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Burngate
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Re: Romotive Romo - a turtle

Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:42 am

In the "Projects List" thread, dmq posted this, which looked interesting, particularly as an idea better suited to a model A Pi, but also its early learning possibilities. Enough so for its own thread.

dmq said:


Have you seen this little guy?  His name is Romo.

Image all the fun we can have.  http://romotive.com/meetromo



It reminds me (naturally) of the '80s Logo turtle. And therefore has obvious kidergarten education application possibilities.

Maybe a bit expensive? $99, and shipping to UK adds $40!

But interfacing to R-Pi would (I hope) be easy.

It uses the same power connector as our Pi, so may be using a battery of a compatible spec - a small mod would allow the Pi to get its power from Romo! - if the Pi doesn't need the full 5V for its audio out, then as long as Romo's battery has enough oomph to drive the SoC (and the GPU should be virtually shut down since there would be no video output) it should be good to go with a model A Pi.

The more I think about this the more excited I get! Just going out to join the Romo fraternity!

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scep
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Re: Romotive Romo - a turtle

Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:20 am

I have to say that whilst the Romo has a cool factor becuase it uses your phone, if you are using an actual computer as a control unit instead then there seem to be lots of more capable devices around. The Romo doesn't really seem very capable in comparison to, say, the Finch robot. Here's me C&P from the other thread:


Talking of turtles, the Finch robot always intrigued me as they were specifically designed to teach CS concepts and programming. Dearer than the Romo but is a proper bot with a load of sensors on board (temp, light, accelerometer, obstacle).

It's USB HID based, takes power from USB, the firmware is open, programmable in lots of language etc. It even has an oldskool pen holder for proper turtle graphics . Interesting…


Of course the Romo can use all of the sensors / cameras etc in your phone. But it needs your 400 quid phone strapped to it! And if you replace the phone with a Pi then you lose all the sensors and i/o… and you are left with what seems to be some motorised tracks.

N.B. Nowt to do with the Finch, don't even own one

slurp
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Re: Romotive Romo - a turtle

Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:14 pm

Ok, these platforms need an interface to work with the Rpi but they give you an significant order of magnatude of cost saving:

http://www.mindsetsonline.co.u.....id=1009885

http://www.mindsetsonline.co.u.....id=1009907

I'm probably going to build from scratch but expect drive to be of the order of £3, driver conrtollers £6 and wheels £1. It'll not be much to add a chassis (depending on materials / hand-cut vs. laser order), PCB for the Rpi interface with battery / voltage regulator.

Best regards,

Colin

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Burngate
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Re: Romotive Romo - a turtle

Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:06 pm

OK, I searched using other words, but forgot to try "turtle" !

These others you both have pointed to have their points, but ...

The Finch robot is sort-of good but ... it's the same price, and it's for teaching robotics. My concept was more for the kindregarten. Strap a Pi to it with wifi, run it from a bog-standard (Linux) computer. The teacher wouldn't need geek talents, and nor would the kids, and they wouldn't be learning high-level programming skills. The hardest part would be loading and running an 'ap'. First step: arrow keys move it forward / backward, or turn it left / right. Space-bar for pen up/down. Then they could move on to writing a "pre-recorded" set of moves - a program. Or get it to follow the mouse. All this would have to be allowed for in the ap on the linux control computer.

Yes I know you could set this up with a £400 phone. But why not with a £15 model A?

The Mindsets robots look nice also. And cheap - £13.88 or £8.39. But they're for building a robot. Kid buys it, builds it, plays for an hour or two, then puts it in a drawer and forgets about it. The fun was in the building. If you want to add remote control, you've got a whole lot more to do - get some protocol set up, interface it to the motors, so-on. Robo has that already.

You can already buy a remote-control car. My daughter had one 15 years ago. And it was a similar price. And you didn't need to build it. But it didn't get used much after the first couple of weeks. Because you couldn't do much else with it.

I see the Robo+Pi as something that the teacher brings out every year for a new lot of kids, to demonstrate / teach the rudiments of control, as was the original Logo-turtle.

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scep
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Re: Romotive Romo - a turtle

Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:24 pm

But the Finch allows all of that (it has it's own GUI if you don't want to program) plus:


2 servo motors, 2 light sensors, 2 IR distance sensors, a thermister, buzzer, 3 axis accelerometer and a multi-colored LED


Without a phone the Romo is just a motorised track as far as I can see?

The Finch was designed to teach CS priciples/programming interactively, not robotics per se - you can see this from the "assignments" dropdown on the site. I don't think that the Robo is a bad idea, just that there are other things out there that are much better suited to teaching kids computing.

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Burngate
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Re: Romotive Romo - a turtle

Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:36 pm

Yes, point taken (though it seems to be aimed at high school rather than younger)

Also, another plus is that the Finch is available now rather than March (where have I heard something like that before …)

Just looking again at them all, I think the Robo is the prettiest ... not sure what that says about me ...

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scep
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Re: Romotive Romo - a turtle

Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:42 pm

Burngate said:

Just looking again at them all, I think the Robo is the prettiest ... not sure what that says about me ...
They talk somewhere about the development of the look of the Finch so they've obviously thought about it, but it looks a bit creepy to me. (i think that the material reminds me of the bad robots in I, Robot )

slurp
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Re: Romotive Romo - a turtle

Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:43 pm

Burngate said:


<<SNIP>>

The Mindsets robots look nice also. And cheap - £13.88 or £8.39. But they're for building a robot. Kid buys it, builds it, plays for an hour or two, then puts it in a drawer and forgets about it. The fun was in the building. If you want to add remote control, you've got a whole lot more to do - get some protocol set up, interface it to the motors, so-on. Robo has that already.

<<SNIP>>

I see the Robo+Pi as something that the teacher brings out every year for a new lot of kids, to demonstrate / teach the rudiments of control, as was the original Logo-turtle.


The main point I was heading for was affordability, I accept that not all kids/teachers would want to construct some thing. You could tweak an expensive toy or work from a cheaper starting point.

There's no reason why a robot board couldn't be manufactured to support the "turtle" functions or to plug-in "standard" sensors. Personally, I'd been thinking about line followers that could also draw - inspired by this...

http://www.newscientist.com/bl.....terns.html

OK, that doesn't need the power of a Rpi, but neither does a turtle. Some thing like the PICAXE gives easy interface to IR remotes, a PC or Rpi could easily drive in place of the remote.

An on-board Rpi really come into it's own when you're using some "advanced" sensors - optical mice, web cams or other cut'n'shut USB devices.

I'm probably heading off topic now!

Best regard,

Colin

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