HiTechnic Compass sensor available
HiTechnic will start taking orders for the NXT compass online today. It will begin shipping on Tuesday, October 10. Cost is US$46.00 + shipping costs ($7.50 US and $18.95 International)
From the HiTechnic website, some guidelines/rules to remember:
The HiTechnic compass sensor will only operate correctly in a horizontal plane so you must keep the compass level for it to read correctly. This is very important so remember this when you build it into your robot.
NXT Firmware version 1.03 must be loaded in the NXT for the compass to operate correctly. You can check the firmware version by displaying the NXT Window in the Mindstorms software.
It is highly desirable to mount the compass at least 6 inches (15 cm) away from the motors and 4 inches (10cm) away from the NXT brick itself.
Try to make sure it is firmly mounted, if it bounces around, the readings may bounce around too.
I think the Compass sensor will find its own niche among those of us who like designing robots that roam and discover... I want to pair it with my Wireless Camera and have it provide feedback to another Brick (or BT-device) about position...
I think there could be a way to connect my GPS with the NXT. Now that would be cool, haveing it send info to my comp via BT so that I can know exaclty where it is at all times. Except that the reange of the BT would prevent it from getting out of site outdoors, and my GPS wouldn't work indoors. Drat.
As to compass sensors in FLL. They would be neat. But are they needed? I don't think so. And the only way they should be allowed is if *every* team has equal access to them. I'm not sure if Hitechnic could supply all the FLL teams by next year, but I'm reasonably certain that they can't this year.
This plus RFID tag reading are still very high on my list... I've been thinking about them for the NXT since long before the official announcement that the NXT was even going to be produced.
If you were using a Bluetooth GPS I hope you were also packing a spare battery. When I recently used a BT GPS with my mobile phone the batteries in both ran down quite quickly.
Regarding NXT & BT GPS comms - I think this would require custom firmware. Possibly requiring customising the code running on the Bluetooth subsystem - in order to cope with a continuous connection, rather than the NXT's packet oriented system.
Probably not too difficult - at least both devices present a serial port over Bluetooth interface.
The point about needing custom firmware is a good one, and one I mentioned in passing in an early comment here. I strongly suspect it will need a different firmware, but until I've really poked around in there I'm not going to swear it's dependant on that. I'm still learning new stuff about NXT-G all the time.