Hydraulics is one of the basic principles of robotics and its uses were theorized and experimented with centuries ago by Leonardo da Vinci. The hydraulic robotic arm seen above is a much smaller version of the ones you see today in assembly plants across the world. There are a few reasons why we decided to get this toy for our kids this past Christmas. First, because the first time my son laid eyes on it on Amazon October last year, his eyes grew wide and since then has been asking for it non-stop. Second, hydraulics is a neat and interesting concept and it was good timing because we were on the look-out for something more educational for him and the fact that he has an interest in robotics. Keep reading if you are interested in more information and our review on the hydraulic robotic arm.
The Pathfinders Hydraulic Robotic Arm kit comes with almost everything your kids need to assemble the arm except for a ruler, food coloring to help you identify the liquid you use to fill the syringes, and a good pair of scissors. The plywood structure pieces, tubing for the all the fluids you’ll use for the hydraulics, syringes and glue are all provided.
Hydraulic Robotic Arm – Review
We’re going to start with some of the aspects that we like about this product and then we’ll get into some suggested improvements.
Features / Pros
Range of movement – This is a decent-sized product meant to lift small to medium weights. When you are all finished building it, the product will stand over a foot tall and is able to reach out over 16” to grab an object and then raise it into the air. You can then rotate the arm over 90 degrees as many times as you like.
Solid construction & easy build – The plywood is solid and well made and is able will hold up well under extended use. Keep in mind that this product does lend itself to a certain level of experimentation, especially from young and inquisitive minds. The pieces are not too large so they can be handled easily by anyone in the appropriate age. (The kit’s recommended age is 8+)
Easy to build, yet challenging – The kit comes with the needed equipment to build the hydraulic system and comes with all the instructions you will need to operate it. If you follow the instructions, it’s fairly easy to set up, however it’s also challenging at the same time, which is a good thing in our opinion. Mistakes can happen (i.e.: too much glue here or there, glue in the wrong spot, etc.) which makes your kids think outside-the-box a bit.
Lack of strength – Even though the plywood construction is solid, the clasping arms don’t have the strength to hold larger and heavier objects. Stick with the small to medium-size and weight objects. Trying to lift the family cat will definitely not work!
Need two pairs of hands – Most of the kit can be built by one person however when it comes to the clasping arms mechanism, we highly recommend a second pair of hands. The main reason is that the instructions only want you to glue the pieces together at the last moment (which makes sense), however our son had difficulties putting it in place with the elastics, since the components kept falling apart. A second pair of hands definitely help with this step.
The only other thing we could recommend is to have a small crochet hook available during the last part of the setup, which is to set up the various elastics in/around the arm. Even if you have small hands, placing the elastics can be a bit tricky. The crochet hook definitely helped.
Hydraulic Robotic Arm – Product Demonstration
All in all, this product has our thumbs up. It allowed us to spend a few hours building it together (or at least we watched while our son built it), which was great quality time for the family. Have you had a chance to play around with this kit? If so, we’d love to get your feedback. Just use the comment box below! Before you leave, check out our Blog for more Toy News & Info. Until next time.