Now that we've taken a look at MakeBlock's beginner kit, the mBot (take a look at the previous article here), let's take our skills to the next level with the Ranger. The Ranger adds much more modularity and customisation to the kit. From extra sense modules expanding the functions of the ranger, to completely changing the look of the Ranger engaging the students on a creative and educational level.
The Ranger and its Features
The Ranger is equipped with the powerful Me Auriga, a leap up from the mBot mCore. Featuring a powerful Arduino compatible ATmega2560 the Ranger has added a lot of functionality to the mBot framework, bringing more sensors, LEDs and microprocessing power to the table. All this built-in functionality means the Ranger is extremely versatile, suitable for most of the educational projects that you can think of.
The Ranger features 10 RJ25 ports for input, allowing up to 10 different external sensors to be connected. As you will notice, each of these ports is colour coded for their intended purpose. It is this clarity and attention to detail that makes Makeblocks an award-winning company.
The Ranger comes equipped with a plethora of sensing modules, these include:
- Temperature sensor
- Light sensor
- Ultrasonic Transducer
- Line Follower
What comes in the Box?
Makeblock continually goes above and beyond to bring you the most educational and interactive designs for their kits, and the Ranger is no exception. Seen below in the kit layout, attractive anodised aluminium chassis hardware is the feature of the kit. With all of these components included in the kit, you get an awesome headstart to your collection of modular hardware and robotics components further nudging your creativity forward.
With all the functionality of the smaller mBot kit and so much more:
- The powerful Arduino compatible Me Auriga.
- Rubber caterpillar Tracks.
- Encoded motors for positional feedback.
- Both Bluetooth and 2.4GHz communication supported(you will need to buy a 2.4GHz module separately).
- All of the tools needed for construction.
- Heaps of modular hardware.
- Other miscellaneous fasteners.
3in1 Robotics kit.
Throughout this overview, we have seen how versatile the Ranger can be. This is demonstrated by the Rangers 3 different configurations out of the box, without any additional hardware. Makeblock calls them; the Land Raider, Nervous Bird, and Dashing Raptor, each different configuration taking advantage of unique features of the Ranger kit. The Ranger is not limited to these three designs. With all the different add-on kits designed by Makeblock, it is easy to customise your build and get creative with robotics.
Programming the Ranger.
Just like the previous mBot kit, the Ranger is programmable through the SCRATCH based mBlock IDE platform. As mentioned in the previous mBot article this platform is a great way to get started in programming robotics. The SCRATCH platform brings a graphical and intuitive aspect to programming for learning kids. Surprisingly, you can develop reasonably complicated projects with this simple platform. In addition to the mBlock IDE, the Ranger kit is also interfaceable with the Arduino IDE for the rare case where you need to add more complexity to your project that is available with the mBlock IDE.
The Makblock Ranger kit is the next step deeper into robotics. The kit certainly delivers on its promise to add much more functionality and educational value while simultaneously keeping unnecessary complexity out of the equation. Stepping up from the mBot to the Ranger feels more like adding to your mBot kit than replacing it, in the sense that you can use all of the modules of the mBot in your new kit all while feeling limitless with all of the additional computing power, stepping up from the mCore to the Me Auriga.
For more information on Makeblock check out this article discussing how Makeblock aims to educate younger generations in Robotics and programming. Also, take a look at our tutorials page, or get in contact with us through the Core Electronics forum for any questions you might have. Good luck with your projects!