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:MOVE mini buggy kit + microbit - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 9
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 9
Product was easy to use: 10
Support materials were available: 10
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 58 / 60
  • RoadTest: :MOVE mini buggy kit + microbit
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Other Arduino / Raspberry pi based kits.
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: NA

  • Detailed Review:

    Firstly I would like to thank element14 for the opportunity to participate in this road test, I have always wanted to check out the Kitronik :MOVE mini buggy kit as I have designed similar chassis using my 3D printer to build a bot, you can read more about it at - CupRobot .And, when this Roadtest was posted I knew I would apply to check out this professionally made kit. Basically MOVE mini buggy kit by Kitronik for the BBC micro:bit provides a fun introduction to robotics. The :MOVE mini is a 2 wheeled robot that is suitable for autonomous operation, remote control projects via a Bluetooth application or being controlled using a second BBC micro:bit as a controller via the Micro Bits radio functionality.

     

    Unboxing

    The MOVE mini arrived with a Microbit, and the box was well packed in a another element14 box for extra protection. The unboxing experience was nice, and the MOVE mini kit was in a green box as you see in the picture below. And the box also contained a quick start guide was a nice touch! , and this is ideal for students and kids just getting started with robotics. Note, Move mini kit does not come with a Microbit, you will have to buy one separately.

    On going through the quick start guide/Manual and after the unboxing you soon realize that  MOVE mini is powered by 3 AAA batteries to run the two continuous rotation servo motors and the Microbit attached to the base board(called the Kitronik :MOVE servo:lite board) via screws, and yes!! no soldering required . The speed of these servos can be controlled by simply altering the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) signal to the servo, which is easy to do using the Servo blocks in the Microsoft MakeCode Block editor. The buggy base board also has 5 x RGB individually addressable LEDs which are NeoPixel compatible.

    And based on some reading on the internet the chassis is made from laser cut Perspex and Acrylic Sheets. And if you interested in the weight of the kit with the Micro bit is ways about 230g.

     

    Blinking the addressable LEDS

     

    Now the first thing  that you on the Move mini base board after getting it out from the antistatic bag is the  5 addressable leds on the top of the board. This meant the first program you try is to light up the LEDS in your favorite color using the  https://makecode.microbit.org/ which gives you an editor like the Raspberry pi Scratch editor, this allows you to use blocks. To create a program below you will also need the Neopixel library which you can download from the advance section on the left. Once you done putting you block together hit the download button at the bottom of the Makecode editor and upload the hex file to the Microbit.  Now once the Microbit is flashed with the hex file hit button A for the color red and B for color green.

     

    {gallery} Testing the Neopixels

    Micro Bit screwed to the MOVE servo:lite board using the 5 screws

    Adding 3 AAA to the battery holder

    Upload the hex file to the Microbit

    Button A is pressed -- all red

    Button B is pressed -- all green

     

     

     

    Testing the Continuous servos

     

    Before you put the kit together it is a good idea to test your servos, to do this you can either download the Servo Library or the Move Mini library from the advanced section and create the program below and upload the new hex file to the micro bit. You can now hit button A to move the continuous servos and button B to stop.

    {gallery} Servo Test

    Attaching Servos to the base

    Upload the hex file to the Microbit

    Putting the Kit together

     

    Putting the Kit together was pretty intuitive, and if you have put any other type of kit together before, I am pretty sure you don’t need to look at the manual. The screws fit it perfectly to the bottom plate and the strength and stability of the kit is excellent for the speed at which the buggy can move.  Also this gave me a couple of design ideas how I can improve my 3D printed prototypes for the Continuous Servo Bot . All in all it took me about 10 mins to put the kit together. In addition , green acrylic pieces give the buggy a nice look, I think it would have been a good idea if we had the wheels with different colors , which I think will make it easier to explain concepts in the classroom.

    {gallery} putting the kit together

    Adding the Servos

    attaching the side plates

    Adding screws and nuts

    Side view of the Servo attached

    attaching the wheels and adding the base and the Microbit and attaching the servo cables

    Move Mini

     

    My gripe about the USB cable connector -The only one thing that I can grumble about this awesome/well designed kit it getting to the USB of the Micro bit once the base board is attached to the microbit, I have tried all the six usb cables that I have at home, which I got with my android phones and other devices over the years but none of the cable would fit, so the alternative is to attach the cable to the Micro bit fist and screw it into the baseboard so that you can download an test. But having said that, this has been clearly documented on kitronik website – “Once the Servo:Lite board is attached to the microbit there is a maximum clearance of 6mm for the plastic sheath of the USB cable, Our noodle cables and the cable which is supplied in the official Go pack both fit” , and here is the image from the website. My suggestion would be to use a thicker standoff and larger screws in length between the base board and the microbit. I think I am going to attempt and design a 3D printed part of this over the weekend.

    image from - https://www.kitronik.co.uk/5624-move-mini-buggy-kit-excl-microbit.html

    Using another Microbit to Move the buggy

     

    Now if you have another Microbit handy you can try an use the simple radio module (this is not Bluetooth protocol) to control the buggy as you see in the video below. Basically once you upload the hex files to both the microbits, you will have to hit A to move forward and then roll to move left/right and finally hit B to stop if you think you are going to hit an obstacle/wall.

    {gallery} Microbit remote control

    Microbit used as a remote

    Remote program

    Program for the Move Mini

     

    This is based on blog post at - https://www.kitronik.co.uk/blog/move-mini-microbit-radio/

     

    <Video edit in progress>

     

    If you don't have an extra Microbit handy, then you can try to control the Move Mini buggy using Bluetooth using the Andriod app by Kitroniks, you can find more info at - https://www.kitronik.co.uk/blog/adding-bluetooth-remote-control-move-mini/

    More accessories to extend your MOVE mini kit

    Here are links to more Microbit accessories to extend you Microbit mini

     

    And given a choice I would get the Bulldozer add-on, because why not, this gives the MOVE mini kit another dimension and also comes with another continuous servo which you can attach to the base board.Also for more info, and if you plan to demo this in a class room to get students interested in robotics, check out page on the kitronik.co.uk -https://www.kitronik.co.uk/5624-move-mini-buggy-kit-excl-microbit.html

     

    Future plans

    Before I gift this kit to my 14 year old cousin, I would like to see if I can achieve a few of the programs I put together in Makecode, in micro-python, so stay tuned for those updates.


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