There's even an Ali Express shopping list for you. You can probably build a buggy for about $20.
Resources are also on GitHub and issues and pull requests are always appreciated.
Disclosure - I work for the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
(Edit - $20 not including the price of a Pi)
https://www.raspberrypi.org/ <-- Basically a pocket sized computer which can run a full Linux stack and exposes a heap of useful IO options.
https://www.arduino.cc/ <-- More akin to embedded systems - traditionally very low powered micro-controllers programmed in C.
https://microbit.org/ <-- Designed specifically for education and provides a number of high level abstractions for development including visual programming languages and MicroPython.
It really depends what you're interested in getting into. All of the platforms have starter kits, add-ons, and tutorials to get you going. Feel free to message me (e-mail in profile) if you want to discuss further!
(Disclaimer - co-founder of Pimoroni)
Of course they have their own market segment (artists/"makers"), and they seem to fill their role there perfectly well. But it is good to understand where they come from and how they are positioned at the market before plunging in.
I recommend a quality printer like the Prusa i3 MK3:
You can build things like this with it:
Electronics had may as well be lego bricks, these days. If you want to make a robot, you can mostly plug together cheap pre-built modules on breadboards. Outfits like Pololu have great options for things like small-scale motor control and DC/DC conversion, and tiny displays/sensors/etc are ubiquitous.
I’ve been pushing hard on new developments and need to spend more time documenting my projects. But I have some info on another robot here:
There’s lots of cool robots on hackaday:
I also recommend browsing http://reddit.com/r/3dprinting as there is a lot posted there. And check out http://reddit.com/r/RobotBuilding
I also run a website to discuss projects that have a social impact. That’s at http://reboot.love
There’s a lot of good stuff online!
There's not really an official robotics kit that I know of, but there are several 3rd-party options on the market.
If you're looking specifically at Lego, then the sbrick-plus https://www.sbrick.com/ can talk directly to a BBC micro:bit https://github.com/vengit/pxt-sbrick so you can use the micro:bit and Lego together. There are also a huge range of micro:bit accessories from third parties that do robotics, sensing, lights, etc.
It's a pretty comprehensive robotics package, with built-in 4 strong DC motor drivers and 10 servo ports.
It's a project "inspired" by the micro:bit... the original plan was to make it hardware compatible but we were keen to upgrade the mcu to the NRF52 from the NRF51 so this was not possible, so we are working on porting the Makecode environment used by the micro:bit to it.
Resale on LEGO is good, so if it works out and gets the kids interested, it's a small price to pay to introduce them to logic and mechanical concepts (make sure you don't lose any pieces). If it doesn't work out, sell them and take a small hit - it's really a win-win in my book.
It would be really hard to beat the LEGO Mindstorms experience for ease-of-use and learning through experimentation.
The OP didn't specify who the Mindstorm alternative was for, but for young children, the new Lego Boost is cheaper (~ $160 vs the ~ $350 for Mindstorms EV3) and probably an easier introduction to programming and robotics than the Mindstorms, but seems to also be quite hackable (but I don't think you can install your own linux on it like the EV3).
My kids new LEGO sets have had multiple bricks brack. We’re using the few I had as a kid that have held up for 30 years, as replacements
Their remote control train never worked, after 3 months of receiving the wrong parts, finally getting what we hoped was the right one, the battery box stopped powering on
They’ve become a second hand junk shop buy. No more supporting their throwaway this plastic in 6 mos crap
I have made my own robots in the past. Frankly, my flakey hw killed my sw enthusiasm. That's why, I am happy to pay a bit for functioning robot hw.
Next, I want to get into robot arms. Something with the DoF of a kuka arm but doesn't need to perform as well and on a low budget. My current prospect is the Dobot Magician but I am still on the fence.
The downside comes when you want to do things like attach a motor to a lead screw, or attach something to a servo. You'll probably end up needing a drill press or an improvised lathe. But, I think compared to the cost of the proprietary systems, you can still come out ahead. And you don't have to worry about breaking something or dedicating a motor or controller to a project because they can be replaced cheaply.
Maybe something like that exists where you are and you can create your own? There are a lot of projects online with schematics and even step by step instructions. Not an exact alternative or anything, but might fulfill similar requirements in learning.
