Monday afternoon I ordered a “Starter Robot Kit” from Makeblock in Shenzhen, China. Friday afternoon the same week, I received the package through DHL parcel delivery. The price was 120$ + a 30$ shipping fee to Denmark.
The package was in a thin plastic bag and opening it, the original package had clear markings of being handled a little rough (maybe thrown by package handlers?).
Opening the box there was no evidence of any mechanical damage of the parts, so the original package serves a good protection. Inside the box I found the invoice and an instruction manual to build the two robots possible with this starter kit.
The first layer contained the largest mechanical parts and the brain: A so-called “Me Baseboard v1.0“, which is based on the same microprocessor as the Arduino Leonardo, with the addition of motor drivers, heatsink, and fuses, which means you do not have to be afraid of short circuit or blocking of the engines. Alle connections to the board is done with robust connectors. A sensible decision when the goal is to build something that should move.
Note also the two motors with built-in 1:34 ratio gearbox which gives 185 RPM at 6V. This will let the robot move quite fast.
Below the section separation, I found all the remaining parts packed in smartzip bags, to keep screws and other parts in original bags, if desired .
After unboxing, I build the 3-wheeler car. Including some photo documentation, it took me about an hour to assemble the car. Then downloading and installing the MakeBlock-library for the Arduino IDE, and uploading the “ultrasonic_car”-code to the board through USB, took me another fifteen minutes.
Later this weekend I spent half an hour on converting this 3-wheeled car for this grim track guy :
My first time hands on experience with this set, gives me the impression that this really is a well designed and robust set that can withstand use, disassembling and reassembling again and again in new ways. In the near future, I will test whether the set and some extensions can be a reasonable alternative to the more expensive LEGO Mindstorms in education. Among other things, I am looking forward to present the programming options Scratch and ArduBlock for the younger programmers.
Author: Heine Ravnholt
Teaching math, science, windsurfing, tinkering and Arduino at Bork Havn Efterskole – school for dyslexic teenagers
Tarm, Denmark · uvkant.blogspot.com