Introduction: Learning, Experience and Review the Makeblock 3 in 1 MBot Ranger Robot Kit
Makeblock 3 in 1 mBot Ranger Robot Kit is a three-in-one STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Educational robot kit which offers the ability to create a Robot Tank, Three-Wheeled Racing Car and a Self-Balance Car. You can program and control the mBot Ranger via iPad, tablets or laptop.
I get my mBot Ranger Robot Kit from GearBest, the price of the kit is $134.87.
mBot Ranger uses a Me Auriga board as the main controller which is based on Arduino Mega 2560, it integrates various sensors (gyro sensor, temperature sensor, light sensor, sound sensor) and 10 extension ports (RJ25) with color labeling for easy wiring.
mBot Ranger Robot Kit also comes with two additional sensors (ultrasonic sensor & line follower sensor) that can be connected to the RJ25 expansion ports of Me Auriga, allowing mBot Ranger to move freely in various scenes.
A Bluetooth Module is plugged into the Me Auriga board which enables you to connect mbot Ranger with smart phones, tablets or computers. mBot Ranger is pre-programmed, all you have to do is connect it via Bluetooth and ready to use right away without having write any of your own code.
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Step 1: Specifications
Step 2: Complete List
Step 3: Program the MBot Ranger
Step 4: Upgrade to the Latest Firmware
We could play with mBot immediately without programming and updating the firmware, however, firmware updates can fix bugs and add new features to your mBot Ranger. The firmware comes with mBlock software which is available on the mBlock official website must upload to the Me Auriga board via USB port. Please follow the steps below to update the firmware:
- Launch the mBlock application.
- Select Auriga from Boards menu.
- Select Serial Port from Connect menu and choose the correct COM port being used to connect.
- Select Upgrade Firmware from Connect menu.
- After a few seconds you should get the message "Upload Finish.
Step 5: Control MBot Ranger Wirelessly With Bluetooth
Makeblock HD is a free software that specifically designed for mBot Ranger, it's an easy way for users to pair Smartphone/tablet with mBot Ranger by Bluetooth. After bluetooth paring request successful, you will be able to control your mBot Ranger from a Smartphone or a tablet.
Step 6: Design Your Own Interface
By switching the Makeblock HD from Play mode to Design Mode, allowing you to design your own control interface with added more features.
Step 7: Power Consumption
The Me Auriga board can be supplied with power either from the DC power jack (6.5V to 12V for normal operating) or the USB connector (5V for programming only). Make sure that you do not turn on the Me Auriga power switch when it is connected to the computer via USB, it may charge your batteries and drain high current from your computer USB port.
The table list the power consumption by the Off-Road Land Raider with two motors running at full speed (Bluetooth connected, built-in LED turn off, line follower connected but not activated). The supply voltage needs more than 6.5V in order for the Off-Road Land Raider to operate.
Step 8: Batteries
mBot Ranger Robot Kit includes a battery holder (without the AA batteries) which can hold six AA batteries, the battery holder comes equipped with a right angle DC plug allowing you to easily make your project battery powered. I'm not using it since I have some 18650 Li-ion batteries on hand.
I'm using two 3.7V 3600mAH Li-ion batteries connected in series (as shown in figure) to power the Off-Road Land Raider, the batteries can last for 2 hours continuous playing (see video below) before recharging it.
However, these batteries would not produce enough current to operate the Self-Balance Nervous Bird, it just turn off the power when the Self-Balance Nervous Bird is starting to move. For this reason I have to use a 7.4V battery pack which is built in 4 Lithium 18650 battery in 2S2P (2 Series, 2 Parallel) configuration.
Step 9: Motors
mBot Ranger Robot Kit includes two encoder motors, features as below:
- Lower noise
- control precisely with PID and PWM calculation
- high torque, high reduction ratio and high output rotate speed
Step 10: Repair a Motor
One of the motor from my robot kit is not always working which causes the following symptoms:
- The Self-Balance Nervous Bird was felled down after power on.
- The Off-Road Land Raider changing direction by itself.
Picture shows the gearing of two motors, the problematic motor can be easily fixed.
Step 11: Weak Points
- You need a wrench to remove the screw which is used to secure the battery holder.
- If the ultrasonic sensor see a shiny white object as a target, it is unable to receive the echo accurately.
- The M2.5 screw which is used to secure the wheel to the motor will come loose if you run the mBot Ranger for a few hours.
Step 12: Conclusion
mBot Ranger uses the strong and quality components, it is easy to assembly and no soldering required. mBot Ranger is fun and educational for all ages above 8 years old.