ChickBot is the low cost, entry level, fully functional robot.
There are plenty of high spec robot kits available to buy – but as the most are £50 / $75 or more, so questions arise:
Is it affordable for the household?
- Will the child make good use of it?
- Can schools buy enough for all the class?
- Is it durable?
- Is it vulnerable?
- Is it expandable?
- Is it repairable?
- Is it easy to program?
- Does it need assembly?
- Is it easy to assemble?
Having taught robotics to 9 to 16 year olds in class and as an after-school club, I found the kids were getting very little hands on time with the robots and no possibility of practise at home. So I set myself a target of building an affordable, easy to program robot with commonly available parts over summer 2015.
So here’s ChickBot:
At around £17 / $25 for an individual kit or £10 / $15 for bulk purchase, it’s very affordable
- If it’s only used a few times, it’s not a huge waste of money
- Schools can buy 5 times more robots for the same money
- It’s solidly built – no flimsy parts, nothing that snaps easily
- Unlike some robots costing 6 times more, you can’t just plug something in that breaks it and the batteries can run flat without fear of losing any programming ability
- The add-on possibilities are numerous with all sorts of extra low cost sensors and output devices available
- Made up of a few basic parts, they can be quickly swapped over if they suffer any damage
- The brains of the robot are an Arduino or Raspberry Pi – both computers have a huge range of support materials & tutorials online
- Part of owning a robot is assembling it yourself – it shows how the mechanicals fit together and enables a better understanding for modifications or repairs
- It is quick & simple to assemble
So what do I get for my money?
At around the £10 / $15 price point a club or school can buy a big box of bits and split them out into kits. Typically you’d buy enough for 50 kits plus spares, half for the classroom and half to sell (at any price you set).
Some soldering is required to build the driver board and you’ll need a some 3mm plywood or plastic to create a chassis for each robot from supplied plans.
If you buy the parts direct from the suppliers and can wait for the typical 14-21 day delivery times from Chinese vendors, you can get the price well below the £10 / $15 price point.
If you want a single kit with all the soldering done for you, it’s around £17 / $25.
To assemble a kit, you’ll need a pair of scissors.
ChickBot is powered by 4 AA batteries. We love rechargeable batteries.