Rapiro - Programmable DIY Robot Kit - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Rapiro - Programmable DIY Robot Kit

Author: kartben

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Independent Products

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?:

What were the biggest problems encountered?: I couldn't find a way to use any of the external power supplies I had at hand, and when you use AA NiMh batteries you *really* need to have fully charged ones, otherwise the robot will just not work or, worse, will move erratically at the risk of damaging the robot.

Detailed Review:

So, i must say that this Rapiro robot is actually quite fun! The fact that it comes as a kit makes it actually even more fun.

It took me around two hours to assemble the whole thing. It went very smoothly but when I turned my Rapiro on for the first time, I thought it was dying on me. You need to be *VERY* cautious with the batteries you put in there. That guy needs loads of current, and if you're not using fully charged AA 2400mAh batteries, the servos will move in awkward and rather impossible positions when you turn you robot on, at the risk of damaging some parts. I eventually figured that out, and was able to properly initialize the robot.

First thing you need to do is flash the sample app on the Arduino-like board. Good thing is that it also allows you to fine tune the initial angle of the servos.

 

I am sure the micro-protocol that is used in the sample app could be improved to include more complex commands, but given that the Arduino sketch seems to eat quite a lot of the available RAM already with global variables, I didn't want to play too much with the already quite nice set of commands (wave hands, walk, etc.)

 

Since element14 was kind enough to also provide me with a Raspberry Pi, I soon jumped to the fun part: trying to hook the Rapiro to the internets to turn it into an Internet of Things device that I could control from anywhere in the world. I am writing a blog post on that topic that I will publish later this week, and I also hope to show this demo during From Arduinos to Raspberry Pis, IoT-ize Your Embedded Projects with Open IoT software! next week! Please register if you haven't already!

 

What I liked about the Rapiro

  • I really love the look of that lil' guy. Nice job there!
  • The Raspberry Pi integration is very nicely done, and even with a WiFi dongle I am still able to power both the robot itself and the Raspberry Pi out of 5x AA batteries, how cool is that?!
  • In just about 4 hours (2hrs of assembling the robot + 2hrs for writing the few lines of code and Web UI, I think) I had a Rapiro that I could control over MQTT, and that's just awesome!

 

... and what I didn't quite like

  • The build quality is OK, but I am very worried by the quality of the servos on the long run
  • It's not trivial to fit all the servos cables in the "body" of the robot, and I actually damaged one of them (not enough for it to be a real issue though) – you should really be extra cautious when closing the body and be careful of where the cables stand when putting the 4 screws.
  • From time to time, even with charged batteries, you power on your Rapiro and it just takes a random initial posture (again, at the risk of damaging servos or body part) – not sure what's wrong here...
Anonymous