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Showing posts from March, 2016

mBot - cute, fun and Arduino based

I have had an opportunity (ie, the time) to play with mBot, Scratch Programmable Robot using the mBlock software which appears to be a modified version of Scratch - so relatively easy to use. They have added a section of blocks, to the standard set, marked Robots containing blocks for both Arduino and mBot. 

An earlier blog post (mbots - graphical programming and Arduino) discuss some of the basics of the robot. Just for fun I wanted to play with the ultrasonic sensor, getting the robot to react, change direction (run away) and the 'face' on an LED matrix that came with the robot if there is an object in the way.

The routine
LoopShow a smiley face (using Port 4 )If the ultrasonic detector senses something close (guessed at a setting of 10)Go backwards quicklyPlay a toneShow an upside-down smiley face wait 1 secOtherwiseMove forwardEnd the loop

Download the code to the mBot using the Upload to Arduino button (see below). Here is where you find out whether you have set the system up…

Playing with the micro:bit Emulator - Dancing bot part 2

In a earlier post on using micro:bit (Playing with microbit emulator-dancing bot)  a simple dancing robot image (using the 5x 5 grid was created). In this post of modified version using the events to do pretty much the same thing (except the two button action)- A dancing bot - 3x3 box for the body, with two legs. 

So the functions for the idea were:

Button A - make it bob up and down;Button B - makes it move to the left and right;

On shake - make it jump up and down.

All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with.

Playing with the micro:bit Emulator - Dancing bot

The micro:bit ( has been in the press quite a bit recently - rightly so. 

At the moment I have not got my hands on an actual one, though someone generously (more in later posts on that) will be lending me one to play with. Luckily you do not need the device to start playing; the code editor ( has an emulator built in, so you can start playing. This post reports on my first go.

So, I am starting with experimenting with the editor, using Microsoft's Block Editor - which is similar to Blockly and Scratch as an interface.

What I built is simple but that is fine - A dancing bot - 3x3 box for the body, with two legs. I wanted to play with getting some interaction that uses the buttons (A and B) and shaking. So the functions for the idea were:

Button A - make it bob up and down;Button B - makes it move to the left and right;Shaking it - makes it appear to jump and land (see below);Button A+B together makes it do one of t…

Ozobot in Code Club

Earlier this week (21st March 2016) the Ozobot Bit were used as an extra activity at a Code Code - they went down very well with the children. 

Using Ozoblocky ( they just played with making a short routine on a PC and download it to the ozobot.

Some very anecdotal observations:
- It would probably be better running this on tablet rather than a PC. There is nothing wrong with the software, but holding a bot against a screen, even one as light as ozobots, gets a bit tiring. If it was on a screen flat on the desk there wouldn't be a need to hold it. It is obvious with hindsight.
- Though movement was a big attraction for the children, the flashing light patterns seem to be, for the groups who work on it, a bigger attraction.
- The transition in moving from Scratch to Blockly was relatively smooth.

They all asked can they have the next session being solely about using robots.

As the author of this blog, I am clearly positively biased to physical computing - but …

Playing with Ozobot Bit and Blockly

Previously I discussed the older Ozobot that were programmed by colours on paper or made to dance via an App. The newer Ozobot Bit still can be used in these ways but also can be programmed using a Blockly web-based interface at, so are now programmable on tablets, but also PC, Macs, essentially anything that can run the webpage.

First stage is the calibration of the 'bot'
1. Hold the power button on the ozobot until it starts flashing with a white light.
2. Move to the white space that is similar to the bottom of the Ozobot, the wheels might start moving but as you get closer to the space they should stop.
3. The Ozobot should start flashing green - that is ok continue holding the ozobot to the screen until it stops flashing green - if it flashes red start again.

Build your code blocks and when you are ready press the power button on the Ozobot. Hold the ozobot against the white space again and holding it there press the load button. The white space sh…

Ramblings about Social Robotics in Schools

Sometimes what I do as job can have some major personal pluses (I get to play with robots some of the time), one of these has been the opportunity to introduce people to social robots, and recently I have been lucky enough to managed to do this four times-  twice to my own computing students, but also to groups of primary school children in two events (see below). 

Apart from it's what I enjoyed doing; the social robots we are starting to see are great, but there is so much more that could be done. Who is going to develop this - possibly one of these children? Why not? It has taken nearly 40 years to get from R2D2 on the screen to some of the social robots we are seeing launched now, in another 40 years we might have something as bright as R2D2 (R2D2 was always brighter than C3PO). Why wouldn't one or more of these bright children or one of the students I teach, be the ones to contribute to this? They have the enthusiasm, with the changes in the National Curriculum in the UK th…

ozobot - cute, fun and colour-mad

I have had these for a while, a couple of Ozobots. Small little robots that react to colours on the ground. Below are figures showing the Ozobots working with an App Ozogroove which allows the bots to perform dance routines, and out of the box, they are set up to run around a track that has coloured blocks causing the bots to change what they do.
 Interesting thing about these is the way a routine is transferred from the App to the bot. - by flashing light. In figure 1 the two ozobots are mid way through being programmed with a dance routine. Figure 2 shows one of the bots during the dance.

The latest version these, Ozobot Bit 2.0 can be programmed via Blockly-based website with light being used to transfer the routine. I had a play with one a couple of days ago, liked it so much I order a pair from Amazon!

As an aside, when I first saw the light transfer method it reminded me of some of the early British TV programmes on Computing in the 1980s, who used a system where a flashing cursor…

Blog stats - March 2016

The blog has been going less than a year (first post was 15th July 2015) but I thought the statistics about the blog so far might be of interest.

The Top Ten posts based on page views:

mbots - graphical programming and Arduino 22 Jul 2015,  716

It is a good time to play with little robots 14 Nov 2015,