Edbot and Edbot Dream
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Clive's Blog

Hi. I'm Clive Haworth. I'm the CEO of Robots in Schools and I spend some of my time developing the Edbot Software that lets you code your Edbot and Edbot Dream in Scratch, Python, JavaScript and more.

Edbot Software Bluetooth improvements

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We've made some improvements to Bluetooth Connectivity in the latest release of the Edbot Software, version 5.1.0.1382.

Previous releases offered an auto-connect feature which constantly monitored all the configured robots. If a robot was not connected, the software would attempt a connection every few seconds. This approach worked well for a single robot.

However as more and more customers have upgraded to multiple robots, it has exposed an issue peculiar to Bluetooth. It's easy to think of Bluetooth as a WiFi type of thing, but they have very different approaches to wireless connectivity. Bluetooth multiplexes connections over a single "radio" as opposed to a packet-based WiFi network.

So what's the problem?

As the Bluetooth hardware tries to find and connect to a robot, the communication rate for existing connections is badly affected…

Imagine you had configured a couple of Edbots. One was switched on ready to go, the other was still in its case. You started up the Edbot Software and it connected to the first Edbot, but it also tried to connect to the second Edbot too. Continuously. This dropped the data rate to the first Edbot to a crawl, so much so that it may have had to reconnect itself.

This latest release of the Edbot Software solves the problem by adding a "Connect" button for each configured robot. Clicking the button initiates a Bluetooth connection attempt. This varies in length depending on platform and could take 5 to 15 seconds. As the software tries to connect, you'll notice the connect circle flashing green. If successful this will change to a solid green circle. If it fails, the circle will revert to a red colour and you're free to try again. We've added a "Connect at startup" option to the Server -> Setup -> Configuration page. If checked, the software will attempt to connect on startup, but just the once.

Please note the Edbot Software on Chromebook (Android version) still has a Bluetooth issue when you first start it. It seems you need to toggle the Chromebook Bluetooth off then on again to allow Android apps to be able to "see" the Bluetooth device. We've reported this to Google and are hoping it will be addressed in a future Chrome OS release.

John CarterComment