I used to use Lego to prototype the robots and machines I make. Now I design my own "Lego" with OpenSCAD and program the bots with AVR microcontrollers. Have been doing this for 7-ish years. However, Lego Mindstorms is still a great (although expensive) system for learning.
I ended up getting my five year old the Lego "Boost" set - I wanted some motors &c that were accessible to him. He's had fun putting together the projects, and playing with the scratch programming.
It is tied to their app, but I see that someone has python libraries to talk to it, so I have options if the app goes away.
The most up-to-date location for the actual 3D printable files is in the Tapster project GitHub repo: https://github.com/tapsterbot/tapsterbot/blob/master/hardwar...
I haven't done the costing but seems buying a cheapo printer is more economical than using any per-minute service .. especially, when one is getting started. That said, last cheapo printer I got kept breaking down .. when I was in an inspired mood, I had to wrestle with the darn printer. Seems like a nice model where I can rely on someone else to keep the printer working - if it is cheap enough :)
Seems as if there's no time limit, but you are charged for filament. (Plus sales tax)
> A printing fee of $0.10 per 1 gram of filament (printing material) will be charged for each print job. An average print job is about 10 grams and costs $1 (10 grams x $0.10 = $1). There is a minimum charge of $0.10 per print job. A 13% tax is also applied to each print job.
> A maximum of two hours is allowed for most print jobs with a dedicated printer available for longer prints at all locations (except Toronto Reference Library). Call your nearest Digital Innovation Hub to inquire about rules and availability of booking a longer print.
TPL Digital Innovation Hub: https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/using-the-library/comput...
I've been generally happy with the price and hardware, but I've grown to really hate Arduino. Makeblock publishes a bunch of code, but it's highly redundant and poorly organized, and I find myself constantly using the slightly wrong version of different pieces of code. But IF I ever figure this stuff out, I'm slightly hopeful about controlling the Makeblock hardware from RaspberryPi.
The basic approach is to have the RPI connected to the Arduino board via a serial connection (this has also difficult to setup, but sometimes I can do serial over the USB), and then there's just a very simple protocol that runs. Once this is actually working properly, there's a fairly small Python library to do the talking, and you get the benefit of the RPI environment (logins, wifi, camera access, etc), but with the hardware of the Makeblock unit (on-board sensors, no direct GPIO handling or contention, and pluggable sensors and motors). But getting there... ugh, it's been really challenging and I only got hints of it really working so far.
Bought a small bluetooth speaker so our robot can make some noise, possibly with Sonic Pi as the sound engine: http://sonic-pi.net
Also a lot of good programming options available with this system - the same ROBOTC for C-like programming/graphical as is used with LEGO Mindstorms, but also Python (https://www.robotmesh.com/studio-editions) and actual C (https://pros.cs.purdue.edu/)
It's been tested on the micro:bit, circuit playground express, calliope and several Arduinos.
Possibly a stepping stone into more programming intensive projects.
It's the culmination of years of work by Brian Harvey and Jens Mönig and other Smalltalk and education experts. It benefits from their experience and expert understanding about constructionist education, Smalltalk, Scratch, E-Toys, Lisp, Logo, Star Logo, and many other excellent systems.
Y Combinator demo:
AI extensions of Snap! for the eCraft2Learn project
>The eCraft2Learn project is developing a set of extensions to the Snap! programming language to enable children (and non-expert programmers) to build AI programs. You can use all the AI blocks after importing this file into Snap! or Snap4Arduino. Or you can see examples of using these blocks inside this Snap! project.
Use devices with Snap!:
Orbotix Sphero guide by Connor Hudson and Dan Garcia:
Lego NXT package by Connor Hudson:
Nintendo Wiimote package by Connor Hudson:
Finch and Hummingbird robots package by Tom Lauwers:
Parallax S2 robot package by Connor Hudson:
LEAP Motion by Connor Hudson:
Speech synthesis by Connor Hudson:
Arduino package by Alan Yorinks:
Arduino package by Bernat Romagosa/Citilab:
Fischertechnik ROBOTICS TXT Controller by Richard Kunze:
Snap! for Raspberry Pi by rasplay.org:
More Snap! extensions for CS education:
snap-apps.org provides Edgy for graphs, Cellular for multi-agent simulation, and more.
Netsblox for multiplayer networking.