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2013 Holiday Gift Guide

What special gifts will best please the roboticist in your family or among your friends?

Check out the following when considering holiday gifts this joyous season!


Orion Robotics  (800) 535-916

Universal Robot Feedback Arm Orion’s 6-DOF robot arm has a long reach in its class, and at about $450 – $500 including a rotating wrist, is a sophisticated “do anything” robot arm that would be sure to please any robo-enthusiast on your gift list! It has a self-supporting weighted base, positioning feedback, and much more! Check out Orion’s website for details.


Innov8tive Designs  (760) 468-8838

Power Backup Solved!

The Scorpion Backup Guard is a lightweight, self-contained, stand-by power supply for your ground, heli, fixed wing or multirotor robot radio system. When plugged into an unused channel on your radio receiver, the Backup Guard monitors the voltage to your receiver and servos. As soon as the voltage drops below 5.00 volts, the Backup Guard switches on and provides 5 volts, preventing receiver brown-outs and maintaining full control of your bot. The Scorpion Backup Guard weighs only 1.3 ounces, and retails for $24.99


Visual Edge (765) 319-3257

Tractor Pull!
If teachers and students are on your shopping list, don’t overlook the VisualEdge™ Full-Pull Game-in-a-Box complete STEM package! Full Pull™ is a challenging intermediate-level robotics game that combines robot design skill with brute force. Rookie and veteran robot builders can be competitive at the same time and will both find this game a serious challenge. For more information, please visit:

Holiday-Guide-2014-2Pololu  (702) 262-6648

Throw your Weight Around!

The Pololu Zumo chassis is a small, tracked robot platform that is less than 10 cm on each side — small enough to qualify for Mini Sumo competitions — and works with a variety of micro metal gearmotors to allow for a customizable combination of torque and speed. Add a Zumo shield, which includes a dual motor driver, buzzer, and three-axis accelerometer and compass, to make an Arduino controllable robot that can really throw its weight around! Excellent for Holiday hacking!! (Arduino controller not included)

Holiday-Guide-2014-8Parallax  (888) 512-1024

The Gift of Real-World Engineering

Learn real-world engineering skills with the friendly, capable, and peppy ActivityBot. It’s a great option for first-time robot-builders, as well as for an intro to technology and engineering courses in high schools and colleges. Step-by-step web tutorials take you through programming its multicore Propeller chip in C, wiring circuits on a breadboard, and building sensor systems so your robot can navigate on its own. Ready for tinkering with off-the-shelf components, additional sensors, and upgrade kits. Price: $199

Holiday-Guide-2014-1Servo City  (620) 221-0421


ServoCity’s new Micro Gripper Kit is a simple solution for projects requiring small pinchergrippers. The kit is easy to assemble and requires only a Phillips screw driver. Compatible with Hitec’s HS-55 and HS-5055MG servos. The 6-32 mounting thruhole allows for easy attachment to various components including their new Actobotics™ line. The gripper kit includes (3) 1/8” thick Delrin gripper pieces and the required hardware (servo not included). $6.99 (each)

Holiday-Guide-2014-9MINDS-i  (509) 252-5767

Rugged Outdoor Robotic Rover The MINDS-I two-in-one Super Rover kit can be built as a 4X4 crawler or a 6×6 all-terrain rover as shown. Available with custom sensor capabilities, this project is great for indoor as well all-out fun outdoors. The rover shown is a custom design; underlying rover kit is available for $589. Comes with quick start in structions. Arduino module kit for autonomous roving: $249

Holiday-Guide-2014-15Hanson Robokind

Benefactors, Foundations & Schools: R25 humanoid

In the spirit of the holidays, we have rarely seen such a momentous gift that will make such a beneficial difference in the lives of students. If you are benefactor who supports your local school systems and wish to make a gift to an educational facility at year’s end, this gift will make a real difference. The HansonRobokind R25 humanoid is a revolutionary, interactive humanoid robot designed for several uses, including teaching computer science (includes curriculum) and in programs for autistic children. (See our LERN section for more details!). Price: $2700

Holiday-Guide-2014-10Tower Hobbies  (800) 682-8948

Put a Heli-Max 1SQ V-Cam under the Tree! This electric powered, 2.4GHz quadcopter is fully radio controlled and is designed for the skill level of beginner RC helicopter flyers. The really cool thing is that it takes aerial videos and still photographs! It’s a truly affordable version of a multirotor, one of the largest growing aerial robotics categories! This version (no. LXDLNK) is priced at Tower at a very affordable $84.98.  (585) 482-3481

Fly like an Eagle!

