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4.7 out of 5 stars
Robot Builder's Bonanza, 4th Edition
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book accomplishes something rare: It's straight-forward for beginners and yet detail-rich for experts. I really liked the pace and depth.

The material is organized in a way that makes it easy to jump to a topic of interest, which makes it a useful reference book. With plenty of new information, it's worth a read from the beginning.

The thing that surprised me is that when I built one the projects (the Arduino robot), the instructions were actually complete and correct! (I didn't have to make the usual leaps or go through frustrating trials typical for most hardware/software/builder instructions.)

As a bonus, the jokes and personal asides are pretty entertaining. You can tell the author has really lived with his subject.

I highly recommend it.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is considered the classic text on hobby robotics, and I bought the third edition after becoming interested in robot building five years ago. I read that version cover to cover, and occasionally flip through it as a reference today. The book contains useful reference information on machining materials (e.g. wood, metal, and plastics), basic electronics, drive train design, and sensors. There are also projects within the book which apply the reference information to build specific types of robots.

The fourth edition retains this great format with a number of improvements: There's a new companion web site which has printable templates for making servo brackets, encoder patterns, and downloadable program code. New chapters on using the Picaxe, the Arduino, and more projects using RC servos (e.g. a servo based walker and arm projects). This is great because RC servos are so easy to control with a microcontroller. There's still a chapter on using the classic Basic Stamp 2 which is quite popular due to its ease of use and great support.

The author Gordon McComb is active in online forums and if you stick with the hobby long enough, you might virtually bump into him. You'll find he's as helpful and friendly in such encounters as he comes across in this book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As in the previous editions Gordon McComb does an excellent job of explaining principles of tool use, basic building mechanics and programming. The many examples and projects make this an excellent handbook for any robotics enthusiast. The 2nd edition had some good examples and projects for the Lego RCX and the 3rd edition had a nice section on the Parrelax BASIC II microcontroller. This edition covers Arduino, PICAXE, and the BASIC stamp.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
I remember as a child in the mid 80's continually checking out and renewing the first edition of Robot Builder's Bonanza from my local public library. I ended up using the book so much, that I had to buy it from the Library because the pages were so worn. I loved that book and still do.

I have the 2nd edition of the book which was a great update in the late 90's. This 4th edition I also own now and it is an awesome update to the series. If you have an interest in robotics, want to know how to get started building your own robot or helping your kids learn about robotics this is the book for you!

It is so hard to give wide coverage to the subject of how to build a robot, but Robot Builder's Bonanza from the 1st edition to this 4th edition has always done an outstanding job of covering the subject in way that makes it easy to learn what you need to know to start working on your own robotic ideas. The book walks you through how to use tools. How to understand electronics. How to build and prototype circuits. How to control motors and servos. How to build and interface sensors. How to use microcontrollers. How to construct robot bodys and frames. You name it and this book walks you through it in a common sense way that will make learning fun and won't leave you scratching your head wondering what the book is trying to tell you.

Robot Builder's Bonanaza has often been called "The Robot Builder's Bible" by those in the hobby of building robots and its no wonder. The book is like having a small encyclopedia of books on the subject of robotics. It is a very good investment and a wonderful book to add to your collection!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book has a little something for everyone. I had read through the 3rd edition, but what I really like is not flooding the text with information that will just be glanced over. That material is available through the online component. The interfacing with Arduino information is also a nice addition in response to the massive amount of data available on this platform. If you were just going to purchase one book for your jumpstart into hobby robotics, this would be the one. It bring you up from "this is a diode, this is a resistor"....etc... to a crash course on fundamentals of C programming to get you warmed up on programming microcontrollers.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Provides great starter content across many subjects. Enables the reader to understand basic terms in order to continue research more broadly into specific areas of robot design and construction. I have enjoyed reading sections even when already familiar with the that specific topic.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
An excellent book with a truckload of info on the different components you need to make a robot or other mobile device. Contains helpful material on tools, materials, motors, controllers, etc. If you've never worked with metal, plastic, or wood, this book will help you get started!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is both a great introductions to the skill sets needs to build robots but also instructions on how to take parts and those skills to the next level. Many good references and many links to the web site with as much material as the book contains in extras technologies.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Daunting concept but this book provides the launching pad! From reasonably priced starters to complex and challenging projects, ideal for teachers and parents looking for a challenge to share with their kids!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
A lot of the robot projects from the 3rd edition were removed. Apparently they were replaced with more programming oriented projects. This was a disappointment for me because I wanted the instructions for building a "heavy duty 6 legged walker" which I had remembered from the 3rd edition. Imagine my surprise when I crack this book open and its not there. :(

I see no good reason why the book could not have just gotten thicker. Retain the old projects, and add in the new stuff.

To be fair though, there are some newer updated looking robotics projects that seem neat. Also this book will be a BLAST for anyone who wants to get into robot programming. A lot of the component and material descriptions are still present which is also nice.

Simply put, if you get a good deal on the 3rd edition, I'd say skip this one and save some money.
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