FAQ: Linkbot Labs and Linkbots

How do I control hardware Linkbots directly from RoboBlockly in Windows and MacOSX?

You need Linkbot Labs software to control hardware Linkbots. You may either download and install it directly or access it via the C-STEM Studio software. Follow these instructions:

(1) Download and install the latest version of Linkbot Labs from the Barobo Downloads page, or download and install C-STEM Studio (which includes Linkbot Labs) from the C-STEM web site. (C-STEM Studio is a full-featured platform that bundles together a number of software applications for the hands-on, integrated learning of STEM subjects using coding and robotics. More info here.)
(2) Launch RoboBlockly at www.roboblockly.com using a regular browser (Chrome is recommended), or by clicking the RoboBlockly menu option in the Software section at the top left inside C-STEM Studio.
(3) Connect the hardware Linkbot to the computer using either a micro USB cable or a wireless dongle, and then enter the Linkbot’s ID (the four-character code on its label, e.g., MF3C) using the Linkbot Labs sidebar on the left side at RoboBlockly and click the "Add" button, as shown in Figure 2 below. (Click on the “Linkbot Labs” arrow just below the RoboBlockly heading at the top left to open or close the sidebar, as shown in Figure 1.) Note that when first opening RoboBlockly it may take a few seconds for the Linkbot Labs arrow to appear. Figure 1: RoboBlockly user interface with the Linkbot Labs sidebar closed. Click on the “Linkbot Labs” arrow, as circled in red in the image, to open the sidebar (or close the sidebar, if open). Figure 2: RoboBlockly user interface with the Linkbot Labs sidebar open. Enter the ID for a Linkbot in the box (circled in red) and click the “Add” button.

Instructions, continued:

(4) Drag a Linkbot instruction block such as driveDistance() to the Workspace area of RoboBlockly.

(5) Click “Run” or “Step” to move the virtual Linkbot on the grid and the hardware Linkbot at the same time.

(6) If the hardware Linkbot does not move, you may need to restart the Barobo Linkbot Service program by right-clicking on the “L” in the Windows task list at the bottom right of the screen (Figures 3 and 4 below) or clicking on the “L” in the Mac menu bar at the top of the screen (in the list of icons on the right side of the menu bar, Figure 5 below). Choose “Restart Linkbot Service” from the popup menu. (If the "L" is missing, restarting the computer should solve the problem, as the Linkbot Service is launched automatically when the computer starts. If you are using a Windows machine, an alternative to restarting is to double click the "LinkbotServiceManager.exe" program located at C:/Program Files (x86)/LinkbotLabs 2.1.x.)

Figure 3: Accessing the Linkbot Service “L” in the Windows task list.

Figure 4: The popup menu with Linkbot Service options (Windows interface).

Figure 5: The Linkbot Service “L” in the Mac menu bar (your list of icons will be different). A similar popup window as for Windows will appear when you click the L.

Instructions, continued:

Also see the questions and answers on the “Linkbot Troubleshooting” FAQ page. For further debugging, you can click “Save Ch” to save a program’s Ch code with the default name “roboblockly.ch” in the C-STEM Studio->My Workspace->RoboBlockly folder and then launch it with the ChIDE software. Then click “Run” in ChIDE and see what error messages are displayed to debug the problem.

How do I control hardware Linkbots directly from RoboBlockly using a Chromebook?

Download and install the Linkbot IDE (Integrated Development Environment) extension for Chromebooks, available via the Downloads page. Then open roboblockly.com in the browser and follow steps 3-5 in the instructions in the previous answer for Windows and MacOSX. If you run into Linkbot connection problems, make sure you are running the latest version of the Linkbot IDE for Chromebooks (as listed on the Downloads page). The way to check that you have the latest version is to open up the Chrome browser and then click the "three vertical dots" menu in the upper right corner. Select "More tools" in that menu, and then "Extensions" in the submenu that appears. You should then see a list of apps and extensions that are installed on your Chromebook. Scroll down and find the one for "Linkbot IDE" and click the "Details" button. It will give you the version number and other information. If it's an old version, you can click the "Remove" button. Then go to the Downloads page and click the "Linkbot IDE" button in the Chromebook section. It should open another tab in the browser for Linkbot IDE with an "Add to Chromebook" button (assuming that you removed it). Click that and then (after some downloading) it should change to a "Launch app" button. Launch the app and after that things should work. Note: The latest version of Linkbot IDE has the Linkbot Firmware Updater built into it. Previously they were separate, so you may have an old version of the Firmware Updater installed. Once you are running the latest version of Linkbot IDE, remove the old Firmware Updater extension.

Can I control hardware Linkbots using an iPad?

Unfortunately, hardware Linkbots do not work directly with iPads at this point. It is possible to use an iPad to control hardware Linkbots using a low-cost Raspberry Pi computer, as shown here. But it is not ideal. The best ways to work with Linkbots are to use Windows, Mac, or Chromebook machines, as outlined in the questions and answers above.

Where can I find the License Agreement for Linkbot Labs?

If your school needs the license agreement in order to install Linkbot Labs on your school computers you can find it on the Downloads page. Look for the button labeled “License Agreement” under Option 1 of the WIndows and MacOSX section.