Tag Archives: Makeblock

Rough terrain is no match for this screw-propelled vehicle

Watch this little off-road beast maneuver through sand, even with the occasional obstacle thrown in.

If you want to drive off-road, a 4×4 truck is generally sufficient. This, of course, wasn’t good enough for the early 20th century Russians, who decided to instead build a vehicle based on two giant screws. According to the builder of the modern screw-tank model seen in the video below, the original was “designed to cope with almost all kinds of landforms, such as snow, swamp, water, desert and forest, except normal asphalt road.”


This version’s screw-wheels are reportedly a little short, so it isn’t able to traverse on water. It does, however, show an incredible aptitude for maneuvering through sand, even with the occasional obstacle thrown in.

This machine is controlled by a Me Orion board (ATmega328). Instead of the typical plugs for individual wires, it features eight RJ-25 sockets that simplify wiring when used with compatible parts.

The little off-road beast uses two gear motors which are linked to the (comparitively) massive screw wheels. Besides figuring out how to print the driving screws, this build appears to be relatively simple compared to how cool it looks. If you decide to create your own, you too can use a gamepad to command your little vehicle to cruise around the beach, impressing all who behold your tiny Russian-inspired craft!

Rewind: 27 STEM kits from 2015

These STEM toys from 2015 are helping to inspire the next generation of Makers.

STEM education has been a growing venture in schools across the country, with even the President himself making it a priority to encourage students as young as grade-school to pursue the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. After all, these fields are changing the world rapidly within the areas of innovation, economic growth and employment. But let’s face it; these subjects don’t come easy to everyone, so how do we instill STEM in kids?

With this in mind, many startups have sought out new and exciting ways to entice the younger generation to explore their creativity and develop an interest in hands-on learning. Testament to that, here are several products from 2015 looking to inspire the next generation of Makers.

littleBits Gizmos & Gadgets


The Gizmos & Gadgets Kit is the ultimate invention toolbox, complete with motors, wheels, lights , switches, servos, buzzers and even the tools to build a remote control.



Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets that teach girls the basics of coding.



Thimble is a monthly subscription service that delivers fun electronic projects with guided tutorials and a helpful community.

Touch Board Starter Kit


Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Starter Kit contains everything you need to transform surfaces, objects or spaces into sensors.

Makey Makey GO


Small enough to fit on your keychain, backpack or bracelet, Makey Makey GO turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the Internet. Say hello to the world’s first invention kit.



RePhone from Seeed Studio allows Makers to create a phone themselves in minutes and hack a new way to communicate with things.



mBot is an all-in-one, Arduino-compatible robot that supports wireless communication and employs Scratch 2.0-like coding.



Ringo is a miniature digital pet robot equipped with an accelerometer, a gyrosocope, six RGB LEDs, as well as sound and communication sensors.



Wink is an Arduino-driven robot designed to help transition students from graphical programming to more powerful written code languages. It’s also the sibling of the aforementioned Ringo.



Kano is a computer and coding kit for all ages that’s as simple as LEGO, powered by Raspberry Pi.

Primo Cubetto


Primo Cubetto is a smart wooden robot designed to teach kids the basics of coding away from the screen.



Petduino puts a DIY twist on the old-school Tamagotchi.



STEMI is a hexapod that can be built right at home and controlled via smartphone.



mCookies are quarter-sized, stackable modules from Microduino that enable young Makers to bring their LEGO projects to life.



Modulo is a set of tiny modular circuit boards that takes the hassle out of electronics.

The Crafty Robot


The Crafty Robot is a paper toy unlike any other — plug it into a USB port for 30 seconds, unplug it and you’ve got a moving robot.



Kamigami is an origami-style robot you can construct and program by yourself. Each one can be configured with a unique set of behaviors and characteristics through a drag-and-drop interface.



Phiro is a LEGO-compatible robotics toy that children can play with, code and innovate in various ways.



With Quirkbot, young Makers can devise and configure quirky robots (hence its name), blinking outfits and weird sounding creatures out of regular drinking straws.



Cannybots are LEGO-compatible, smart toy cars that introduce kids to the worlds of robotics, programming and 3D printing.



3DRacers is a Mario Kart-like indoor racing game that lets anyone design and 3D print their own car.

Volta Flyer


Volta Flyer is the world’s first DIY airplane kit that is solely powered by the sun.



