good beginner's robot kit should teach the robot builder about controlling a robot, how sensors are useful for a robot, embedded microcontrollers, robot power options, and a little about programming the robot. A beginner kit should not require the robot builder to be a programming expert or require any soldering. In addition, kids beginner robot kits should have a robot body that is easy to assemble. Here are some of the best beginner robot kits on the market:
The BOE-BOT is a simple, but fairly sophisticated robot kit offered by Parallax. The instructions for this kit guide robot builders through assembling the robot step-by-step. During each step builders will learn the function of each part, including how sensors work, how to program the Basic Stamp microcontroller using the free Basic programming language from Parallax, and more. Programming is transfered directly from a computer through a serial or USB (depending on the version of the kit) port to the robot circuit board. The basic programming language is very easy to learn, even for people who have never programmed. If users do no want to program, the example code is available from the Parallax website or copy it directly from the .PDF version of the manual into the programming software. This kit requires no soldering. Everything is plugged into the provided breadboard on top the robot.
The "Robot Building for Beginners" book from David Cook is one of the best beginner robot books on the market. This book introduces the concept of building a simple robot called the "Sandwich". This robot uses simple electronics and some basic sensors to move around. Two greatfeatures which make this a great option for beginning robot builders is the cost of the robot and the information provided in the book. Newbies to robotics will enjoy the simple instruction in the book and learn many new concepts.
The world-famous Lego Mindstorms robot platform has many fans. It is also a very solid beginner robotic platform. Construction of the robot is as easy as assembling a Lego kit. Programming of the Mindstorms is performed graphically on a computer, with the provided software from Lego. There are extra sensors and accessories for the Mindstorms platform to add functionality.
The Scribbler 2, now known as the S2, has built upon the entry-level Scribbler robot platform to add new features. The S2 is a pre-assembled robot that also is preprogrammed with many common robot routines so users can try it right out of the box. The robot is pre-programmed with line-following, object seeking, object avoiding, light seeking, and more programs that allow different types of manevering. The S2 is a good beginner robotic platform for those who do not want to spend the time building the robot and who only want limited expansion in the future.