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Old 04-01-2011, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 7yo wants to build a robot. I have no clue how to go about this. My dh is deployed and I don't really know what tools he has much less have access to them. Can anyone recommend any good kits or somewhere to buy them? TIA

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Old 04-01-2011, 05:13 PM
 
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My first thought would be to ask the 20yr old in your siggie...

LEGO makes Mindstorms $$ but DS loves them, so once you make the initial investment you are kinda committed to the stuff.

When your DS says 'robot' what does he mean? Im guess its more than toilet paper rolls and pipecleaners?


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Old 04-01-2011, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My first thought would be to ask the 20yr old in your siggie...

LEGO makes Mindstorms $$ but DS loves them, so once you make the initial investment you are kinda committed to the stuff.

When your DS says 'robot' what does he mean? Im guess its more than toilet paper rolls and pipecleaners?


The reason I don't have access to my dh's tools is because the locks them up so that 20yo ds can't get them. When 20yo ds gets into them he leaves them strewn all over the place, out in the yard, wherever. They got lost or ruined and this is the only solution we have been able to come up with because ds will not leave them alone. So, he's not really an option for helping with the tools. That's why I am trying to find kits that don't need power tools or blow torches, just simple screwdrivers and wrenches and such.

Yeah, he's talking about computer chips and wires and power sources and soldering metal to metal and needing the power drill. He's been begging me to take him to Home Depot to get supplies but I don't even have any idea what supplies he would need. I don't want to buy a bunch of stuff that he needs power tools and a blow torch to put together.

Our house is so over-run with Legos that I don't know if I can stand anymore. I can imagine any robot ones must be expensive because just the little plastic kits cost quite a bit.

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Old 04-02-2011, 12:27 PM
 
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Is this the kind of project he's looking for? http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/bristlebot

You could also order a kit like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Toysmith-4574-Brush-Robot/dp/B002EWYEHW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301768737&sr=8-1 If you follow the amazon link in the "customers also bought" section, there are several other kid-friendly robot kits.
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Old 04-02-2011, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Possibly something from the Amazon link. I'm not having trouble finding kits if I google them. I'm wondering if anyone has used any and can give me some recommendations for specific kits or a place to buy good ones.

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Old 04-02-2011, 01:20 PM
 
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The problem with robot kits for little kids is that there's a disconnect between what most kids have in mind when they imagine building a robot, and what they can actually build. So they imagine building an awesome programmable servant, and what they can really do is something like a tiny robotic brush that wiggles across the floor, KWIM?

I would talk to him to see if he's more interested in having a robot he built himself, or if he wants to own a robot that he can program, and then sit down with him to look at plans on instructables and make, so he can get a better idea of what is do-able.

An alternative method would be to take something like an R/C car (or a couple), remove the body, and attach whatever pieces appeal to him to the moving parts of the car, which he could control with the remote. That might be a middle ground between a very simple robot built from scratch, and a ready-made store bought robot.
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Old 04-02-2011, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by onatightrope View Post

The problem with robot kits for little kids is that there's a disconnect between what most kids have in mind when they imagine building a robot, and what they can actually build. So they imagine building an awesome programmable servant, and what they can really do is something like a tiny robotic brush that wiggles across the floor, KWIM?

Yes, that is exactly what I found when I was looking. None of the kits looked even remotely like anything my ds had described. I can't really describe what he wants to make, either. It's in his head and since he's 7 he's not necessarily describing in a way that I can understand. I don't have any clue how to build any kind of robot from scratch.
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An alternative method would be to take something like an R/C car (or a couple), remove the body, and attach whatever pieces appeal to him to the moving parts of the car, which he could control with the remote. That might be a middle ground between a very simple robot built from scratch, and a ready-made store bought robot.

This is not something I'm comfortable or confident about helping him do, which is why I was hoping there would be a kit out there that would work. We don't have RC cars, anyway, and I can't afford to buy a bunch for him to take apart.

Maybe my dad can help me. He's coming to visit tomorrow. He's always been interested in such things. He builds his own computers so I bet he can at least get us started.

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Old 04-02-2011, 01:41 PM
 
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Something that might help would be for him to either draw or make a lego prototype of what he wants to build-- my husband and I built a robot and used legos to flesh out our ideas. At the very least it will help him get a better idea of whether or not what he is imagining is physically possible, and you and your dad will have a better idea of what he has in mind.

For the RC car idea, I was thinking you could buy something cheap at the thrift store, and then hot glue cardboard cut-outs on to the moving parts. Nothing dramatic. redface.gif
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Old 04-02-2011, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Something that might help would be for him to either draw or make a lego prototype of what he wants to build-- my husband and I built a robot and used legos to flesh out our ideas. At the very least it will help him get a better idea of whether or not what he is imagining is physically possible, and you and your dad will have a better idea of what he has in mind.

Yes, thanks. I sort of thought of that after I posted. I'm going to ask him if he'll do that.
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For the RC car idea, I was thinking you could buy something cheap at the thrift store, and then hot glue cardboard cut-outs on to the moving parts. Nothing dramatic. redface.gif

And, see, this is exactly why I said I have no clue. I don't even know what you mean by hot gluing cardboard cut outs. I'm not instinctively crafty and I have no experience making things like that.

