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Videos / Our Sphero SPRK+ Review

If you’re in the education sector or keep up to date with the latest STEM learning tools, then you’ve most likely heard of Sphero. It’s one of the most popular educational products which fuses a robotics with imagination and has many unique features which have made Sphero a hit in both the classroom and the home.

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Hey Guys, how you going, Sam here from core electronics and today i'm taking a look at the Sphero SPRK+ or spark plus as we will refer to it's a little easier and this is a fairly new bit of gear from Sphero they're known for making educational toys learning tools things like that they had the first Sphero which was really really cool. A circular orb with the hamster wheel style drivetrain inside of it that could you know can move around and could be controlled from your smartphone then the Sphero 2.0 came out you know an innovation or you know a new iteration of that particular product, then we had the sphero sprk and now we land at the SPRK plus which is really cool so i'm going to take a look, and we are going to unbox that, take a look what's inside how it works get set up for  the first time and take a look at some of the Sphero resources and community. So take a look and you'll notice it's got a really really nice box I like I feel like I really enjoy products that are packaged up really nicely, its attention to detail, and you know if they're paying attention to the matte laminate being really nice on the cardboard wrap then there's probably going to be that same attention to detail shown in other aspects of the product, which i think is really cool.

So once you've taken the box off we've got a bit of a document pack and inside is a, some stickers sticker sheet, very cool, I've got a quick start a visual Quick Start Guide so I'll get to that a little bit later we've got a legal guide so you know in all of the different languages all the safety and less fun things like that then we've got a cool cardboard protractor which you can use for all with your different all of your different projects which you need to measure things with so that's what comes in that little pack. Set that aside there.

Then we've got the Sphero itself, a very cool tennis ball-sized orb so you can see how big it is there yeah tennis balls pretty good and it feels really nice it's nice and heavy it's got a good weight to it but not too heavy it just feels like a really, really, really well-designed product I love that it's transparent I think that's really cool because if you're trying to encourage you know kids and young minds to take an interest in robotics and you know electronics and stem learning and things like that then they don't want to just be looking at a white case they want to be looking at what's going on inside, you can see the circuit board and how the motors fit together and everything like that and that's a really cool little package in there we've got the inductive charger base which I like so the the actual Sphero here is waterproof it's got a scratch resistant waterproof shell so you can do all sorts of water-based activities with it as well. Very cool. So it fits in there, inductive charging, we've got a micro USB cable, a nice little cardboard wrap, there a piece of wax paper hiding the the tape so this is you know measuring tape in the truest sense of the word it's got a ruler on some sticky tape so if you want to create mazes and obstacle courses and things like that you can measure it by sticking down the tape onto your objects rather than having to hold it down or tape that down, really well-thought-out you know collection of stuff. So that's what in the Box it's going to put some of these things where we'll be using the maze tape today it is as i said a cool addition. Lets box this guy up at the end such a nice box I really like it. SO you can see on the side of the box some of the things you can do is that solar system activities you can paint because it is water proof you can covered in paint and paint tracks around things like that which is really cool and there's also a whole bunch of accessories and you know extra bits and pieces you can get to enhance your Sphero experience some of the more toy based things like the the Jump ramps and terrain parks through to add-ons you can you can get so you can build extra platforms on top of it to make it a really interesting and unique robotics experience which i think is you know it is nice and cool.

So if you're the number conscious sort of person we've got some specs so Bluetooth smart 30 meter range or 100 foot range for American friends, they've rated at 4.5 miles per hour as the top speed which converts into 7.2 km/h or 2 meters per second, 1 hour battery life so that's probably one of the only gripes I have with it is it's obviously going to be used you know you know say a classroom setting and whilst most standard classroom sessions are will only run for maybe 40 to 50 minutes if they do want to get an extended session out of it then you're going to have to to charge it, the charge time is three hours so you've got a little bit of you know time delay in there but considering what it does and what it's doing a one-hour play time is actually pretty good it could be longer but it's pretty good, it's pretty good, and it's going to serve for most you know people's purposes. Inductive charging as we mentioned so you just plug the micro USB cable into the base and then sit the Sphero on top and it charges and it's got a top and a bottom and naturally he'll self level when he's turned on but there is a wait at the bottom as well which makes it pretty early to see how it's supposed to sit there and you just put him into the to the stand with that back coil underneath the weight there on top of that coil. It doesn't need to be perfect, pretty much you know any rough aligner will do.

