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The mBot Ranger 3 in 1 from Makeblock is an intermediate robotics kit for STEM or personal use. It is based around the Me Auriga programmable module with Arduino Mega 2560 compatibility which brings with it excellent online educational and tutorial resources. The Me Auriga has a wide range of programming options from novice to expert using free Open Source tools including mBlock, a graphical Scratch-like programming tool, all the way up to C/C++ using the Arduino development tools. You will be able to use the kit's range of sensors including an ultrasonic range finder, LED line follower, microphone, temperature sensor, light sensor and a 6-axis accelerometer/gyroscope. It also has a buzzer and 12 x RGB LEDs so your creation can flash and bleep messages to you.
To compliment the electronics, the Ranger kit contains all the parts you'll need (down to the last screw) to build 3 x very different robots; the tracked off-road tank, a fast trike and a fascinating self-balancing two-wheeler. The major parts are made from beautiful anodised aluminium giving your robot a professional, hi-tech look. Using the simple, step by step instructions and tools provided the kit should be ready for programming in no time. Take it for a test drive without any programming by pairing it over Bluetooth to your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet using the mBot app from the App Store or Google Play.
Programming your new gadget is where the adventure really begins. Jump into programming using the free mBlock program on your Windows or Mac PC and the supplied USB cable. Alternatively, use the Makeblock HD app on your iPad (v3 or better) or Android tablet (v4 or better) with a Bluetooth connection to read data from the sensors, control the robot and write programs using mBlock. When you start to feel more confident you can program the Arduino compatible Me Auriga using the Arduino IDE in C/C++. Choose the programming tool that best suits your abilities and preferences.
New to mBlock/Scratch? mBlock is a graphical programming system based on Scratch where you drag and drop functional blocks from a palette onto a work area to create a program. Each shape has a different function and they snap together in logical ways, some have slots to drop in other blocks. For example, a block might order the robot to run forward at speed 50 where the direction and speed are chosen from simple drop down menus. This drag and drop interface allows quite young children to get creative with the Ranger yet is capable of programming complex behaviours.
Supplied with a printed instruction sheet, printed line-follower track, the Me Auriga Arduino compatible controller, 2 x DC encoder motors, Bluetooth module, Me Line Follower module and cable, Me Ultrasonic sensor, Makeblock beams and plates, wheels and tracks, screws and nuts, screwdriver, spanner , USB cable, and battery holder (requires 6 x AA batteries, not supplied). Makeblock provide a free tutorial to help you get the most out of this great kit.