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Learning Math/CS/Engineering Design with Robotics

Setup to Control Linkbots Using Linkbot Labs and RoboBlocky


Note: FAQs with troubleshooting tips and info on updating firmware on a Linkbot are here. (If the firmware needs updating you will get a message to that effect when you try to connect the Linkbot through Linkbot Labs or RoboBlocky, as described below.)

Overview: To control hardware Linkbots you need either to download and install Linkbot Labs software or the Linkbot IDE extension for Chromebooks. Section A below has instructions for Windows and MacOS machines, and Section B has instructions for Chromebooks. Non-Windows tablets are not currently supported for hardware Linkbots.

A. Instructions for Windows and MacOS

(1) Download and install the latest version of Linkbot Labs. Download information and links are available on the RoboBlocky Download page.

(2) Launch RoboBlocky at using a regular browser (Chrome is recommended).

(3) Connect the hardware Linkbot to the computer using either a micro USB cable or a wireless dongle, and then add the Linkbot’s ID (found on the Linkbot’s label, e.g., “ZG81”) using the Linkbot Labs sidebar on the left side at RoboBlocky, as shown in Figure 2 below. (Click on the “Linkbot Labs” arrow just below the RoboBlocky heading at the top left to open or close the sidebar, as circled in red in Figure 1.) Note that when first opening RoboBlocky it may take a few seconds for the Linkbot Labs arrow to appear.


Figure 1: RoboBlocky 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: RoboBlocky 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.


Wndows/MacOS Instructions, continued:

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

(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.


Windows/MacOS Instructions, continued:

(7) If you receive messages about firmware needing updating, see for guidance.


B. Instructions for Chromebooks

Download and install the Linkbot IDE (Integrated Development Environment) extension for Chromebooks. Download information and links are available on the RoboBlocky Download page.

You will end up at the Chrome Store page for Linkbot IDE:

Click the "Add to Chrome" button. It will change to a "Launch app" button, as below.

(If the button already says "Launch app," it means that LinkbotIDE has already been added to your Chrome browser. It's important to have the latest version, however, so you might want to remove the current version and add it again. See instructions on how to do this at the end below.)


Click that and the LinkbotIDE app window will appear.

You can also launch the Linkbot IDE extension by using the Chromebook Launcher menu (circle with dot, located at the bottom left corner of the screen). Note: See this video for an overview of the following instructions.

The Linkbot IDE window will appear with a "Dongle status: Disconnected" message:

To connect the dongle, press the "Connect to Dongle" button. (First make sure the wireless dongle is connected to one of the computer's USB ports.) You will then see a pop-up that allows you to select the dongle plugged into the USB port:

Click on "Barobo USB Serial Adapter" and press "Connect."

Back on the Linkbot IDE home page, you will see the "Dongle Status" area go to "Connecting" and then "Connected."


Then open in the browser and follow steps 2-5 in the instructions for Windows and Mac machines. If you receive messages about firmware needing updating, see for guidance. 


How to check for the latest version of Linkbot IDE on the Chromebook:

The current version number of Linkbot IDE is listed on its Chrome Web Store page. To see it, select the "Overview" button on that page and then scroll down. You will see an "Additional Information" section with the version number (the number shown below is not the most up-to-date version number):


You can compare this version number to the version number of the Linkbot IDE that is installed on your Chromebook, which is listed in the Linkbot IDE pop-up window shown above.


Removing Linkbot IDE from the Chromebook:

To remove Linkbot IDE, 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.