Once upon a time, robotics scientists were the only people who could design and create robots. Nowadays, “build your own robot” kits are available for anyone who wants to experiment and build a robot from scratch. Be it for children or students, robot-building is now simply a kit away. To help start a journey in robotics, several companies have brought out beginner-friendly kits that are readily available. If you have ever wondered about the best option for a “build your robot kit,” read on to find out the best choice for you.
Why should you build a robot?
Robots are all around us, and we rely on them for many of our daily tasks. We use robot vacuums and cleaners in our households. Robots in factories produce essentially all of the times we use daily. As time goes by and technology progresses, we can expect to see more and more robots everywhere we go.
Constructing a robot will give us an appreciation for the mechanics and technology behind these fascinating machines. Moreover, it will also help improve technical skills and engage the mind.
Things to know before building a robot
Building a robot is a fun and engaging activity. However, it will help to know some basic concepts before starting a robot-building project. Some of these are:
- Electrical Components: Knowing the names and terms for electrical components will make robot building simpler and faster. Resistors reduce the amount of current in circuits. Capacitors release a charge when there is a drop in electricity. Diodes keep the electrical current flowing in one direction. Transistors act as switch gates that regulate current or voltage flow.
- Programming Language: A beginner’s level understanding of embedded programming languages like C++, Python, or Java will be helpful.
What are the parts of a robot?
Before we begin the process of building a robot, let’s go through the parts of a robot:
- Chassis – the robot’s frame or “body” is called the chassis. It supports the entire robot and contains its parts.
- Sensors – These devices detect the robot’s environment and send out signals for reaction. Sensors are of different types – infrared, ultrasonic, heat, and pressure.
- Processing Unit – The processing unit computes the signals received from the sensors. The processing unit is a logic circuit for most robots.
- Actuators (Motor and moving parts) – The result from the processing unit shows up through the actuators. The three basic types of motors are DC motors, servo motors, and stepper motors.
- Battery – It is the source of energy that enables all the other parts of the robot.
Top “Build Your Own Robot” Kits for Students
Robot kits are available for all ages and levels of expertise. This section will explain the best robot kits for students.
Makeblock Ultimate Robot Kit
The Makeblock Ultimate Robot Kit is an easy-to-use kit that has everything beginners need to make a robot. This kit is a perfect “build your own robot” kit for students to learn robotics, electronics, and Arduino programming through robot building.
The features of this kit include:
- Option for building ten robotic projects or a robotic arm tank
- Aluminum extrusion structure
- Solder-less, easy wiring
- Bluetooth connection
This kit includes multiple mechanical parts, including:
This build-your-own robot kit for students comes with a comprehensive instruction manual. In the manual, the main steps for constructing the robots are:
- Check all components of the parts list.
- Follow the step-by-step manual for each type of robot
- Install wiring and batteries
- Install the Makeblock app
- Connect the robot to the app
- Play with your robot!
Bioloid STEM Standard Kit
The Bioloid STEM Standard Kit is suitable for both students and students. It uses the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) system to teach robot building.
The features of this build-your-own robot kit are:
- 7 example robots
- 21 weeks of education material – the kit discusses the principles of force, sound, differential gear, steering mechanisms, and more.
- Manual workbook with 16 more robot samples
- Remote controlled
The kit includes – all the hardware parts required to build the robots, one controller, a sensory array, and actuators.
This kit is unique because the robot models have articulate limbs with DOF (Degree of Freedom) abilities. Lynxmotion offers different types of robot kits depending on affordability. The kits come prepared with hardware, servos, and wiring. This kit has the following features:
- Phoenix 3DOF Hexapod frame
- Hitec 645MG servos
- BotBoarduino microcontroller
- USB Cable
The kit includes the following parts:
- T-Hex Aluminum body kit
- 3DOF T-Hex Leg Pair x3
- Hitec 645MG Servo x18
- SSC-32 Servo Controller
- 6″ Servo Extender Cable x6
Best Build Your Robot Kits
Robot-building kits come with child-friendly parts and instructions. Listed below are some build your robot kits for 10-year-olds and above.
Lego Mindstorms Robot Inventor Kit
This robot building set is the perfect build-your-own robot kit for kids and students alike. The Lego Mindstorms Robot Inventor software contains step-by-step building instructions and a comprehensive programming interface. The features of this kit are:
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Multiple motors
- Nearly 1000 pieces
- Streamlined Scratch and Python programming
The kit includes the following parts:
- 949 pieces
- Four motors
- Color and light sensor
- Distance sensor
- Intelligent Hub
- Over 900+ additional Lego Technic and System pieces
UBTECH JIMU Robot Astrobot Series: Cosmos Kit
The JIMU Robot is an award-winning robot building system that runs on a Blockly coding program. The kit comes with parts to build their three different robots or invent a new robot with the components.
The features of this robot include:
- Blockly coding challenges
- PRP (pose, record, play) function
- 360 degree animated building instructions
- App-controlled system
The part included in this kit are:
- 387 snap-together parts
- 1 infrared sensor
- 1 speaker
- 2 LEDs
- 5 smooth motion robotic servo motors
- Power adapter
The JIMU Robots can navigate obstacles, pick up objects, control light, show emotions, etc.
How to Build Your Telepresence Robot
A telepresence robot is a computer, tablet, or smartphone-controlled robot that users can manage from remote locations. It is a screen mounted on a wheeled vehicle. Telepresence robots enable users to move around a room and be virtually present.
Telepresence robots made by companies are often expensive and complicated to use. Building a simple telepresence robot is not hard and can be done with some basic items you can find.
Telepresence robots have some basic features such as streaming capabilities and mobility.
Follow these steps to find out how to build your telepresence robot:
- Tablet: The first step to making a telepresence robot is to get a tablet with a sizeable screen. The tablet will serve as the visual output.
- Remote control interface: The next step is to create a remote control interface that will connect the remote to the robot. This step is the most complex step of the process since it requires coding to control motors.
- Physical design: The next step is to design the robot’s physical structure.
These are the basic steps involved in building telepresence robots. While it may be good to experiment with making one from scratch, some companies out there offer DIY options. For starters, try this simple yet functional mini-telepresence robot for your phone.
Smartipresence: A Cardboard Telepresence Robot
Ross Atkins is the mastermind behind the DIY Smartipresence robot. Atkins describes the robot as “a robotic body for your smartphone allowing video callers to move around in your space.” The Smartipresence robot is an extension of the Smartibot kit.
The Smartibot kit comes with the following items:
- Three sheets of cardboard for different robots (regular Smartibot, Unicorn, and Teabot)
- Circuit board
- Battery box
- Two motors
- Two small screwdrivers
- Screws, bolts, nuts, and rubber bands
So how does the Smartipresence work? The first thing you’ll need to do is open the Smartipresence app and send the link to the people you want to call. Your callers will then appear on your phone screen and be able to see what the robot sees and operate it from their smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Making robots has always been entertaining. If you get bored from studies, doing a DIY to create a robot can be stress-relieving. You can even prepare robots from the items present in your house. You don’t have to spend much on the items to build a robot. This article has gone through the various elements required for building your robot for both kids and students, along with instructions for building telepresence robots. Now that you’re ready with the basic knowledge and references for where to get your robot kits, use this opportunity to venture into the field of robotics.