Rated as one of the IEEE Best Robot Gifts for Christmas for the last two years, we wanted to take a closer look at the Robotis Ollobot Play700 kit. With this great kit you can build four different robots; choose from the scorpion, a car, a dog or a windmill. All of these can be controlled with your mobile phone or tablet (iPhone, iPad or Android device) via Bluetooth, which is easy and a lot of fun.
The kit is packaged in a sturdy resealable cardboard box with several bags of rugged plastic parts, as well as an easy-to-follow assembly guide with instructions for building each of the four robots. Also supplied is a printed track that you can use for line following/avoidance experiments - always a hit (you can also experiment drawing your own line-follow track).
As with many project kits in this space, everything revolves around the central Bluetooth module. It houses the main electronics, the motor, and three AA batteries. Each of the projects is assembled around the main control unit, using removable plastic rivets. All of the pieces can be used by children; however, the recommended age is 8+ years.
Using the assembly manual is quite easy as it includes pictures for each step. It shows what parts you’ll need for each step, and then additional pictures indicate how to connect the pieces together. It’s a similar feel to building Lego projects.
Of course, we managed to get a rivet or two into the wrong hole. If you do too, don’t panic; you don’t need to get the electric drill or an arc welder! A simple plastic rivet removal tool is helpfully provided. Slip one end of the tool under a rivet and lever it out. It won’t be damaged and can be reused. To test their sturdiness, we even dropped several parts on the floor. Well, not intentionally, but you understand, right? No damage occurred. Pleasingly, there were no missing parts either!
Once you’ve built your robot, download and install the control app. Pair your robot with your phone/tablet’s Bluetooth (instructions are provided in the user guide) and you’ll be able to control your creation using the simple graphical interface of the app. The scorpion, car and dog use four direction buttons, which appear on-screen.
We built the car first. It moves at about 0.5m/second so it won’t damage your furniture, pets or children. We also built the dog, which has a most attractive ‘face’ - just like a puppy!
We did take the odd assembly mis-step (probably from rushing and not reading the instructions fully either, which is probably an accurate representation of most real-world problems), but none are serious and it’s not hard to work out the solution. If you put rivets in the wrong place then it’s simply finger problems and no fault of the assembly instructions or the provided parts. We give the assembly manual a big thumbs up.
DISASSEMBLY OF PROJECTS
This is really an easy operation using the supplied tool. We did find some of the rivets somewhat difficult to remove at times, due to their location. For this reason, younger children may encounter difficulties, but a little parental supervision will overcome any such challenge.
Each of the four robots in this kit is a lot of fun to build. The dog in particular is really cute. Everything goes together without much fuss, yet still provides some tactile experience, and enough of a challenge for a feeling of achievement upon completion. Using them is fun, and pairing them with your phone or tablet is simple. This kit would make a great addition to the Christmas list for many kids who have an interest in robotics or electronics. For something even more challenging, there are also more advanced kits in the Robotis range, using similar principles.
Grab it online from Tribotix: