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145 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely good value, oddly Addictive
Be aware that THIS model is the cable controlled version and NOT a USB model.

Your reviewer is a 59 year old Electronics Design Engineer.
----
The kit is well presented and the instructions are better than I expected.
IF you have the space, you should place each metal part in an easily identifiable pot so you do not, like me, have to keep...
Published on 7 July 2012 by Rick

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Robot arm
This was bought for an enthusiastic ten year old. He needed some adult input but it was really only two afternoon's of putting together. Once done, there is little play value but it's a great educational process during the construction.
Published on 28 Feb 2012 by Mr. K. M. Craig


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145 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely good value, oddly Addictive, 7 July 2012
By 
Rick (Suffolk, England) - See all my reviews
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Build Your Own Robot Arm (Toy)
Be aware that THIS model is the cable controlled version and NOT a USB model.

Your reviewer is a 59 year old Electronics Design Engineer.
----
The kit is well presented and the instructions are better than I expected.
IF you have the space, you should place each metal part in an easily identifiable pot so you do not, like me, have to keep referring to the page with the drawings on.
Some screws are very similar and if you force in the wrong one, you are done for the day.

The motors are small and decent quality AND with suppression capacitors which is a nice touch too.
If I have one a criticism here, it is that, at the end you have two motors with Blue/Black wiring BUT, in fairness, this is small beer and I mention it for completeness.

If you have experience with other kits, such as TAMIYA models, you will feel right at home.
Don't rush at the first stage.
The temptation is to build the 4 identical LOOKING gearboxes but wait, there are parts for 5 gearboxes and ONE of the 4 housings needs a different colour OUTPUT gear, which is in a separate bag and you MAY at first think it is missing.

Also... There are 10 plain gear shafts in the kit and ONE of these is 2mm shorter than the other 9 and this short shaft is needed for the gripper.
Use it in ignorance in the wrong place at your peril !

The kit simply falls together though it may tax the younger builder with the desire to rush the job.
A warning here.. Do not over-tighten the self tapping screws as more rotation after the solid 'stop' is now drilling a hole and if you need to remove the screw for any reason, the plastic 'thread' will be severely weakened for next time.
It's plastic.. Not a titanium composite, treat it gently.
Also... Use the right size cross head driver. IF you need to PUSH to stop the driver 'camming out' of the head, it's the wrong size.

Electrically, the kit is very good quality.
I was impressed that the weak solder joints of the wire to the battery terminals were secured with hot glue.. Nice touch. (Might use that in some of MY designs)

I followed the wiring instructions exactly, then decided I knew better and I reversed several of the motor directions by turning the plug round on the connector, because the motors seemed, to me, going in the wrong direction.
This is why some games have a "REVERSE MOUSE DIRECTION" because we plane flyers like things a certain way.

Now, some of the points to be wary of.
There are NO limit stops for the motors other than winding up the gears until they 'ping' or you stall the motor (unlikely as the gearing is VERY high, so a 'ping' it is then), or you break something, eventually.
Keep the 3 year old grandchild well away, it's a toy but not a TOY, OK?
If you damage a gear or two, they MAY be hard to replace.
The Manual suggests this is taken care of when the gears go "Da, Da, Da", (and the dog says, "Gnu, Gnu") so they are skipping (and wearing).
It's up to you.

The gripper is the thing to be gentle with in my view because the motors do overrun and the gripper can exert impressive gripping power (before things start to flex alarmingly).
Forget picking up eggs unless you like the mess. Matchboxes or soft things will protect the gears. To "Da, Da", or not to "Da, Da" that is the question ?

Likewise, do not try to lift the robot by the arm.. Hold it by the battery case and do not try to lift tins of baked beans. Stick to the weight limit. (100g).
Unnecessary load just hurts the gears, whatever the manual says.

