Software, hardware, and how to’s! databot™ Basic Training starts here newbies! Welcome to Team databot™!
databot™ Basic Training
databot™ has many capabilities and uses, let’s start with the basics and get comfortable.
Getting Started - Pieces and Parts
So you have received your databot™ kit! Congratulations and welcome to Team databot™! Your databot™ kit comes with all the materials you need to start collecting data, doing experiments, and programming. Here’s a quick rundown on your pieces and parts!
When not in use in the field, databot™ likes to kick back and relax in this rich and luxurious black matte, easily stored, zippered case! databot™ likes to brag that it’s not just about comfort and safety but serious style. databot™’s home proudly sports the blazing red logo of aRbotics, the company that brings you databot!
databot™ likes company. If you purchased a Twin Pack or Classroom Set you’ll find 2 bots for each case, snug as a bug in a rug. Keep your case tidy and organized and you’ll always have what you need at your fingertips!
Mini USB Cable
This is your lifeline to databot™. Use this cable to both charge and transfer programs to databot™ ‘s Arduino based brain.
The slot in databot™ ‘s lid that matches the small end of this cable – use that to plug it in to any 5v source to charge up the internal battery. You can also use an external 5v USB power supply and connect databot™ for extra long run-times in the field.
Finally, it’s where you plug in to transfer programs and teach databot™ new tricks!
8GB MicroSD Card & Reader
databot™ can hold a lot of data – you can select the “write” option when you are setting up your experiments and data will log continuously to the 8GB SD card storage. You access and retrieve your .CSV data file using the included SD card reader. The 8GB micro SD card is pre-installed in databot and ready to go, so if you are hunting for it, you can stop looking. We already did the hard work and pushed it into the onboard SD card writer!
To access the card, you will need to pop databot™’s lid off. It’s on tight, but is easy to get on and off once you know how. We keep the SD card locked under the hood to prevent it from accidentally ejecting during experiments. To remove the lid, simply grasp your databot™ with the main sensor board facing forward (expansion ports to the back), and pry straight up on the slight lip of the lid. It should pop right off. (There are images below if you’re not sure which side is the front.)
Important Notes: 1) It’s easier to get off after the first round; 2) Instructors and teachers may want to reserve pop-topping privileges as students might be tempted to poke around inside databot™. databot™’s tough, but that might be too much!
Velcro Plate & Lanyard
databot™ was born for action so you can launch, swing, egg drop, play toss, and more with it. Because of this we created options and hooks for attachment to just about anything. The included velcro plate slides into the grooves on the bottom of databot™ so you can attach it to drones, vehicles, wagons – just about anything to which velcro will attach. Also, databot ships with a lanyard clip installed so you can easily connect it to the red ribbon lanyard. Hang it off your neck, swing it like a bolo – go for it!
Note: You can remove the lanyard attachment easily by slipping the clip through the loop and pulling it through the lanyard holes in databot™’s base. In order to re-attach it you open up databot’s case and re-thread the lanyard connector.
External Temperature Probe
databot™ has three expansion ports that you will notice on the top of the case. The smaller port closest to the edge of the case is a dedicated port for this external temperature probe. Use this to take environmental temperature readings of a local creek or pond, use it for monitoring temperatures during chemical reactions, or just hold it in your hand and check out your own temperature! databot™ IS NOT WATERPROOF so please don’t toss databot™ in a pond, just use the probe!
And of course, last but not least – you should have a databot™ in your kit! Let’s move on to databot™’s features now and get ready to start some serious science fun.
Getting Started - databot™ Features
databot™ First Look
Hold databot™ in your hand and look it over carefully. The dimensions of databot™ are 42.5mm wide by 42.5mm long by 42.25 mm high. databot™ weighs 64 grams. You will notice some distinctive features on each side of the cube. For orientation, the top of the cube has the three expansion ports, the on-off switch, and the Mini USB slot.
Look down from the top and you will see four separate circuit boards inside the case. Each board has a different function which can be highlighted to students. databot™’s case is constructed of incredibly tough, clear polycarbonate. The see-through case makes it easy to see the inner workings of databot™ and use it as a teaching tool.
The “front” of the cube has a design etched into it. Holding databot™ in front of you, Let’s look at each side of the cube’s form factor and take a quick tour of the features.
ON OFF WARNING!! Holding the button down steadily for more than 2 seconds will lock databot into the “On” state which prevents accidental shutdowns. The only only way to reset it is running it completely out of power. Read on!
Look carefully at the image of databot’s topside and look for these features:
On / Off switch. Databot’s switch is simple to use. One click turns it on. Two quick clicks turns it off. Try it! Your databot ships with a program pre-installed to work with Google Science Journal, you will see it light up and flash a blue LED waiting for a connection when you power it up. databot ships with only a low amount of charge on board, make sure you plug it in and charge it fully once you unpack it and before you run tests. Low power will result in inconsistent performance.
