RadioShack and MAKE Magazine Launch Make: it Robotics


This month, we’re teaming up with our friends at Make: Magazine to introduce a new series of robotics kits to RadioShack stores and With the RadioShack Make: it Robotics series and an Arduino Uno R3, you can jump right into the world of robotics by building the included example bots or your own ingenious creation.

RadioShack Make: it Robotics Starter Kit

What better place to start than… well… the Starter Kit. This kit sets you up with all the parts you need to build one of two example robots. The kit’s core PCB features onboard motor drivers and headers so you can connect the gear motors and optical sensors included in the kit.

Click the following link to open the support files folder, where you’ll find schematics, the Arduino library, and example sketches.

Make it Robotics Starter Kit Support Files

Make it Robotics Starter Kit User’s Guide

RadioShack Make: it Robotics Add-On Project Kit 1

So you’ve mastered the RadioShack Make: it Robotics Starter Kit? Maybe you’ve even thrown those bars and screws together to make an entirely new robot. It’s time to step up to the Add-On Project Kit 1. This kit adds a low-torque motor, an IR receiver, and 40 more parts to the Starter Kit so you can build any of three additional example robots.

Click the following link to open the support files folder, where you’ll find schematics and specifications. You can find example sketches in the MakeItRobotics library you created with the Starter Kit, but just in case, we’ve added them to the folder. Note that the Add-On Project Kit 1 requires the Starter Kit.

Make it Robotics Add-on Project Kit 1 Support Files

Make it Robotics Add-On Project Kit 1 User’s Guide

RadioShack Make: it Robotics Add-On Project Kit 2

Here it is. You’re no longer a novice. You’re a mad, robot-building scientist! What better way to show off your expertise than by building one of five robots in a single kit? With an additional low-torque motor and 40 more parts, combine this Add-On Project Kit 2 with the Starter Kit and the Add-On Project Kit 1 to build one of the five example robots or a massive, four-motor, IR-sensing robot!

Click the following link to open the support files folder, where you’ll find schematics for the LED spotlight board. Once again, we’ve added the MakeItRobotics libary to the folder. Note that the Add-On Project Kit 2 requires the Starter Kit and the Add-On Project Kit 1.

Make it Robotics Add-on Project Kit 2 Support Files

Make it Robotics Add-On Project Kit 2 User’s Guide

RadioShack Make: it Robotics Sensor Kit

Trick out your RadioShack Make: it robots with this set of sensors. Connect the microphone, optical sensor, or passive infrared (PIR) sensor to your Make: It Robotics core PCB and tweak the sketch to automate your robot.

Click the following link to open the support files folder, where you’ll find the MakeItRobotics library and sensor schematics. Note that the example sketches were created for use with the Make: it Robotics core PCB, but you can use the sensors with almost any microcontroller.

Make it Robotics Sensor Kit Support Files

Make it Robotics Sensor Kit User’s Guide

RadioShack Make: it Robotics Remote Control

Afraid your robot may be a little too autonomous? Upload the right example sketch, point this remote control at the IR receiver, and tell that robot what to do.

Make it Robotics Remote Control User’s Guide

RadioShack Make: it Robotics Gear Motor Kit

Want more power for your drill bot? Want to put some speed behind your spotlight bot? This kit offers a low torque/high speed motor, a medium torque/medium speed motor, and high torque/low speed motor for whatever your new creation needs.

Make it Robotics Gear Motor Kit User’s Guide


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  • Dave

    Has anybody built this yet? My son picked up the Starter Kit at Maker Faire Bay Area last week…we built the line-following robot, but it doesn’t see the line. I suspect that the IR LED’s aren’t working, but am still troubleshooting. Any advice or experiences would be appreciated!


    • Colin Carter

      Hi Dave,
      Thanks for commenting on the post!
      I hope you’ve figured out what was happening with the Line-Following Robot. In my experience, most problems with that build stem from the following:
      - Using a microcontroller other than Arduino Uno R3 (the Uno R3′s form factor matches that of the Make: it PCB)
      - Miswired sensor cables (matching positive/negative as well as pin to pin)
      - Placing the robot in a bright area

      A word on that last one: The IR sensors are super sensitive to light. If you’ve placed the robot in the sunlight or in another bright area, the sensor LED may not be able to pick up the IR light from the emitter LED.