Technical Notes.
You MAY want to run this from a mains power supply and ditch the expensive D cells.?
You need two off, THREE volt power supplies, as the motors are 3 volts and the 6 volt battery is centre tapped so the motors can be reversed. (+/- 3v)
This is not a trivial task if you don't understand electrics or electronics.
The motors take around 1/4 amp each so with decent D cells, you can get bored long before the batteries flag.
Rechargeable batteries output a lower voltage than dry cells so be ready for a small speed reduction if you use them.
Changing batteries is easy.

I would LOVE to see an advanced version of this kit with potentiometers so I can determine the position of each motor as THEN, I can write some automated motion control for some of my PIC Microprocessor projects.

Note that the USB version of a similar kit just replaces the cheap switch box with a very expensive PC to do the same task, (and you don't even get the switch box as an additional option)
You will NOT be able to program a motion towards a fixed point and stop... Not at this price.

So... Final comments.
Brilliant executive toy.
Too fragile for a child (In my view).
Fabulous introduction to parallelogram drives and motion control.
It leaves me wanting a more 'deluxe' model with feedback, perhaps even stepper motors for that precision and maybe an all metal, cast and machined manufacture.

Worth the money, easily.
Now, for some wheels, radio control, and a camera !!!
best wishes
Rick
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72 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant!, 23 Oct 2010
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Build Your Own Robot Arm (Toy)
Love this to bits.. So well designed and made. A bit complicated to put together but excellent and well detailed pictures. Watch out for the gear shafts (small silver pins that the gears rotate on)as there is one that is 4mm shorter than the others and this one is needed for the last gripper assembly.. (had to take it all to bits to find it as had used it in the first motor by mistake!)

10 out of 10!! everything worked first time and is loads of fun picking up bits and pieces!!! I teach electronics and am going to buy another so i can have one for the kids to see at school!

you wont find it cheaper anywhere.. Maplins wanted 35.. cost including postage was 31.50 but could have been cheaper with free postage.. but i wanted it before half term.. Made it in about 2 hours and was so impressed by the design and how well all the pieces fitted together.

Buy it and have fun!
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70 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never mind the kids - IT'S GREAT!, 2 Jan 2011
By 
DC (Horrible Hayes, Middx, UK) - See all my reviews
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Build Your Own Robot Arm (Toy)
At last! In a world where even Meccano has been dumbed-down and lego has become just another mechandise outlet comes a construction kit that provides a couple of hours of pure, challenging, thinking-boy's joy!

This is meccano with attitude. You need to actually think during its construction, which, let's face it, is a rare treat these days. Unlike Meccano though, when the fun of construction is over another vista opens up when the robot is plugged into a PC and you control the servos through the USB software interface. This is probably the point at which younger children will become engaged. Even once the initial novelty of robotic control has waned a little, interested uses are left with the option of devising instruction sets to automate a sequence of motor tasks to produce a repeatable action.

Remember that this thing needs 4 chunky D-size batteries to power the motors. It would be a nice touch to build in a mains DC adapter ... but if you are inspired by this product then a trip down to Maplin should sort this out in an afternoon.

