Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Robotics: "Hexapod Monster" Robot Kit Review

I recently purchased a kit that assembles into a 6 legged walking robot with IR obstacle detection. The Taiwanese manufacturer, CIC, produces the kit for about 25 American dollars. It can be purchased here. This was my first kit bot, and I was very satisfied with what I got for the price. Don't expect a high performance, sophisticated machine like a multi-servo powered walker with this kit. You can expect however a very well produced and complete entry level robot that is very fun to build. This walker
comes with 2, 3V motors and gearboxes, die cut plywood chassis parts, and all the electronics to control the motors and provide simple obstacle detection via an IR LED and sensor. The kit went together very easily and was a lot of fun to build. A few of the mounting holes in the chassis were a bit off position, but that was minor and easily alleviated. Pay very close attention to the electronic parts diagram and schematic when soldering the pre-etched board, because it's very easy to make a mistake. What I like most about this kit is its potential to be hacked and easily improved. I would really like to add my favorite microcontroller, the BS2 to this platform and then add sensors, etc. Higher torque motors would be a cool addition too. In conclusion, I think this would be a great project for someone who is looking to enter the robotics hobby world but doesn't want to spend a lot of money. In my opinion, this is probably the least expensive robotics kit on the market that actually has expansion capabilities. This would also be an excellent kit for learning how to solder. Check out the build pictures and video of this "monster" in action below:

The package

Contents of the kit. Impressive for $25.

The gear boxes. Strong but light steel frame with color coded gears.

Plywood chassis with gear boxes attached