      If it’s still giving you trouble, let us know. And good luck with your robots!

  • Nick Hines

    I bought this as I thought it was a starter kit for my son. While instructions are pretty clear there is no guidance on how to connect the arduino uno to the PCB – while he can give it a go through trial and error was surprised that this significant piece was missing. Do you have any instructions that could help


    • Colin Carter

      Hi Nick,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      The pins on the bottom of the PCB mostly match the headers on the Arduino Uno R3, starting with the A5 pin (power jack side) and RX 0 (USB side). However, the PCB does not have pins for the top two pins on the power side (IOREF and undefined) or the two I2C pins next to the reset button.
      See page 14 in the Starter Kit user’s guide for an example of how these pins and headers align.

  • Dave


    Got the thing built, Arduino Uno lined up and ready to go. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to figure out how to get the board configured…I can’t get the correct serial port to show up in the menu. Im sure I need a new driver or something, but I can’t seem to find it. All the FAQs indicate that it should be in the folder I downloaded with the Arduino application, there is no folder! It’s just the App, which launches when you double click. All the tutorials say to simply “Double click and install FTDIUSBSerialDriver_V2_2_9_Intel.dmg”… well… I CAN’T FIND THIS FTDIUSBSerialDriver!!!!!!! Heeellllllpppppppp! I feel so alone. It’s cold. So cold. (curls up into fetal position with Arduino clutched to teat)…

    • Seorsa

      Dave- i had a similar problem. You might try fir re-downloading the arduino software from It sounds like you are running this on your intel MAC, but if not you are downloading the wrong driver

      • Seorsa

        Sorry didn’t mean to click enter yet. I found it on google code, I think I might have not selected the 64 bit driver in retrospect.

        • Dave

          Thanks Seorsa, but the link you gave me seems to be dead… Gah! This is frustrating… doesn’t seem like it should be this hard!

  • AllTamMar

    I, too, can’t get the LEDs on the sensors to work. I’ve tried downloading the 64 bit driver with no success!! Has anyone had success with their line-following robot? Or do I need to return my purchase to Radio Shack? Please advise!



    • Dave

      Where did you find the 64 bit driver? I can’t even do that!!! I’m a mess…

      • AllTamMar

        I found the 64 bit driver in the drivers folder under the downloaded Arduino software. For me: [directory:...\]Documents\Arduino Software\Arduino\drivers. Still no luck getting the bot to see the line though.

        I’m thinking about making a store visit to get help with troubleshooting.


        • AllTamMar

          I finally got the sensors to work…actually, my eight year old did (it’s his project). I had the sensor wires connected to the wrong place on the PCB (had them on the left rear side instead of the left back side – if that makes sense. Both places are numbered 1 to 4). First timer issues – I guess. The robot does take a while to recognize the line so we usually have to let it wander around for a minute then try to get it to follow the line.

          Good Luck,

  • James Lundblad

    We seem to be missing one of the sensor cables? Not sure if the babies misplaced it or it was missing from the kit. I guess we could hack one from bread board jumpers wires. Any suggestions on how to get a replacement cable or the connectors to make one?

  • Jon Schwarzmiller

    I enjoyed the kit but I’m having trouble with the sensors too. I can’t seem to get it to follow the line. The two wheels turn right when it’s powers on so I’m not sure what’s happening.

    I’m using an Arduino R3 and have double/trippled checked the sensors. My environment is clear of any bright lights. It would seem if I placed my hand over one sensor the wheels would turn or be manipulated to follow the data from the sensor since I blocked it with my fingers. I get none of that. Nothing is manipulated but the wheels keep turning forward. I have both jumpers on the shield. If I take them off the wheels no longer turn but the sensors do not work either. I think it would have been nice to include in the code at least so we could all view from the serial monitor if sensor data is picking up or not, this would save a heck of a lot of headache.

