Improving Makeblock (Call to the Community!)


I’m starting this thread in hopes of gathering ideas from the Makeblock community on how Makeblock can improve their company and continue to grow. The intention here is not to gripe, but to offer constructive criticism that could help drive changes.

@Makeblock team. We love your products and see the potential, but we hope you look at these problems/ideas/suggestions and act on them as we all share the vision of a growing Makeblock organization and a kit in everyone’s hands!

I’ll start off with a few examples I’ve see around and if you agree, feel free to comment or +1 the post.

  1. Forum signup: It’s a known issue in the community and @ Makerblock
    that signing up for this forum is a challenge. It has not been
    disclosed if this is an issue with the Discourse forum tool or
    something else. However, the Makeblock team has said that they are
    working on a new forum and possibly website.
  2. Defective 25mm motors: It’s been identified that 25mm were defective at some point and show specific symptoms when the robot is assembled. @Makeblock team: you could create a form for people to submit that have the defective motors and send them out new ones with a return label for the old ones. If they turn out not to be defective, they can go back into the stock pile and continue troubleshooting with the customer.
  3. Support Communications: Support is provided out of Shenzhen during their working hours which returns 2200-0600 in USA EST time. While this might work for European and Asia customers, this significantly delays North American customer problem resolutions as there are 1-2 email exchanges in a 24hr period spanning several days before a resolution is reached. Consider having a second shift to cover the US daytime.
  4. Offer phone or chat support to provide more immediate response as sometimes people are working on their bot and have the issue then. The current support model requires a user to put away their Makeblock and come back to it, re-setup when a response is provided.
  5. Poor documentation: There have been several posts about missing documentation or even outdated documentation in the kits. Consider posting all updated documentation and pointing customers to validate that their documentation is current.
  6. No documentation: In the ultimate Kit, some of the exampled robots have no documentation other than a CAD drawing which is difficult for consumers. Provide a framework/template, for customers to create their own documentation/wiki to help others.
  7. Software Setup: Setup should not require a hacked, outdated version of the Arduino IDE. Users learning to program with Arduino and Makeblock will want to continue their learning with other products. So no sense in setting up an outdated setup the user will have to redeploy for their new product. Set it up right the first time with the current versions, so users have a good foundation.
  8. Software bugs: These happen, but aside from github, there’s not an easy way to report them, nor an easy way for an average consumer to identify them. Libraries posted on github to the master branch should be validated on the latest Arduino IDE with new hardware. This is part of QA and ensuring a great user experience out of the box.
  9. Startup guide: The current one is OK, but as users on the forum post, there are issue and challenges they have. Suggest creating a new startup guide in an easy to follow format and validate it against new users, possibly kids, to ensure anyone can open a box and follow along. Possibly some getting started videos might help too.
  10. RadioShack kits: These appear to be outdated. Provide a guide specific for these kits as many US customers are finding Makeblock at their local RadioShack that’s closing. They’re buying the kits at a discounted rate and it’s their first impression of the company and product line. Ensuring they have a great experience ensures their return purchases.

That’s all I have and I hope others here take a moment and can share their thoughts in this consolidated thread.


@shaiss, this is a pretty comprehensive list of the issues I think the makeblock folks need to deal with. The equipment these guys developed is really great, and I think they have the potential to develop a big and loyal hobbyist community in the States and elsewhere, if they can sort out these issues quickly. Regarding item 6, it would be cool if the Makeblock team would release their CAD/Illustrator drawings for all their parts, so users could create or amend documentation that looks as good as the stuff that came with our kits. I think you’ll agree that for all their faults, the assembly manuals that came with the Robot Kits are very nice looking and clearly diagrammed.


Agreed on the manuals. My 6yr Olds comment was “this is just like legos.” I’d say that’s a good thing.


One of my major annoyances is the “deception” on the Radio Shack sold kits, that illustrated 10 different builds for the Ultimate Robot kit. Yes, they give you decent printed instruction for 1 build — but the other 9 do not exist, execpt for the CAD drawings. It would have been OK to point to downloadable PDFs, if they were full build instructions, but the CAD explosions are not suitable for inexperienced first timers.

Again, for kickstarter, I can see more of the argument you are backing a product / idea and come with a bit of “caution” but products sold in the retail market should be stand alone and complete. This stuff has so much potiental, but they are squandering a lot of good will.

And then add on the engine issues, and it really makes me skeptical of making any more purchases except at fire sale prices.


One might add that if they were going to add some more support shifts that they think about employing European/North Americans for those positions so that the culture gap isn’t so much of a problem.

What I’ve experienced is that the idea of warranty or support is actually not the same in both our cultures.

