Should I use Dobots?

So which robots should I use in my classroom? Dobots? Lynxmotion? Rotrics? Fanuc? Great question! Jim and I use Dobot’s exclusively in our classrooms for many reasons. One of which is because we wrote the curriculum for them: Teach and Playback and Blockly. Below we have come up with some justification for their use in our classroom, as we get asked “why?” a lot!

The Lynxmotion arms have their place.  Their scale is very proportional when adding them to a VEX project.  Programming is decently easy to pickup if given enough time to practice (which students rarely get), Cost is low, there’s the PLTW technical support, and they match the curriculum.

Full Disclosure: when you order Dobots from InPosition Technologies Tell them Chris and Jim sent you, and they will help pay for this website.

Just call (303)-579-9634 and ask for Ben Sawyer, and he will take care of you for sure. You can email him as well: bens@iptech1.com. Tell him that Chris and Jim sent you!

Lynxmotion Concerns/Limitations/Issues

  • Communication is one of the biggest issues
  • Can not run offline (must be connected to a computer)
  • Repeatability is extremely low
  • Built from hobby servos which often burn out and can be time consuming and frustrating to fix (depending on which ones)
  • Positions are rarely repeatable from day to day
  • Comparison to an industrial robot arm is limited
  • Electronics are exposed and can easily be damaged.
  • The Robot is light and must be mounted to something more rigid to keep the robot from damaging itself.
  • Friction plates are used to help the robot maintain position and take load off of the servos, which in turn also make the servos work harder?

Dobot:


In education, there is no doubt that we would love to get high quality, industry standard equipment and software in the hands of our students to give them a glimpse into their future and to better prepare them for industry.  But as everyone knows, the biggest drawback to finding these products is often costA small industrial robotic arm will typically cost $18,000 and up (about 12 Dobots).  The robotics industry seems to be changing on a daily basis.  What will it look like by the time our students actually enter the workforce?  How quickly will our financial investment become obsolete?  Are we trying to certify students and get them directly into industry upon graduation? Or is it our job to get students excited about robotics and expose them to its possibilities and let post secondary education take over from there?  

Industrial Robots?


The game then becomes trying to find higher quality equipment that is as close to what we are trying to expose students to at a realistic price point.  We also want to find a way to get as many hands on the equipment as possible in a short period of time. Ideally we would love to have an arm per student but could live with two students per arm.  A third student is often left out or is willing to sit back and watch… or, worst case scenario, not watch or do anything at all.
The Dobot robot, so far, is the best robot we have been able to find that takes care of the concerns/limitations/issues that we have with the Lynxmotion robots but for a price that will allow us to get more hands on with the equipment.
Trying to explain the benefits vs cost of the Dobot over the Lynx can often be difficult if you have little to no experience with the Lynxmotion robots.

Dobot Advantages

  • The Dobot robot can be programmed in three different ways:
    • Teach and playback (Robot programming by demonstration PbD). You can manually grab the arm, move it to various positions and ask the robot to repeat the process.  This is the way many industrial robots are going. Teach and Playback Curriculum
    • Blockly, a scratch style programming that is fairly intuitive for students to pick up. Blockly Curriculum
    • Python, for more advanced programming (also the style of programming VEX is shifting to)
  • We rarely have had any connection or communication issues.
  • Students pick up the programming and learn how to run the arm quickly.
  • Repeatability is extremely high.
  • Program can be uploaded to the robot and run without a computer.
  • The Dobot has more than 15 inputs & outputs, many more than any robot we have ever used in our classroom. The Dobots I/O’s are varied and can deal with 3.3, 5 and 12V, as well as servo motors.
  • One computer can actually communicate with multiple robots at one time.
  • The Dobot’s electronics are all enclosed and protected.
  • The Dobot has many industrial grade accessories like a slidebase, vision system and conveyor.
  • End of arm tooling (EoT) can easily be changed.  Comes with a gripper, 2D printer from Printron Company, pen and a suction cup (we use the suction cup most often).  A laser engraver can also be added.
  • Arm uses stepper motors rather than servos. (a big portion of the cost increase)
  • Robot base is heavy and robot arms do not need to be mounted to the project.