    Thank you,


  • Jon Schwarzmiller

    Another quick comment. Next time it would be nice if there were color pictures to these so us people who are new to wiring electronics can be certain and not guessing. Right now it’s hard to tell if it’s a black or red wire when connecting the sensors:(

    Thanks! I’m not sure where to comment on the product so kinda venting as well

  • Terry Jackson

    The robot does nothing when I turn it on. The line following software compiled and uploaded successfully to the Arduino UNO R3. I tried inserting the following into the main loop to test motor function:
    The motors did not move I checked for voltage on the motor terminal block as I turned the unit on and did not see any voltage there.

  • Steve

    I cannot get the sketch for the line following firmware to compile using the Arduino 1.0.5-r2 development environment. The compiler does not recognize the MakeItRobotics class name when defining the line_following object. I have moved all of the files to the Arduino directory to insure that the include file is being included. Can anyone help?? Obviously, I am doing something wrong here.

    • Russell

      I had the same problem. I fixed it by selecting “Import Library” under “Sketch” in the menu bar of the Arduino software. From there choose “Add Library” and add the MakeItRobotics Library.

  • me

    i just built the walking robot, but…. i cant get the software on the arduino board. help me please.

  • me

    I am working on a Mac running OS X 10.7.5 and while my LEDs are working, I can’t get the software to download or run. Any one have any ideas of what I can do? Thanks!

  • Nathan

    i have the street sweeper bot al built and everything its all hooked up I just cant figure out how to dowload the support file fully, like how it says connect the arduion uno r3 to your computer using and usb port. where is the usb port do i hav to go out and buy a new one or do I just not now what it looks like can someone help me

  • JOHN

    DOes anyone know how to get to the Arduino programming environment? I have the linefollow.ino file to run. Please help. Thanks…

  • james

    I bought radio shack robotics Starter Kit.
    I finished assemble .
    But I don’t know How to connect usb cable to arduino uno R3 to communicate with computer.
    I am very newbie on this project.
    Please help me .

    • Manny Alvear

      Hi James (and Nathan)!
      The USB cable you need is a USB Type B (as opposed to micro, or mini, etc.). It’s a kind commonly used by printers.
      The port on the Arduino is right next to the RESET button, on the same edge as the power jack. Connect the Type B end of the USB cable there, and then the other end (Type A, the flat end), into your computer USB port.

  • eddie

    MakeItRobotics line_following;//declare object
    this line gets highlighted when i do a verify…stuck here…what should i do…it saids ‘MakeItRobotics does not name a type’

    linefollow:24: error: ‘MakeItRobotics’ does not name a type
    linefollow.ino: In function ‘void setup()’:
    linefollow:32: error: ‘line_following’ was not declared in this scope
    linefollow.ino: In function ‘void loop()’:
    linefollow:60: error: ‘line_following’ was not declared in this scope
    linefollow:62: error: ‘line_following’ was not declared in this scope
    linefollow:70: error: ‘line_following’ was not declared in this scope

    • Manny Alvear

      Hi Eddie,
      I think this may be a library issue. Try this:

      1. Check your Arduino IDE settings: File>Preferences, then locate the “Sketchbook location.” This can vary depending on how you’ve got your Arduino set up.

      2. Verify that you copied the MakeItRobotics library to this location. If not, move it here and try compiling again.

      This may fix it, but if not, you may want to go to the for Arduino support.

    • Steven

      I had this same issue when we first copied the support files over…and also tried to import the library. So, I closed and restarted the program and then it worked just fine. Also, my son pulled off the construction without a hitch and had a good time laying a roll of electrical tape across the floor…and the sensors worked pretty well. We tweaked a few settings in Arduino (speeding it up of course!) Anyone have any fun suggestions to keep the interest going? He seems to enjoy the Arduino programming so, looking for ways to hack and keep the learning experience going. Thanks, Steven

  • Brad

    Bought it last night, works great and looking forward to adding additional accessories….

