May 30, 2007

Expanding Pick-A-Brick

The next-to-last post brought up a subject I would like to bring to LEGO's attention again. Why isn't LEGO selling packs of these pieces---just like they sell packs of gears, pins, beams, etc.? What pieces would you like to see offered in bulk (or in Pick-A-Brick) that are not currently available?

LEGO Mos Eisley - In Depth!


I found this via SlashGear...

It's a model of Mos Eisley from Star Wars. I don't know if it is to scale or not. And the pictures were sent in to the SlashGear website, so no links yet.

But the sheer man-hours spent on this. It's amazing. You have to read the rest of the article and see the rest of the photos.

http://www.slashgear.com/lego-mos-eisley-someone-has-too-much-time-285463.php

May 29, 2007

New Technic Mystery Piece


This component, called a "Technic Connector Hub with 3 Axles", was found on Bricklink . So far, no sets that I know of contain it -- could there be some interesting new sets around the corner with this piece? Can someone shed some light on this mystery? This piece could have many interesting potential applications with the NXT.

May 28, 2007

A new NXT book coming

David Perdue's "Unofficial LEGO Mindstorms NXT Inventor's Guide" is scheduled for an Oct 2007 release. Not much information on it other than what you can find on the Amazon.com link. If anyone has any additional info, please let us know.

From Amazon: The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT set is a very powerful robotics toolkit, but it lacks a detailed user's guide. This is the user's guide that every MINDSTORMS owner needs. The Unofficial LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Inventor's Guide begins by introducing the NXT set and directing the reader through setup. Following this is an in-depth discussion of the set's electronic elements and other LEGO pieces as well as building techniques. Next, it covers the NXT-G programming environment and introduces several unofficial programming languages, providing examples of code and programming insights along the way. Finally, it presents a method for designing NXT robots in addition to a series of projects with building and programming instructions for creating complete robots. This book will enable readers at all levels to plan, construct, program, and test their own NXT robots. Includes a MINDSTORMS NXT Brickopedia.

The Simpsons Love LEGO


I hope Lego realizes that, when you're satirized by the Simpsons, it's the highest form of flattery.

Robotics Educators Conference

The Robotics Educators Conference for teachers and administrators interested in robotics will be August 15-17, 2007. The conference will be held at Butler County Community College in Butler, PA. The cost of the conference is $50 with an additional $25 charge for anyone who is interested in touring the Carnegie Mellon University robotics facilities.
Why come to a robotics conference?

• To meet over 100 other regional educators that are also teaching robotics!
• To learn about ROBOT250
• To learn more about how to teach fundamental STEM through robotics
• To find out how you can get kits and software

Attendees can:

• Try out activities that use LEGO, VEX and other controllers to teach math & science.
• Meet fellow users and experts.
• Share experiences & ideas for implementing robotics in the classroom.
• Learn about dynamic new developments in robotics education.

There will be conference sessions on:

• Beginning programming using the NXT programming language.
• Advanced programming using the NXT programming language.
• BlueTooth communications using the NXT.
• Building tips using LEGO TECHNIC.
• Programming using the ROBOTC programming environment
• Carnegie Mellon / University of Pittsburgh research project
• The CMU CAM
• FIRST LEGO League
• Why use VEX?
• BOTS IQ
• Using the FIRST controller

Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University


Earlier this month, news was posted to this blog that the LEGO Mindstorms robotics sets (past and present) had been inducted into Carnegie Mellon's Robot Hall of Fame. In addition to the Robot Hall of Fame, CMU is involved in several other initiatives to take robotics to mainstream America. These include:

- Hosting a RoboCup tournament
- Releasing Do-It-Yourself robot recipes through their Terk program
- The Robotics Academy delivers several educational resources including curriculum and camps on a disk.

This article contains an interview with Matt Mason, director of the Robotics Institute at CMU.

Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon™

"With over 5,000 pieces, this is the biggest LEGO set ever made!"

Millenium Falcon

LAUNCH!

For those of you who have been following Chris Anderson (WIRED magazine and Geekdad blog) and his attempt to create a remotely controlled airplane using NXT technology... well...

