We’ve reviewed lots of robots in micro:mag, so we thought it would be good to get some of the kids at the Harris Museum Code Club to rate them.
This brand new robot from 4tronix is certainly impressive at only £25. It’s the cheapest robot on the list and is by far the best for those on a budget.
The 4tronix minibit packs a bunch of features like 4 NeoPixel LEDs, ultrasonic sensor connectors, grippy wheels and a pen holder that you can find on the more expensive robots we’ve featured. However, with choosing a cheaper robot you can expect to lose some features like line following sensors, these do not appear on the minibit. Fear not though, the robot has some “croc clip” pads which allow you to attach add-on modules like line following sensors (bought separately from 4tronix). There is also a super cool connector on the front for the ultrasonic sensor you can buy which is also “Breakout Garden” compatible. This robot is super easy to work with thanks to its handy MakeCode library which is an adaptation of the already easy to use BitBot library. If you want to go a bit further than MakeCode, there’s Python support too.
Buy a MiniBit: https://shop.4tronix.co.uk/products/minibit
So far out of the robots we’ve done a full review of, the Dexter Industries GiggleBot is the only one to get a 10/10. It just gets so much right across the board. Here’s why.
The Dexter Gigglebot has all the features you could expect from a robot: NeoPixels, Grippy Wheels, Line Following, Light Sensing, Pen Holder, Lidar sensor support, Servo Connections & Pin Breakouts. If you’re looking for a robot that does it all, the GiggleBot is the one to get. The software support is also incredible. The GiggleBot has extensions for all the major micro:bit editors (MakeCode, Python and EduBlocks). One welcome feature of the GiggleBot is the fact it comes prebuilt so if you’re buying in bulk for a school, you don’t need to worry about assembling them all. Dexter also run a Free Teacher Trial for schools in the USA and Canada for 45 days where they’ll loan you a GiggleBot to try before you buy.
Buy a GiggleBot: https://gigglebot.io
We reviewed the Inksmith K8 only last issue and gave it a 7/10. This robot is more on the expensive side, however, it lacks a lot of features for the money.
Don’t get us wrong, the Inksmith K8 is really well designed and thought out and the curriculum that goes alongside it is a welcome addition. Though, it’s really hard for us to recommend when you can get the Dexter Gigglebot for the same price. The robot requires quite a bit of assembly and is quite fiddly in places. However, there are some upsides. The grippy wheels provide a good grip to the floor, something we find useful at Code Club due to the uneven wooden floor. There are also line sensors and an ultrasonic sensor included however the line sensors are not very secure in the casing. Two big things are missing with the K8 and that’s neopixels and a pen holder. This might not be important for some, but it gives a robot some life and is a feature that we definitely expect on a robot of this price range. The Inksmith K8 isn’t bad at all, we’d just not pick it up over the others.
4Tronix BitBot XL
A familiar robot in a brand new package.
Introducing the 4tronix BitBot XL. An improved version of the already popular 4Tronix BitBot.
If you’ve looked into micro:bit robots before, you’ll have seen the 4tronix bitbot. This is an amazing mid-range micro:bit robot that packs a number of features: 12 NeoPixels, Ultrasonic sensor support, Grippy Wheels, Pen holder, line following and buzzer. The robot is super easy to control and zips around a robot course with no problems. The software support for BitBot XL is good too with extensions for MakeCode and examples on the 4tronix website for MicroPython. One thing that sets the BitBot line of robots apart from the others is its range of community written resources, this is due to the popularity of the original BitBot. You won’t be short of examples, tutorials and lesson plans for the BitBot whether you’re a beginner or pro programmer.
Buy a BitBot XL: https://shop.4tronix.co.uk/products/bitbotxl
We had 4 categories, here's who won each one:
Best Price-Performance: MiniBit
Ease of Use: GiggleBot
Software Support: GiggleBot
Resources + Community Support: BitBot XL