Robotics 101
Makeblock Robot Starter Kit

    There  a growing number of entry level robot kits popping up online.  However, they are not all the same and sometimes the sheer number of choices can be daunting.  We were looking for a robot that provided us with a challenging building, bluetooth capability while utilizing Arduino compatible control boards.   In addition, we wanted a kit that was made from solid components and did not resemble a toy.  We are very serious about our robots.
     A robotics program should be part of any STEM or STEAM curriculum and should feature opportunities for programming, assembly, customization and future growth.  Selecting a kit would prove to be somewhat of a challenge but our first kits would provide us with a springboard for more advanced projects down the road.  There are so many learning opportunities that can emanate from a quality robotics program from design, programming, operation and application.

    Besides, its a very appealing departure from the day to day classroom tedium.
This page was last updated: January 21, 2018
    After carefully researching robot starter kits, we purchased the Makeblock robot.  This robot is one of the few that is made from anodized aluminum which means it will be sturdy and durable.  Packaging was excellent and the instruction booklet was simple to read and very straightforward.  The kit comes with a number of sensors for motion, light and obstacle avoidance with opportunities for upgrades in the future.  First step, a careful inventory of the kit's contents.
    The first stage in the assembly of our robot is the assembly of the wheels.  The hubs are made from aircraft quality aluminum and are mounted using sealed bearings and plastic spacers.  Other robot kits used plastic axles which might not hold up to heavy use but ours are made from steel and should do the trick. 

    Marcos has quickly completed the first of the four wheel assemblies.
The Chassis

    We continued with our build by completing the  assembly of the two front and rear wheels.  Next, we secured the motors to each of the two hubs and then secured this component to the anodized aluminum side rails of the chassis.  

    We have completed the  first ten stages of our robot assembly which includes installation of the rubber tracks as well as the control module and battery pack.  Stage 11 takes us through the installation of the control module onto the chassis as well as the forward sensor array.  So far so good.
    Pictured above we have completed assembly of the chassis and have added the rubber track links and control module platform.  In addition, we have installed the battery holder for the six AA batteries as well as the forward sensor array which hopefully will guide our robot once it is fully functional.
    Pictured above we have  assembled and installed the wiring looms for the motors as well as for the control module, forward sensor array and the battery pack.  We turned on the control module and blue LEDs lit up confirming that we were successful.