My teen discovered the programming thanks to his institute that proposed a computer club. But we moved and in the new establishment, my son no longer has the opportunity to discover new technologies. So how a gift, we bought him the Makeblock Mbot robot on Arduino, which we can program with Scratch 2.0.
What is it about?
Video of the Robot Makeblock Mbot
The Mbot is a robot educational kit to allow young people to learn the technical basics of robotics.
This robot is sold with two DC motors, rubber tire wheels, a motherboard based on the Arduino UNO, peripheral modules (an ultrasonic sensor among others), a remote control, and so on. The chassis is made of aluminum.
The kit includes all necessary tools for installation including spare sprockets for engines.
It is compatible with Lego parts for infinite customization.
When receiving the mBot Blue, the first step is the editing. It’s really fast and my son did everything very well in twenty minutes. There is no welding, and it is possible to mount and dismantle several times.
It is necessary to have 4 AA batteries for the robot and a CR2025 round battery for the remote control.
At this level, it is already possible to control the robot with the supplied remote control.
To program the robot, choose an app and download it. It will then be possible to control the robot thanks to the Bluetooth from a smartphone or a tablet.
Arduino and Scratch
Arduino is a printed circuit that can be modified and programmed from a computer. It is possible to control the mBot robot without more knowledge. But if the subject interests you, the book Arduino for Dummies is complete and easy to follow.
The main interest in using an Arduino card is the freedom to modify it that exists. It is a free material of which only the name is deposited. Everyone can use it as they wish and many tutorials exist on this subject.
On the programming side, there are several languages that are not always easy to offer to young people. This is why the famous American university MIT has developed a visual programming software: Scratch.
To program, just drag and drop color blocks to the right place. But if the instructions are simple, the principle is that of true programming and today, children are not the only ones using Scratch.
This is probably the best way to program the mBot robot. Again, there are many online resources, more often in English. But if you have a teenager, you can offer him the book Programming with Scratch.
And if your child is younger and starts totally from 0, Scratch for kids is a good way to get started. An ideal is even to delve into this manual before tweaking the robot.
What does the mBot educational robot do?
If the goal is to learn how to program, the children want to know the robot’s capabilities.
When purchasing, in the current state of the kit, the robot can:
- Follow a path on the ground;
- Move using an ultrasonic sensor to avoid obstacles;
- Play music notes.
The interest is to program it yourself, so do not expect to click a button and start everything automatically. But satisfaction comes from there, being able to prepare the program that will make it a more mobile robot.
It is possible to purchase many expansion modules and even additional accessories. It can be equipped with a clamp to catch objects for example.
The price of this robot is really very interesting: it costs only 95 USD! As much to say that I got worth. There are no unpleasant surprises at the time of opening, no material missing. The MakeBlock Mbot kit is self-sufficient. Just think of ordering batteries at the same time as the robot!
For comparison, the Wonder Workshop Dash training robot is sold at 150 USD, even though it is less flexible.
In the lower price category, there is the OWI-535, at 50 USD. Since it is a remote-controlled arm, it was very interested my son.
The pros and cons
| Easy to assemble
Initiates programming and robotics
Control via Bluetooth
With 3 expansion modules
Works with Scratch 2.0
|Works with batteries|
If you have a child over 10 years old, passionate about science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics, the MakeBlock mBot is a gift that will stimulate it long and intelligently.
An educational robot that is made to last, because the more the child knows, the more robot can do!