examples and documentation were either in the manual
or on the DVD.
The advantage of working with a fully specified
hardware configuration — that is, a kit — is that you can
leverage the knowledge and skills of hundreds of other
experimenters who have bought into the platform. Need
to modify the optional gripper for your Boe-Bot? Check
out the forum on the Parallax website. Someone has
probably done it before and you can learn from his or
her efforts. It’s more difficult to post a question about a
custom microprocessor platform and expect support
without offering an exhaustive, accurate description of
What are other value packs worth noting? Check
out the vendors advertising in this magazine. I’m also
impressed with by the educational electronics kits offered
by Jameco ( www.jameco.com) and robot kits by
Lynxmotion ( www.lynxmotion.com).
It’s important to note that not all kits are value packs.
While the kits that consist of a poly bag of ancient parts
and a placement diagram may be economical, they are
often the educational equivalent of empty calories. Look
for kits with quality printed and electronic documentation
— in English — and a significant user base. Check out the
support and forum sites before you buy. It’s comforting to
know that help is available, if and when you need it. NV
Did you know that if you’re a paid subscriber to Nuts & Volts,
you can get the online version for FREE Go to www.nutsvolts.com
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June 2009 9