Solarbotics BeetleBot Review

So here it is: yesterday I received a white package from the cool guys at Solarbotics, and now I'm ready to assemble and review the BeetleBot!

What is a BeetleBot? Well, as they say at Solarbotics, it is "the simplest TRUE robot you can build". And this is true: you only require a screwdriver (included in the kit, wow!) and an hour of your free time to enjoy this clever bot. The BeetleBot goes forward until it hits an obstacle (thanks to the antenna bump-sensors), then he turns around and keeps going in the opposite direction.

So let's open the box! You'll find:

The kit unboxed.
  • An acrylic baseplate, top shell, switch spacer
  • 2x switches
  • 2x wire antennae
  • A power switch harness
  • A switch harness
  • 2x CC Motors
  • 2x aluminium motor brackets
  • 2x Rubber Tires
  • A piece of double-sided tape
  • A tail spring
  • 2x AAA battery packs
  • A bunch of screws
  • 3x 5/8" nylon spacers
  • 6x leg wires
  • A stickersheet
  • A screwdriver 
and of course the instruction manual.

The instruction booklet is very useful and has detailed pictures to help everyone getting this kit well-assembled. This "screw-only" kit is very easy to mount and it doesn't require dangerous and complex soldering, only basic handskills with a screwdriver! Here is the Beetlebot in the early phases of assembling.

The bottom Side
The Top side

Here's the BeetleBot after connecting all the wires. They are the only "brain" of this minimal bot. The circuit was originally designed by Jerome Demers as a science-fair project. The bumper switches make the motors change the battery pack they use, running forward or backwards. It's all well-explained in the instruction manual.

After about an hour, my evil BeetleBot was ready to run freely and scare everyone who tries to get in his way!

Wow, this bot is really scary. Next time I'll pick the "good" theme of the kit :) .

Sometimes the bot kept spinningaround in circle (at first I liked it), but thanks to the troubleshooting section I fixed it at once (one antenna was stuck and kept the switch closed).

What I really liked of this bot is that it's well-documented (big pictures, clear instructions and a good sense of humour) and it is really, really easy to mount. This kit is perfect to give as a present to a young boy, he will surely enjoy assembling it and understanding how the bot works, giving him a good start in the big world of robotics.

Finally, here's the BeetleBot in action. I've made a little enclosure to avoid it to run all over the house (this thing is amazingly fast!).

For additional info, go to the Solarbotics BeetleBot page.

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