Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Review: Snapcircuits Rover

Bowen liked the Snapcircuits Arcade kit so much that there are days when he wakes up at 6:00am and asks to do projects. So when the Snapcircuits Rover went on sale during Black Friday my wife and I picked it up.

The concept is fairly similar: you get a breadboard that's mounted onto a chassis. The chassis contains the batteries, wheels, motors, but none of the electronics that you then wire together to put together a remote control vehicle. The remote is a simple flimsy remote that's fixed function, by contrast.

The problem with the rover, however, is that it's of very limited variation. The wireless module and the control modules are two very big blocks that are connected by a bunch of resistors. In fact, as long as you want to receive signals from the controller and move the rover, you don't have any choice but to wire up these two big blocks a certain way. The problem then is that you don't have much space left on the breadboard for much else. Thus, the kit comes with 3 rover variations, and all the other projects basically treats the rover as a fixed unit supplying the power. Worse, the manual states that your other Snapcircuit kits (save a few exceptions) cannot be used on this circuit board because the voltage and power draws are different.

If I were the designer of the system, I would have fused the wireless and control modules together into one block, eliminating the need to take up so much space on the board. Furthermore, I'd also include a voltage stepper so that the rover would be compatible with other Snapcircuit kits.

As it is, the Rover sounds great, but is so limited that Bowen basically never played with it again after one night. I returned the toy to Amazon and he didn't even notice!

Not recommended.

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