MDesigner: Arduino mode

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mDesigner in Arduino mode.

The primary methods of using Microduino modules with mDesigner is with Live and Arduino mode. Each mode as it own pros and cons. Determining the right mode is up to the user per use case. Although, it is recommended to start with "Live" mode for testing then switching to "Arduino" mode later.

Live mode is regular Scratch, but with added blocks which are designed to interact with Microduino modules. This means the user has access to the stage and actor blocks. Projects (hardware) need to be connected to the computer running mDesigner. mDesigner communicates with the project (hardware), namely the Core module, in "real time" over the USB connection by sending commands for the Core module to perform. This means that "Live" mode requires a constant connection with the computer running mDesigner.

Arduino mode acts as a "visual" drag and drop coding editor. The script (code) is converted to "Arduino" code and then compile and uploaded to the attached Core module. This means that code can run even when detached from the computer. The stage and actor are disabled in this mode since the code runs independent of mDesigner.

Capability Live Mode Arduino Mode
Drag & Drop programming Yes Yes
Supports Microduino modules Yes Yes
Stage and actor enabled Yes No
Real time code testing Yes No
Code compiled and uploaded No Yes
Can run WITHOUT being connect to computer No Yes


Arduino is a special mode which can be enabled in mDesigner. It acts as a drag and drop editor for programming. The Stage and Actor is disabled and many Block Categories cannot be used.
The main advantage of using Arduino Mode is that code is generated, compile, and uploaded. This means that the user can disconnect the project (hardware) from a computer and it can still work.

Arduino mode is a mode which compiles a user's script (program) and uploads it directly onto the Core module or mCenter+. This means the user's script (program) actually resides on the Core module or mCenter+. As a result, a user's script (program) will still run on the Core module or mCenter+ even when NOT connected to the computer running mDesigner.

When using Arduino mode, scripts need to be compiled and uploaded onto the Core module or mCenter+. Compiling and uploading takes time. Whenever a modification is made to the script, it will be necessary to compile and upload in order see or observe the changes. This can be time consuming if constant changes are made in the user's script.

Optimal strategy when developing scripts would first to use Live mode to develop and test the script. Once the script is mostly tested and finalized, then translate from "Live mode script" to an "Arduino mode script" (some Live mode blocks cannot be used in Arduino mode).

Arduino mode also does not supports particular blocks. Blocks which interact with the actors and stages cannot be used. Other blocks will also be incompatible. Incompatible blocks must be removed or compiling will fail.

Programming Overview

The programming of a script (program) is outlined below.

MDesigner mBattery Live Mode.png
MDesigner Live Mode.png
Computer running mDesigner (in Arduino mode) compiles the script(program) and sends the compiled code to mBattery/mCenter+.
mBattery/mCenter+ contains a programmer which programs the Core/Core+ module with the compiled code.
The compiled code is programmed/flashed onto the Core/Core+ module. The compiled code can run independent of mDesigner. The project (hardware) can be disconnected from the computer.

Note: After uploading the compiled code onto the Core/Core+ the project can be disconnected and can run independent of the computer and mDesigner.
MDesigner mBattery Live Mode Disconnected.png
MDesigner Live Mode Disconnected.png
Compiled script (program) is programmed directly onto the Core/Core+ module and can run independently of a computer and mDesigner.


Hardware Preparation

  • Ensure drivers are properly installed by following the mDesigner getting started guides.
  • Connect to the computer with a USB cable with either a:
    • mBattery with a stacked Core / Core+ module.
    • mCenter+
  • Ensure that mBattery / mCenter+ is powered on.

MDesigner mBattery Live Mode Hardware Preparation.png

MDesigner Live Mode Hardware Preparation.png

Software Preparation

In order to use Arduino mode it must be switched to in mDesigner.

  1. With mDesigner open. Click on the Arduino icon.
    :MDesigner Arduino Mode 1.png

  2. mDesigner will now switch to Arduino mode.
    :MDesigner Arduino Mode 2.png

  3. Select the COM port that mBattery/mCenter+ is connected to.
    :MDesigner Arduino Mode 3.png

  4. Ready or Connected should display.
    :MDesigner Arduino Mode 4.png


To compile your script (program) and upload it to your Core/Core+ module. Follow the steps below.

Note: Using Arduino mode and uploading a program to the Core/Core+ module will overwrite the current firmware. Which includes the special firmware used in Live mode.
Thus, re-programming of the special firmware will be necessary in order to use Live mode again.
  1. Once your script (code) is assembled and ready. Click on the "Flash firmware" button on the top right of the mDesigner window.
    :MDesigner Arduino Mode Upload 1.png

  2. mDesigner will compile and start uploading the compiled script.
    :MDesigner Arduino Mode Upload 2.png

  3. If there is no errors, then the uploading will complete and a "Done" message will appear.
    :MDesigner Arduino Mode Upload 3.png

Note: After uploading the compiled code onto the Core/Core+ the project can be disconnected and can run independent of the computer and mDesigner.

Uploading Errors

Error Message Possible Solution
Disconnected, please reconnect it! Reconnect the hardware (mBattery or mCenter+). Ensure the hardware is switched on. Select the COM port.


Incompatible Blocks

Due to the nature of how Arduino mode works. The Actor and Stage features are not accessible in Arduino mode.
Therefore, blocks related to the actor and stage cannot be used in Arduino mode.
Other additional blocks may not be usable in Arduino mode. Some block categories will be missing or contain different blocks.

Block Category Live Mode Arduino Mode
Motion Yes No
Looks Yes No
Sound Yes No
Events Yes Yes
Control Yes Yes
Sensing Yes No
Operators Yes Yes
Variables Yes Yes
My Blocks Yes Yes
arduino Yes Yes
mCookie Yes Yes
IoT Yes Yes
AI Yes No
ideaBox Yes Yes
ideaBoard Yes Yes