STEAM Toy Review: Robobloq Qoopers 6-in-1 Robotics Kit
We’ve looked at a few robotics kits here before, but the recently released Qoopers kit from Robobloq seemed fun and a little different. Boasting and LED matrix, ultrasonic sensor, and an Arduino-based control unit it seemed it may be a little more hacker-friendly than the others we’ve tried.
Robobloq claims this is a 6-in-1 kit, but what you’ll soon find out is that most of the builds are similar minus one or two component positions. It’s not such a big deal however, as there is a good deal of variety in the all metal parts provided in the kit so with a little creativity you can create a lot more than six fun and crazy robot designs.
The kit is packaged well and everything is neatly organized in the box. Nuts and bolts are clearly labelled, and some basic tools are provided so you can start building right away. Opening the app on our tablet my son and I started with one of the more basic designs first. After a few minutes we had a solid little rover with decent obstacle avoidance capabilities thanks to the ultrasonic sensor.
Direct control is also possible from the app, and this is a lot of fun considering the little robot has some decent speed to it. Touch control doesn’t really compare to an RC joystick, but it works well enough.
For custom programming the app provides a block-based interface similar to MIT’s Scratch. This is a welcome addition as this sort of interface has found its way into many classrooms already, so there’s a good chance your child has seen it before and therefore can teach you how to use it.
Qoopers’ CPU is powered by an Arduino-compatible ATMega2560, for which Robobloq has shared the source code on GitHub. What this means is you can customize its firmware to your liking, or create entirely new routines in the Arduino IDE. Having access to a more C-like language sets this kit apart from other STEAM packages, since this kit can grow with you as your programming skills improve.
Looking back at the app you can write basic programs, play music, and change the LED display – pretty much what you’d expect – unfortunately there wasn’t much in the way of educational supplements or even documentation of the hardware included in the kit. It’s all just sort of “there”. They mention curriculum on their website but there are no links to materials to be found. There also doesn’t appear to be any documentation of the source code yet, but Robobloq assures me these things are coming.
With the added benefit of source code access, the Robobloq Qoopers kit has a lot of potential in the STEAM field. The hardware is sound and the app is passable, but what really caught my attention was the possibility of customizing the Arduino core. Now that the source has been released, this is a great kit for those wanting to jump into robotics head-first regardless of age or skill level. There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, but the challenge is part of the fun!
You can download and customize Qoopers’ Arduino core and all sensor module libraries here: https://github.com/Robobloq2018/Robobloq
Use promo code “TJOSHGUY” for $45 off your order of a RoboBloq Qoopers kit from Amazon! https://amzn.to/2Gq5pdA