What's in the book?
Programming is introduced so the reader must have common knowledge about using a PC, connecting cables, loading software, etc.
Readers below the age of 14 will probably need help along the way - especially with the more technical details of wiring and programming.
Most technically-inclined teenagers will be able to understand and make use of all the information in the book.
There are 2 robot kits covered in the book. One is an inexpensive (less than $50), non-programmable robot called Soccer Jr., and the other is a more expensive ($300) programmable robot called ARobot. The expansion projects are intended for use with ARobot. Soccer Jr is made by OWI and ARobot is made by Arrick Robotics.
Programming is introduced and the reader must have a Windows-based PC in order to edit and download programs to the robot.
Soldering is required for most of the expansion projects but not required to build the 2 robot kits introduced. A low-wattage soldering iron and flux-core solder will be needed to build the expansion board, attach sensors, and wire components together.
Common hand tools such as screwdrivers and plyers will be needed to build the robots and complete the expansion projects.
All of these tools including the soldering iron can be purchased at Radio Shack.
The expansion projects use sensors and electronic components that
must be purchased separately. A kit is
available that has many of these components including the
temperature sensor, motion detector, head motor, perf board,
connectors, wire, etc. These components can also be purchased
separately if you want and the vendors are listed in the book.
The kit does not include the video system or wireless data link.
After the robot itself, you may choose to do one or more of the expansion projects that add functionality to ARobot's capabilities. Some of the simple projects only cost a few dollars including the rear whisker sensor and the temperature sensor. Other projects cost more such as the speech module which costs around $90, and the wireless video system which can run several hundred including camera, transmitter, receiver and display.
Tools to do the projects include normal hand tools and a soldering iron. All of this can be purchased for less than $50.
Robotics, like other advanced hobbies such as photography or bowling, can
cost quite a bit of money. The return on investment is potentially greater
with robotics since many of the skills learned can be used in your career life.
ARobot is very expandable so you can add sensors such as a digital compass, motion sensor, light sensor. ARobot's on-board controller can also control 3 RC Servo motors so you can operate a head or gripper.
ARobot is featured in Robot Building for Dummies and many sensor and application projects are described in detail.
Here is a picture of ARobot.
Here is a picture of Soccer Jr.