In order to control an Arduino board using RoboBlockly, additional software must be installed on the computer. For Chromebooks, Barobo provides the necessary "Arduino Controller" extension as a free download, available at www.barobo.com/downloads. (For Windows and MacOS machines, "Linkbot Labs" software that includes the necessary "ChDuino" software is available at the same site.)
On the Downloads page scroll down to the Chromebook section, and click the button labeled “Arduino Controller.” A new tab or window should open for the Arduino Controller page at the Chrome Web Store, as shown below:
Click the “Add to Chrome” button on the right, and then click the “Add app” button in the popup confirmation window that appears. (If you don’t see the “Add to Chrome” button, but instead it is labeled “Launch app,” it means that you already have Arduino Controller installed as one of your Chrome extensions.) After a few seconds the Arduino Controller page will reappear with the “Add to Chrome” button changed to “Launch app.” Click the “Launch app” button. There will be a brief “Loading” message, and then you should see this window:
The Arduino Controller window gives a visual representation of the various pins on the Arduino board, and allows us to control the input and output pins on the board using the interface. You can view the analog voltage values read by the A0-A5 ports (on the left side), can view digital input values, and can control the digital output values (as we will see).
If you lose sight of the Arduino Controller window, click its icon in the Chromebook “shelf” (the row of apps along the bottom or side of your screen). The icon is a small image of the Arduino board:
If you don’t see the icon, then you will need to relaunch the controller by going back to its page in the Chrome Web Store and clicking the “Launch app” button. (Tip: If you’re having trouble finding it again in the Chrome Web Store, go to www.barobo.com/downloads and click the “Arduino Controller” button in the Chromebook section. It will take you to the proper page in the Chrome Web Store. It’s also good to bookmark it, of course.)
The next step is to connect the Arduino to the computer via a USB cable, if not already done. (See the relevant RoboBlockly lesson for the setup instructions: either "Setup for Arduino and LED Module" or "Setup for Arduino and LED on Breadboard".)
Once the Arduino is connected to the computer via the USB cable, you should see a light on the board turn on, indicating it is getting power from the computer (assuming the computer is on).
In order to complete the connection, we need to get the Arduino Controller to recognize the Arduino board. Make sure that the Arduino Controller is running and its window is visible (relaunch it and/or click its icon in the shelf to bring it forward, if necessary). Once the Arduino Controller is running, as soon as you plug in the Arduino board’s USB connection the Controller software recognizes it and makes the connection. The message near the top left of the Arduino Controller window will change from “Connection status: disconnected” to “Connection status: connected” in green, as shown below. (If you physically disconnect the USB cable, the message will be “Connection status: error” in red. Plugging it back in should reset things and give the “Connection status: connected” message after a few seconds.)
In addition, fluctuating numbers should appear in the Analog pin section of the Arduino Controller window, and you should see some blinking lights on the Arduino. This all indicates that the Arduino is properly connected and ready for use.
Note: If you physically plug in the Arduino’s USB cable to the Chromebook before launching the Arduino Controller software, everything will still work. When the Arduino Controller is launched, it should recognize that an Arduino board is plugged in and make the connection, yielding the “Connection status: connected” message.
You probably have also noticed that there is a “Firmware Updater” button in the Arduino Controller window. Firmware is the computer code stored on the Arduino that runs the board. When new features are added, or software bugs fixed, a new version of the firmware must be uploaded and stored in the Arduino board. At times you may get a message to the effect of “firmware update needed.” If so, click the “Firmware Updater” button. A popup window like that shown below should appear. Click “Start” and wait until the progress bar reaches 100%, then close the Firmware Uploader window.
If you’re not sure if you have the latest version of the firmware installed, it’s fine to go through the upload firmware process. If the current firmware on board is the same as the firmware being uploaded, the “new” firmware will replace the current firmware, but there will of course be no difference in the end result, and everything should run fine.