Our Lynxmotion arms have all been packed up.  The students’ and teachers’ level of frustration with the arms was one of the biggest reasons to make this shift.  We did some really cool things with the Lynxmotion robots and they were a great addition to our curriculum for the price, but there is little comparison to what students can do with the new arms. It took us a few years to get enough Dobots to replace them all but so far we have no regrets. 

Have more questions about Dobots? call us or just call (303)-579-9634 and ask for Ben Sawyer, and he will take care of you for sure. You can email him as well: bens@iptech1.com.

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Dobot Survey For Educators

Dear educators and Dobot users, @DobotArm wants to hear from you. Please take our short survey and let us know your experience of getting Dobot’s educational solutions.

And with those words, Dobot is asking for your opinion! When do you get the chance to make your opinion count? Not often! In our experience with Dobot, Jim and I have always gotten positive results from our feedback.

The link is below! Take the survey: http://shorturl.at/eswH7

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Where do you get the Dobot handshaking wires?

Question:

I’m teaching CIM for the first time in a few years and am a bit rusty. I’m getting ready to start using the Dobots. I don’t remember this 4 wire piece that goes into the breadboard. I know I have a lot of 3 pronged ones from vex. Do you know what it’s called and where I can get one? I know that you can use any wire and make it work, even the 3 wire version used with the lynx, but these make it so easy to use…

Answer:

Well, good news and bad news! Good news: these wires are 700 mm Molex or Dupont, female to female, connectors and are commonly used for building 3D printers and making stepper motor connections. They do make it very easy, and sometimes the colors are different too. Also, if you’re an eighth grader, any other color wire probably won’t work, right? Right Mr. Hurd?!?! They used to be very easy to find….

700 mm Molex or Dupont, female to female, connectors

Bad news: We seem to have made them so popular with the Dobots, that they are getting pretty scarce and hard to find. Just so you know, I did a search on Amazon and found…. NONE! If Amazon doesn’t have them, who does, right? The other bad news is that most of these are inexpensive and come straight from China. We all know how that’s playing out with our President now don’t we?!?! Write him a thank you for the price increase on the Dobots as well.

Real Answer:

So I did some research, and the only place I could find them was AliExpress… a seedy website that allows you to buy stuff for manufacturing inexpensively through China. I decided to use a gift card and a burner email and try to order them and see what happens. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

On AliExpress, I ordered these: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32639944807.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.7baa4c4dJYVEWJ I made sure to choose 4 pin and 70 cm for length. At the time, they were about $3.40 for a lot of 10, so I ordered 100… and the total came to $37.31 out the door… that’s 37 cents apiece! This place is notorious for long waits too…. and luckily for me, I ordered on Feb 11, and I received them Feb 25! BONUS!

Sidenote

I know for a fact that my district will not order through this company, and I doubt yours will either… just wanted to see if it actually worked. Neither do I condone the use of seedy websites to buy things from questionable sources, or use burner emails and sketchy practices to acquire stuff I need, but when you need a few 4 pin 70cm, Dupont, F to F, connector, what is one to do?!?

Good luck on your quest for connectors, and if you find a vendor that schools can use that is a reputable source, please let us know!

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01 T&P Robot Axis & Movement

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Download Blank Field Template

Jointed arm robots are useful for many different tasks because of its range of motion and degrees of freedom. In this activity you will learn how to move a robotic arm in many different ways and write a program to make the robot write the word “CIM” with accuracy and repeatability. CIM stands for Computer Integrated Manufacturing.

Video Coming Soon…

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0.5 Presentation-Introduction to Robotics

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This is a presentation that can be used as the perfect introduction into the types of robots used in industry today and how it is applied with your classroom robot.

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06 Presentation-Dobot Blockly Hardware Connections

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This presentation is meant to be an introduction to all of the different devices that can be interfaced with the Dobot Magician in terms of hardware. Both Jim and I suggest using this in the classroom as a student resource, rather than a presentation that you go over slide by slide; Although, there may be some value in introducing some of the hardware that you may use in your class at this point.