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Old 04-03-2011, 01:56 AM
 
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You may find something here http://www.legoeducation.us/store/ 

 

Or this may just turn into one of 'those' projects where your DS is turned loose with some materials and the end result is an unknown at this point.

This sounds like a great adventure for DS and grandpa!

 

 

My son is 10 and can build almost anything with a powerpack from lego and his bricks. (we have endless bricks, standard bricks and many many 'special sets')  but the power functions packs are what really help him out.  I think they are like $25.00 or so and you can order them from lego dot com

 

 

http://shop.lego.com/ByTheme/Product.aspx?p=8293&cn=587&d=70 

 

 

http://shop.lego.com/ByTheme/Leaf.aspx?cn=587&d=70 


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Old 04-03-2011, 07:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The Lego stuff is so expensive! I'd have to get the whole family to chip in and make it an Easter gift or something like that. There were a lot of other robot kits I saw that were under $50. They weren't as elaborate as the Mindstorms robot, which looks like the type of thing ds was describing but they might work to start out.

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Old 04-03-2011, 08:34 AM
 
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One of the erector sets has an R/C base and you can build a robot shape on top.  The robot doesn't do anything except roll around and look cool.  Ds didn't get into erectors (all that screwing is a PIA compared to clicking legos) so I was going to glue a lego base plate on top.  But then the R/C base stopped working.

 

Ds thinks robots are very cool but R/Cs were more his speed.  He wasn't ready to get into programing but the immediate control of an R/C was satisfying.  I figure well get into Mindstorms in another couple years if we have the mean$. 


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Old 04-03-2011, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just saw those erector sets in our Mindware catalog. They aren't too expensive so I wouldn't be upset if we try one and ds doesn't like all the screwing. Turns out there are a lot more kits in that catalog that ds expressed interest in that are $30 or less. I can do one or two of those over the next few months.

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Old 04-05-2011, 10:15 PM
 
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ds has been on a robotics/electronics kick for ages.

there are lots of click together 'robot' kits that he's done over the years~bristle bots, solar cars, popcan robot, remote controlled gadgety robots, etc... sources were independant toystores, electronics shops, school supply stores, klutz books...

the lego nxt is pretty cool and versatile. some colleges use them bc they're capable of doing so much. and then there are first lego league clubs etc. there are some really cool youtube videos that show what people have gotten their nxts to do. we have a couple of books full of nxt projects that ds uses

the instructibles website is amazing for diy electronics and robotics ideas. really worth checking out. step by step instructions with lots of pictures. great for visualspatial kids

the hilltop homeschool blog had a post about a crazy cool robotic arm that they put together. we're not quite there yet. smile.gif almost...


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Old 05-02-2011, 12:00 AM
 
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Robotics sounds like a scary man's world thing, but it's not. Most commercial robots work a lot like lego (not that they want to tell you that) - plug things together and see what happens when you push the button.

 

First off, your son is doing well to know about robots at age 7, so his idea is probably pretty vague but that's ok. Most kids are going to be pretty happy to get anything to move at all, so you don't have to have the fanciest kit out there,  and you don't really need to understand how it works to have it move. phew.

 

Secondly, as you have discovered robots can cost a fortune. They don't have to, but once you're hooked it's hard to stop at one. That said, you can start small and build up slowly, and you can re-use existing robots for later projects so that each new idea is only a small addition. Unless you're really lucky, they are also probably not so easy to buy in a shop, so the internet is great.

 

 

I don't have any kids to teach robotics to yet, so I haven't tried any of the kits out there, but there are heaps to try. Some hints when you look at kits:

- "non-solder" will mean that you probably don't need any tools except for a screwdriver and some scissors. Soldering is beyond any 7 year old (at over 400 degrees it is way too hot and dangerous), but there are lots of alternatives out there.

- single purpose kits are a great place to start - they only do one thing, so check if that's ok with your son, but they are cheaper and simpler to build. These include line tracing bots, (http://www.thinkgeek.com/geek-kids/7-13-years/dc91/) and other similar things.

- if he gets really keen after trying some beginner kits, then it's time to start looking at the more expensive kits which can be reused like the lego mindstorms, because the small kits can add up eventually. I would probably wait a couple of years first to see if he's still keen though, because they are not cheap.

 

Some suggestions for kits:

http://www.owirobot.com/products/Frightened-Grasshopper.html

http://www.owirobots.com/cart/catalog/OWI-9874---4-in-1-Robot-Kit-non-solder-15.html

http://www.amazon.com/Toysmith-4M-Tin-Can-Robot/dp/B0014WO96Y/ref=pd_bxgy_t_img_c

 

Finally, robot fans are everywhere and we are very friendly. If you have trouble finding parts, or can't figure out an instruction, someone will be able to help. In America there are lots of local robot clubs, try to find one in your area - maybe someone will be able to spend some time with your son and you to get you started, or they can tell you about some local suppliers.

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