Saturday, 20 August 2016 17:49

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

 

Specifications

Software and programming PC-mBlock;iPad/Tablet-Makeblock
Arduino IDE
Main Control Board Arduino Mega 2560, 256KB flash memory, 8KG SRAM, 4KB EEPROM
Sensor 2 x Light sensor 1 x Temperature sensor
1 x Sound sensor 1 x Ultrasonic sensor
1 x Gyroscope 1 x Line follower
Speaker 1 x Buzzer
Battery 6 x AA battery (not included)
Motor 2 x 400 RPM Encoder Motor
Wireless Communication Bluetooth/2.4G
Dimensions 200 x 165 x 120mm (7.78x6.49x4.71 inch) Max.
Weight 1600g (56.44oz)

 

Complete list

Part List

mBot Ranger parts

 

Program the mBot Ranger

You can program the mBot Ranger via mBlock or using the Arduino IDE. mBlock is a graphical programming environment with drag-and-drop function blocks that makes it easy to program the mBot Ranger and create interactive applications.

mBlock application

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:

Connect the mBot Ranger via USB

  1. Launch the mBlock application.
  2. Select Auriga from Boards menu.
  3. Select Serial Port from Connect menu and choose the correct COM port being used to connect.
  4. Select Upgrade Firmware from Connect menu.
  5. After a few seconds you should get the message "Upload Finish.

Upgrade firmware

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.

Makeblock HD

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. 

Makeblock HD Design Mode

Power Consumption

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.

Table below 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.

Input Voltage Idle Setting both motors to full speed Motor terminal voltage
5.3V Me Auriga board not ready - -
6V 0.094A Me Auriga board reset automatically -
6.5V 0.088A (88mA) 1.0A to 1.2A 4.5V to 4.6V
7.4V 0.073A (73mA) 1.2A to 1.3A 5.7V to 5.8V
9V 0.065A (65mA) 1.2A to 1.4A 6.9V to 7.0V
12V 0.048A (48mA) 1.45A to 1.46A 10.34V to 10.35V

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 below) to power the Off-Road Land Raider, the batteries can last for 2 hours continuous playing before recharging it.

Li ion batteries

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.

Lithium battery pack

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

Encoder Motor

Repair a Motor

One of the motor from my robot kit is not always working which causes the following symptoms:

  1. The Self-Balance Nervous Bird was felled down after power on.
  2. The Off-Road Land Raider changing direction by itself.

Picture below shows the gearing of two motors, the problematic motor can be easily fixed.

Bad VS Good Motor

Weak Points

  1. You need a wrench to remove the screw which is used to secure the battery holder.
  2. If the ultrasonic sensor see a shiny white object as a target, it is unable to receive the echo accurately.
  3. 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.

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. 

Read 2098 times Last modified on Tuesday, 06 September 2016 18:35

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