So to get started out oh and there is a smartphone app so freely available I've got the iOS version here it's available on iOS and Android and I have put some links in the tutorial there so the first thing you're going to want to do is plug your sphero in. So the blue light there we'll start blinking and it will turn on once when you don't have your Sphero on and then when you put your sphere on that after a few moments it will start blinking blue which means that it's charging there we go and when it's finished, can you see that just there and then when it's finished charging it will change to a solid blue which is cool.

So as I said you want to make sure it's fully charged before you use it for the first time. So I already got the app on my phone here so go ahead and download that and get that sorted out and you'll need to set up an account so there's three different types of accounts you can make using the sphero.edu app, theres all kinds of Sphero apps but the SPRK+ specifically designed for you know education things like that so its the Sphero Edu app now it's compatible with all Sphero robots but it's got the community and the resources that are geared towards the sprk plus.

 

So your account type, you can make it as a learner which is designed for students or kids, educators, obviously teachers people who are managing the classroom full of users so you get access to you know it's geared towards showing you those resources the lesson plan of the activities and everything you need there and parent of course the similar to educator but designed so that you can manage multiple accounts, view all children which is a really good way to streamline that experience make sure they're not bogged down by you know unnecessary stuff. So go ahead and make an account you can do that either online I've got a link to the Sphero website in there or in the app it will prompt you to as well if you've already used Sphero then you should be able to sign into your Sphero account as well so let's go ahead and get it started.

The first thing you want to do is well there's a few different modes of use which I'll get into later and we're not going to go super in-depth it's not a not a tutorial on how to actually code your Sphero or things like that it's just a review, we're taking a look at the features the first thing you do first thing I did you want to drive it around that's pretty cool. So on the app there down in the bottom right hand corner you'll see drive and select the type of you are you using and hold that your phone close to the Sphero robot in fact I will take him off charge, he is done so you'll need to make sure you've got bluetooth turned on because it uses bluetooth to communicate after a few seconds it will go, the LED will turn on and it will go to the color you can see if I move it around it self levels which is pretty cool so it's pretty neat. If you rotate, rotate it around, he stays in position which is pretty cool too. Now you can open up the drive mode, I'll bring that up it's this is what the drive mode looks like you can set the color of the LED, set to green as well as the intensity kind of like that pinky reddy sort of sort of coloring that's pretty cool I'm going to turn the speed down, you've got a speed control here an I don't want him to go off the table.

But to set up the orientation so with remote control car, you know that driving study that's always going to be facing one direction but because it's a spherical object you need to set the target direction similar to you know setting north on a compass so you've got this little touch pad here and you want to make sure that the blue light is facing you and you'll rotate, so yeah it's facing me between it that way is going to be straight. So I can drive him this way I can drive him back this way this way. I've just started calling it a him Sphero call it a him on their website and there's a bit of personality so I'm going to keep calling it a him. So you can drive them around you can do all this stuff and you can max up the speed I'm going to just have a short speed demonstration I don't even have another engine you have quite but and I've said two meters/second max speeds which is pretty cool.

Let's round that back down it's a little crazy so that's free drive mode that we've got just a huge amount fun you've got block programming so you can go into programs my programs create a new program and it will tell you to either create a text program, a block program, or a draw program. So block program is based around the scratch environment so you can just drag and drop blocks there so it controls you know we can just add in an actions let's add a roll action in here you know let's just make a roll for two seconds I suppose at only a little bit of speed and make him go to the left all right. So you can go start and you'll upload that except it's going to run off the table so I'm going to stop doing that. So that is pretty cool, that's quick program as well you don't have to wait ages for your program to upload, so we can get out of that and you can create a text program now one of the issues I have with the app, really the only big issue that I have is that it encourages you to program your Sphero in in a C-based program language, well it is C really, which is really really cool especially if you have used arduino or something like that it's going to feel really familiar but the issue is writing C programming on you know, a small phone screen isn't exactly intuitive on you know an iPad or a tablet it might be a bit better but I personally prefer a mechanical keyboard because you know having a bigger screen allows you to look up the functions so it's not going to be immediately apparent what you need to do in order to make your Sphero roll forward, you're going to need to look up the function lookup you know the arguments that you need to pass to it the parameters everything like that and then get going but fortunately there is a Google Chrome app we so you can do it online no worries but you can't program the Sphero from your computer only if you have a Chromebook you know it's hard to account for every type of Bluetooth connection out there so they've closed looped to just Chromebooks and mobile devices but you can write your program on any computer and then because it's all cloud-based it'll come up on your phone and you can then upload that you know that program to your Sphero.  So a little bit of a niggly issue but not too bad not too bad.

