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Revell VEXplorer RC Robotics System

More RC Kit Than Robot, It's Fun and Educational

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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VEXplorer Modular Robotic System Image Courtesy of eToys.com

VEXplorer Modular Robotic System

Image Courtesy of eToys.com
For teens 14 and up, this kit (with over 300 parts including servos, gears, and 6-channel radio) provides an education in building a radio controlled robotic vehicle as well as giving kids a great sense of accomplishment once the RC is complete. And with its "claw" and Spycam it's loads of fun too. A software disc contains complete assembly instructions. Even though they might have had minor issues with some aspects of the kit, every review that I found online talked about how much fun the Revell VEXplorer is to play with.

VEXplorer Kit Assembly

Although it has over 300 parts, the majority of the parts come in preassembled modules with lots of nuts and bolts that make it both easy to put together and, as noted by at least some customers, perhaps a little too simple for older gadget geeks. The preassembled parts are the main body, two 3-wheel assemblies with motors and gears, the claw, and the arm assembly.

Marketed toward 14 and up, younger teens and pre-teens, with parental assistance, would probably not have too much trouble assembling the kit. Although described as taking under an hour, some customers said it did take a bit longer than that to get all put together. One reason for the difficulty is that it was hard to reach some places where the nuts and bolts needed to go. For example, on the Vex Robotics Design System forum user Mike wrote,

"In an effort to pre-assemble the robot for you, it appears that some areas of the overall assembly were made unnecessarily more difficult. At certain points; a beam of the arm assembly, a motor, etc were quite simply in the way of building another section." (Read full message)

For older teens and the more adventurous, those preassembled modules can be disassembled and then rebuilt into whatever new creation they dream up.

Robot or Radio Controlled Vehicle or Spy Toy

"Robotics" may be a bit of a misnomer for the RC kit. In the customer reviews at Amazon.com, W. Decker writes, "where the kit is really lacking is the inability to do any programming. Without being able to program, this isn't a robot; it is a remote-controlled car" and other customers made similar observations. However, Michael Benolkin in his lengthy and entertaining review of the Revell VEXplorer at Cybermodeler Online tells us that the kit modules "are compatible and interchangeable with the VEX Labs modules, and they also offer both remote control and autonomous controllers. If you want your robot to operate on its own, that is indeed possible."

The VEXplorer, once assembled, is a slow-moving, 6-wheeled vehicle with all-terrain tires and a 6-channel radio system. It handles hard floors quite well. Some customers found that the battery life was lower than expected. As Benolkin noted in his review, the extra power needed to pull it across carpet tends to shorten the battery life. Put rechargeable batteries on your list of modifications.

Spy games are popular with kids (and some adults too) and this RC fits the bill with its wireless color video camera with microphone. The picture is decent although not designed for nighttime or low-light situations. "The Spycam" is mounted on "The Arm" with "The Claw" which lets you see what you're grabbing as well as look up, down, and to the left and right, transmitting the image to a TV or computer monitor.

Features, Pros, Cons of the VEXplorer

Addressed above, here's a easy-to-scan list of some key features and specs for the Revell VEXplorer Robotics System:
  • "The Spycam" is a 2.4 GHz wireless, color video camera with microphone. 150 foot range.
  • "The Claw" is an arm extension that can be mounted horizontally or vertically that pick up objects such as soda cans.
  • "The Arm" moves up and down and has both the Spycam and the Claw mounted to it.
  • 6 gear-driven all-terrain tires.
  • 6-channel 27MHz transmitter with 4 analog and 2 digital channels.
  • 150-day free trial of SolidWorks CAD software on DVD
  • 300 parts include 4 motors, 6 servos, 24 gears, cables, harnesses, screws, nuts, bolts along with the wheels, camera, radio system, and tools for assembly.
  • Requires 10 AA batteries (6 for receiver, 4 for camera receiver) and 1 9V battery (for controller).
  • Approx. 19 inches long, 10 inch width wheelbase, and up to 18.5 inches tall with arm raised.
  • Printed, illustrated manual.
Pros:
  • Preassembled modules make it easy for those new to kits and model-building to create a working RC fairly quickly.
  • Wireless video camera includes a microphone for extra "spy" fun.
  • System is customizable and expandable for the more adventurous.

Cons:

  • SolidWorks 3D CAD software is only a 150 day free trial that requires a fee to continue using.
  • Uses lots of batteries; short battery life.
  • Generally takes longer than the suggested "1 hour" to assemble.
VEXplorer in Box

VEXplorer in Box

Image Courtesy of PriceGrabber

Buying the Revell VEXplorer Robotics System:

In addition to the reviews referenced above, here are more details on the VEXplorer:

  • Robot Magazine: Details and lots of close-up photos of the VEXplorer and its components.

  • CBS 2 Tech Review: Video and review along with videos of similar products such as Erector Spykee and WowWee Roboquad.

  • Your Review: Do you own the Revell VEXplorer Robotics System? Do you love it, like it, or did it fall short of your expectations? Write a review and share your opinion with others. Note that all submissions are reviewed before publication so your review won't show up immediately. But we do want to hear about your experiences with the VEXplorer.
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