Hack-E-Bot started as a challenge to see if it was possible to create a scalable robotics platform for under $50. This challenge also required that no special tools would be required and that it would be easy of people to build. As the project progressed, it was quickly apparent that making a cheap, scalable, and easy to understand robotics kit would make for a good educational tool. RaaSIO is an organisation the is already advancing the delivery and implementation of STEM path education through their many established programs including educational robotics. Working with them, Hack-E-Bot quickly became focused on providing an inspirational tool for education with the idea that every child should be able to have their own robot to hack any time, not just while they are at school.
The low price and ease of use of the Hack-E-Bot fit right in with the clear and easy to implement tools that RaaSIO is already using to empower educators who want to get onboard with STEM path. Together we have run workshops, participated in hackathons, and taken every opportunity to see how people learn with Hack-E-Bot. The result of our work has been a robotics platform that sparks the imagination of children and an easy to follow and relevant curriculum to get educators started.
The basic Hack-E-Bot comes with a Sonar sensor to get you started by making a robot that can avoid objects. This is called obstetrical avoidance and your robot will use the included Sonar Rangefinder to “see” objects that are in its way.
Get an extra Sonar sensor to let your robot see twice as much as it did before. This sensor can also be used to see the edge of a table as well as a wall.
Watch Hack-E-Bot’s sonar sensor detect walls
The Line Trace sensor is the first step to making a robot that will follow the path of a line. The robot can see your black line by using some Light Sensors that can tell the difference between something that is black or white. You can also use this sensor to detect the edge of a table or follow light from above.
Watch Hack-E-Bot’s with line sensors at work!
The Hack-E-Bot kit
The Basic Hack-E-Bot colors. A wider variety of colors are available for the Special Hack-E-Bots.
We want to make it easy for all kids to learn about robotics and one way you can really help us is by donating a robot to a child. When you pledge to the Get a Bot, Give a Bot reword level, we will give a Hack-E-Bot to a student enrolled in one of RaaSIO’s robotics education programs. RaaSIO is already working with many groups like the Seattle Public Library, and United Way to provide robotics education using the Lego Mindstorm platform. The Hack-E-Bots that are donated will go to a group of students that will be part of our pilot program for Arduino based robotics. As part of this program, each child will post progress reports on the Hack-E-Bot website to let others know how much they are learning. You can keep up to date on how you have helped with weekly or monthly newsletters that can be sent via email.
One thing that was very important to the design of Hack-E-Bot was to use parts that can be made at any makerspace as well as purchased in small numbers at most electronic supplies like Adafruit, SparkFun, or Pololu. This means that anyone can build a Hack-E-Bot from scratch if they want to. All of the parts that make up the chassis are open source and available in formats suitable for laser cutting, 3D printing, and for most CNC machines. The only request that we make of people who wish to modify the chassis is that the expansion cutouts be left so that any Hack-E-Bot sensor would be able to still work on a variant design.
The Hack-E-Bot chassis parts are cut from colored Acrylic on a laser cutter. This allows us to manufacture the kits at a low price for the quantities that we are doing now. Ideally we will be manufacturing the parts in ABS Plastics and we are already working with some companies that can help us with this, but it will mean placing bulk orders in the tens of thousands or more to do this without driving the price up. Before that happens, we will be working with a prototyping CNC Mill and see about other low run manufacturing methods. As for the electronics, we already have a relationship established with suppliers to provide the components at bulk discounts.
The primary chip set that we are focusing on for the educational curriculum is Arduino. With such a supportive community and dedication to education, the Arduino platform is really a perfect match for this platform.
Watch the special edition S.T.E.A.M. bot in motion.
Q: Is this a robot I can use in a robotics competition?
A:The Hack-E-Bot bot is designed more to be an easy to build 1st robot so has no real means of accurately tracking its wheel rotation. Tracking wheel rotation is a critical task that allows competition robots to perform so well.
Q: What do I get in a $45 kit?
A: This is a complete robot and it includes the chassis, wheels, servos, battery box, batteries, wires, small Arduino compatible micro-controller, USB cable, and a sonar sensor.
Q: What type of control chip does the Hack-E-Bot use?
A: Each kit comes with a breadboard friendly Adafruit Pro Trinket that uses the Attiny328P Arduino chip with built-in USB programming.
Q: Can I get a Hack-E-Bot with a bigger chip?
A: The Hack-E-Bot has no integrated parts, so you can put any chip you want on it. It does help if it fits the breadboard though.