I recently got the chance to assemble and test a Keyestudio (that’s not a typo, the spelling is correct) robot kit. The name of the kit is the Keybot Coding Education Robot for Arduino STEM.
That’s a long name, but it suggests a few things. First, the robot is an educational tool which attempts to spark interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects.
Second, the robot is for children and teens, as there is a movement to spark an interest in STEM subjects in grades 1 through 12.
The robot is definitely a great educational tool for children age 7 or 8 to kids in their early to mid-teens. It makes a great gift for the aspiring Maker, tinkerer, or engineer. And it’s affordable.
If you’re interested in purchasing the kit you can do so here: https://amzn.to/2GRiizH.
What follows is a series of three videos with my experience unboxing and then assembling the robot. In the videos, I go over some caveats and give some helpful tips if you’re thinking of buying the robot.
I haven’t had a chance to program the ‘bot yet, but it’s Arduino based and appears to use some sort of graphical programming language they refer to as Mixly. I may do more videos and another post once I start programming the robot.
Until then, here is my experience assembling it.
Assembling the Keybot Coding Education Robot
Part 1: Unboxing the Robot + Quick Overview of Parts
In this video, I open the box for the first time and go over what’s in the box. Note that I have never worked with this or any other of Keyestudio’s products before.
The robot comes with a fully illustrated, full color manual and a CD with a PDF, the IDE and some other goodies.
The construction of the parts seems to be solid and of decent quality.
Connections are made with an RJ11-type system of plugs and jacks. For those who don’t know what RJ11 is, the phone jacks in your home use RJ11 plugs and connectors.
There is no soldering to do, which makes this kit both safer and easier for younger makers to assemble.
Older teens may find this overly simplistic though and may desire a kit that involves some soldering, which is a good skill to have.
The kit does come with an extra cable and some extra hardware. We all know that small screws and nuts tend to disappear or get lost, so this is a nice feature.
Part 2: Partial Assembly of the Robot and Some Caveats
The Keyestudio Keybot comes with a screwdriver and a small allen wrench, but a pair of needle nose pliers will be a big help. You’ll need to provide those yourself.
Also, be aware when attaching the motors to the frame of the robot. One of the motors sports a longer lead than the other and it’s important to mount them in the right place. A careful look at the pictures in the manual will help.
As I explain in the video, assembling the Keybot requires some level of mechanical skill. Children have small hands which will help, but sometimes lack fine motor skills. Assembly may require some adult help depending on the age of the child.
IMPORTANT NOTE: be sure to watch the 3rd video or at least read the blurb below it before you start assembling the robot!
Part 3: Final Assembly of the Robot and an Important Tip
The first half of the assembly in video 2 took me 20 minutes. This part actually took me twice as long (40 minutes) for a grand total assembly time of an hour.
Note that I fix and maintain 2 vehicles, the house I live in (depends on the project), and have experience building other projects. So, I have some mechanical skill. Those with less experience may require more time to assemble the robot.
The main tip here is to use the 6 battery holder instead of the 2 battery holder.
The manual seems to push the 2 battery holder, but instead of taking AA batteries it accepts a harder to find more obscure battery that you may not be able to buy at your local store. This is the 18650 battery, which is larger than the AA battery and sports a different voltage.
If you plan to take my advice, you’ll want to attach the 6 battery holder (which takes common AA batteries) BEFORE attaching the motors. The video explains why.
The video also finds me complaining about peeling the brown paper off the acrylic shield. Those who don’t bite their nails will find this easier.
What’s Next for the Robot?
All in all, the Keybot is a good solid kit for learning. The target age seems to be kids age 8 to 14 or so.
When I get a chance, I’m going to install the Mixly software and see how the graphical programming language is. Now that the assembly is done, I’m looking forward to doing some cool things with the robot.
I’ll keep you guys updated on the programming end of the robot once I get the software loaded, play with it a bit and try a few things.
Since the ‘bot comes with a line following board and an ultrasonic sensor board, I’m betting there are some interesting projects you and your maker-in-the-making can do meanwhile.
Here’s the link to purchase the robot again for those who may have an interest in starting with the Keybot right away: https://amzn.to/2GRiizH.
Until next time, leave me a comment and tell me about your latest robotics projects. And if you have any experience with the Keybot I’d love to hear about it.