Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 review – A multi-function 10-in-1 educational robot kit

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 is an educational robot kit that can be used to easily create up to 10 different types of robots. An Arduino-compatible Mega 2560 MCU board serves as the main controller and there are over 550 mechanical parts and electronic modules. The robot can drive up to 4 encoder and stepping motors, control up to 10 servo motors to work simultaneously, and can also be connected to Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards for more complex projects.

The review/tutorial is fairly long, so if you are short on time, you can jump to different sections by clicking on some of the links below:

The Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 sells for $369.99 on the company’s online store. You can save $10 by using the coupon “save10”.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 robot kit review

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 kit components

The chassis and other mechanical parts of the Ultimate 2.0 robot kit are made of high-strength aluminum alloy that’s lightweight, durable, and eye-pleasing. Other components in the kit include rubber wheels, rubber tracks, robot handles, motors, shafts, nuts, screws, and more with over 550 parts in the kit allowing users to create a variety of robots.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Components

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 specifications:

  • Metallic Materials (Main) – Anodized aluminum
  • Parts and Accessories – 80+ part types, totaling 550+ pieces
  • Main Control Board/ Chip – ATMEGA2560-16AU
  • Sensors –  1x Ultrasonic Sensor, 1x Line Follower Sensor, 3-Axis Accelerometer and Gyro Sensor, 1x Shutter
  • Motion modules – 4x motor drivers, 3x DC encoder motors, 1x Makeblock Robot Gripper
  • Interfaces
    • 8x DC Motor Interfaces
    • 4x Motor Drivers
    • 10x Servo Interfaces
    • Wireless Communication Module
    • 2x Power Output
    • Raspberry Pi Communication
    • 4x Sensors or Modules Interface
  • Supported software – mBlock 3 (PC), Makeblock App (Mobile), Arduino IDE (PC)
  • Supported programming languages –  Scratch and Arduino
  • Host connectivity – Bluetooth and/or USB
  • Power Supply – 12V
  • Package Dimension – 510 × 310 × 150 mm (H × W × L)
  • Compatibility – Compatible with Maker Platform 500+ parts; Main control board supports Arduino; Hardware support Raspberry Pi

MegaPi controller board

MegaPi is the main control board used with the Ultimate 2.0 robot kit and based on the Arduino MEGA 2560. I can be programmed with the Arduino IDE, and simultaneously connect up to 8 motors and various sensors. The MegaPi board can also take a wireless communication module to offer more connectivity options. No matter whether reading a sensor, communicating with a Raspberry Pi board,  driving an Encoder, stepping motor, or servo motor the MegaPi controller board is suitable for building robots or other projects. It’s also possible to use the MegaPi board as a 3D printer controller as well.

Makeblock MegaPi controller board

MegaPi specifications

MegaPi specifications

  • Microcontroller – ATMEGA2560-16AU 8-bit AVR MCU @ 16 MHz with 256KB flash, 8KB SRAM, 4KB EEPROM
  • I/Os
    • 43 I/O pins
    • 1x SPI, 1x I2C, 3x serial
    • 15x analog input pins
    • DC Current per I/O Pin: 20mA
  • Input Voltage – 6V-12V DC
  • Operating Voltage – 5V DC
  • Dimensions – 85 x 63mm

Motor driver board

MegaPi Encoder/DC Motor Driver V1 can drive two DC motors or one encoder motor. It can operate at up to 3A (5.5A peak current), includes over-voltage, over-current, and over-temperature protection, and connects to the MegaPi board through two 8-pin headers.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Install Motor Driver

MegaPi Shield for RJ25

The “MegaPi Shield for RJ25” module adds Makeblock RJ25 ports to the MegaaPi controller to connect modules such as various detection sensors.  The 63x25mm module operates at 5V and comes with 4 ports each with LEDs to make programming easier and more convenient.

Mega Shielf for RJ25

Bluetooth 4.0 module

The Bluetooth module is used for short-range wireless data transmission with computers and/or smartphones. It’s used as a communication interface for visual programming using Makeblock and mBlock. The Bluetooth 4.0 module support a range of up to 20-30 meters in open space, and can wirelessly control Ultimate 2.0 robots with a Bluetooth controller, your smartphone, or a computer.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 install Bluetooth Module.jpg

Power supply connection

The Ultimate 2.0 robot kit uses a holder with six AA batteries (1.5 volts) for power. Connected in series the batteries deliver 9V DC and the holder connects to the DC jack of the MegaPi board.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Power Supply

Installation of the mBlock 5 IDE

We will install the mBlock 5 IDE from Makeblock. It is a program used to write programs with various robots similar to Scratch but with the ability to connect to various microcontrollers. Let’s download it and install it on a Windows PC or Mac computer. mBlock is also available as a web-based version and a mobile app.

download mblock

After the program has been successfully installed, we can start it and click on “Add” as shown in the screenshot below.

