Martin Meier from the Dallas Personal Robotics Group recently put together a line follower robot using the Viper Robot kit from Microbric, and he went to the trouble of documenting and sharing the experience and his observations online.
From his published review on the robots.net weblog (see link below), Martin seems very positive about the Viper robot kit. He does recommend that people considering the Viper have some previous experience with entry level model building, but also states that the robot kit would be suitable for a novice.
He also confirmed one of our observations about the Viper and Microbric design approach - that blokes like us with big fingers and low manual dexterity definitely need to have a pair of needlenose pliers handy.
One of the big concerns, and stumbling blocks, for kits like the Viper robot is software. Many of the kits, including the original LEGO Mindstorms kits, come with robot programming systems that are difficult to install and clumsy to use. According to Martin, the Microbric Viper robot software system, using ATOM BASIC IDE, is a breath of fresh air. He writes:
"It installed on my computer without any fuss, and immediately detected the robot connected to it. I was impressed with how forgiving ATOM BASIC was. Based on prior programming experience, I was able to write simple yet original programs in about an hour."
Martin was so pleased with the Viper that he's committed to entering it in the upcoming Dallas Personal Robotics Group's spring contest. We'll keep an eye peeled for some photos and a contest report from Martin.
Microbric Website - Manufacture the Viper and other robot kits