Jun 26, 2006

Submit your pictures and programs

As you begin to receive your NXT kits, I hope some of you will begin to document your early designs and share them with all of us. Feel free to email me your pictures, screenshots, and .rbt files - whatever you can handle. Please don't send me videos as storage space is always a concern... instead, if you have a video that you absolutely must share, please email me with details first... but JPEG files and .RBT files I'll be happy to take and post.

Now, the small print: If you send me files, please give me written permission within the email to post and share the files on the blog. We also reserve the right to edit your commentary... space limits again, and sometimes spelling/grammar issues will need to be cleaned up.

I'm excited to have some more people with the kits in hand soon... more ideas, more bots, more experiments, more challenges, more troubleshooting, more theory, more of everything NXT.

Also, if any of you are going to be creating your own NXT blogs or websites, please let me know - I'd love to have more links on the right-side of the screen for readers to visit.

It's going to be a CRAZY time - the sheer amount of information, pictures, web content, programs, and other stuff might be overwhelming, so please be patient with all of us here at The NXT STEP as we sift through all the information coming our way... the original purpose (and continuing job) of this blog is to provide links to new information, websites, and other media sources... and we'll continue to do so along with our random bit of commentary, new discoveries, and miscellaneous projects.

Thanks to all of you for the kind words, the encouragement, and your participation in discussions... I never had any idea this blog would become such a fun (and apparently, popular) project to maintain... Brian, Matthias, and the others have brought their own ideas and the blog has really become a partnership.

Good times ahead...

Jim

29 comments:

Jonathan said...

Yes!! My NXT just arrived today! (I ordered it from Amazon Friday night) Man, it's so much better than I expected! The only problem is the slowness of it, and there's a little problem with the memory. But I love the new features on it! Right now I'm just trying to get used to the new language and other things about it.

-Jonathan

Anonymous said...

slowness and memory prob? please elaborate

Jonathan said...

The software is slow in that (1) it takes quite a long time to load (at least on my laptop, I have a really good desktop but haven't tried it on there yet), and (2) Once you start putting a lot of blocks in the program, it can start running REALLY slow (it even started giving me errors after a while).

The memory problems with the NXT aren't really bad, but I found I have to be careful to only have a few sounds uploaded, as they take up a ton of space. This is too bad, because I don't think the NXT has enough memory to make a robot that can say a lot to you.

-Jonathan

Anonymous said...

are you on mac or pc?

Jonathan said...

PC - I hate macs. :-)

-Jonathan

Brian Davis said...

I'm running on a Mac (non-Intel), and the same issues crop up. Boot-up isn't too troubling (after all, it happens once, and then I usually leave the environment running for days or more), but editor slow-down with large programs can be an issue. MyBlocks help, although there is also a slow-down when dropping a large MyBlock in.

As to memory within the NXT, yes, it's limited... and sound files can be big. But I'm not sure (for sound files) there's really a way around this. It would be nice if there was an option to use a really-low-sample-rate sound file... but then how clear would the speech be? For simple sounds, it's OK, and for long complex sounds, well... any way you slice it, that needs bytes.

--
Brian Davis

Anonymous said...

So just about every Nxt is a bit slow and can have his memory just about taken up by sounds?

Anonymous said...

So just about every Nxt is a bit slow and can have his memory just about taken up by sounds?

Brian Davis said...

The NXT itself isn't neccessarily slow - in some ways, it's significantly faster than the RCX (and I expect 3rd party software will make it faster still). As to memory, it has a 100k+ of free memory. But if you want the NXT to use a 40k sound file, well, that's going to take up a lot of the memory.

It's partially a question of how you use the memory that is availible.

--
Brian Davis

Brian Davis said...

The NXT itself isn't neccessarily slow - in some ways, it's significantly faster than the RCX (and I expect 3rd party software will make it faster still). As to memory, it has a 100k+ of free memory. But if you want the NXT to use a 40k sound file, well, that's going to take up a lot of the memory.

It's partially a question of how you use the memory that is availible.

--
Brian Davis

Jim Kelly said...