Makeblock mBlock Add

and select the Ultimate 2.0 “Device”.

mBlock Ultimate 2.0 Device Library

We will get a new Device added to the mBlock IDE showing up as “Ultimate 2.0”. (If there is another Device, click “x” to delete it, and only keep one Device).

mBlock Ultimate 2.0 programming

Programming the Ultimate 2.0 robot kit can be done with either drag-and-drop visual programming or Arduino C.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 mBlock 5 Visual Programming Arduino C

Now we’ll connect the USB cable to upload the code to the MegaPi board. Use a USB-A to USB-B cable to connect the computer to the MegaPi board.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 MegaPi USB Connect 720x540.jpg

We can now click on the “Connect” button at the bottom of the mBlock 5 program.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Connect USB

Now select a port to connect to the computer (it can be seen from the Device Manager in Windows), and click on “Connect”. That’s all, the MegaPi board is now connected to our computer.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Connect Device 1

Programming the DC Encoder Motors

There are 3 DC encoder motors included in the Ultimate 2.0 robot kit. Those are 25mm motors, rated at 9 volts, with two units with a gear ratio of 1:46 and a speed of 185 RPS (revolutions per second) and one unit with a gear ratio of 1:75 and a speed of 86 RPS.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 MegaPi DC Encoder Motors 1

Motor control test

Connect all three motor wires to the channel 1-3 connectors of the motor driver boards.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 DC Encoder Motor Wiring

We’ll now make a test program to control all 3 motors so that they rotate clockwise with a speed of 50% for 5 seconds, after which all 3 motors turn counterclockwise at a -50% speed for 5 seconds, and so on in an infinite loop.

mBlock 5 Code Test DC Encoder MotorsMe Ultrasonic Sensor reading test

Me Ultrasonic Sensor module can measure distances from 3 cm up to 4m and is mostly used for obstacle avoidance. An Ultrasonic Sensor will use sound waves to detect objects. One “eye” will send a signal out, and the other “eye” will receive a signal after a period of time to determine what the distance is. It is the same principle that bats use.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Me Ultrasonic Sensor
To test the Me Ultrasonic Sensor, we’ve written a program that follows these conditions:

  • If the Ultrasonic Sensor detects objects less than 10 centimeters away, motor 1 will rotate at 100% speed.
  • if the Ultrasonic Sensor detects objects less than 80 centimeters away,  motor 1 will rotate at 20% speed.
  • If no objects are detected, the motor will stop.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Me Ultrasonic Sensor Connection

Here’s the code:

mBlock 5 Me Ultrasonic Code.png

Me Line Follower Sensor reading test

As its name implies, the Me Line Follower Sensor is designed to make line-following robots. It consists of two sensor blocks each with an infrared emitting LED and one infrared sensing phototransistor. The Me Line Follower module works both to follow a black line on a white background or a white line on a black background.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Me Line Follower Sensor 1

We’ve connected the Me Line Follower sensor to the RJ25 jack number 8.

Me Line Follower RJ25 port

Our program implements line-following as follows:

  • If the left sensor detects a white area and the right sensor detects a black line, the left motor moves 100% forward and the right motor 100% backward
  • If the left sensor detects a black line and the right sensor detects a white area, the left motor moves 100% backward and the right motor 100% forward.
  • If none of those conditions are detected, the robot just goes forward.

mBlock 5 Code Line Follower

Reading data from the Me 3-Axis Accelerometer and Gyro Sensor

The Me 3-Axis Accelerometer and Gyro Sensor module enables the sensing of the robot’s movements and gestures. It includes a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis angular gyroscope, and a motion coprocessor. It connects to the MegaPi board over I2C, and is suitable for balancing robots and drones.