So you can create a text-based program, now we can draw and this one is particularly cool, so you can just draw a plot so I'm going to make it a bit of a zig zag pattern, hit start and here will hopefully not fall off the edge but he'll go in zig zag pattern something to make that a little smaller so we can better see what's going on there change the color green for this time so it'll zigzag a bit and back the other way following that pattern that I've drawn and you can see the live sensor data coming now, i will send him back here so you can see as he's moving, the direction and the velocity is traveling in which is really really cool I really like that it's a really interesting way of programming it hasn't been implemented you know in a lot of other products and the reason I like it is that you know as a young learner or a person who is new to programming they've got this idea in their head of what they want to do with robotics what they want to do with Sphero but they don't know how to program so instead of you know before they have to learn the block based programming they can just say yeah this is what I want to do I'm going to draw a picture and it's going to do that you can create a solar system model with multiple Sphero you can do all sorts of crazy stuff that's why the protractor comes in handy especially and the measuring tape you can measure how far your Sphero has gone. So it's really really cool that gets a big thumbs up from me there's our four you know programming or use cases that you can do with it and then the other big thing is the Sphero community - I'm just on the app here and you probably wont be able to see very well but I provided a link there to the Sphero community to the Sphero site just up above that and so you can go if you're in programs you can go to Sphero and it is ready to go programs which are designed so that teachers and educators can really easily put together lesson plans and get you know get stuck into teachings Sphero without having to dredge through all of the different functions it just shows you when you explore it as you go along then you've got the community where you know community user-contributed programs which is cool and you'll tell you whether it's block based or code based or a drawing program perhaps. And then the activities culminate all of those different things into ready-to-go activities and it lists the resources so we can see the activity here from Sphero where it says, you know it's looking at a Sphero city and so you can click on it and it will tell you what you need, the age is designed to to grade one to six it's a multi aged activity it talks about geography social studies and building it's got all the supplies they need so for this one we need paper tape some toys or tools something to draw with, cardboard and some space to build your city so it's just it's such a well put together app and a well put together ecosystem that takes it from more than just a cool, fun, little novelty toy into a really powerful learning tool so I loved it I wasn't sure coming into it how how much I would really enjoy it or be able to recommend Sphero but I have to say it's a pretty phenomenal piece of gear it gets my thumbs up especially if you're looking at introducing your child or your class into STEM based learning if you an are an educator check out our tutorial on using Sphero in the classroom that'll be up on the site as well have a video after that shortly to take a look at that and yeah get stuck in it's a really cool stem learning guys. I'll see you next time.

