23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Let's Compare Options Preptorial
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It's a little bit too bad that all the hype about this fine book clouds its real value-- as a great bridge between "toy" and "real" robotics. In order to attract (young scientists?) the promos promise that, without programming, you can create walking, talking, thinking robots from commonly found parts. I probably don't have to tell you to take that with a grain of salt. But I also don't want you to be turned off by it either!
The Arduino IS programmable, and this book DOES take you through some of the most up to date and recent applications from (now) several years of applications. You can see the Arduino here: Arduino UNO R3 board with DIP ATmega328P. Even more interestingly, check out the much newer Raspberry Pi here: Raspberry Pi Model B Revision 2.0 (512MB). The Pi is a fully featured "PC" that you can sync with Arduino to do many more advanced robotics projects, including home automation. This book doesn't detail that level of programming but does give many tips about the Arduino interface.
The third step up are "Robot Basic" type progams, and those are beyond the scope of this book. Toy robotics, like the very expensive LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 (8547) are a great introduction to robotics for kids. Far beyond that are "real" robotics including reverse kinematics, robot vision, etc. that apply to everything from drones to bomb disposal bots, moon rovers, etc. as well as industrial robots. This book gives a great transition between the two by detailing many "next level" aspects like motors and interfaces with the CPU, but not to the extent of losing non-math oriented types.
Advanced hobbyists will read this and initially think it is too basic, but remember, new capabilities like Arduino and Raspberry can take your robotics to a much higher level, DEPENDING on your willingness to get into the coding. A step beyond both Raspberry and Arduino is the Parallax Propeller (8 core multi board), which can interface with both Arduino and Raspberry. Details here: Propeller P8X32A Breakout.
Would the details here work as a father/mother-son/daughter project guide? Absolutely yes. Can you really get by with NO programming? Well, what's the point of Arduino if you don't program, but to be fair, yes-- realizing you won't get much intelligence out of your project with that limitation. Even the most basic line following (not to mention finding power when you run low!) requires programming.
The book DOES cover these details and many more, so there is a bit of a disconnect between the publisher's dumbing down description and the author's - book's actual value and advanced content. There is the "teachbot" the "tunebot" and the "telebot," at progressively deeper levels, and to give you an example of why this isn't a "toy" text, it does cover making your own circuit boards, robot vision, servos, remote control, and much more, tilting content well beyond the toy category.
In the end, the greatest value is the currency, in web reference resources, sources for parts, lists, and many more aspects that show this author has not only a ton of "real world" Arduino/Robotics pairings, but also very recent experience at a very advanced level in Arduino (not surprising given his Bonanza background!). The ideal audience would be an Arduino buff just moving into robotics or vice versa. If you're already working with both, you might find the "intro to the Arduino platform" (etc.) too elementary, but making your own boards quite challenging, and would still appreciate the references and tips. For the price, the currency of the info is well worth your investment even if you're an old Arduino pro.
Note on other gems: McGraw is excellent, but most of you know O'Reilly is quite tasty. If you want to augment this fine new text with some really amazing 2011 connections, including LOTS of real code (not pseudocode) and MANY screen shots, check out: Make: Arduino Bots and Gadgets: Six Embedded Projects with Open Source Hardware and Software (Learning by Discovery). Kimmo-Tero also is the author that describes the famous "mind controlled robot" in: Make a Mind-Controlled Arduino Robot: Use Your Brain as a Remote (Creating With Microcontrollers Eeg, Sensors, and Motors).
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