This Robotic Bird from allows you to program the movement of its wings using your own microcontroller. It weighs just 10 ounces with a wingspan of 67.25 inches. Powered by a 700mAh 7.4V Li-Poly, and two Hitec HSB-9370TH servos. The Robotic Bird can easily fly and maneuver entirely by flapping its enormous wings! For details on this exciting gift idea, please visit or contact Birdkit’s founder, Nathan Chronister, at:


Blade Helicopters

Fly your Cam with SAFE™ Technology!

The BLADE 350 qx is designed to carry the famous high-def Go-Pro camera (not included). With this or other mini cam, the lucky recipient of this gift is free to pursue the awesome world of aerial photography and videography. It includes SAFE™ (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) technology, a revolutionary electronic flight envelope protection system. It offers smooth flight capability and multiple modes so you can fly with the level of protection and assistance that suits any given moment of the flight. BLADE is a Horizon Hobby brand. The BLADE Ready to fly: $469.99, Bind-N-Fly, $419.99

Holiday-Guide-2014-18VEX Robotics Design System  (903) 453-0800

For the Tinkerer/Hobbyist/Student

The VEX Clawbot Kit is the latest foundation robot kit in the VEX Robotics Design System and would make a doozy of a Holiday gift for a student of any age or for the hobbyist tinkerer. The Clawbot comes with an easy to understand illustrated instruction guide that outlines every step of the assembly process. There are over 300 parts included in the kit, including four motors, structural metal, fasteners, wheels and gears. The version shown is one of countless variations that can be created. The controller for the Clawbot kit is sold separately. Clawbot kit price: $149.99

Holiday-Guide-2014-17PITSCO Education  (800) 835-0686

T-BOT Hydraulic Arm for young students!

Watch young kids smile as they learn the secrets of hydraulic actuation. This kit requires some glue and assembly, but that is also part of its charm. Students will understand four axes of motion and learn about the concept of a gripper. See a child smile as stacking cubes or other objects is mastered. Price: $39.95

Holiday-Guide-2014-21PIXEY CAM

Kickstarter Project 254449872

Let Your Robot “See” the Holiday Cheer!

PIXY is an open source object tracking, Arduino (and other microcontroller) compatible video camera that can track up to seven colors and more than one hundred objects at a time. For details, please visit the Kickstarter campaign for PIXY: Price: $75 (includes shipping)

Holiday-Guide-2014-16The World Models Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

RoboPhilo Jr. Ready-To-Walk Humanoid

Imagine giving a nearly 1-foot high, 1 kg humanoid, assembled and ready to walk, right out of the box, to that special roboticist this holiday season! This award-winning robot can write, draw, walk, play soccer and perform many amazing feats, and is sure to delight everyone in the family in addition to its lucky new owner. It includes graphical motion software and is powered by a 6V battery. Distributed in North America by Airborne Models. Check out the amazing videos at! And the price is right: $249

Holiday-Guide-2014-22RobotShop  (866) 627-3178

ROMO iPhone Trackbot wants to play this Holiday season For the iPhone enthusiast on your gift list!

Out of the box there are just three items: The robot, a cord for charging and a small booklet about Romo and Romotive (creator of  Romo). There is nothing to assemble, no wires to cut and no manual. Romotive estimates that around 50 to 100 programmers are working on apps for the robot. After the robot is charged overnight and the Romo app is downloaded, the owner needs to merely place an iPhone or compatible iPod in the robot’s docking station and Romo comes to life with an animated emoticon face and sounds that let you know it is ready to play. Romo is priced within reach and while two smart devices are still required to operate it for most of its functions (an iPod or iPhone to dock in the robot, and an iPad, iPhone or iPod to control it remotely), many will prize such a gift. Price: $150

Holiday-Guide-2014-23Saelig  (888) 772-3544

Oscillosopes for the Professional

Saelig has introduced PicoScope 9300 Oscilloscopes, which use sequential sampling technology to measure fast repetitive signals without the need for expensive real-time sampling hardware. PicoScope 9300 Sampling Oscilloscopes are ideal for many advanced applications including signal analysis, timing analysis, testing and design of high-speed digital communication systems, network analysis, semiconductor testing, and research and development. For serious hobbyists, researchers and professionals.

