by MWMathSci

Published on July 23, 2014

MeasuringBot incorporating littleBits cloud module

The Challenge:  Design a MeasuringBot that can measure a linear distance.

The concept of the MeasuringBot is an integrated Math-Design-Engineering Challenge for 3rd Grade and up. Under 5th grade would not be expected to apply 2πr=C in their methodologies, but advanced 5th graders and higher would. In the following example, students would also test the effect of differently sized wheels on the measure linear distance. Based on this, they would be asked to predict how many 3 second motor impulses would be required to travel a specific distance. 

These concepts apply directly to robotic planetary exploration such as the Mars Rovers. Since "rover drivers" can't see the rovers move, they must employ other indirect methods of knowing where the rover is. Motor rotation rates and wheel sizes are known quantities. Knowing how long the driver motors were engaged allows one to calculate the distance traveled and prevent driving into a hazard.

In this prototype, a wheel with a radius of 2 cm was chosen. The pulse rate from the Cloud Module is 3 sec. yielding 1.5 revolutions. 1.5 • (2 • 3.14 • 2) = 6.28 cm of travel per pulse, or about 15.9 pulses per meter of travel.

How To Make It


Assemble Circuit 1: Cloud Transmitter USB power + Cloud + fork + wireless transmitter


Mount Circuit 1 to a mounting board


Assemble Circuit 2 - MeasuringBot 9v power + wire + roller switch + wire + wireless receiver >>> Channel A: wire + DC motor Channel B: pulse + bright LED Channel C: wire + DC motor


Attach two mounting boards, back-to-back, secure with zip ties. This will serve as the chassis for the rover.


Affix half of bottle cap to middle of "trailing edge" of the "bottom" mounting board. This will serve as a rear skid. (See photo).


Mount motors to bottom board (see photo).


Mount remaining modules of circuit 2 to the topside of rover chassis. Position roller switch at front of chassis. (see pho

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