This conversation initially started in our Google+ group. I've copied the conversation to our community forums, so that the whole community can participate in the discussion:
I was wondering if any dojos are programming robots at their sessions.
We had some parents at our dojos suggest robotics, but I wasn't sure what is the best and most affordable robotics kits out there that could be the most accessible to the broadest age range and have some discreet activities that can be accomplished within a 2.5 hour session with pre-made tutorials. I know that sounds like a lot to ask for, but I guess I'll start with that as my wish list.
We do robotics in bray. Although not as well as we should ...
On the road at the moment I will type a more complete answer later.
Unless you can explain that no one is making housekeeping robots, they might be a tad disappointed.
Out kids our building a robot wars robot
In CoderDojo Athenry, the Raspberry Pi group led by Declan built very inexpensive robots using a Pi, a couple of motors, a drive chip, and a lunchbox. Details here:
Note that there are links to slides and code in the blog posts.
The PiHut EduKit 3 is provides a simple set of motor's, shield and instructions that can get you started.
We have 5 of the sesca robot kits from mechatrons and have had them for a few years. We have quite a few sensors on each robot - line following, bump, distance, light ...
We also made a 2mx2m transportable maze with moveable walls to use for practising navigation.
Couple of issues we face:
After a few years of being transported around they are starting to fail.
The motors are cheap dc motors and are not balanced. This makes it impossible to drive them in A straight line without constant sensor course correction which makes them frustratingly hard to use for younger kids.
And of course our perennial issue of not having found the time to "sushi-ise" our weekly activities which puts a big burden on mentors ... maybe this year.
I'd like to source better robots actually. Same sensors but one of the absolute must haves in my view is "will reliably drive in straight line for at least 10m"
Belgium Ieper, Roeselaren,... we have kids experimenting with Arduino and some cheap robotics kits. But we also use Lego Mindstorms. These are not cheap, but very strong and easy to use and program.
Here is a pretty cool site that tells you what you need, where to order for cheap and how to build the robot. It also has loads of colourful images that explain the different components etc. and there is a free PDF that tells you all about Arduino and Raspberry Pi and being a DIY MAKER. It's a pretty cool open source guide
Also check the Raspberry Pi page:
Also agreed that "PiHut EduKit 3" is a good start.
We also have a pre-made robot that you can program with a language similar to blockly that we use at the Docklands Dojo from time to time.
Before you start buying stuff, I suggest inquiring at high schools, colleges and such in the neighbourhood. See if you can borrow something that they're working with. We've borrowed arduino based Boe-Bots from a college nearby, for which they provided some custom made, but easy-to-use software. Also Lego Mindstorms might seem unaffordable, but is used by many schools, often lying around doing nothing.
Yes! In the "Twin Cities" CoderDojo (Minneapolis Saint Paul Minnesota, USA) we use both the Finch Robots and our on "CoderDojoRobot" design based on Arduino. We have had reliability problems with the Finch robots so we are looking into doing more on an open Arduino platform. We have got the price for the Arduino Kit Robots down to under $30 USD and we are working on an on-line manual.
All the code and books are on git. Here is a blog post:
@Dan-McCreary Awesome thanks for sharing those will have a look
@Louis-Wolf totally a good idea RE the lego mindstorms, the are so expensive but some schools do have them available to loan.
On a side note: I just got a Pocket Chip, basically a €9 computer in this DIY console. Still tinkering with it for use in a Dojo context.
Regarding documentation: I would like to give you all the link to the open drive of CoderDojo Belgium. You can find a lot of resources here (some also shared on KATA), including robotics with Arduino, Mindstorms, mBot,...
@Frank-Delporte those resources are awesome! Will be having a look at the arduino projects myself Did you get to add them to kata? If not do mind if we add them for the community?
Ooh... nice! @Frank-Delporte, do you mind if I pick out the ones that aren't already on Kata and put them up there?
hey @Pete-OShea and @Philip-Harney, some of that info is already on Kata, but can't keep up to post all as this is contributed by different coaches of CoderDojo Belgium. So feel free to add it to Kata because it's intended to be used as much as possible! In the true CoderDojo spirit
@Frank-Delporte Great! Thanks!
Has anyone used the GoPiGo kit?
@Barry-Kennedy Nope, but this is similar for cheaper https://www.coolcomponents.co.uk/redbot-kit.html
Also have you heard about spark fun almost free day? loads of items to cost €0.01 on the 7/20/2016!
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