Is this a decent robot arm kit?
March 7, 2021 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I’m interested in getting a hobby type robot arm. My main goal is to experiment with programming rather than focus on the hardware, so I’d prefer to get a kit (as opposed to picking individual parts and 3D printing stuff, etc) Does this look like a decent (reasonably priced?) robot arm kit?

Right now my main goal is to program a robot arm to play single notes on a toy piano, but I’d like to get something that I could use for other projects as well. Nothing too serious, certainly nothing professional. I like the idea of a kit because I won’t have to worry about picking the right servos, boards, etc, and I’ll be able to start programming right away.

The kit I linked to above seems kind of pricey, but it also has a special board and library that make it seem like it will be easy to get started with. What do you think?

(I’m totally open to alternate kit suggestions, ideas, etc.)

Thanks in advance everybody!
posted by hapticactionnetwork to Technology (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I haven't seen that for sale for a few years, as Tinkerkit themselves went out of business. Maybe Arduino bought the rights to it? Maybe the one you're seeing for sale is a knock-off? Sadly, the latter case is extremely likely: while open hardware does allow other manufacturers to make your design, there's also the "complete copy down to the PCB silkscreen for sale on AliExpress for 10% the price" knock-off.

It's a little bit pricey, but Tinkerkit was never cheap. It uses fairly solid servos: reliable, and replaceable when they fail. Because it uses servos, it won't be super fast or accurate. But also because it uses servos instead of stepper motors, it's under $1000. It also doesn't include a control board, and it's pretty much tied to Arduino as the controller, so factor in an Arduino Uno-type board into the cost.

I'm a maker and I used to work in hobby electronics retail, and I have to say that fully-kitted robot arms aren't as common as they were. Sure, if you go to the educational supply houses you can get 'em, but they'll be 5× the price while being maximally crappy. There are the tiny Kitronic arms for the micro:bit, then the $300 XYZrobot 6 DOF Robotic Arm Kit (XYZRobot themselves now seemingly part of N.Era AI), then a huge gap until you get the Sixi at 10× your target price.
posted by scruss at 2:03 PM on March 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks scruss! That’s so much helpful information. ❤️
posted by hapticactionnetwork at 8:22 AM on March 11, 2021

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