hey good how you going sam here from core electronics and today i'm taking a look at the sphero sprk plus or spot plus as will refer to it's a little easier and this is a fairly new bit of gear from Sphero they're known for making educational toys learning tools things like that they had the first Sphero which was really really cool a circular wall with the hamster wheel style drivetrain inside of it that could you know can move around and could be controlled from your smartphone then the spiritual point okay not you know an innovation or you know a new iteration of that particular product then we had the sphero sprk and now we land at the SP RK plus which is really cool so i'm going to take a look ring and unbox that take a look what's inside how it works gets it up to the first time and take a look at some of the Sphero resources and community so take a look and you'll notice it's got a really really nice box I like I feel like I really enjoy products to the package really nicely its attention to detail and you know if they're paying attention to the matte laminate being really nice on the cardboard wrap then there's probably going to be that same attention to detail shown in other aspects of the product which i think is really cool so once you've taken the box off we've got a bit of a document pack and inside is a some stickers sticker sheet very cool I've got a quick start a visual Quick Start Guide so I'll get to that a little bit later we've got a legal guide so you know in all of the different languages all the safety and fun things like that then we've got a cool cardboard protractor which you can use for all with your different all of your different projects which you need to measure things with so that's what comes in that little pack that aside there then we've got the Sphero itself very cool tennis ball-sized all seem fair big it is there yeah tennis balls pretty good and it feels really nice it's not been heavy it's got a good weight to it but not too heavy it just feels like a really really really well-designed product I love that it's transparent I think that's really cool because if you're trying to encourage you know kids and young minds to take an interest in robotics and you know electronics and stem learning and things like that then they don't want to just be looking at a white cake they want to be looking at what's going on in time you can see the circuit board and how the motors fit together and everything like that and that's a really really really really cool cool little package in there we've got the inductive charger base which I like so the the actual Sparrow here is waterproof it's got a scratch resistant waterproof shell so you can do all sorts of water-based activities with it as well very cool so if it's in there inductive charging we've got a micro USB cable a nice little cardboard wrap guys piece of wax paper hiding the the tape so this is you know measuring tape in the truest sense of the word it's got to roll up on some sticky tape so if you want to create mazes and obstacle courses and things like that you can measure it by sticking down the tape onto your objects rather than having to hold it down or tape that down really well-thought-out you know collection of stuff so that's what in the Box it's going to put some of these things where we'll be using the maze tape today is over set a cool addition knocks this guy up at the end such a nice box I really like it they can sell the size as well you know the some of the things you can do is that solar system activities you can paint because it is water proof you can covered in paint and paint tracks around things like that which is really cool and there's also a whole bunch of accessories and you know extra bits and pieces you can get to enhance your Sphero experience some of the more toy based things like the the Java ramps and terrain parks through to add-ons you can you can get so you can build extra platforms on top of it to make it a really interesting and unique robotics experience which i think is you know it is nothing cool so if you're other you know the number conscious sort of person we've got some specs so Bluetooth smart 30 meter range or 100 foot range for American friends they've rated at 4.5 miles per hour as the top speed which converts into 7.2 km/h or 2 meters per second 1 hour battery life so that's probably one of the only graphs I have with it is it's obviously going to be used you know you know say a classroom setting and whilst most standard classroom sessions are will only run for maybe 40 to 50 minutes if they do want to get an extended session out of it then you're going to have to to charge it the charge time is three hours so you've got a little bit of no time delay in there but considering what it does and what it's doing a one-hour play times actually it's actually pretty good it could be longer but it's pretty good it's pretty good and it's going to suffer for most you know people's purposes inductive charging as we mentioned so you just plug the micro USB cable into the base and then the spirit just seemed on top of you charges and it's got a top and a bottom and naturally he'll self level when he's turned on but there is a wait at the bottom as well which makes it pretty early to see how it's supposed to sit there and use prune into the to the stand with that back coil underneath to wait there on top of that coil it doesn't need to be perfect pretty much you know any rough aligner will do so to get started out oh and there is a smartphone app so freely available I've got the other iOS version here at valve iOS and Android up put some links in the tutorial there so the first thing you're going to want to do is plug your bureau in so the blue light there we'll start our blinking and all turn on once when you don't have your Spiro on and then when you put your sphere on that after a few moments it will start blinking blue which means that it's charging there we go and when it's finished consider you see that just that and then when it's finished charging it will change to a solid blue which is cool so as I said you want to make sure it's fully charged before you use it for the third time so I already got the app on my phone here to go ahead and download that and get that sorted out and you'll need to set up an account so there's three different types of accounts you can make using the spirit edu after it all kinds of your ass but the fpr FDR k+ the design for you know education things like that so the Sphero our edu app now it's compatible with all Spiro robots but it's got near the community and the resources that are geared towards the sprk plus so your your account site you can make it as a loan up which is designed for students or kids educators obviously teachers people who are managing the classroom full of users so you get access to you know it's geared towards showing you those resources the lesson plan of the activities and everything you need there and parent of course the similar to educator but designed so that you can manage multiple accounts view all children which is a really good way to streamline that experience make sure they're not bogged down by you know unnecessary stuff so go ahead and make an account you can do that either online I've got a link to the Sphero website in the in there or in the app it will prompt you to as well if you've already used viewer then you should be able to sign into your Sphero account as well so let's go ahead and get it started the first thing you want to do is I'm well there's a few different modes of use which I'll get into later and we're not going to go super in-depth it's not a not a tutorial on how to actually code your skier things like that it's just a review