Let's Make Robots!

What's in a kit? - Debate

Mike says here:

"Maybe you want to be more specific about the types of robotics that LMR is about. I've made a handful of Lego nxt robots (and will make a handful more I'm sure) because they are quick, easy and fun. I get the feeling that some people see this as frivolous because I've used neither soldering iron nor glue gun to produce them. The problem will be where will you draw the line. Are kit robots allowed if they plug together, or only if they need soldering? Are ready-made robots allowed eg Spyke?"

Really good point, Mike, and thought-provoking enough to start a blog inviting comments.

I'm about to post a kit robot. As an enthusiast, I raise the bar which defines what a "kit" is. I see the whole world as one big robot making kit and all the stuff lying around as the components. Even if the definition of a "kit" were to stop at a box which was bought off the shelf containing all the required components, I would feel entirely justified because it's going to get HEAVILY augmented. (He he!)

What do other folk think about kits appearing on LMR?

Are Lego robots and kit robots OKay or shold we be seeing more scratch-built stuff?

What defines a "kit"? Does it still classify as a kit if the assembly requires soldering or programming or drilling holes?

Should "devices" like WhizzyWriter and van Rijn classify as robots at all?

Let's debate! (Oh, www.letsmakedebates.com is not registered! Cool!)

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Good point Ant. Kits are great kindergartens.

As soon as I wrote it I started to want a clockwork robot. I think the both the power to weight ratio and the run time would make it very difficult to achieve. Clockwork could provide motivation power, but what about the sensors - a clockwork powered dynamo perhaps. Imagine how dirty that would be.

Enjoy mariage - it's just a word, not a sentence.


How about this one? Or this one? Or this one?

These seem to all be automatons, not robots. How do they react and respond to their environment?

One could build a clockwork/mechanical touch sensor. When it hits an obstacle, it starts/stops a clockwork motor that engages reverse gear or turns the steered wheels or something. The motor would need to stop once the change had taken place so that there was power left for the next event.


Trying to think of something mechanical that has responded to some sensed quality, and all that comes is some of Theo Jansens "Beasts" that would sense the edge of surf to reverse direction, or anther that during excess wind would try to drive a stake to hold the device in place.
thanks :)
If it has sensors and can respond to it's enviroment then I suppose it's a robot. If it has a maniacle personality and crashes the trains at a whim then it's a cool robot and I demand video of the crashes! (Adams family?). There are other sites dedicated to model railway automation and some of their ideas have great robot potential.
I don't have a problem with people using kits as long as they understand WHAT is being done and WHY. If they simply follow the instructions and download pre-fab code, then you have learned next to nothing and done something anyone can do. If you learn from it and extend its functionality then the kit has done its purpose. I will never down anyone for using lego or bought kits as long as they know what it is doing and why. Maybe they lack the funds to run out and spend $500 on parts and tools.

I define a kit as a set of parts that can be combined to make something. A junk box full of motors, sensor and even paint sticks could therefor be considered a kit. Although my robots incorporate things like softdrink bottles, fishtank tubing and windscreen washer pumps they also include meccano and tamiya kits. While some of my electronics is deigned and built by myself, some of it is kits that I only solder together because someone else has already done the hard work and there are no points for re-inventing the wheel.

Ultimately, while there are no points for re-inventing the wheel, there are also no points for taking a wheel where all the hard work was done by someone else and claiming it as your own. This site and it's robots are about the willingness to learn and creativity of the members, not the parts used.

Ok, so someone starts out following the start here robot precisely and creates a clone. If they learn from doing that and then go on to do something unique then creating the clone was only a first tentative step towards a much better end result.

If lego is what you've got then use it but dont be afraid to use some cable ties or double sided tape. Maybe make an interface for the lego processor so that you can add some servos or even replace the lego brain with another processor as you learn from this site. Throw in a few LEDs just for looks. Make some polymorph legs and arms to attach to and be driven by your lego.

I think that "kits" and pre-made stuff is okay as long as you contribute something yourself, like modding the kit or write some code to customise the thing and go "beyond" what you got in the box. If you are a code-wizard but can't use a screwdriver without poking your eye out, I still think you should be allowed here. I won't be impressed by someone showing a Lynxmotion hexapod with the factory code, but if you program it to do your dishes, then you've made something yourself, which is what this site is all about.

Regarding "devices", the question is more, what is a robot?  Whizzywrite I wouldn't call a robot, but it shows some techniques that can be used in robot making, so it's useful. A modified servo is not a robot either, but it can be used as part of a robot.