This course will introduce you to the mBot, the world's friendliest educational robotics platform. The mBot is an Arduino-based, two-wheel robot that comes with build-in sensors and actuators, and that you can program using Scratch, a graphical programming language.
The mBot is also extensible, with a lot of components available that you can use to build your own robotic creations.
In this course, I will show you how to assemble the mBot, discuss the additional hardware options, and demonstrate how to program it on your tablet and your Windows or Mac OS computer.
The main project of the course involves programming the mBot to follow an arbitrary black line on the floor. In this project we must combine our robot’s sensors and actuators efficiently to enable it to stay on the line while it travels on it as quickly as possible.
At first glance, you may think that getting a robot to follow a line is easy. That’s not true for a robot.
As the programmer, you must “teach the robot” to do something that to a human is intuitive. You need to extract the intuitive understanding of how to follow a line and convert it into code.
The required hardware is the mBot itself, and a computer (Windows or Mac OS). You can purchase an mBot direct from its manufacturer, Makeblock, or from your local reseller. You can download the software from free from the Makeblock website.
In this course, I use the Bluetooth version of the mBot.
There is also the 2.4G version, suitable for computers that don't have a Bluetooth adapter. If you have the 2.4G version, all wireless programming programming is identical to the Bluetooth instructions, except that instead of using a Bluetooth connection you will be using the 2.4G.
Peter is Chief Explorer at Tech Explorations. He is fascinated by technology because of its ability to make amazing things happen, and science because of its ability to make nature transparent.
He is an Electrical and Computer Engineer, has a PhD (most of which was spent reading philosophy of knowledge) and a couple of Masters in Information Systems.
He has been a lecturer for over 13 years in a variety of IT (and occasionally management) subjects. During this time, he has developed a hands-on teaching style, whereby he invites and challenges his students to learn by doing. He has taught thousands of students in dozens of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
Peter is also a software developer at Futureshock Enterprises, making applications using Ruby, Ruby on Rails, and iOS.
Peter has been an electronics enthusiast since he remembers himself when he wrecked his sister's digital watch and his parents VCR. He replaced the watch but managed to fix the VCR.
Now, he is particularly fascinated by the rapid prototyping opportunities that the Arduino and similar platforms has brought about.
He lives in Sydney, Australia.