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Mechatronics Zone

Open-Source Kits Put Robots in Many Hands

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naperlou
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Erector set
naperlou   10/11/2012 10:19:29 AM
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Jon, this looks like an erector set.  Considering the sophistication of many of our youth, this level of kit might be necessary to keep their attention.

The funding mechanism is interesting.  For small projects like this it is probably a good thing.  For one, it makes the business think about what it is doing in a structured way.

One question, though.  Why would a robot need a GPS?

Jon Titus
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Re: Erector set
Jon Titus   10/11/2012 10:39:25 AM
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I don't know why this type of robot would need a GPS, although someone will find a use for it.  I was tempted to support this effort and get a robot starter kit in return, but I already have too many projects underway.  Perhaps I'll jump in when the Multiplo robot "Erector set" becomes a commercial product.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Erector set
Ann R. Thryft   10/11/2012 11:45:33 AM
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GPS is fairly common in rescue robots, military robots, nautical robots and other autonomous robots that need to navigate on their own. It's also found in some remote controlled robots.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Erector set
Rob Spiegel   10/11/2012 12:45:36 PM
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Robots for kids young and older have become quite the robust market. A quick Google search reveals a wide range from simple Lego-like kits to more sophisticated projects. They are a contemporary version of the Erector kits. Nice to see.

Jon Titus
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Re: Erector set
Jon Titus   10/11/2012 2:22:50 PM
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Hi, Rob.  This project appealed to me because of the open-source hardware and software.  Anyone with the proper equipment can duplicate the robot parts. I bet schools and clubs could get a local firm to cut out parts on a laser cutter for free or for a small cost.  We could talk with kids all day about computer programming (yawn), but they'd rather have a basic "robot" that could move and figure out how to make it do something. The key involves excellent teaching guides, lab exercised for students, and tutorial info so the kids can learn more on their own and create thrir own projects.

Charles Murray
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Re: Erector set
Charles Murray   10/11/2012 7:43:40 PM
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Jon, I wonder how the capabilities of this system would compare to Lego Mindstorms. Could it enable someone to do robotic things that Mindstorms couldn't do? One big difference is the use of open source.

Jon Titus
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Re: Erector set
Jon Titus   10/11/2012 8:37:06 PM
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The Multiplo system builds on the popular--and inexpensive--Arduino-type computer boards.  Many third-party companies and entrepreneurs offer compatible boards for wireless control, servo-motor drivers, and so on, which makes the Multiplo more flexible than the LEGO system--at least in my opinion.  With LEGO's Mindstorms you pretty much get locked into LEGO products.

Mydesign
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Open-Source Kits
Mydesign   10/12/2012 1:19:50 AM
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Jon, it's a good idea to promote the business ideas. As of now robots are too far from common people and if some freeware or open kits are available, I think atleast half of the enthusiastic peoples may have a try.

ttemple
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Re: Erector set
ttemple   10/12/2012 8:08:29 AM
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Jon,

A little off subject, but have you followed the "raspberry pi" (http://www.raspberrypi.org/) thing?  I would like your take on it.  It looks like a nice educational tool.

Jon Titus
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Raspberry Pi
Jon Titus   10/12/2012 10:39:11 AM
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Hi, ttemple.  The Raspberry Pi looks interesting but I haven't bought one yet.  Many people and companies make excellent hardware. Students and teachers need good educational materials to go with them.  Unfortunately, not all companies or groups have the money or people to create such materials or to write them in a way that people find helpful.  Take a look and see if you can find good teaching/learning materials before you jump into anything.

I'll take a closer look at the Raspberry Pi.  Keep in mind that this board might not be a good choice for engineers who want to create a product around the board's Broadcom chip because Broadcom does not plan to sell the chip except to very large equipment manufacturers that can buy large quantities.

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