I was always attracted to the idea of autonomous robots and clean energy. And when I’ve bumped into this DIY 6 In 1 Solar Educational Kit at about $6 per item, I couldn’t just walk away. I thought it would be fun for me and a good introduction to electronics and solar energy for my daughter. So, here it is, the first review on my blog.
I’ve ordered two sets. When they’ve arrived, my first thought was that the boxes were actually bigger then I expected. But as soon as you open one, you can easily understand why. All parts of the models are still parts of the plastic sprue. Gearbox and solar panel cases were on the sprue too. And I personally have nothing against it, it just means that you would need to spend a bit more time building the model.
Every kit lets you build one of 6 models: car, boat, windmill, puppy and two types of airplane. After you;ve tried one of the models you can easily rebuild it into something else.
When I’ve emptied the box, Kate (my daughter) took it and started choosing the first model we were going to build. She wanted to make a puppy. So, let it be a puppy. It was not clear from the picture what exactly puppy is supposed to do, when he’s solar powered.
After checking the manual, I’ve started breaking out the parts I need, also watching my daughter to make sure that no small parts get lost. After I’ve assembled gearbox and solar panel, Kate started loosing interest in what we were doing. Parts were to little for her to work with and it required a lot of focus. So maybe when they’ve labeled this toy as 10+ they weren’t kidding =). And at this point, we’ve figured out that puppy will be wigging his tail when he’s done.
About 10 minutes later, puppy was assembled. And I only had to add two wires between gearbox and solar panel. Oh boy, that was frustrating. I don’t know, if that’s me having fat fingers and weak grip or poor design, but it was a real challenge to insert wires into spring mounts. I believe the intent was to make it kid friendly, but please, let m know if there’s a kid who can squeeze those wires in. And they tend to fall out easily.
Finally, puppy’s done. Looks not bad, much smaller than I expected. Kate was excited. Now it’s time for solar robotics magic!
It was a cloudy day and just taking it outside and positioning solar panel towards the place we believed the sun was, didn’t do the trick. Well, we both couldn’t afford waiting couple days for sun to show up.
Plan B. I found my LED flash light, turned it on and pointed into the solar panel. The tail started moving.
It’s alive! It’s alive!
Kate grabbed the Puppy and a torch and ran to mom. “Look mummy, if I use a flashlight, it start moving”.
I believe partially my goal was achieved. Even though, Kate couldn’t build the model on her own, at least she took part in solar energy experiment.
Ok, here’s another indicator that toy is at least for 10+. A minute later Kate brought it back, asking me to fix it. What? Already?? The gearbox case fell apart and the wires pulled out. I’ve spend another 5 minutes to get it back together. I’ve started thinking that I should use some glue, to childproof the model.
I was too frustrated that day to build the second model. And without direct sunlight, they were almost worthless, so we’ve agreed with Kate that we’ll build the second one on a sunny day.
When the first sunny day after the California storm of the decade came, we’ve took out the second box. This time Kate decided to build the windmill. Had to go through all the steps again: break out parts, assemble gearbox, solar panel, build the model. This time it was much faster and caused less frustration. The parts were bigger, it was easier to work with them and they were not falling apart. Five minutes later we had a windmill. It was probably 3 times taller then a puppy and had a stable base. And direct sunlight did the trick. Kate now had two solar robots.
Here are some sellers offering the kit from this review for a good price: