Sparki: My New Favorite Robot

Robotics
Sparki: My New Favorite Robot
Sparki
Big brother and little brother?

A few of us here, including Dale Dougherty, author Michael Margolis (Arduino Cookbook and Make an Arduino-Controlled Robot), and me, have been discussing Arcbotics’ next-generation robot with their founder Joe Schlesinger. It was almost a year ago at Maker Faire Bay Area 2012 that we first started peppering Joe with suggestions for his follow up to Hexy the Hexapod, and I’m thrilled to share that he’s launched the Kickstarter for his two-wheeled wonder, Sparki – The Easy Robot for Everyone!

Sparki’s quite an accomplishment—Arcbotics has selected some fantastic stepper motors for Sparki, and they’ve evolved their design to create a rugged enclosure that still manages to expose all the electronics you want to play with. For $99, you get a lot (including Arduino-compatibility):

  • 1x Ultrasonic distance sensor (get distance from Sparki to walls/objects)
  • 1x 3-Axis Accelerometer (pick-up detection, fall detection, hill climbing)
  • 3x Light-sensing phototransistors (light following, darkness seeking)
  • 5x Line-following and edge detection sensors (mazes, line follow, sumo)
  • 1x IR bounce for gripper (detect things in the gripper)
  • 1x 128×64 Graphic LCD
  • 1x RGB LED (RGB = generate any color!)
  • 1x Buzzer (beeping, booping, and musical tones!)
  • 1x IR Transmitter (like your TV remote control)
  • 1x IR Receiver (like your TV)
  • 1x IR Remote control (lots of buttons to control Sparki with)
  • 1x TTL Serial port for expansion (talk to an Arduino/Raspberry Pi)
  • 1x Port for Bluetooth Serial Module (not in all rewards)

For the impatient, there’s a “RIGHT NOW” level you can back Sparki at, and get one as soon as June. That’s the level I backed Sparki at myself–I can’t wait to welcome Sparki to my home and workshop!

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I'm a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I'm not tinkering, I'm probably editing a book for Maker Media.

View more articles by Brian Jepson

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