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Build vs Buy

vs BOEBot


 Comparing ARobot and BOE-Bot

BOE-Bot is a popular robot made by Parallax and available at Radio Shack and other dealers across the internet. BOE-Bot is a true programmable robot (Not a remote control toy). BOE-Bot uses the Board-of-Education (BOE) which acts as the intelligent, programmable controller board. The BOE-Bot's controller board accepts the Basic Stamp II controller chip which is very popular and easy to program. It's strength lies in it's large user base, simplicity, affordability and documentation.

ARobot is a larger, highly expandable mobile robot made by Arrick Robotics. It offers abundant input/output (I/O), payload space, and computing power. ARobot is intended for the robot builder who's looking for a more advanced unit with more expansion options. ARobot costs more than the BOE-Bot and has a smaller user base. Documentation, expansion projects and programming examples for ARobot can be found at ArrickRobotics.com, in the book 'Robot Building for Dummies'. Any Basic Stamp-related project is applicable to ARobot.

Physically, ARobot is larger than BOE-Bot, 10" wide verses 4". BOE-Bot's size allows it to run small maze courses with ease. ARobot can carry a heavy payload including grippers, large batteries, cameras, controller boards, etc. There is also significant room underneith ARobot's base to carry additonal batteries and controller boards. ARobot's base is strong enough to allow stacking of levels to provide even more payload space and area for sensors. We've even seen an ARobot carrying an entire PC motherboard.

Concerning processing power (Brains), ARobot and BOE-Bot can both use the Basic Stamp II controller. ARobot also has a coprocessor which improves the overall power of the robot. The coprocessor handles all of the drive motor and steering motor control without consuming the Basic Stamp. You'll appreciate this feature because you can use all of the memory in the Stamp for your main program instead of consuming valuable space for motor control functions. Don't underestimate the value of the coprocessor because memory space is at a premium in the Basic Stamp.

ARobot's controller board can also accept more powerful chips allowing larger, more complex programs to be created. Use the Parallax Basic Stamp 2e if you need memory, or use the Basic Stamp 2sx if you need faster execution speed. Additionally, there are several vendors of Stamp compatable chips that offer even more power and speed.

Concerning Drive and steering systems, BOE-Bot uses 2 standard RC servomotors to drive the 2 wheels. These motors have been modified to allow for continuous rotation. Steering is accomplished by moving the wheels at various speeds or in opposite directions like a wheel chair.

ARobot uses a powerful industrial-quality metal DC gearmotor along with machined components to drive the robot. The drive motor system also includes an optical encoder which allows the robot to know how far it has traveled. ARobot knows exactly how far its traveled no matter how much payload it's carrying or what the terrain is. Robots without an encoder must turn their motors on and wait a certain amount of time to get where they're going. The distance they travel will depend on the payload, incline and other things that may affect the motor's speed.

ARobot offers a unique dual rear-wheel steering system that has been written about in varous robotics books. It provides excellent precision, stability, speed, and turning radius - all while being very interesting to watch.

ARobot's drive motor, optical encoder, and steering motor are all controlled by the on-board coprocessor which frees up the Basic Stamp for the main program.

ARobot provides 2 independent whisker sensors in the front to detect obstacles. Not only does it know that it's bumped into something, it knows which side. There is also room for a rear whisker and on the sides for the user to add additional whisker sensors. BOE-Bot offer 2 whiskers that you construct and wire on the temporary breadboard. Both robots allow for the addition of optical obstical avoidance sensors and sonar (sound).

ARobot's controller board provides a red and green LED that are under program control and can be used to communicate the robot's status or special conditions to the operator. A speaker is also provided that can be used to give audiable indicators to the user under programmable control. BOE-Bot provides a speaker and LEDs that can be wired using the bread-board.

ARobot's controller board offers 2 user-defined push buttons and 2 user-defined jumper switches. These can be used to provide any function the programmer wishes from starting a set of actions, emergency stop, or selecting an operating mode. Switches and other operator inputs can be wired to the BOE-bot but are not included in the kit.

ARobot provides a special connector to drive a high-power device (up to 1 amp) such as a light bulb, a motor for a gripper, laser pointer, or even a small vaccum.

ARobot provides 3 additional RC servomotor control ports which can be used to create a camera head with Pan/Tilt controls, a gripper, or to position a solar panel. These 3 servomotors are controlled with the on-board coprocessor eliminating the need to consume valuable memory and processing power from the Basic Stamp. BOE-Bot can control additional RC servomotors by wiring a special connector to the breadboard and programming directly from the Basic Stamp.

ARobot offers a 40-pin expansion port which gives the robot builder complete access to all of the hardware features of the controller board and the Basic Stamp along with power supply and unused user-defined pins.

ARobot's controller board has a perf-board area that the builder can permantely add (with solder) their own circuits such as light sensors, temp sensors, IR sensors, D/A converters, etc. BOE-Bot comes with a small breadboard for constructing your own temporary circuits.

ARobot's base is pre-drilled to accept perfboards and breadboards from Radio Shack as well as other controller boards such as PC/104. ARobot's controller board is the same size as these perfboards and breadboards allowing stacking.

BOE-Bot comes with a small breadboard and parts so you can build your own circuits right out of the box. Circuits include a speaker, IR Obstical avoidance sensors, LEDs, etc. BOE-Bot also provides a book with many projects and activities. The Parallax website and various forums also offer many expansion possibilities.

Concerning power: BOE-Bot runs on 4-AA batteries (6V). This supplies power to the Stamp controller and the 2 RC servo drive motors. ARobot requires 8-AA batteries (12V) to power the drive motor, steering motor, 3 more servo motors, the power accessory output, and the controller and coprocessor.

Concerning price: BOE-Bot, complete with the Basic Stamp II and book sells for $199.00. ARobot without the Basic Stamp II sells for $235.00, and the Basic Stamp II sells for $49 (Total: $284)

If we left something out or you find an inaccuracy, please contact us.

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