  • Eddie

    I completed the line-following robot, paying careful attention to the intricate details of the wiring. However, instead of following the line or even going straight, one wheel spins forward quickly and the other backwards slowly, causing the robot to awkwardly spin in a circle. I am in a dark room, double checked all of the wires, and am using the R3. At this point, I am truly stumped.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you!

    • Brad

      Eddie, recheck the leads to the sensors. I was able to duplicate your concern by reversing the leads on one side.

  • Brad

    Which pins are used for PWMA, PWMB, PWMC & PWMC?

  • John

    Hey Guys, I have done my line-following robot and it works fine, and then I built the spotlight robot but unfortunately it’s not working properly. Here is the problem: With my PCB board, you can wire 4 motors, 2 on the left side and the other 2 on the right side. but unfortunately, my right 2 motors don’t work I don’t know if my PCB has a malfunction or it is because arduino can’t power 4 motors in the same time? or maybe I am doing something wrong. Please advise

  • Brad

    Examined the CorePCB_schematic and I now understand how the interface works…..

    • John

      Hey Brad, What did you learn from your PCB schematic examination? I still haven’t found a solution for my problem. Please help.

      • Brad

        The Uno sends serial data to the the CorePCB, the CorePCB then interprets the data and sends a signal to the appropriate device found onboard the CorePCB, motor controller, LED outputs, etc.
        John, directly behind each of the motor connections on the CorePCB you’ll find two micro LEDs, a green and a red, they glow in proportion to the Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) signal sent to each motor. The LEDs don’t reqiure the motors leads to be attached, so they can be used to trouble shoot the circuit, components and software. You’ll first need to know which LEDs are illuminating, so hold the device, turn it on and watch the LEDs cycle, the right side are for the drive wheels and the left are for the spot light. Please let me know what you find…..

        • John

          hey Brad, thanks for the Comment.
          Yes, I did check and found the micro LED’s just like you said. Here is what I found: the LED’s on the left side ( where I wire the drive wheels) turn on brightly and no problem, therefore, the robot goes forward, backward, turn on both sides perfectly. However, the LED”s on the spotlight motors, they do turn on but not as bright as those on the left side, therefore, the motors can’t do anything. It looks like the motors on the left side aren’t receiving enough power to make them move, which can be explained by the brightness of the micro LED’s. I think the left side need more power. What do you think? I really need to get this project going. Please advise. thx

  • Mike

    Built the walking robot, but only 1 motor is getting power. Have isolated it to the fact that only only one set of terminals is getting power. Don’t know why. Used the Arduino Mega, but as far as I can tell, all the pins match up with the Uno. Any thoughts?

    • Brad

      I have built the walking robot yet, but I will be soon. However I can think of several things that could be causing your concern, being I would rule out two items first. First rule out an ambient light sources, the sensors used to identify the position of the legs are very light sensitive and maybe overloaded by ambient light, next reinspect the wire leads from the sensors to the CorePCB on the inoperative leg, they might be reversed.

      • Mike

        Well, both of the sensors work because I can unplug one and plug it into the working terminal and it works fine. So, both of the sensors work, just one of the terminals doesn’t provide any power. That would also seem to rule out the ambient light problem as both of them work fine if plugged into the same terminal. I’m wondering if there’s not some difference in the mega and uno pin placements that causes the problem.

    • Brad

      An additional comment, yes the Uno and the Mega are very similar and I don’t believe you need to worry about compatibility, but their not exactly Pin for Pin compatible, so for a list of compatibility concerns go to

    • John

      Hey Mike, i have to same problem. one of my terminals is not working and I couldn’t have all my motors working. Have you figured it out? please let me know.

      • Mike

        I have not figured it out. I’m bummed. I guess there must be some defect.

  • Joe Pitz

    Hello All, I have started to put together some tutorials on the Make:it Robotics Starter Kit.

    This is a really nice kit that Radio Shack has put together.

    Check out my blog for more details.

    • Brad

      Enjoyed reading your blog, looking forward to readng future post…..