I guess it all depends on what you will do with your NXT. For me, sounds just aren't that important.

I do have one request, though - let's let everyone who's receiving their NXTs and those that are still waiting enjoy their opening moments and try and refrain from finding problems...

Yes, there are problems... but I'd rather focus (for now) on the good stuff and let people enjoy their new toy... I mean, tool.

Plenty of time for complaining later... :)

Just my opinion...

(By the way: I'm running XP Pro on a P3 1.8Ghz with 1gig of RAM. Loading the NXT program the FIRST time is a little slower than subsequent openings as long as the PC isn't rebooted. If I close down the program and then re-open it again a few minutes or hours later, it opens much more quickly. 1Gig of RAM is nice!)

Jim

linda zoe said...

I just got mine opened, and built the "quick start" robot. I think the instruction manual has a mistake. The very first step (page 4), which shows putting the axle into the motor shows using a full bushing on one side, and a half bushing on the other. When I finally got to page 22 and put the wheels on, they were too close to the motors. I switched the bushings, putting the half-bushings in the center, and the full bushings on the outer side. This allowed sufficient axle length to attach the wheels without rubbing.

Hope you don't think this is a complaint. I just thought it might help as people get their kits and try the sample robot.

Jim Kelly said...

Hi, Linda.

Nope... not a complaint, but useful information. Thanks for posting... can anyone else verify this?

Jim

Jonathan said...

Linda Zoe,

I think I know your problem, because I think I had the same one. The instructions tell you to put the wheels on with the wrong sides pointing out (there's two different sides to the wheel). If you just put the wheels on with the other sides pointing out, it will work perfectly.

Jim,

You're right, the sounds aren't really important, and I found that as long as I keep the number of programs limited, I can have a reasonable amount of sounds, and as big a program as I need.

Anyone who can help,

I have a question. Is there anyway to make your own sounds to play on the NXT? I saw an interview with someone working in the NXT department, and in it he shows Alpha Rex saying, "Hey, you're blocking my view." I couldn't find this in the list of sounds, so that's why I'm wondering if you can make your own.

-Jonathan

Jim Kelly said...

Check out Matthias' webpage... I think he has a linkpage there that has software links... one of them was related to making sound files (I think)...

Jim

Brian Davis said...

To make the NXT play a sound of your own choosing, first you need to have a .wav of the sound, and then convert it to a .rso file the NXT can use with a utility such as John Hansen's offering Wav2Rso:

http://bricxcc.sourceforge.net/utilities.html

Then just drop the newly created .rso file into the "sounds" directory within the application (LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT -> engine -> sounds), and it will appear in the configuration panel of any sound block you drop. that easy.

Hehe. Mine plays R2D2, as well as "By your command" (Cylons).

--
Brian Davis

Jonathan said...

Wow, that is easy. Thanks! The problem is the NXT distorts the sound so it sounds wierd. Can this be fixed?

-Jonathan

Brian Davis said...

You're welcome, but honestly the folks to thank here are the other members of the MUP & MDP - I didn't write that utility (and there's more coming... like ways to make your own image files).

As to distorting the sound, yeah, a simple speaking in a complex plastic enclsure does *not* have a high-quality sound response. There's no way around that I know of (you even get it with simple tones, and it's a serious issue for the RCX as well).

--
Brian Davis

Drew said...

Ah sound... Those of us hard core enthusiasts (who want all the accesories and multiple NXT's) have some options.
More NXT's = more memory (dedicate one to playing sounds via BT comands.
Better yet. Use BT to control your MP3 Phone and add it to you bot.
I'm working on decoding comands for Motorola's ROKR which has nice external speakers, a camera, light (flashlight and decorative), video, MP3, and txtmsging all of which can be accessed via Bluetooth. (I think its the best and updated phones with NXT in mind.)
I'd like to hear if anyone else has figured out ways to make Palm Pilots respond. My T3 also plays sound files but I dont know how to boss it around with BT.
I imagine thier migth be a way to control your computer and have NXT trigger your PC to play sounds via full speakers.
Can a program be made that will hotswap files while a program is running? (NXT deletes a sound file then requests via BT or USB tether the next sound its about to play then plays and deletes it?)