Having someone employed there that might emphasize whats important to foreigners might go a long way.


@makeblock - I support this.

You guys have changes to make if you want continuing support.

The language translations should also be on the list. If you’re selling in North America, that’s mandatory. Especially the USA. It’s not country-driven-ego, it’s because your products are largely geared to kids!!


All: Thank you for adding your comments. I’ll update the list in the first post shortly.

For now, it seams are concerns are either bieing ignored or noone at makeblock is reading this thread. As all we’ve heard on other threads is “a new forum and website are coming.”

So I’ve posted this thread to twitter @ and would like to ask that if you support this thread and want to see makeblock grow you retweet my post or post your own with the link to this thread directed @makeblock

Hopefully the public posts will trigger some action or at minimal a response.


Hi Shaiss,

Thanks for putting the list together. I recently bought the xy plotter kit in Germany and I love the result.

What really was a pain is the description on on how to assemble and use the kit (3 !!! different softwares and no clue when to use what.) There should be a clear guide and put the old stuff (like GCode) to a different page marked “earlier or old” version.

Another thing is: I put a comment on the “learn” page on how the assembly could be improved/made more easy for other users - more than a week ago. No reaction until today, i.e. nobody can see the post since it is still “awaiting moderation”…



Hello shaiss

Thanks for your suggestion for us, and we are sorry for these troubles which appeared on makeblock forum.
Now I will give you my opinion.

  1. Actually, Forum signup is broken down some time ago, and now we have sloved this problem. In addition, we are building the new makeblock official website, its functions will be more complete.
  2. For the problem of 25mm motors, we have released the relevant post on we will consider to creat a complete form like you said.
  3. We will arrange a support staff to solve the feedback from US daytime. However, most problem of our product need to be tested before find a solution, so it might take some time.
  4. We will consider the Online support service in our new official website.
  5. We will update dicumentation and post which version is the latest.
  6. For the instruction of ultimate kit, we are sorry that we only prepared a instruction for mechanical arm, we will complete the rest of instructions of the ultimate kit soon.
  7. We will check and update our software and make sure each users will install the latest version.
  8. For the software bugs, we have considered to report them, but we think fix it is prior, then we will release the new verion. The makeblock libraries should be downloaded into Arduino IDE, we can not add them into it, in future we will release the update news to our users.
  9. Good suggest for the “Startup guide”
  10. People buy our kit from RadioShack will be still in quality guarantee, and we will give them enough support get a good experience about Makeblock robot kits!

Thanks for your support to Makeblock, and we will do our best to make our forum better!

Best Regards



Good thread!
Regarding CAD models for parts and assemblies - you should find them here: This also includes some of the undocumented ones.

I also want to add that since Makeblock is a 100% Chinese company, I don’t expect a US level of support. Companies that offer this, will usually add significant markup to the product, so I really prefer the way it is now? They also offer a chat on their site during chinese business hours that I have used on several occasions.

They sure don’t follow the forum very well, but if you reach out via email/twitter you will usually receive a response. Just as above, the reply will often misunderstand several things. Their English isn’t all that good, but I do think that they are trying to improve. At least I’ve been told that several employees now take English lessons :slight_smile:



@peterlee thank you for taking the time to reply to the comments!
In reply to your comments:
2. yes you have, but read through the thread and you’ll notice that people are still having issues and struggling on how to get replacements. A form will significantly reduce the effort for this process
3. The problem is getting a response first, then the solution. At least someone to say “I understand the issue and will work to find a solution, please allow 24hrs for our reply” is better than the nothing most of us get.
8. I think better documentation would help here as well as squashing the bugs.
10. The problem with the RadioShack kits is not the support, infact, people with RadioShack seem to get the same low level of support as everyone else who buys direct, kickstarter, or through a distributor in their country. The issue is that the kits our outdated. IE old manuals & broken motors. People are buying these kits at discounted prices and getting excited at the possibilities. But quickly frustrated when they realize what they received is an older product. And since RadioShack could care less to support them, they come to MakeBlock. A simple post “RadioShack Buyers: Please Read” that summarizes the motor issues, provides current documentation, and any other issues would help. I can see someone from the community putting this together in a days worth of hours. Till then, we’re looking to @makeblock

I have to disagree here. We’re not asking that Makeblock establish a North America presence or hire a 3rd party support company in North America. All we’re asking is that someone in their China office work a 2nd shift so they start their day when the North American’s do. If anything, this would help get through issues twice as fast since they only have one or two people today.

I completely missed this. But the hard part is their Chinese Business hours seem to start around 2300 EST or 2000 PST. This isn’t very practical for someone in the US to sit near midnight to start troubleshooting the product with their chat. If they started several hours earlier or had a 2nd shift this wouldn’t be an issue.

