Category: Sphero 2.0 robot

A New name for our site – Motors and Robots are Fun

Today we have added an extra dimension to this site. The prior blog mentioned that after a few years of enjoying DC motors some people with a technical “bent” begin to feel a draw toward robotics. I went on to explain that robotics will draw mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and computer programmers together since it requires the skills of all three to bring to life a robot – whether for educational purposes, or a personal robot, or an industrial robot. As such, I have added something to the title of this website now calling it “Motors and robots are fun.”

I trust that you have enjoyed the content on building direct current (DC) motors and even the brushless DC (BLDC) motors on this site. All of the videos have provided actual, real-working motors that my children and me have built. The directions for building a basic DC motor on this site is free and can be downloaded for any boy scout, girl scout, or Science Fair participant.

Looking back over the past two years, I have noticed that robotics has crept into my writing so that is the reason why I have added it to the website. As a STEM-oriented dad, I have seen my own children move into careers where science, technology, engineering, and math are required and am glad to see them earn an above average salary. Two are in banking using spreadsheets and calculations, one is a materials engineer, and one is a mobile app developer. My only daughter is a dancer/tumbler/aerialist performer on a cruise ship and has nothing to do with STEM subjects (even though she was admitted to a major university as an engineering student!)

So, today marks a change of sorts. Hopefully, I’ll have additional content that you will like. If it piques your interest, you may invest in some of the robots that I plan on mentioning and videoing for you on this site. For instance, one of the more interesting robots is the Sphero 2.0 robot. There are now four versions rolling around homes, playgrounds, or obstacle courses today. There is the first Sphero 1.0, followed obviously by Sphero 2.0, then Sphero SPRK, and the latest which I observed a few weeks ago called the BB-8™ App-Enabled Droid™.

ijgi_sphero_bb8On the left is the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid made by Orbotix who has also made the other versions of the Sphero robot. Also, Orbotix makes a robot called Ollie which is a cylindrical robot that moves similarly to Sphero although Sphero is a sphere not a cylinder.

Orbotix’s definition of Sphero is that it is a “ball gaming system.” It’s a white-shelled waterproof ball that encases a robot that can be controlled by iOS or Android phones or tablets.

Sphero can be controlled using a number of free apps (I use the Sphero app and the Sphero Companion app from the Google Play store). It can glow more than 16 million colors and is recharged via an induction charger (the same technology used to power an electric toothbrush). Three hours of charging will give an hour’s worth of play.

You can control the ball up to 15 feet away and even use the ball’s in-built accelerometer to control action on-screen in the fun Exile game. Other apps include Draw & Drive, where the Sphero will follow the direction of whatever you etch on-screen; and Golf where your phone becomes a virtual club.

The BB-8 is a unlike any other robot. It has an adaptive personality that changes as you play. Based on your interactions, BB-8 will show a range of expressions and even perk up when you give voice commands. The person controlling BB-8 set it to patrol and we watched it explore autonomously around the room. He also said that he could create and view his own holographic recordings.

Here’s a brief video of my first attempt to get Sphero 2.0 activated and driving over the ramps that come with the orb. Sphero is very responsive and it moves differently on hardwood floors versus on carpets. I used an Android phone, downloaded the Sphero 2.0 app, searched for the Bluetooth connection, and when found was able to get the app working within 15 minutes. Here’s the video of the first run!

 

 

Pros:

  • An easy to use robotic ball that is lots of fun. The SPRK (Schools/Parents/Robots/Kids) version adds a level of complexity. It is a see-through robot to give kids an inside look at how it works.
  • A range of apps boost interest in the robot and helps students see the relationship between

Cons:

  • The cost of $125 may be too costly for some. I got mine from eBay using the “Buy it Now” for $80.

Our view: Sphero is a remote-controlled robot that is a fine first robot for both children and adults alike. It will provide hours of fun, both on land and in the water.

 

Quote for the Day:  “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist, the opportunity in every difficulty.” — L. P. Jacks

 

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