Open Source

Raspberry Pi-powered arm: This kit aims to make robotics simple enough for kids

Powered by the $35 Raspberry Pi, the MeArm Pi is a robot arm designed to be simple enough that kids aged 11+ can build and program it.

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Image: Mime Industries

Think it's tricky to build and program a robot arm? Think again.

Powered by the Raspberry Pi, the MeArm Pi is a robot arm designed to be simple enough that kids aged 11+ can build and program it.

The lightweight plastic arm, which can pick up small objects such as Lego bricks, comes as a kit that keeps the number of screws to a minimum and is relatively straightforward to assemble using the included hex keys. It can be controlled via the Pi, either using joysticks attached to the included Pi HAT add-on board or by programming it from the Pi.

Programming the arm is possible using drag and drop programming tools like Scratch or Blockly, or for more experienced users, using the Python or JavaScript programming languages. Ultimately any programming language that can be used to interact with the pins on the Pi should be able to be used. For those unfamiliar with the command line, the MeARM can be programmed via a web app in the browser.

SEE: Raspberry Pi in 2017: New boards, new OSes and more

There's also a Node.js app that performs various functions, including allowing users to control the servos in the arm via the Pi's General-Purpose Input Output (GPIO) pins and even to control the arm remotely via a web browser.

The MeARM's add-on board is compatible with the Raspberry Pi Model B+ form factor, and should work with the Pi Zero but won't fit in the case.

The company behind MeARM also makes Mirobot, a build-it-yourself WiFi drawing robot that teaches children about technology, programming and mathematics.

The MeARM is available in orange or blue has already passed its £10,000 funding goal on Kickstarter, raising £14,770 with 28 days to go. The standard kit costs £60 ($75).

Read more about the Raspberry Pi

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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