Just give it to the kids as a resource, let them download it, and use it as they need it!

Video Coming Soon…

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14 Blockly-Curriculum

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Introduction:
This curriculum was designed to teach high school and college level students the basics of
robotics, as used in industry, using the Dobot Magician, DobotStudio software, and the
blockly programming language.
Through these activities, you will also be able to make the robot interact with other devices
including, but not limited to:
● Arduino microcontrollers
● Color sensors
● Conveyor belts
● Other outputs like motors and LED’s
● VEX Cortex microcontroller
● Infrared sensors
● Other robots
● Other inputs like microswitches and
sensors
Introduction: Defining Artificial Intelligence
A lot is being reported about artificial intelligence and robotics in industry, and it is probably
one of the most controversial issues surrounding robots… If you do not understand it. The
way that we wish to address it in this document depends on how it is defined. For our use
here Jim and I will define it as such:
Artificial Intelligence(AI): Using computers, microcontrollers, and other
electronic devices to replicate intelligent behavior to automate tasks and make
manufacturing more efficient.
We would like to look at AI from a practical standpoint. How AI helps us in industrial robotics
and automation is what intrigues us the most and what we are most passionate about. In that
vein, the next question to answer then is: “How does this curriculum embody artificial
intelligence?”
With the above definition of AI, isn’t a lot of automation & robotics considered artificial intelligence? Take these instances of what students will be able to do with a dobot and this
curriculum:
● Make a motor run forward or backwards depending on what time it is.
● Make a light bulb light up when you want it to. Better yet, make different color lights
light dependent upon what you want.
● Determine what color an object is and then decide where to put it.
● Change the speed of a motor dependent upon where an object is.
● Mathematically calculate where to put the next box on a pallet, or to stack objects
perfectly.
● Make a robot talk to another robot and decide when to perform certain actions.
● Make a robot talk to another device to perform a myriad of automation and
manufacturing tasks.
● Make a robot 3D print a necessary part for you, or laser engrave a barcode on each
passing part of an assembly line. All of these are possible with only a Dobot Magician, A microcontroller, this curriculum, a little
determination, and a lot of curiosity.
Introduction: Defining Industry 4.0
Here’s another term that is being widely used in Industry, and being touted as the next
greatest thing in manufacturing. What does it mean? Again, we have to define it for ourselves
so that we can move forward, and possible embrace it. From our limited research and
knowledge of the topic we would like to define it this way:
Industry 4.0: The 4th industrial revolution where manufacturing facilities employ
computers, machines, and technology, that have inputs and outputs that allow them to
wirelessly connect to ever larger manufacturing systems.
No more is a drill press just a drill press. It may be a CNC machine that has a vision system
that knows where a hole has to go as well as what size it is. Also this machine can be
programmed on the fly to change rapidly if a different order comes in from a different vendor.
It’ll even tell the customer when the part will be done, and in some instances, some factories
will even let customers watch their parts being produced via webcam. The list of tasks above
in the definition of AI are all within reach of high school and college students alike, and aren’t
these tasks all a part of Industry 4.0?
With a Dobot Magician, this curriculum, and a bunch of spare parts, computers, and some
ingenuity, students will definitely be headed in the right direction towards being a part of the
future of Industry; no matter what it’s called when they graduate.

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11 Blockly-Workcell Design

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A robotic workcell is defined as the complete environment around a robot. This environment may include tools, machines and/or other robots.

In this activity you will use a robot and a microcontroller system to recreate a workcell. Your workcell will incorporate all of the devices that you have learned about in previous activities including:
● Inputs & outputs
● Sensors
● Conveyor belt
● Machines
● Robots
You and your team will design, organize, create, program and test a full work cell.

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10 Blockly-Handshaking Dobot to VEX

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Often robotic arms need to communicate with other devices or controllers in a work cell, or factory. This is called HANDSHAKING and can be done between different machines, devices and robots. It is a very simple form of communication and is done with simple ones and zeros; or “ons” and “offs”.

In this activity you will use all of the knowledge learned in previous activities to make a Dobot Magician Robot communicate with a VEX cortex.

Video Coming Soon…

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