This is part of the problem. Responses here and where you posted are sporadic at best. We don’t expect real time responses, but a 24hr turnaround would be nice.

This happens often with Foreign barriers. But I can’t imagine that there isn’t someone they can hire at a reasonable rate that understands the North American culture or others and can help facilitate support.

In the end, we got a response and it’s a step in the right direction!


Absolutely. I was (and am) extremely disappointed with my experience so far. I have no issue with the product per se, but the tutorials need to be worked on ASAP. You should get a tutorial with your product that sets you up with an at least basic understanding of how makeblock works. I admit I am no genius but I know my way around computers(on a really basic level) and I was in the absolute dark on how to make this thing work. And it was really disheartening. Another thing: The ME Orion Baseboard must ABSOLUTELY come with this warning: THIS THING CAN ONLY HOLD ONE PROGRAM AT A TIME. That’s why by default the buzzer doesn’t even work, just the distance detector or whatever it is called.


Yeah, the mBot line follower program doesn’t even work right now. I’m spending a lot of time just trying to get it working.


@peterlee The problem is not so much the speed of a reaction from Makeblock. The problem is that often time we do not get any answer at all. Just to give few examples from my own comment history (I saw many other examples in other threads)

No comment on the connector angle from Makeblock. Only comments on the weak motors. At the end @shaiss figured I had outdated manual.

App upgrade promised “in a few days”, almost two months later, the app is still broken.

No useful answer from Makeblock. In the mean time, the docs were uploaded to the TFT LCD product page. I just commented on the thread. The support seeming didn’t even understood our question. and many other threads about bluetooth issues.
E.g. The only thing we ever heard from Makeblock was updating the firmware. (rather unrelated to the problem) Four month old thread with pretty much the same feedback others posted here. Almost zero interaction from Makeblock team (much like here). But new FAQ section was created (likely as a direct response to this thread). Also the information about the replacement motors was made more visible. But overall, the documentation was almost unchanged.

I could go on. I think you get the idea. Often times it is only the community that is ale to give any useful answers. Better docs were promised months ago, nothing changed so far. I do trust you are working on the new web page but I have a healthy dose of skepticism about the time frame of the actual delivery.


Okay I am getting very upset with this damm robot bluetooth version from radioshack. I have spent way to much time just trying to get this thing to do anything. I know nothing of programing but I am computer savy. Someone please tell me what a Panda has to do with getting my robot to move. I do not care about the damm panda or what he is wearing. There is no instruction that comes with the program to tell you anything about a Panda and a stage. What the hell does this have to do with programing a robot. why is it that all the instruction and support is lacking the basic stuff for newbies to follow. Read all the documentation with a blank mind . Like you know nothing about programing. You will be lost. I have had this thing for two months and it is a paperweight at this point. I have bought several kits and parts at Radioshack as they were on discount. And I have to say I am disapointed with many thing .Would I recomend makeblock? at this point no way . I have flushed a several hundred dollars, Many hours and lots of hard drive space down the drain.


@rpm. I totally agree. We were promised a new site, forums, and improved documentation. However if you follow makeblock on twitter it seems they are too busy marketing and delivering mbot and socializing at NYC makerfaire. I wish I had went to meet Jason Chen in person there just to talk to him directly.

I’m not even bothering with with the Bluetooth module and instead using a joystick shield on an uno with an nrf24l01+ and connecting the same rf module to the Orion on the robot using the icsp header and rj25 adapter.

I’d say ditch the bt module and move on too programming directly.


Thank you sir for your advice. Still I ave no idea what the Panda has to do with any of this.


Hi there, I am relatively new to Makeblock having purchased the Ultimate Robot kit from Radio Shack 2 weeks ago (got it for 1/2 price on closeout table). Of course, one 25mm motor seizes and am trying to convince Makeblock to replace it.
Some observations so far (when I can get the motors to run)

  1. 9V alkalines don’t seem to get the job done. I have connected the bot to a bench power supply, and at 11 volts, the thing draws 1.5 Amp with both 25 mm running all out. I am going to try 8 NiMh in place of the alkalines. If that doesn’t work, will go to three 3.7 V LIon cells.
  2. For BT control, the iOS app seems to work better better than the Android version.
    Will continue to monitor this forum - it’s a great asset.


a 9v battery won’t run any RC car so you can’t expect it to drive your robot. Your NiMh or Lion or even lipo or alkaline cells will be good enough.


I Meant 1.5 V alkalines - put Duracells in the holder and once the output got below 9 volts, the robot had difficulty turning. Ordered NiMH and will see how they work.