Me 3 Axis Accecelerometer Gyro Sensor 1

Again we’ll connect the module to the RJ25 channel-8 port for testing.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Me 3 Axis Accecelometer

Our program reads the value from the axis from the Gyro Sensor and creates X, Y, and Z variables to store the values of each axis.

mBlock 5 Code Read Value Gyro.png

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 mBlock 5 Read Value XYZ

How to use Me RJ25 Adapter

The Me RJ25 adapter module converts an RJ25 port to two 3-pin connectors (VCC, GND, S1, S2, SDA, and SCL) that enable MakeBlock ports to use common electronic modules such as a temperature smoke sensor or a small servo motor.

Me RJ25 Adapter

Before we can make use of the module, we need to add the “Maker’s Platform” add-on by clicking on “extension”.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 mBlock 5 add Extension

Now select “Maker’s Platform” and click on “Add”.

mBlock 5 add Maker's Platform

The Maker’s Platform add-on will be installed giving us access to extra programming blocks.

mBlock 5 Makers Platform Extension

We’ve plugged a servo motor into slot 1 of the Me RJ25 adapter and an RJ25 cable to channel 8 of the MegaPi Shield for RJ25.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Me RJ25 Adapter V2.2

The program does the following:

  • Rotate the servo motor at Slot 1 to 0 degrees.
  • Sleep for 1 second.
  • Rotate the servo to 90 degrees.
  • Sleep for 1 second.
  • Rotate the servo to 180 degrees.
  • Sleep for 1 second
  • Rotate the servo back to 90 degrees
  • Sleep for 1 second.
  • And continue the loop to the first command

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 mBlock 5 Code Test Servo Slot 1

Using the Me Shutter module

The Me Shutter is a special module used to remotely trigger DSLR cameras either to take photos or shoot videos at a specified time.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Me Shutter

In order to test the Me Shutter, we will use an ultrasonic sensor plugged into port 8 and the Me Shutter plugged into port 6.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Me Shutter Connection

The test program works as follows:

  • If the Ultrasonic Sensor detects objects less than 10 centimeters away, the shutter will be pressed
  • If the Ultrasonic Sensor detects objects less than 50 centimeters away, we order the camera to start focusing
  • If no objects are detected, the shutter will be released

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 mBlock 5 Me Shutter program

Writing a program using mBlock mobile app

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 robot kit can also be programmed with a visual programming drag-and-drop app on your smartphone or tablet. The mBlock app can be installed from the Apple AppStore (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android).

After starting the app, click on “+” to add the Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 “Device”.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Mblock App Create Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Mblock App Device

Switch on the robot and establish a wireless communication connection by tapping “Connect”.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Mblock App Connect Device

After successfully connecting to the robot, you’ll be able to write a program just like on a computer.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Mblock App

Controlling Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 with the mobile app

We can control the robot using the mobile application on a smartphone, but we’ll first need to upload the Firmware to the robot. Open the mBlock5 program on your computer, connect a USB cable, and click on “Setting”.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Click Setting

At this point, the Device Firmware Updates window will appear, and you can click on “Updates”.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Device Firmware Updates

Then wait until the firmware update is complete.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Firmware Update

Once completed, you can start the mobile application and select the Device “Ultimate 2.0”.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Makeblock App Select device

Now let’s select the “Play” section.

Makeblock App Play

and waiting until your smartphone is connected to the Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 robot.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Makeblock App Connect Bluetooth

After that, the mobile app interface offers joystick control.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Control Robotic Arm Tank

We can select the “Create” section to customize the joystick interface.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Create Controller

Now drag and drop the buttons as you like and give your joystick a name.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Makeblock App Custom Controller

 

Building Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 model 1: Robotic Arm Tank

The Robot Arm Tank consists of a movable crawler frame and a robotic arm that can lift and lower. You can check out the assembly manual for all ten models of the Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 robot kit and download the Robotic Arm Tank sample code for mBlock 5.

Robotics Arm Tank

Once the program is running you can control the robot using the Makeblock mobile app.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Robotic Arm Tank

Robot Type 2: Beverage Robot

That’s a mobile beverage-serving robot. The angle can be adjusted up and down so it can freely pour the drink into the glass and deliver a glass of drink to you. You can check out the aforementioned assembly manual and download the sample code for the mBlock 5 IDE.

Beverage Robot

We can again use the mobile app to move the bottle up or down for the “Robotic Bartender”.

App Control Robotic Bartender

Robot Type 3: Camera Dolly

The Camera Dolly robot comes with a smartphone holder and a base rotating 360 degrees. A smartphone or camera can be inserted into this robot. and start shooting videos. It is also possible to pre-program a route for the robot to follow in order to record images and videos. Download the code to test it out.

