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Topic # 242910 19-Nov-2018 17:31
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My Son (9) is very interested in programming and Robotics. Last holidays we sent him to a holiday program where they did a few different types of things, mostly involving Mbots. 

 

A friend of mine in the US is very involved with his two sons in Robotics, competing and whatnot. He recommends the Lego Robotics systems. They are a fairly eye-watering $600 here. That's not out of the question, but something we would have to be very sure was the right path and had plentty of expansion before we would spend that kind of money. 

 

 

 

From what I have seen the Mbot kits vary from about $150 all the way to $600. 

 

 

 

Wondering if anyone had recommendations as which route to head down, that gives him the best chance of longevity?

 

 


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  Reply # 2129698 19-Nov-2018 17:50
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If you do choose to go down the Lego Mindstorms route then keep your eye open for deals.  Toyco does 20% off regularly - sometimes that excludes some sets but occasionally it will apply to all stock (was very tempted at 20% of the big Millennium Falcon set but still couldnt bring myself to pay the discounted price)


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  Reply # 2129727 19-Nov-2018 18:17
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Arduino is quite venerable these days, but introduces the idea of a tiny computer that can be put onto a platform that moves around. Couple this with some RC servos modified for continuous rotation and you have a simple motor + driver combo. Micro switches are easy to hook up for bump detection.

Build a simple chassis with plywood or plastic and you can put something together for less than $50.

If you have any Lego, especially technical Lego, you can epoxy your own motors to their gears and you get even more versatility.

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 2129734 19-Nov-2018 18:31
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I had a look at the lego mindstorms education kit after seeing it at a school. $3k a pop. Certainly looked the business though.




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  Reply # 2129865 20-Nov-2018 00:45
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Another vote for something Arduino based. Mainly because the Arduino ecosystem is so vast, that it is unlikely that your son would outgrow it.

 

Get something like the Jaycar wall dodging robot and maybe combine it with the linker system and Ardublock from Jaycar also. As that allows him to easily add sensors and outputs without needing much electronics knowledge. And a GUI flowchart style means of programming the Arduino. 

 

Another option (possibly in addition to the above). A raspberry Pi, that is running Open HAB or another home automation system. As it could be used as an introduction to the "Internet of things". Simple stuff like remotely measuring temperature, switching lights on and off ect.

 

And maybe use it as a base for building a simple robot. As you could probably kludge Open HAB to be able to use the open HAB app to remotely control the robot over the internet.

 

 

 

Back in high school, in 5th form electronics class, we had to (in groups of 3). Build a robot using Lego Technic and a Basic Stamp microcontroller. That can navigate around a simple oval track. The track was a black line on the floor on a white background. And our robots had to use 2 LDR sensors to detect the line, and control a left and right motor to keep the robot following the line.






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  Reply # 2129894 20-Nov-2018 07:08
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I had Lego Mindstorms as a kid - it was the yellow RCX.

I think it was one of the best things I had.

Arduino is cool - but building a model is ten times harder than a Lego model. An arduino kit would be much better slightly down the track.

With the Lego block programming I learnt basic logic (if, then, else), understood what a 'routine' is, all that real good base knowledge you need to be successful with any proper programming language.

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  Reply # 2129900 20-Nov-2018 07:38
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You could pickup a used NXT of TradeMe for a couple of hundy.  Start him off with that and upgrade to an EV3 a bit later if he has a taste for it.

 

If you do go down this road check with the seller that the kit is complete (you don't want to end up not being able to build all the advertised models) and confirm that the LCD screen works.  They have a bit of a tendency to fail particularly as they get older. (Usually fixable with a screwdriver and a soldering iron but you don't want that hassle straight out of the box.)





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  Reply # 2132409 23-Nov-2018 09:19
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Lego Mindstorms 20% off at Toyco today



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  Reply # 2132415 23-Nov-2018 09:25
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Thanks for the heads up! Appreciated.

 

 


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