Mini USB port. Connect your cable here to upload programs and receive data for display through the Arduino IDE if you are using it. This is also the charging port, so this is where you plug in your databot™ to juice up the rechargeable battery.
External temperature probe port. This is where you connect the waterproof temperature probe included in your kit.
Analog/Digital I/O port. Use this to easily add on compatible sensors.
I2C. I2C is a popular communications protocol for electronic devices. Using I2C you can connect a multitude of other sensors and devices!
Speaker Opening. This enables the easy passage of sound so you can hear databot™ squeaking, chirping, chortling, or whistling.
databot™ Front Face
This is databot’s front face!
It has a design etched into it and if you look closely, you will see two small holes in the upper left and right corners, with a larger hole on the left.
This front facing circuit is the main sensor board . Four of the 10 on-board sensors reside here.
The Microphone and Air Quality sensors are located behind the openings in the case to better accommodate air flow and sound wave reception.
The Light (Lux) sensor and Ultraviolet sensor are also mounted on the front facing board to accommodate better light exposure.
The UV sensor is exposed by the third hole. If you peek through the hole, you will see a tiny chip and the letters UV below it.
*See the technical data sheets for the sensors for detailed information.
Educators: you can use the clearly labeled circuit board as a teaching tool for students studying robotics, programming, and electronics.
databot™ Side View - Left
Now, you rotate databot™ to the right. You will see what call we the left face.
databot™ has 4 circuit boards and one main connector board (bus board). Each of the 4 circuit boards contain specific sensors for databot™ and slide into the main bus board.
From databot™ front to rear (right to left), the boards are:
- Main Sensor Board
Lux sensors (light)
- Power Board
Mini USB connection
Data receiving (Rx) & sending (Tx) lines
Altimeter/ Barometric Pressure sensor
Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) which includes: Accelerometer, Gyro, and Magnetometer
Note: there are two yellow lights on the Power Board, one towards the top and one near the bottom – if you see one, databot™
is getting low on power. Two yellow lights means fully charged.
- Memory Board
SD card (installed) – see note below for instructions
- Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and I/O board.
Note: There is a tiny red LED that will flash when the SD card is in use. Otherwise it will be off. There is also a small, yellow LED on the Memory Board. This is a test LED used in the classic Arduino test Sketch called “Blink.” Blink is usually one of the first programs students learn, and when the light blinks, it means you have created your first successful program.
databot™ Rear View Mirror
Rotate databot™ to the right again!
You should now be looking at the rear facing BLE and I/O Board.
The large blue colored chip is the BLE module that enables databot™ to connect to other devices wirelessly!
*The BLE on this module is version 4.2.
Note: you will see a blue light directly over the BLE module. If it is flashing, it is available to connect to a device, it is steady, it is connected.
databot™ Side View - Right
Rotate databot™ again to the right so you are looking at the other side panel.
The Power Board is the second one from the front, and is also the USB communications board for programming.
The board has two lights that you will be flashing when you are programming databot™ for activities.
Flashing blue light: (at the top) = databot™ receiving data (Rx)
Flashing green light: (beneath it) = transmitting data (Tx).
*These flashy little lLED’s are great indicators of what is going on inside databot
databot™ Bottoms Up!
Now let’s flip databot™ on it’s back and take a look at the 6th and final side – the bottom!
Looking through the polycarbonate underside you will see a silver and gold rechargeable battery.
This is a 3.7v 250 mAh LiPo that can be recharged for thousands of cycles! Yes – thousands!
Depending on how many sensors and how much light and sound you are using in your programs, the battery should last several hours.
*For longer run times in the field for datalogging, you can use an external power bank such as those used for charging phones. Any 5v USB source will recharge the battery.
We designed databot™ to be very attachment friendly so that it can be attached easily to just about anything.
The included lanyard clips into the attachment that you see pre-installed in databot. You can easily remove the lanyard attachment by simply guiding it through the loop and removing it.
Note: The only way to reattach the lanyard clip is to open up the databot case and rethread it.
There are also physical connections for both LEGO and fischertechnik building systems, so you can easily attach databot™ to your LEGO or fischertechnik robot and send it off on data collection missions.
You can also build models like the fischertechnik Tilt-A-Whirl shown here that can be used for demonstrating principles of motion and Newtonian physics.
If you have access to a 3D printer in your classroom or Makerspace, challenge students to design their own attachments for any other connections.
*The grooves for fischertechnik pins make very nice attachment points for young designers and engineers.
Finally, the Velcro plate included with databot™ allows you to attach to just about anything!
The polycarbonate plate slides on and off the base making it simple to use when you need it, but easily removed when you don’t.
databot™ For Arduino Enthusiasts
This concludes your tour of databot™ basics. If you are interested in programming databot and using it with Arduino-based tools, please visit the Arduino IDE getting started page. If you’re ready to start using databot with the Google Science Journal app, read on!