PREVIEW: IronBot – A Kid-Friendly DIY Robotics Kit
Joining our household this month is the IronBot Home Edition kit from RoboSpace. The IronBot is a kid-friendly robotics kit that has some serious hardware for young robot enthusiasts.
In the box is a full color illustrated manual in both Chinese and English with plans for three different robots, and lots of robot parts. The body is comprised of an aluminum frame with a fantastic looking paint job – mine came in red. The parts are lightweight, yet sturdy. The servos that give the robot life are hobby-grade, and use standard servo connectors so they can be easily replaced or upgraded should the need arise. There’s a good bit of hardware here, and everything is accounted for in the manual and small items such as screws are bagged and tagged in zip-lock pouches.
After going through the manual and deciding which robot to build with my son, helping him with the first few steps and showing him how to use the tools, I left construction to him. The kit includes a magnetic tool that holds the screws in place for you while you build, which made the construction simple. The only problems we ran into during construction were that the screws can strip easily, so try not to over-tighten them, and at some point they decided to use a different hole pattern on a few pieces than what was indicated in the manual. This ended up not being an issue though as everything still went together as it should. In a little less than an hour we had a fully constructed robot. Just add a smart phone and you’re ready to boogie!
“Isaac”, the Android and iOS app for IronBot, is easy to use and works over Bluetooth for wireless programming and control. Kids can control each servo individually to program a series of poses, and then combine the actions with voice control prompts, facial expressions, music, and speech, using the simple XLink block-based scripting interface. This allows kids and adults with no programming experience to create advanced interactions with their IronBot. The app also acts as the robots face, providing facial expressions and text-to-speech capabilities to really bring it to life.
Overall the IronBot is a great robotic kit for kids and the young at heart. It’s fun to build, easy to use, and built well enough to last. Look for it soon!