As someone who has written a book about Lego Technic and Lego Mindstorms, I was very pleased to review the Jimu Robot Buzzbot and MuttBot Kit from UBTECH. There is going to be a lot of comparison made to Lego, but please keep in mind that the Jimu Robot kits are definitely their own thing. It’s like those people who think that Star Trek and Babylon 5 are the same, when they are very, very different.
Yeah, this is going to get really geeky, but in a very Maker way. I mentioned in my review on the Circuit Scribe how there is a great emphasis on STEM learning with building kits designed for young hands. I would say that UBTECH’s Jimu Robot kits would fall under that category.
The kit itself has the picture of what you see here, and I had a chance to make the MuttBot. On inspecting the pieces, I found that some of them looked like Lego Technic. I noticed a lot of beams with holes in them designed for connector pegs, and I understand if you might not know what I am talking about. Just so you know, the Jimu Robot parts are not compatible with anything Lego. I tried to fit them together, and the holes are smaller than that of Lego.
The box opened to reveal lots of interesting boxes in pastel colors marked with peculiar labels. The blue “Main Control Box” was set up with what I believe is the brain and heart of this, a small gray box with many ports. The “Recharging Power Adapter” was a plug-in that charged the gray box. Then I noticed the “Robotic Servo Motors” which had these motors on them that could spin, when properly powered.
The box of “Fasteners” really intrigued me as it contained wires as well as a small gray box with an on/off switch. The rest were these connector peg things that were very small and could easily get lost.
Then there were the other boxes that were full of non-technical parts. The “Character Parts” was so named because it will give the creation character. I think that is the best way to describe it. Now, the last box of “Connectors” had these parts that had these interesting slots on them for sliding parts into place, and this is what is difficult to describe.
Generally, most Lego kits come with detailed instruction booklets on how to build models. The Lego Mindstorms sets have to be downloaded as programs for your computer, but I didn’t see any option of viewing the instructions on my PC. I was able to download the app on my mobile device, and the Jimu robots app is good for Android and iOS.
I kind of wish that the instructions were available on my PC, so I could see them better. However, it was handy to have them on my touchscreen, where I could pinch to zoom and rotate the individual steps in three dimensions.
I got my son to help me, and things seemed to be going pretty smooth. We did have some problems with the connector wires, which looked like they would break easily if we unplugged them. I had to contact UBTECH to make certain that it was okay to yank them out. Needless to say, it was all right.
I also realized that we had to align the servos correctly, and they are marked to spin properly. You have to check it out for yourselves, and I like how it is marked. I also like how the servos are small motors that are smaller than what is on Lego Technic or Mindstorms.
We also had trouble on the instructions because some of the parts didn’t match exactly on the instructions. It did not affect the model or its functionality.
It took about two hours worth of work, but we had the MuttBot assembled. From there, I thought it was going to be frustrating getting it working, but it actually turned out to be quite simple. The application helped pair with my smartphone, and I was able to make the MuttBot walk and do all sorts of pre-programmed tricks.
My son also discovered that he could program the Servos so he could do all kinds of tricks. What is strange is when we programmed a servo to move, we could see it happen virtually on my mobile device.
I can see that there is a lot that we can do with these Jimu Robots, and I haven’t really discovered everything as yet. However, since this kit allows some kind of exploration, I will want to learn more.
Anyway, I am going to be reviewing another UBTECH robot kit next week, but I can’t get into that right now. I highly recommend getting a BuzzBot and MuttBot kit for yourself, at the Jimu robot site here.