Roby is a 3D-printed robotic machine that not only drives on four wheels, but can walk on two. If it falls, it can even pick itself up again with its pair of arms.

O Watch


O Watch is a DIY smartwatch for a kid, by a kid.



LocoRobo is a cute, inexpensive robot capable of being wirelessly programmed.



KamiBot is a programmable, smartphone-controlled paper robot.

Pixel Pals


Pixel Pals are easy-to-build, fun educational kits that grow from a project to a friend you can program.

Fiat Lux


Fiat Lux is an Arduino-compatible kit specifically designed for unique wearable projects.



AZIBOt is an open source, 3D-printed robot kit for STEM education in Africa.

mDrawBot is a 4-in-1 drawing robot kit

This drawing robot kit can be assembled into four different configurations: mScara, mCar, mSpider and mEggBot.

If there’s anything we have learned in recent months, it’s that Makers love robotic art. Frankly, who can blame them? It’s pretty awesome. For those unfamiliar with the genre, robotic art refers to any artwork that employs some form of robotic or automated technology. The future behavior of such installations can then be altered by input from either the artist or the participant, which differentiates these from other types of kinetic pieces.


From a bot that can draw on beach sand to one that plots based on heart rate, do-it-yourselfers continue to find innovative ways to leverage the next-gen technology to create fascinating projects. Looking to help facilitate this creativity is the Makeblock team, who has recently launched a new Kickstarter campaign for its mDrawbot, a four-in-one drawing robotic kit that can be easily assembled into a few configurations.


The kit is comprised of over 60 Makeblock components along with some screws and nuts, all powered by an ATmega328 based Makeblock Orion main board. (Though the team does admit that an Arduino Uno can also be used.) Beyond that, custom mDraw software enables users to control any one of the four completed robots: mScara, mCar, mSpide and mEggBot. Once the program is installed, users can simply import SVG images, convert MBP to SVG format, customize a number of parameters, and in the near future, even use a gray-scale laser engraver to etch a project. Designed with convenience and ease-of-use for Makers in mind, each kit can be pieced together in less than an hour.

As its name would suggest, mScara is a SCARA (Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm) driven by stepper motors. By installing a pen on mScara, the device can draw pictures on any flat surface. Replacing the pen with a laser diode can even transform it into a desktop engraver.


Next, mSpider is capable of scribbling pictures on a wall or a whiteboard as two stepper motors control the movement of mSpider though strings. Theoretically, it can draw in a huge range by increasing the length of its strings.


Ideal for Easter decorations, the mEggBot can be tasked with doodling on things that would otherwise be improbable to print on, including letters on eggs or decorations on ping-pong balls.


Finally, mCar is a three-wheel vehicle that is driven by a pair of stepper motors as it draws its own movement tracks on a surface. What’s more, if chalk is used instead of a pen, the gadget can sketch things on the floor.


“mDrawBot is a drawbot (or four drawbots), and it’s more than a drawbot. You can re-use the Makeblock robot parts in countless new projects and it’s easy to extend the kit with new parts,” the team writes.

Only limited by their imagination, Makers can do anything from add an accelerometer and gyro sensor to devise a two-wheeled self-balacing vehicle, or throw in some other Makeblock mechanical parts to transform it into an XY plotter. Better yet, the team also plans on offering various upgrade packs including both a Bluetooth module and a laser engraver in the near future.

Interested? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the team is already well on its way to garnering $50,000. Shipment is expected to begin in May 2015 — just in time for Maker Faire Bay Area!

A xylophone-playing robot?!

Makeblock is an aluminum extrusion construction system for DIY mechanics and electronics that can be used to create robots, toys, machines and even art-ware.

Recently, the folks at Makeblock constructed a “Music Robot” to showcase the versatility of its kit, using an Arduino Uno (powered by Atmel’s ATmega328), timing belt, sliding rail, step motor, electromagnet and motor driver.

“So far, the robot can be controlled by [an] application via USB cable installed on [a] computer, [or] by [a] smartphone [using] Bluetooth,” a Makeblock rep wrote in an Instructables blog post. “The special application for Android [devices] is in [the] planning [stage].”

Makeblock – which was recently covered by Makezine – is a startup located in Shenzhen, China.

Additional information about Makeblock’s xylophone-playing robot can be found here on Instructables and here on the official Makeblock forum.