Think about buying a Mbot Ranger


#1

I have been looking closely at the Mbot Ranger for my child to learn robotics.

Background history of myself. I play with a lot of robotics usually in C or Micropython on either a STM32F4 or ESP32. Although I mainly use C I have used Ardunio when friends needed my help on their Ardunio projects usually on a blue pill.

I have looked at a lot of platforms for my kids to learn on and the Makeblock Auriga has really stood out from the crowd for hardware design for kids robot and the fact it can be programmed by blocky API.

I have a few questions that I hope someone can answer.

Q1. Mblock3 vs Mblock5. After just a quick look on this forum reading a few posts I have noticed that Mblock5 doesn’t have a serial terminal. Is there a work around for this like opening a puTTY terminal??

Q2. if there isn’t a serial terminal for Mblock5 does this also mean that it can’t graph data coming out of the serial terminal like for tuning PIDs??

Q3. Looking at the schematic the bluetooth module and serial to USB are on the same UART port so does this mean that you cna use bluetooth connection as if it was a USB connection??

Q4 I did also notice that there was a question about the 2 on board light sensor on the ring shield and that only Mblock3 has the pre made block for kids to use it. Is there lots of blocks that are on Mblock3 that are not on Mblock5 and can’t any block on Mblock3 be converted in a Mblock5?


#2

Hi Shane. Ranger is a great little thing - just works out of the box.

Q1 - no workaround that I know of, sorry
Q2 - There’s a data chart of sorts, but I don’t think it would be of any use for what you’re trying to do because of Q1. https://www.mblock.cc/doc/en/use-extensions/data-chart.html
Q3 - No you can’t that I know of. If you really want comms out, I would suggest using I2C or Serial ports to communicate with something else which would display the output for you (MBLOCK wouldn’t support this of course, it would have to be C++ coded).
Q4 - Mblock5 does have light sensor blocks for the Ranger (onboard1,onboard2). Don’t know about the difference between the two in terms of Ranger support, but you can write your own extensions (http://download.makeblock.com/mblock/mblock_extension_guide.pdf)


#3

For Q3 you can actually use it to transfer programs via BT,but you need their official BT dongle that simulates the serial port to which you can connect. I use this method myself and it works perfectly fine,except that BT isn’t the fastest so it takes a few seconds longer than it would take using wired USB connection to transfer programs.


#4


This is about all I could manage for graph display. Pretty slow and no way to pass values up from the underlying code, they have to be values derived from a sensor or within the mBlock code.


#5

As far as I can tell the Mbot Ranger comes with the bluettoth moduleauriga


#6

I was hoping to be able to graph live data as it was changing like what can be done in Ardunio.
see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3hiSV-B4v0
but in the end I can always switch to ardunio IDE just when this is needed it is just that this adds a small amount of complexity for kids and would have been nice if this could have been done within the mblock environment.


#7

Yeah,but you need this little device to be able to transfer programs via BT :slight_smile:


#8

From the link that you posted it looks like it is just a standard bluetooth dongle with a makeblock sticker and see quote from link

This suggest that the dongle is only needed for devices that lack Bluetooth functionality. Most of my devices shouldn’t have a problem.

I have ordered a mbot ranger so when it arrives I will find out :slight_smile:


#9

The Auriga has a ATmega 2560 as it’s processor and this chip doesn’t have either USB or Bluetooth native but does have UART, I2C and SPI. Most people would usually program it via a boot loader over UART1. Looking at the schematics for the Auriga UART1 is connected to both the ch340 (UART to USB converter) and the bluetooth module (UART to bluetooth converter). This means the ATmega 2560 only see UART whether it was originally sent from computer via bluethooth or USB.

I am hoping it will work just like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jZMJ7DFCY0


#10

You’re right that the Auriga has a bluetooth module and you can connect to mbot via Bluetooth, but you can’t use it to upload firmware:

One problem I have (completely shows my lack of experience), that when I try to do a bluetooth device discovery (from Python on my macbook), the ranger never shows up, and yet I can connect to it via mblock. The device only appears in my bluetooth device list once mblock has connected to it.


#11

Pretty much the only benefit of their official dongle is being able to upload programs or FW wirelessly(tested myself).


#12

I will test it all when my robot arrives but the dongle shouldn’t make any difference to my system as it is just a bluetooth 4.0 and all my devices already have bluetooth 4.0 so all my device should be able to everything without needing a dongle.