we're taking a look at the features the first thing you do first thing I did you want to drive it around that's pretty cool so on the app there down in the bottom right hand corner you'll see drive and select the type of you are you using and hold that your phone close to the Sphero robot packed on technomage is done so you'll need to make sure you've got bluetooth turned on because it uses bluetooth to communicate after a few seconds it will go LED will turn on and it will go to the color you can see if I move it around itself levels which is pretty cool so it's pretty if you rotate rotate it around here you save in position which is pretty cool too now you can turn up the drive no don't bring that up it's this is what the drive mode looks like you can set the color of the LED set to green as well as the intensity kind of like that pinky ready sort of sort of coloring that's pretty cool I'm going to turn the speed down you could speak Tavia that don't want him to go off the table but there are two to set up the orientation so with remote control car are you know that driving study that's always going to be facing one direction but because it's a spherical object you need to set the target direction similar to you know setting north on a compass so you've got this little touchpad here and you want to make sure that the blue light is facing you and you'll rotate so yeah it's facing me between it that way is going to be straight so I can drive him this way I can drive him back this way this way I've just started calling it a him spirit caller to him on their website and there's a bit of personality so I'm going to keep calling it at you oh and we're good so you can drive them around you can do all this stuff and you can max up the speed I'm going to just have a short speed demonstration I don't even have another engine you have quite but and I've said two minutes two seconds max speeds which is pretty cool let's round that back down it's a little crazy so that's free drive mode that we've got just a huge amount fun you've got block programming so you can go into programs my programs create a new program and it will tell you to either create a text program a block program or a draw program so block program is based around the scratch environment so you can just drag and drop blocks there so it controls you know we can just add in an actions let's add a roll action in here you know let's just make a roll for two seconds I suppose at only a little bit of speed and making go to the left all right so you can go start and you'll upload that except it's going around the table so I'm going to stop doing that pretty cool that's quick program as well you don't have to wait ages few programs upward so we can get out of that and you can create a text program now one of the issues I have with that really the only big issue that I have is that it in current you can program your Sphero in in a sea-based program lines will see really which is really really cool especially if you we know or something like that it's going to feel really familiar but the issue is writing C programming on you know a small phone screen isn't exactly intuitive on you know an iPad or a tablet it might be a bit better but I personally concealment prefer a mechanical keyboard because you know having a bigger screen allows you to look up the functions so it's not going to be immediately apparent what you need to do in order to make your Sphero roll forward you're going to need to look up the function lookup you know the arguments that you need to pass to it the parameters everything like that and then get going but fortunately there is a google chrome app we so you can do it online no worries but you can't program the Sphero from your computer only if you have a Chromebook you know it's hard to account to every type of Bluetooth connection out there so they've closed looped to just Chromebooks and mobile devices but you can write your program on any computer and then because it's all cloud-based it'll come up on your phone and you can then upload that you know that program to your Spheeris so a little bit of a niggly issue but not too bad not too bad so you can create a text-based program now we can draw and this one is particularly cool so you can just draw a plot so I'm going to make it visitors eggs egg pattern hit start and here will hopefully not fall off the edge but he'll go in and digs a path something to make that a little smaller so we can better see what's going on there change the color green for this time so it'll digs a bit and back the other way following that pattern that I've drawn and you can see the live Center data coming now something back here so you can see as he's moving the the direction and the velocity is traveling in which is really really cool I really like that it's a really interesting way of programming it hasn't been implemented you know in a lot of other products and the reason I like it is that you know as a young a young one or a person who is new to programming they've got this idea in their head of what they want to do with robotics what they want to do with spirit but they don't know how to program so instead of you know before they have to learn the block based programming they can just say yeah this is what I want to do I'm going to draw a picture and it's going to do that you can create a solar system model with multiple spirits you can do all sorts of crazy stuff that's whether trapped up comes in handy especially and the measuring tape measure cafe obscura has gone so it's really really cool that gets a big thumbs up from me there's our four you know programming or use cases that you can do with it and then the other big thing is the Sphero community - I'm just on the app here as the program doesn't see very well but I provided a link there to the spheroid community to the Spiro site just up above that and so you can go if you're in programs you can go to Spiro and a girl is ready to go programs which are designed so that teachers and educators can really easily put together lesson plans and get you know get stuck into teachings Bureau without having to dredge through all of the different functions it just shows you when you explore it as you go along then you've got the community where you know community user-contributed programs which is cool and you'll tell you whether it's block based or code based or a drawing program perhaps and then the activities culminate all of those different things into ready-to-go activities and it lists the resources so we can see the activity here from Spiro where it says you know it's looking at a theory city and so you can click on it and it will tell you what you need the age is designed to to grade one to six it's a multi date activity it talks about geography social studies and building it's got all the supplies they need so for this one we need paper tape some toys or tools something to draw in cardboard and some space to build your city so it's just it's such a well put together app and a well put together ecosystem that takes it from more than just a cool fun little novelty toy into a really powerful learning tool so I loved it I wasn't sure coming into it how how much I would really enjoy it or be able to recommend spirit but I have to say it's a pretty phenomenal piece of gear it gets my thumbs up especially if you're looking at introducing your child or your class into stem based learning if you an are an educator check out our tutorial on using scary in the classroom that'll be up on the site as well have a video after that shortly to take a look at that and yet get stuck in it's a really cool stem learning guide I'll see you next time 

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