We’ve had some cheap and simple kits in at Linux User over the past few months, each with varying levels of success. Some have been just cheaply made, others using a simple selection of components that allow for expansion at a later date when you feel more comfortable with the robotics behind it. The Ryanteck budget kit takes a slightly different approach to the cheap kit.
The budget in its name is definitely a very apt description – the kit comes with the bare essentials needed to get locomotion. Two motors, a chassis to attach them to and way to connect them to a Raspberry Pi. You can spend a little more to get the whole thing ready to build when you get the kit, but otherwise you’ll also need a Raspberry Pi, a wifi dongle and a portable battery for powering the Pi.
It’s quite quick and simple to put together, and it’s fairly robust to boot as well. The motors are the standard you’ll get on a lot of other robot kits, and even have a speed sensor if you want to add the ability to better control straight line performance. The chassis itself has plenty of mounting points to add any number of extra sensors with a little rejig of the components on top.
Programming the robot is fairly simple, using Python and the GPIO ports to activate the motors and such as you see fit. There’s no Ardunio to worry about, and the basic example code on the website is good enough to adapt for your own uses. With the way the board attaches to the Raspberry Pi, the standard 26 pins are available to plug into it so you can add sensors that way with a bit of ingenuity.
It is a very simple kit, and it doesn’t really look like much, but for the price and the ability to get started with robotics pretty much straight away it’s a great little package. Its upgrade paths are very limited though, so you’ll soon need to start thinking about other robots if you want to ever do more with the hobby.
It’s very good for complete novices, kids and party pieces with your Raspberry Pi but it’s the barest bones entry level kit for robotics that is more difficult to expand upon compared to other budget kits. None are as cheap as this though, or work so readily with a Model A+