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UBTECH Jimu Explorer kit review

Jimu Explorer robot kit

£149
8.4

Build quality

8.5/10

Design

8.5/10

Ease of use

8.0/10

Performance

8.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Presentation
  • Simple instructions
  • Parts all great quality
  • Easy-to-use app
  • Sense of achievement

Cons

  • Some fiddly bits
  • Firmware took a few attempts

Jimu robot stem learning kit reviewThe Jimu Robot kit is aimed at being as much educational as it is fun. In that case, I have spent the weekend learning, which is nice.

UBTECH Robotics have been dishing out their robot kits for a few years now. I have met their Alpha 1S android and written about TankBot.

The aim of these kits is to get young people interested in coding. The bonus of these kits is that you are actually rewarded with a working, controllable robot at the end of it.

Jimu Explorer design

The packaging is glorious. I cannot imagine any youngster (or adult) not feeling special if they received this.

Slipping off the outer carton you have something akin to a chunky book.

There are a couple of brightly printed leaves showing the robots you can build, and also what this kit contains.

The final ‘page’ is where you find individual boxes containing the servos, controller, connectors, etc.

It has all be well thought out and organised. This is just as well as there are a lot of pieces here. You are able to build five different robots using this kit, plus whatever your imagination permits.

Jimu robot parts and appAll the pieces are of good quality plastics and connect solidly where needed. The cables are equally well put together but the connectors seem to be designed for smaller fingers than mine. To be honest, that makes perfect sense.

You might have noticed the distinct lack of instructions. The reason for this will soon become apparent.

Jimu app

To get started on your building quest, unless you want to dive in and design something yourself, you need the app.

On one of the ‘pages’ there is a QR code that sends you to the Jimu website where you can download the software. Alternatively, head to the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store and search for Jimu.

Jimu robot appOnce downloaded it is just a matter of finding the robot you want to build.

The app is clear and easy to set up.

Jimu Explorer build

Preparation

As I have already mentioned, there are many pieces: 372, to be exact. There are also seven servo motors.

In preparation of your build set aside plenty of space, and time.

jimu robot build startFoolishly, as this kit is aimed at those much younger than I, I expected to be all done and dusted within 15 minutes. Take my word for it, it took me the best part of two Iron Fist episodes.

I would also recommend that you start with a fully-charged phone or tablet. Even the KEYone‘s mighty battery couldn’t last the full score, albeit after a full day’s work.

Lastly, ensure that you take note of the little symbols and lettering on the servos – this is crucial.

App instructions

It’s been a while since I’ve tackled model-making and, thankfully, the app is really clear. Each step is animated, giving you a 3D example of how each piece slides into place.

Jimu robot build progressIf you need to retrace your steps, you can flick the app backwards to repeat a step.

I really loved the fact that you can also rotate the image in 3D, as well as zoom in and out.

Achievement

I will openly admit, even at my advanced age, I was pretty pleased with the results.

Jimu robot builtAt no point did I have to pull the thing apart and correct mistakes. This is  mostly due to the clear instructions.

Controlling the Jimu robot

As you will no doubt already have assumed, controlling your creation is also done via the app.

Jimu robot connectYou mobile device will link up to your bot over Bluetooth.

Jimu robot connectingSelect the robot you have created and then select ‘Control’.

The firware will then update. I am guessing this is so that the control module has everything it needs.

Jimu robot updateIt took a number of passes before the firmware successfully updated so, stick with it.

Once the control module has updated, the servos are quickly updated too.

Jimu robot controlYou then have a choice of using a control panel or use the set movements.

Jimu robot movesHere are some of the set movements.

[youtube id=”rcBFseE46nI”]

Examples

Happy – Here the not-so-scary dinobot wags its tail and generally appears pleased to see you.

Twist – The bot gets its groove on

Juggle – Here the mechanical menace to herbivores dances around on one leg

STEM learning and coding

The whole point of kits such as the Jimu Explorer is to get kids interested in STEM. STEM is short for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The coding section is also located within the app. Here you can build and block out different actions on the servo motor numbers.

You drag and drop them into the cue, then name the action, and it shows up in your original list as the pre-coded actions.

This element in particular is what’s key to toys like this. You can enjoy making things move whilst actually learning how it all interacts.

Jimu Explorer review conclusion

Don’t let the bright colours and big pictures fool you. The UBTECH Jimu Explorer pack has been designed to get the grey matter working.

The instructions are clear and the only minor issue I had was getting the smallest cable connector in. As an adult and a bass player (not known for small hands) I think that’s fine.

The fact that you can not only programme your own moves but create your own robots is a bonus. Furthermore, that fits in with the whole ethos of STEM learning.

It might not be the cheapest kit out there, but with a range of robots to chose from and the time it takes to build, you certainly get your money’s worth. Not only that, there’s the hours of playing with the creation after it has been built.

To be honest, I think this is too good for kids. I want more!

Jimu Explorer robot kit price and availability

You can buy the Explorer kit now for £150 from the Jimu store on Amazon.

There are other kits available in the Jimu range, check out the website.

UBTECH Jimu Explorer kit review

by Jay Garrett time to read: 4 min
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