MakeBlock Ultimate 2.0 Camera Dolly

You can control it by selecting the Camera Dolly interface in the Makeblock mobile app.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Control Camera Dolly

Robot Type 4: Self-Balancing Robot

This robot is driven by two motors and continuously takes readings from a 3-Axis Accelerometer & Gyro sensor in order to balance itself and move around on its own. Download the sample code to test it out.

Self balancing robot

The video below shows how to assemble the Self-Balancing Robot.

Again, it can be controlled using the Makeblock mobile app.Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Control Self Balancing

Robot Type 5: Detecting Robot

The Detecting Robot is a crawler-driven robot that can run on sand or rough roads and is equipped with line-following and ultrasonic distance sensors. The robot has three modes each with their own program that can download from the following links: manual mode, line-following mode, and obstacle avoidance mode.

Makeblock Detecting Robot

Video assembly guide for the Detecting Robot.

The control interface in the mobile app is similar to the one for the Self-Balancing Robot, but add mode selection for Manual, Obstacle Avoiding, and Line Following.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Control Detecting Robot

Robot Type 6: 3D Capture A

The 3D Capture A robot is a platform with a vertical axle that can rotate 360 degrees fitted with a mobile phone holder in order to perform 360-degree panoramic photography by rotating the phone around a stationary object. The code for mBlock 5 can be found on Makeblock’s website.

Makeblock 3D Capture Type A

3D Capture A robot assembly video.

Mobile app interface.
Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Control 3D Capture A B

Robot Type 7: 3D Capture B

While both the 3D Capture A and 3D Capture B robots are designed for panoramic photography, the 3D Capture B robot takes photos by rotating the subject while the hand-held mobile phone is stationary. Makeblock provides the code for the 3D capture, just like they do for all other robot types.

Makeblock 3D Capture Type B

Watch the video below for the assembly instructions.

The mobile app interface is exactly the same as for the 3D Capture A robot.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Control 3D Capture A B

Robot Type 8: Rolling Tank

The Rolling Tank robot relies on two pairs of 3 wheels to move around so that when it hits an obstacle, it can turn over and move on. Download the sample code to try it out.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Rolling Tank

Rolling Tank assembly video

Control interface for the Rolling Tank in the mobile app.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Control Rolling Tank

Robot Type 9: Robotic Ant

The Robotic Ant robot is built primarily using connecting rods assembled with multiple linkage mechanisms and equipped with two motors. It can simulate an ant moving forward or backward, and rotating freely. Download the sample code for testing.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 Robotic Ant

Ultimate 2.0 Robot Ant model assembly video.

Mobile user interface

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Control Robotic Ant

Robot Type 10: Catapult Ram

The Catapult Ram is a ping-pong ball launcher with an adjustable slingshot. The first motor pulls the elastic band with the rod, and at the same time, the second motor is used to change the direction of the catapult through a drive gear. This makes it possible to shoot ping pong balls or other objects with the robot. Download the program for mBlock 5.

Makeblock catapult ram

Animated assembly instructions video for the Catapult Ram.

Mobile app’s user interface for the Catapult Ram.

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 App Control Catapult Ram 1 1

Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 video review

Conclusion

The Makeblock Ultimate 2.0 educational robot kit is a great platform for learning or creating robotics projects whether you study by yourself or learn in the classroom at school. The structure is strong, durable, and colorful. The MegaPi control board can support a range of Makeblock modules or even off-the-shelf sensors bought from third parties. It also comes with up to 550 parts for creating various mechanisms, more than 12 types of electronic modules, and support for up to 8 motors. The robot kit can be used to build more than 10 robots or projects in one set with well-documented models to reproduce yourself. The robot can be programmed with Block programming or Arduino C, and beyond Windows and Mac computers, visual programming is also supported on mobile devices, which can make it more practical for people without easy access to a computer. We haven’t tried it in this review, but the kit can be used for more advanced projects when connected to a Raspberry Pi board.

We would like to thank MakeBlock for sending us the Ultimate 2.0 10-in-1 robot kit. The Ultimate 2.0 robot kit can be purchased for $369.99 and up on Makeblock. You can save $10 by using the coupon “save10”.

This review is translated from the original tutorial in Thai language by Kajornsak JanJam.

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