  • Joe

    I’ve got the starter kit robot built, and I downloaded the MakeItRobotics folder containing the example walk.ino to interface with my Arduino Uno… Upon attempting to verify and upload this code to the board, however, I am given the following error message:

    “‘MakeItRobotics’ does not name a type”

    walk:44: error: ‘MakeItRobotics’ does not name a type
    walk.ino: In function ‘void setup()’:
    walk:48: error: ‘Walkingrobot’ was not declared in this scope
    walk.ino: In function ‘void loop()’:
    walk:48: error: ‘Walkingrobot’ was not declared in this scope

    The line of code highlighted by this error is the //declare object line. I can’t make sense of what is wrong with this code or how to fix it, so any help would be welcome. I’ve included the code starting with the line in question:

    MakeItRobotics Walkingrobot; //declare object
    void setup()
    Serial.begin(10420); //tell the Arduino to communicate with Make: it PCB
    Walkingrobot.walking_robot_setup(); //initialize the status of the walking robot
    Walkingrobot.all_stop(); //all motors stop
    delay(500); //delay 500ms

    void loop()
    static int sensor_in; //variable to store the value of read_optical function feedback
    static int sensorCnt = 0; //variable to count for trigger which optical
    static long sensorTimer1 = millis(); //last triggered time
    static long sensorTimer2 = millis(); //now time
    int leftIR_current;
    int left_status;
    long left_start_time;
    int left_speed;
    int left_duration;

    int rightIR_current;
    int right_status;
    long right_start_time;
    int right_speed;
    int right_duration;
    // ———————————
    // ———- Init. Motor ———-
    // ———————————

    left_speed=150; // default left leg on
    left_start_time = millis();

    right_speed=150; // default right leg off

    Walkingrobot.trigger_optical1(); // read optical sensor Rx1 first
    // ————————————————————————————————————————————
    // ————————————————————————————————————————————
    // ———————————————————— Main Loop ————————————————————
    // ————————————————————————————————————————————
    // ————————————————————————————————————————————
    // – Left and right leg alternate movements
    // – Moving leg stops when the IR sensor detects the tape. Then the other leg starts moving.
    // – When sensor times out, assume the leg is not moving; increase driving force and retry the same leg.
    // – When cycle time is too long, assume speed is slow, increase driving force (PWM)
    // – When cycle time is too short, assuming speed is fast, decrease driving force (PWM)
    // ************************************************
    // ******** Read Optical Sensor from OpAmp ********
    // ************************************************
    while (1)

    if ((sensor_in & 0xf00)==0)
    rightIR_current=sensor_in & 0xff;
    if (rightIR_current == 0×0)
    rightIR_current =IR_HIGH;
    rightIR_current =IR_LOW;
    else if((sensor_in & 0xf00)>>8==1)
    leftIR_current=sensor_in & 0xff;
    if (leftIR_current == 0×0)
    leftIR_current =IR_LOW;
    leftIR_current =IR_HIGH;
    sensorTimer2 = millis(); //read now time
    if (sensorTimer2 – sensorTimer1 > 15) //if now time minus last triggered time is greater than 15ms, then trigger the other optical sensor
    sensorTimer1 = sensorTimer2; //last triggered time = now time
    -> trigger optical -> greater than 15ms -> trigger optical2 -> greater than 15ms ->|
    if (sensorCnt == 0)
    else if (sensorCnt == 1)
    if (sensorCnt == 2)
    sensorCnt = 0;
    // —————————————————————————————————
    // ——————————————— Left Leg ——————————————-
    // —————————————————————————————————
    // ***********************************
    // ********** Check Duration *********
    // ***********************************
    left_duration= abs( millis() – left_start_time);// if duration too long without trigger => overshoot => stop and reduce speed