LEGO-EV3Lego Education

Latest LEGO is the most Powerful Yet!

The new LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 is now available! Without doubt, this will be one of the most asked and hoped-for gifts this holiday season. The EV3 brick is now a very capable computer with a 300 MHz ARM9 processor, 64 MB RAM, 16 MB Flash (+microSDHC slot), Linux OS, WiFi support, and a nice 178×128 pixel LCD display. There are currently two version of LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3, Education and Home, with the major difference being which sensors are included. (for more detail, please see the EV3 review, this issue) Price: $349.99

Holiday-Guide-2014-28CH Robotics

Small size, Big Power Output!

Here’s a unique, new bench-top power supply for your budding roboticist’s lab! The Hydra is a triple-output power converter designed to make it easy to get the power you need for any robot project. With its palm-sized aluminum case, the Hydra provides all the flexibility of a bench-top power supply, and it works anywhere. The charging functionality of the Hydra is based around its ability to operate in both current and voltage control modes. PC software simply keeps track and switches the Hydra between modes as needed to charge the battery. To purchase, please visit: Price: $198

Holiday-Guide-2014-29Saelig  (888) 772-3544

The MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner

This gem uses laser line triangulation to scan an object to produce a ready-to-print 3D file. It takes a rapid sequence of pictures with a built-in camera as the object rotates on a turntable. Two lasers create laser lines that profile the object as the camera shoots. The included MakerWare for Digitizer software combines the images into a point cloud, and the software generates a viewable 3D mesh file for a MakerBot or other 3D printer, creating, in effect, a 3D copying machine! The industry-standard stereolithography (STL) files that are created are also compatible with almost any 3D modeling software. Somebody is going to love making robot parts with this beauty! Software is compatible with Windows 7, Mac OSX v10.7, and Ubuntu Linux v12.04 or later versions. Price: $1349.99

Holiday-Guide-2014-30Micro-Mark  (800) 225-1066

Metal Forming Plier Set Bends Any Shape You Need!

Our set will make loops, rings, S, C, Z, L and just about any other shape. Set bends strip stock up to 1/32 inch thick and wire up to 3/32 inch. The plier at the top of the photo will even bend hardened music wire. Made of polished stainless steel with box joints that keep jaws in alignment. This is a set of incredibly useful, well-made, long lasting tools at a great price of only $47.95

Holiday-Guide-2014-26Global Specialties

Asuro Autonomous “Minesweeper” Robot for Serious Hobbyists

ASURO is a small autonomous multi-sensor robot developed for educational purposes by the DLR, the German Aerospace Center. The highly versatile, easy to assemble ASURO can be programmed in C. Perfect for experienced electronic technicians (soldering required) and quite feasible for a dedicated novice. Special tools and freeware for private users have been used in developing the electronics and software. It features an ATmega8L, 8-bit AVR-RISC processor and includes a CD with software, training manual and supporting materials. Excellent AVR-GCC freeware for use with Windows or Linux. Price: $45 (Minesweeper kit)


For book lovers this season, we have two beautiful recommendations.

Holiday-Guide-2014-31Build Your Own TEAMS OF ROBOTS with LEGO Mindstorms NXT & Bluetooth, by Cameron Hughes, Tracey Hughes, Trevor Watkins & Bob Kramer, published by McGraw-Hill Education, is an invaluable treatment that shows you how to plan, design, assemble and program truly fascinating swarmbots. Price: $30; $19.98 (

Holiday-Guide-2014-24Another great volume is ROBOT ALCHEMY, by Texe Marrs, a retired USAF officer and the author of many books on computers, and even careers with robots. This stimulating work provides a striking overview of not just robots, but the robotics industry itself, its trends, and he closely examines cyborgs and our possible future living with them. Price: $23.58 (paperback, ?