I think the Image utility is available already.

mikdiamon said...

drew that's good stuff! I'm still waiting for my nxt, but I have the new Moto Q and i'm already thinking of designs for my Q-bot! Please keep posting the cool smartphone ideas! I read about someones nxt chasing his wife around and yelling at her, the only thing better would be to have my wife's reaction on video lol! LIGHTS, ACTION, CAMERA!!! LOL (sorry i'm a bit giddy)

Brian Davis said...

Jonathon: a note on the US sensor (yes, we do sometimes read other forums ;-)... and I'm impressed you saw the "help" section displayed in DAZLR's program): while the official range is out to 200+ cm, I've rarely gotten all the way out to that in practice: for large, flat, hard walls, with new batteries, I get reliable wall detection out to 150+ cm or more. for smaller objects, softer objects, or objects at an odd angle (not flat-on) the range is shorter than that.

Regarding "BT extension" of the NXT: to get NXT-to-Palm or NXT-to-Phone communication working I've seen people do it at a lower level than the NXT-G language (perhaps we can figure out a way to do it within the language, but I've not seen it done... *yet*). As to streaming files onto the NXT as needed, interesting idea. Since file transfer from the computer is not controled or requestable from the NXT brick, I don't think this is possible in the standard environment... which is not to say that might not change, or that 3rd party solutions wouldn't be able to get around this.

--
Brian Davis

Jonathan said...

Brian,

Lol, I wondered if you guys read posts there. Since I couldn't play with the NXT, I spent my time scavenging around for any piece of information I could find about it. : )

Thanks for the extra info. 200+ cm is only about 80+ inches. So I guess the real range is actually quite a bit shorter than advertized.

-Jonathan

Brian Davis said...

I've browsed the Mindstorms forums some, but I've never registered any of my RCX sets, so I can't post. You seem to be getting info into those forums just fine.

On the US sensor, I'm really not sure what the "ultimate" range is (and I'd like to). As far as truth in advertising, the reduced range for small, curved, or soft objects is exactly what would be expected from an US sensor. The detection range will always be smaller fomr some objects, due to the physics of the situation. A bigger problem is that two US sensor in the same room can result in nonsensical readings.

--
Brian Davis

Jonathan said...

Yeah, it's really nice that everyone looks for/posts info about interesting things. This blog has definitley been one of our best resources for finding out things about NXT.

That's really too bad about two US sensors messing each other up - I was just thinking of all the wonderful things I could make with multiple US sensors (like precision tracking).

-Jonathan

Brian Davis said...

Well, there may be solutions. For one thing, LEGO knows that this is a problem, and one of the big markets is FLL... where you have two robots competing at the same time. It's a known issue, and I can think of ways around it, so hopefully LEGO will work on this.

As for precision tracking, you can still do a lot with one. for instance, pivot it back and forth, so you know if an object is left/right/ahead. Or triangulate, by moving the whole robot to a different loaction and re-aquiring the same target. And keep in mind with both the range and bearing (you can now keep track of how much your robot turns, with thos motor encoders), you know pretty well where an object is even if viewed from a single location.

There are a *lot* of solutions just waiting to be found...

--
Brian Davis

Jonathan said...

I mean tracking a moving object. If one US sensor sees an object and then doesn't see it, it knows that the object is moving. However, it doesn't know what direction the object was moving in. If you had two (4 would be ideal) you could see if, after one detects an object, the other detects it. Then you would know which direction it was traveling, and move to track it. If you had four, you could track something moving in four different directions.

Boy, that will be a problem in FLL. I have a team (Built On The Rock, NJ) and will be competing this year. Thankfully, we're probably only going to use the built-in rotation sensors, since roation sensors worked really well for us last year (we placed third in the state tournament).

-Jonathan

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there is any hack or program I can add to the NXT to play Mp3 songs?

e-mail me if possible
Bigdahlton@hotmail.com

-Dahlton

Anonymous said...

i have visited u r site that i got a lot of information with u r site

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there is a way to import songs to mindstorms?

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