Overview of glands for robotics with children

    UPD: the material below received a lot of sensible comments, so it was completely redesigned: habrahabr.ru/company/makeitlab/blog/252015

    Now we are preparing a new platform for children's classes. In the process of preparation, the question arose of choosing the platform on which we will train. On this occasion, we have prepared a review of existing platforms with justification for the choice. The document, it seems, turned out to be interesting, I decided to publish it here. Some things are very simplistic, as the text is intended not only for hardcore techies.


    The most common children's designer of robots and the most common designer in general. In Russia> 80% of children study on Lego. It has the following advantages:
    1. Large methodological base in Russian;
    2. Not a very high qualification is required from the teacher;
    3. The designer is very durable, children rarely manage to break something.

    1. Initially, it is still a children's designer, not intended for serious tasks;
    2. The designer is closed, incompatible with anything, the manufacturer artificially creates obstacles to the fact that it was possible to cling to it components of other designers and to develop their own components;
    3. You can program in either visual programming environments or in C ++.

    In our experience, Lego is good for children up to grade 7, for those who are older, something else is better.


    In general, it repeats the ideology of Lego. Compared with it, it has a number of interesting additional elements: pneumatic drives, chemotronics, ionistors, electrochemical supercapacitors, etc. There are special kits that simulate various kinds of production. If Lego is a general developmental toy, then fischertechnik is more engineering developing, but still a toy.

    There are other designers, whose main purpose is to show children some separate interesting engineering elements. They have a rather narrow application; we did not study them especially.
    The cost of Fishertechnic roughly corresponds to the cost of Lego.


    Arduino is the most common platform for adult robotics and electronics, the second most common among children. The development is completely open, it has many branches.

    There are three areas of work for children with Arduino:
    1. Assembly of electrical circuits. The corresponding sets are supplied by Amperka: wiki.amperka.ru;
    2. Assembly and programming of the simplest machines, such as: amperka.ru/product/turtle-chassis . Basically, these cars are engaged in the fact that they ride along the drawn line (line followers);
    3. Assembling more complex mechanisms from designers. (Constructors for arduino are a separate big topic, we will dwell on it below.)

    Advantages of Arduino:
    1. Openness and compatibility with everything in the world;
    2. Versatility: both sixth graders can study it, and adults carry out serious projects;
    3. Relatively low price.

    1. Comparative fragility (this is an open electronic board with a small level of protection against incorrect connections);
    2. You can program in either visual programming environments or in C ++. Parallel processes, image processing and more are not supported.

    Raspberry Pi and analogues

    Raspberry Pi is a computer running the Linux operating system that has the dimensions of a Bakov card. You can run the same programs on it, do the same calculations as on a desktop computer (there are video outputs, audio outputs, USB). Small size coupled with low power consumption allows you to install it on mobile robots.

    Raspberry supports the Python programming language. This is the most promising educational programming language. In the west, educational institutions are gradually transferring their curricula to it. Support for this language, in our opinion, is the main advantage of Raspberry.

    The benefits of Raspberry over Arduino are described above. The disadvantages are as follows:
    1. Compared to Arduino, Raspberry has about twice the cost;
    2. Connecting external devices (sensors, motors) to it is much more difficult if you do not use special expansion modules.

    Raspberry has many analogues, among them Raspberry is the cheapest and most common. The latest version of Raspberry in its characteristics is not much inferior to analogues, so we work with it.

    The most promising direction now is the combination of Raspberry and Arduino. The options are as follows:
    1. Integration of arudino connectors into a board similar to Raspberry ( for example ). Thus, Raspberry loses its disadvantage of the inconvenience of connecting external devices;
    2. Connection to the original Raspberry special adapter with Arduino connectors ( for example ). This gives the same advantages as in the previous paragraph, plus additional flexibility appears: you can unhook this adapter and use the original Raspberry connectors (rarely, but it is also more convenient with them). In addition, if one board burns out, this will not prevent you from continuing to use another;
    3. Integration of the Raspberry processor, processor and Arduino connectors ( http://www.udoo.org/ ) into one board . In addition to the advantages from the previous paragraphs, such a scheme gives the advantages of a dual-processor circuit; some things are much more convenient to do on it;
    4. A special Arduino board that has a connector for connecting to Raspberry (since both projects are open, they interact perfectly with each other). In addition to the advantages of the previous paragraph, this gives flexibility.

    The cost of the first option in the west is about $ 50, the second option is $ 75; the third is $ 100; the fourth is $ 60. (To get the cost in Russia, these prices need to be multiplied by about 2.) At the same time, the latter option provides the greatest opportunities and flexibility.

    For example, the following usage scenario can be implemented: first, when a child is just starting to do robotics, he works with Arduino in a graphical programming environment; Further, when it grows out of the graphical environment, we connect to the Raspberry arduino, and the child begins to program in Python, use various additional features. If the expensive Raspberry is not available, the child can program the existing arduino in C ++.

    Mechanical constructors for Arduino and Raspberri

    The most famous is Huna Tor :
    In fact, this is an old Soviet metal screw designer (by the way, in addition to arduins, he also has his own controller). A similar constructor is suggested by Trick: blog.trikset.com/p/blog-page_6355.html

    In our opinion, the most promising is the recently appeared Multiplo constructor . Unlike other designers, his main parts are not metal, but cut out of three-millimeter plastic. Due to this, they can be cut independently on a special machine (especially since the 3D models of parts are laid out in open access, an open source project). If a special machine is not available, parts can be cut by hand with a jigsaw and drill.
    In addition to screws, Multiplo rivets are widely used in plastic; therefore, assembling a constructor is much more interesting and faster.

    The cost of Huna with Arduino on board is roughly equivalent to the cost of Lego. The cost of Multiplo with Arduino on board is about one and a half times lower.

    The advantages of screw designers over Lego:
    1. Children develop fine motor skills;
    2. Nowhere in the industry are fasteners used like in Lego, everywhere fasteners are screwed.

    The disadvantage is that on the screws the assembly of the designer is somewhat slower and less interesting.


    We settled on the arduino + Raspberry Pi + Multiplo constructor.

    Until the seventh grade, something else is needed, we have not studied this question so far.

    If the task is to instill interest in some narrow industries, then you need Fishertechnic or an analogue.

    If the task is to teach the children themselves to cut and print parts, then it is better to take Multiplo as the basis.

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