So, my Makeblock kit arrived, I collected it from my local post office on the day after my birthday. I downloaded the list of parts and the Arduino libraries from theĀ Makeblock website and tested it. The next day, I built a simple robot in under half an hour.

So, what is Makeblock?

It’s an open source hardware platform for robotics. It also has a custom shield for easily adding sensors, motors and other devices to it. In theory, it should also integrate with Lego. I’ll let you know how that works out later.

I obtained mine through Makeblock’s kickstarter project. There are a few European suppliers who will stock different sets, or, in theory, you could download the plans and make your own.

The hardware is aluminium (that’s aluminum for our American readers), with a cleverly thought out system of holes and grooves to hold things securely in place.

The kit I received also includes two motors and an IR sensor with a remote control (you can see where this is going). In addition to that, there were also an Arduino and a custom shield with colour-coded sockets for different devices to be connected via RJ11 cables.

The libraries come with sample code, so it’s easy enough to adapt them to make your own custom sketches. Plugging the Arduino with its custom shield in to S4A to make a Scratch-based tethered robot would require significant additional work – . However, as a basis for construction projects using your own kit, it has potential.