    if ( (left_duration > CYCLE*2) && (left_status !=IDLE) )
    if (left_speed200))// Optical Sensor Trigger
    delay(left_stop_position);// trim stop position. fine-tune the left_stop_position on line 41
    Walkingrobot.walking_robot_left_leg_backward(150);// BRAKE
    delay (10);// right leg
    Walkingrobot.walking_robot_left_leg_backward(0);// Stop left leg
    left_status = IDLE;
    Walkingrobot.walking_robot_right_leg_forward(right_speed);// Start right leg
    right_start_time = millis();
    if (left_duration > CYCLE_UPPER)// if duration too long but trigger => speed slow => increase PWM
    if (left_speed<(SPEED_UPPER_LIMIT+20))
    else if (left_duration speed high => reduce PWM
    if (left_speed>(SPEED_LOWER_LIMIT-10))
    // —————————————————————————————————-
    // ——————————————— Right Leg ——————————————–
    // —————————————————————————————————-
    // ***********************************
    // ********** Check Duration *********
    // ***********************************
    right_duration= abs( millis() – right_start_time);// if duration too long without trigger => overshoot => stop and reduce speed
    if ( (right_duration > CYCLE*2) && (right_status !=IDLE) )
    if (right_speed200))// Optical Sensor Trigger
    delay (right_stop_position);// trim stop position. fine-tune the right_stop_position on line 42
    Walkingrobot.walking_robot_right_leg_backward(150); // BRAKE
    delay (10);
    Walkingrobot.walking_robot_right_leg_backward(0);// Stop right leg
    right_status = IDLE;
    Walkingrobot.walking_robot_left_leg_forward(left_speed);// Start left leg
    left_start_time = millis();
    if (right_duration > CYCLE_UPPER)// if duration too long but trigger => speed slow => increase PWM
    if (right_speed<(SPEED_UPPER_LIMIT+20))
    else if (right_duration speed high => reduce PWM
    if (right_speed>(SPEED_LOWER_LIMIT-10))

    • Joe

      Just tried to verify and upload the linefollow program, thinking I’d try to rebuild with this option (which just didn’t seem that interesting to me in the first place), but this code gets the same error code. From what I’ve read on this forum, I’m the only one having this type of difficulty. If no one can offer help or insight to this problem, I will have to return this product :(

      • Brad

        Joe, here are the names of the two library files you’ll need to install, MakeItRobotics.h and MakeItRobotics.cpp

    • Brad

      Joe, your missing the MakeItRobotics file in your Arduino library, refer the post from Manny Alvear, July, 7,for instructions on how to correct.

  • Brad

    Here’s a link that explains how to add files to the Arduino library.

  • David

    I had trouble getting my PCB board to power up. I figured out that when I replaced the jumpers on J16 they were on the wrong way. Once I turned them SUCESS.


  • John

    hey Brad, thanks for the Comment.
    Yes, I did check and found the micro LED’s just like you said. Here is what I found: the LED’s on the left side ( where I wire the drive wheels) turn on brightly and no problem, therefore, the robot goes forward, backward, turn on both sides perfectly. However, the LED”s on the spotlight motors, they do turn on but not as bright as those on the left side, therefore, the motors can’t do anything. It looks like the motors on the left side aren’t receiving enough power to make them move, which can be explained by the brightness of the micro LED’s. I think the left side need more power. What do you think? I really need to get this project going. Please advise. thx

    ReplyJuly 15, 2014

    • Brad

      John, sounds like a software issue. The dim LEDs suggest that the PWM isn’t set high enough. I’m in the process of adding two additional drive wheels to mine, so I’ll be exploring the software for motor units 3&4, hopefully I’ll find something obvious in the code….

    • Brad

      John disconnect the #3&4 motor leads from CorePCB and run the Searchlight demo program. If the LEDs are still dim, check the standoff post for possible short circuits.

  • Brad

    Has anyone attempted to reconfigure the robot into a four weel drive setup?

  • John

    Hey guys, is there a place or a way I can buy a new PCB just like the one used in the kit? Because ont of my terminals isn’t working and I think the only way to solve it is to buy a new one. Please advise

    • Brad

      John, I was able to duplicate your concern by running the sweeper demo program. It appears the PWM is set low to control the arm movement. Two suggestions try increasing the PWM and recheck the motor lead for polarity…

  • brad

    Competed conversion to 4WD using Make:it Robotics Gear Motor Kit (RS# – 2770174). Run great…