Weekend Projects - Bot Games

What does one do when grounded by the rains? Apart from pigging out on fried stuff?

Makeblock was our saviour this horribly wet weekend in Mumbai. The good people sent us a kit that lets you build a small robot right in your living room. And you don’t need to be an engineer or an electronic expert to get the job done. The product is called mBot and it’s a low-cost, simple-to-construct robot kit.

You can choose to purchase either the Bluetooth version (US$ 74.99) or the 2.4G version(US$ 79.99). You can even buy multiple parts to construct the robot of your dreams (car, crane, fish feeder and more). The mBot kit consists of 45 pieces and Makeblock tells us you can build one in under 10 minutes if you’re in a hurry.

There are more than a few things you can have your mBot do. For example, you can build a wall-avoidance robot, a line-follower robot or even have the bot play musical tones for you. You can control it via the remote control provided in the package or use a standard TV remote. It even has many built-in sensors that let it communicate with other mBots. This can be useful in a robotic cooperation competition like dancing or racing. You can even control it by an app to play football or fight with other mBots!

Right! With that out of the way, let us take a deep dive into robot territory. Start the timer, someone.  

This kit includes the twin motors, chassis, wheels, Ultrasonic sensor, roller-ball, necessary screws and wires and more. No, there is no ‘All Spark’ in the kit to help you build a Autobot. Darn. We know.

Bolt the two motors inside the chassis, scream yee hoo!

Then attach the wheels on both sides and tighten the screws well, which will ensure they don’t come off later.

Next connect the roller ball sensor, which will act as the front multi-directional wheel for your bot, enabling it to change directions quickly to avoid a wall or your face ogling at it.

Connect the Me Ultrasonic sensor to the face of the chassis. This sensor converses with the roller ball sensor to avoid obstacles and gives the bot its Wall-E-like melt-your-heart eyes.

Screw in the four brass studs that will form the foundation to hold the mCore mainboard. Run a few paces or put water on boil for that cup of coffee.

Four minutes gone, and we are more than halfway through! Bring it on. Connect the cables to the Me Ultrasonic, roller ball sensors and the two motors. Next, you’ll need to stick the velcro strip to the front of the chassis to hold the battery compartment in place. Duh.

Now comes the part where you will need to attach the mCore mainboard onto the top of the brass studs.

Attach the small Bluetooth module to the area marked ‘Wireless Module’ on the top of the mainboard and connect all the wires. What? You need instructions for that?

Moment of glory: the bot is up and running, which means we get to drive it wirelessly or have it wander about, charting its own way. Need your own little robot companion? Get it here. Oh, we completely forgot about that coffee!