Capsela, and Erector.
Online and local retailer of
construction toys. These toys are
available both online and in the retail
store: Capsela; Eitech; Erector;
Fischertechnik; Geofix; Geomag;
K’NEX; LEGO Dacta; Roger’s
Connection; Rhomblocks; Rokenbok;
Well-established retail and online
seller of all types of toys.
The Jameco Robot Store sells a number of ready-to-go and
kit products ideal for student use.
The programming environment is
included free of charge, and there
are plenty of coding examples to get
you started. The BOE-Bot documentation is extensive, and the nature of
the programming language used by
the BASIC Stamp makes it well-suited
for middle school and higher students.
Other options exist, of course.
A relative newcomer is the OOBug,
from the makers of the OOPic
microcontroller. The OOBug ($160)
consists of an assembled circuit board
upon which motors and a clear plastic
body are mounted. Assembly time is
under 15 minutes. Whereas optical
sensors for such tasks as line
following or object detection are
often extra on other programmable
kits, they’re standard on the OOBug,
and ready for use.
Like the BOE-Bot, the OOBug is
programmed via a computer link
(specifically a USB cable), and the
programming environment is
included free of charge. The OOBug
further differentiates itself by
supporting music, sound, and speech
effects, as well as “social” robotics,
where robots may be programmed
to interact with one another, as well
74 SERVO 10.2008
as the environment.
Finally, for lack of a better term,
“learning system” kits encompass
those that provide more than one
possible robot design. The LEGO
Mindstorms NXT and Vex kits are
excellent examples. At the core of the
kit is a self-contained microcontroller
module, which provides for programming the robot. Connection to a host
PC is done via serial, USB, and — in
the case of older model Mindstorms
kits — infrared link. Motors and sensors connect to the microcontroller
module in various arrangements,
giving flexibility in design.
Then, using plastic or metal
parts, you build the robot chassis,
either by snapping pieces together
(as with LEGO) or assembling the
parts using metal or plastic
fasteners. In either case, you can
completely disassemble your
creation so you can reuse all the
components again. Learning system
kits encourage a greater degree of
design experimentation, and are
particularly well-suited for kids who
are mechanically inclined.
Other learning system kits
include Fischertechnik, K-NEX,
Offers a line of educational
electronics and robotics products,
including novel “snap-together” kits
ideal for younger children.
Company website for
Fischertechnik in North America.
Check out the Retail Outlets links.
General source for robot parts,
as well as a lengthy list of Erector set
kits of all shapes and sizes.
Hobby electronics retailer in
Canada also resells a number of
popular robot kits, including products
Jameco Robot Store
Reseller of a number of robot
kits, including the Tamiya remote
controlled robot construction set.
Online mail order. Check often
for deep discounts on LEGO,