Tamiya Robotcrafts (Mechanical Beetle - Obstacle Evading Type)

Clear type switch
Clear switch with green transparent parts adds a cool, futuristic look.

Walking the Beetle
Run on flat, smooth surfaces. Avoid running over slopes or on bumpy roads. Enclose the beetle in 4 walls to have it run around in the same space.

Basic Specifications
* Total length: 195mm
* Total weight: 110g (w/ out batteries)
* Body material: ABS resin
* 2 possible different speeds.
* Gearbox, motor, reverse switch also included.
* Requires one R6/AA/UM3 battery.
* Continuous running time with Alkaline battery: 3hrs. at low speed/2hrs. at high speed.

Walks while swinging its horn to avoid obstacles This amazing beetle-robot walks with its four legs while swinging its horn. When it bumps into an obstacle, it turns around automatically and will continue walking. Horn, legs and body on which the gearbox is mounted employ transparent-colored parts, giving the beetle a funky look. Reverse switch is also transparent, giving you a peek at the beetle's internal mechanisms. Assembly is very simple with use of screws and snap-lock parts.

All you need is included. Assembly is very simple with use of screws and snap-lock parts. Cable ends are rubber capped with cut areas pre-marked for easy wiring. Walks while swinging its horn A link rod attached to the front right leg allows the horn to move right and left and when it bumps into an obstacle, the beetle automatically turns to avoid it.

Low speed, high speed, choice between two gearboxes You can choose between 2 different running speeds. A reverse switch also allows backward movement.

Getting oneself organised and planning each step is part of our curriculum. Look at the different small parts of this robotic beetle. We supervised and provide mentorship in planning each steps and learn how to read the provided instruction - a simplified version of engineering diagram to build the robot one step at a time. If it's wrong, we motivated the youth to go back one or more steps. We follow the roots and trace where the problem is during the building process. This kind of training is therefore instinctively programmed to the youth.

Most children know a switch is one attached to the wall at our room, and also found in the front panel of any electronics. Having an opportunity to build a switch and see how the contact points meet and completing a electronic circuit to make the robot works is indeed very useful. Learning by fabrication as well as from why does it not work is the most important part.

You wouldn't know how many parents and their childrens come to us for help (sometimes desperately) just to have a last minute costly fix to a science project. Most of the times, it involves gears, wheels, shaft and generally a drive line.  The gear box shown above is by no means a super duper state of the art gearbox but definitely one that educates a lot more than what our current school syllabus does when comes to building science projects that we have heard of or seen (eg. windmill, a car, a garage door, a lift, a crane, etc).


Mechanical design principles are also learned from connecting the gearbox and cams to drive cables or linkages that moves the legs of a robot in tandem or synchro fashion to resemble a working animal or in this case a beetle whilst also powering a horn that helps evade obstacle in the front. By not just freestyle building iusing blocks like KNEX and LEGO, this robot allows student to actually learn through fabrication (things that actually works) to show youths that this is how it works. This is important as youths need to know how real thing works and not necessarily the same old same old building block learning curve.

Remember, these apparently look like toys to most is actually very very intuitive in design, the priniciples are not only presented. it will have to be practiced.  Materials are often rebuildable and reusable as in the battery holder, Switch, Gearboxes.

Other accessories are available like a chassis and wheels set from Tamiya Educational Series and you can now assembled a 4 WD Buggy with switch, battery holder and gearbox already from the beetle or other animals in the Tamiya RoboCrafts series.

This article is written by Daniel Chun, Founder and Owner of Boytoys where Today's Hobby Makes Future Engineers. Daniel is also the Founder and Chief Instructor at Little Scientist Club which has evolved to become one of the best alternative science and robotics educational clubs in Toronto, GTA and Mississauga area.

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To see more about Summer Camp 2006, click here