Some people have actually marked this product down because the construction is challenging. Stick with your Toy Story Lego then .. and keep the noise down. Some of us are trying to concentrate! :)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very absorbing, but pretty tough, 5 Aug 2013
By 
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This review is from: Build Your Own Robot Arm (Toy)
This was bought for my 9-year old son. He found it quite tricky - the instructions are very good, but need very careful attention, as the difference between some parts are very minor. A number of times he found that he had to undo what had been done as he'd used a 'similar but different' part. That said, this would interest a 12 year old+ i would think - and the end result is very solid, works well from a remote control unit and looks the DBs. It is rated "Age 10+" and I would say that is spot on for solo build, or a bit younger if you want to co-build.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to robotics, 29 Aug 2009
By 
J. Burke - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I bought this arm because I thought it might help me to learn how to build and control robots. Was it successful? It was because I could watch how the motors moved the individual sections of the arms and as i had assembled the gearing units it made me realise that I might have to build my own robot limbs in a different way. There is no substitute for having a piece of kit working in front of you especially if you have followed instructions and assembled it yourself. The only negative point is the lack of robotic terms to explain the degrees of freedom the unit has, what is pitch yaw and rotation when applied to robotics. You can find this out on the internet of course (I purchased books) but this information should be included in the box, I think.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun robot kit!, 15 Feb 2011
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Build Your Own Robot Arm (Toy)
The robot arm was fun to build for me & my ten year old daughter. The parts were good quality and fitted together well and the instructions were very clear. Remarkably, the arm worked first time without any hassle or additional tinkering. Not sure about the educational value, but otherwise well worth it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robot Arm, 30 Dec 2010
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Build Your Own Robot Arm (Toy)
Bought two of these for my two boys aged 14 and 11 and they both really enjoyed building them. Very minimal amount of help or supervision was required other than slight trimming of the flash, and advice on how to follow the instructions and use the correct screws. One sliight drawback was the lack of any spare screws which are small and could easily get lost, however as long as you are sensible there should not be any problem. A great educational kit both for building and for playing with not to mention the confidence that will be gained by building this robot arm.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not so easy to assamble for childreen, 15 Jun 2010
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Build Your Own Robot Arm (Toy)
It's a fun toy but it needs some skill to assemble and expect the kids to be bored until they see it ready for play. It's a power consuming toy so you will see it running out of batteries after some days, despite it uses high capacity batteries. I tried to make a power adapter but it needs a dual source (+,- 3V and 0V) because it uses half of batteries for every motor to reverse the polarity in order to change the direction, so I ended by using new alkaline batteries. Otherwise, the toy has much fun both for kids and for elders.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funtastic whilst fun lasts, 27 Dec 2011
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Build Your Own Robot Arm (Toy)
My sons (7 and 5) received this at Christmas. Thankfully, it was kindly put together before delivery as there was absolutely no way I would have been able to deal with 100 minute parts. It is an intelligent kit with five (5) movable parts using a mouse or keyboard. It also has a searchlight just behind the grips. My sons were fascinated by the grips and managed to move all the stationary from the pencil jar to the table edge before dropping them 'from the great height' to the floor. All manner of things could be picked off any surface. It comfortably held rulers, pencils, marker pens, and could probably move heavier materials. Note that this toy uses 6 'D' batteries - the cylindrical ones. My 7-year old is already wiring up a 9V dc mains connection.

The downsides? Firstly, the sheer amount of parts. Secondly, like other novelty toys, its fun value expired within 30 minutes. Hopefully, they'll remember to play with it tomorrow.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing educational value, 24 Jun 2013
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Build Your Own Robot Arm (Toy)
I bought it for my 12 year old nephew, who really enjoyed a crash course on Mindstorms some months ago.

He needed a little help, especially to trim the edges of the plastic pieces, but following the instructions very carefully (that's critical, as the most helpful reviewer points out) it can be done. It took about 3 hours.

The educational value is really great. You have to assemble the gears for the motors yourself, so my nephew got to see (and build!) what's inside those Lego Mindstorms motor blocks. The kid sees how a lot of small parts (some of them, tiny) put together can become a complex machine.

A note about fancy electronics: this is the version based on simple switches and a cable and in my opinion the educational value is much higher than a fancy electronics box with an USB. You have to assemble the controller yourself, and that includes screwing contact plates on a printed circuit closing the control box with the levers on top of the plates. That means that the kid gets to see (and understand!) how the controller works. Battery->switch->motor. There's no magic, closed components, involved.

So, if there was an USB version as well, I would recommend THIS ONE instead.

In short: this is an amazingly good kit. The value of course is in building it, and it doesn't have the flexibility of much pricier stuff like Mindstorms. But the goal of both is so different. Mindstorms are great to teach higher level principles like how to put sensors and actuators together, but with this small kit you aseemble all the gears and all the tiny pieces yourself instead of just connecting modules.

The only downside (relative) is that the gears will wear out easily unless handled very carefully. Hence, durability will not be that good. But it's pointless. By the way, this relative weakness could be solved by selling a "repair kit", a bag of spare wheels, or even including it with the kit. Moreover, the weakness would turn into more educational value: learning how to troubleshoot and repair a mechanism.
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