Friday, February 3

FIRST VEIWS OF VIPER

sprocket2cog
Well it`s been a while waiting, ( my fault not their`s.) But finally I have got my actuator`s on the viper robotics experiment and prototype kit.
A mix of old school and new world techno-goodies,just waiting to be "POKED and PEEKED" into a free roaming - line tracking - bot fighting machine, But does it cut it in the real world ?
Only time will tell, but for now after a false start with one of the motors I would have to say the pro`s so far outway the con`s.
The viper is a Australian made robotics kit in a vein very similar to lego, but requiring more skill and dexterity to assemble, The addition of a magnetic screwdriver would greatly aid in assembly and deconstruction of your models.
One of the reasons I liked the viper was its openess and honesty about the tech behind the the mouse behind the man that made the snake..(or something like that :) The robot it`s self is totally uninclosed, with all the boards and circuits in plain veiw for the budding electronic engineer to have a look at, but the use of SMD (surface mount devices) and creative motherboard design means that deciphering the layout of the boards isnt as easy as I first thought. Break out the magnifing glass plebs, you will need it if you want to read the parts on the main board.
Over all the finish and quality is of a high standard with only a few minor issues in regards to the box and software bring the first point score down to 8 out of ten.
Heres a quick breakdown of what I thought after Two hours playing last night..
  1. The software installed and ran first go on windows XP pro running on a laptop, no hassles like legos mindstorms set, it crashed on my xp laptop weekly, untill a patch was realised from lego. (which they did do)
  2. the design and construction quality is of a high grade, with computer cut boards and soldering to the componets giving the parts a "I COME FROM SPACE" feel about them.
  3. Breakout time to get it ready to program was a little long due to some parts not wanting to come out of the box.
  4. The programing IDE is great even if some of the features arnt documented in the help. like using the program as an oscilloscope (look in tools in the menu)
  5. The programing, while it is old school, and dosent support some basic things like using maths on user variables, you need to build stacks and add them one after the other to a new variable for example to get addition to two variables., Nothing you cant work around, and it also helps develope a sense of awarness in regards to programing and the idiosyncrices of robtics and computers in general.
  6. The motors are very cool, with what looks like a h bridge or similar built on to the motor it`self, the main board has minimal components on it, as all the sensors have their own electronic support architechture built onto them, smart sensors in a way, but not too smart.
Well thats it for now, ill write up more and do a photo shoot tonight..
The viper, once bitten infected for life..Dont tell my sapien V2 but hes got some competition.
So if your looking to break into robotics and want instant results, you could do a lot worse then this kit , and if the product range expands as expected then this company may be set to invade the world. long live the robots.
I have to say that the fun level of this robot set outways the little issuse that popped up, the biggest dissapointment was a frozen motor, but a quick trip down to dick smith had me a new one, and micro bric support always is helpful if the retail outlet isnt. Josh at tech support is always looking out for his customers , and will bend over backwards to make sure any issues are addressed.
So now having a few parts to play with Im off to invent new toys to take over the world..
asta la vista baby...

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