Father's Day: MAKE SunBEAM Seeker Bot

This Father's Day the kids and I put together the SunBEAM Seeker Bot from MAKE's website.  Sponsored by RadioShack, it was easy to grab all the parts in one place.  It ran about $65, but if you have basic supplies like heat shrink tubing, 22 gauge wire, and LEDs it will run a lot less.  A few of the selected components are bagged double, so you'll have spares.  Some of the more expensive pieces were the IR detectors, which come emitter and detector in a single pack.

Pretty straight-forward, the kids helped a lot at this stage and tolerated my discussion how electricity works.

I recommend the alcohol wipes, way more inconvenient than using a paper towel and much less lint.

Well, now it is starting to look like something.  The kids were happy to help up until this stage and I was happy to have their help peeling the paper off the adhesive backing.  My daughter actually told me, "Good thing we are here because your fat fingers could never do this."  Thanks, I think.

And then the soldering began, and the kids got bored.  This was their last contribution.

It has been a while since I soldered anything.  It was a little bit of a mess, but I got better as I went along.  Since this is a BEAM bot, there's a lot of the mechanical element to adjust to get just right.  It took a little tweaking of the eyestalks and motors to get just right.  We had better performance with the motors vertically then at an angle.   

This is a good project, although a little finicky for a first timer.  In the end, the whole build was three or four hours with two kids helping and a nice way to spend some time on Father's Day.