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Friday, June 15, 2012

Basic Robotic Tools You Need to Start a Hobby

OWI loves robotics so much because we see it as a constructive hobby that can provide a lifetime of learning and fun. A great way to get into this engrossing pastime is to start with some basic robotic kits. We have a number of kits suitable for the beginning hobbyist who wants to build a robot 'from scratch' without having to make a list of parts. Here are a few robots we would recommend you to consider:

  • Hyper Peppy: This kit, as with all of our products, comes completely unassembled with easy-to-understand instructions. Once built, it uses a sensor and programming to detect when it bumps into an object, and then backs itself up and turns left to avoid the obstacle! All of the components of basic robotics are demonstrated in this kit.

  • 3-in-1 All Terrain Robot (ATR): What's great about our ATR kit is that it can be built and rebuilt in three unique configurations: the Rover, which is unstoppable on rough terrain; the Forklift, a miniature industrial forklift; or the Gripper, which uses robotic arms to lift its load. It's easy to disassemble one mode and rebuild into another. Giving any hobbyist plenty of chances to learn the ins and outs of basic robotics.

  • Robotic Arm Edge: The best way to learn about robotic arms is by building our Robotic Arm Edge. After assembly, the Edge can be controlled by the user with a five-switch wired controller, which regulates five motors to help fully articulate the movement of each distinct joint. This award winning kit is another great way to jump right into the hobby head-first.

Parts and Tools to Build a Basic Robot From Scratch

Maybe you want to take a more challenging path and purchase individual parts and tools to build a robot from scratch. Here is a list of the basic tools and parts necessary for starting your own robotics laboratory.

  • Power source (batteries): There are a few common types available. Regular alkaline batteries are not very cost-effective, so consider rechargeable NiCad, lithium, or NiMH batteries instead. WE also sell solar power kits and salt water fuel cell kits that offer alternative 'green' forms of energy consumption.
  • DC motors or servos: The batteries will power your motor, which in turn powers the movements of your robot. DC motors are more powerful, but servos are easier to control. Consider trying both!
  • Wheels: The most basic kind of movement for a robot is wheeled, so it's generally considered the best place to start. Your motor will turn the axles. 
  • Robot power regulation circuit: Pretty much what it sounds like: a circuit that keeps too much power from surging through your robot and frying its delicate bits. 
  • Microcontroller: The brain of your robot. It's a cool-looking circuit board with various plugs and LEDs that can be programmed to command the "body" of the robot. The easiest ones to use are the ones with a built-in programmer, so look for those. 
  • Sensors (photoresistors and sound  sensors): These let your robot sense the world around them. There are various types, most of them cheap. They plug into your micro-controller. 
  • Chassis parts: These could be anything from sheets of metal that you can work into shapes with a home shop, to scavenged pieces from the local thrift store or scrapheap.
  • Various hand tools and fasteners: Velcro, strong tape, glue, screws, bolts and nuts, wrenches, screwdrivers and a hammer...the more tools and parts you have the more designs you'll be able to build.

Robots From OWI Robot

Getting into basic robotics isn't rocket science. With a willingness to learn, and a kit with the right parts, anyone can enter the fascinating world of robot creation. Contact us at for robotic kits and parts today!


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