...check it out.

Congratulations, Chris...

And for more information, Chris has created a dedicated site for this project called DIY Drones and can be found here.

My favorite quote of Chris': "If children can make UAVs out of toys, the genie is out of the bottle."

May 27, 2007

NXT Idea Book - First Look (Jim Kelly)


I don't want to give away too much, so I'll leave it up to you, the reader, to figure out the function of my robot for the book. It can be built using 1 NXT Retail Kit OR the combination of 1 Education Kit and 1 Resource Kit.


Some hints:


1. It will produce something that you can show your friends.

2. It's final product can be reproduced, over and over, with infinite variations.


I'll post a follow-up screenshot of one of the book pages soon, but in the meantime, keep your eyes open for some of the other contributors to give you a first look at their book contribution(s). Special thanks to Jonathan Daudelin for creating the CAD files for me - the building instructions look great.


Jim

May 26, 2007

Programming Help!

Readers and Programmers,

The following is for NXT-G...

Is it possible to remove a letter or section from a phrase, like an opposite to the "Text" block? If so, how?

Also, is it possible to view all the files on the NXT? Again, if so, how?

Also, my computer crashes everytime I attempt to use a MyBlock. I can successfully create and edit a MyBlock, but if I attempt to drag it out onto the work area, the software crashes. This gets annoying being the type that overuses them. I can't stand the huge programs I'm forced to write now! The next thing I'm going to try is to create a new user and see what happens.

Ironically using NXT-G,
Robolab 2.9 (Richard)

May 25, 2007

The Idea Book


Well, The NXT Step team has the beta cover for its new book - LEGO Mindstorms NXT Idea Book: Design, Invent, and Build. More details will be posted by individual contributors about their chapter(s), so keep an eye out over the next week or 2 for some sneak peeks.
The book is being published by No Starch Press.


May 24, 2007

What to Do with Those Leftover Technic Pieces


Why, build a Peepmobile, of course.

From one of the best craft sites on the web for kids: evilmadscientist.com

The link is here.

NBC Beta 29 Released

John Hansen has released beta 29 of NBC on his website. The new version fixes several bugs and also updates some other features.

-Jonathan

May 23, 2007

LEGO Rated The World's "Most Reputable" Company


A new study rates Lego the world's "most reputable" company. Read the article here.

The above-mentioned article reports on how Lego stumbled, learned from its mistakes, then prospered.

Survey Says . . . .

LEGO Education has tallied the results of its survey about LEGO organization in class/club settings, and here are the results.

I want to hold off on my opinion for now. What do other teachers and coaches think? Be sure to look at the sidebar gallery.

I have a couple of weeks to figure out how to organize a big pile of LEGO pieces for a dozen different summer camps/classes. It won't work to store everything in the boxes in which they came. I'll post photos when I figure it out.

May 22, 2007

Mindsensors Releases Clock Sensor


Mindsensors.com has just released a real time clock sensor for the NXT. Details here.

May 21, 2007

CubeBot!


Remember that treaded robot from a while ago that could drive on any four side? Well a wheeled version has arrived!


http://mindstorms.lego.com/nxtlog/ProjectDisplay.aspx?id=49e44a6b-b250-4321-92a8-065a560bc7e2

Richard

Even More High-Mobillity Vehicles

Well it looks like High-Mobility Vehicles are really popular with the NXT.




This robot, dubbed NXT#5, was just posted on NXTLog. It also uses the SnowMobile Treads, and is apparently very powerful. It also uses the RC motors.







You can find more info on it at:


http://mindstorms.lego.com/nxtlog/ProjectDisplay.aspx?id=cf025bd7-15b5-418d-b1c8-5b3631b2bdab


This robot uses Tonka Treads as treads. It has a very interesting shape but very little description.









http://mindstorms.lego.com/nxtlog/ProjectDisplay.aspx?id=9a96f08b-2c9f-44a4-b3a0-f610cf566dae





Richard

May 20, 2007

FLL Open European Championships

The FLL Open European Championships just ended! Congrats to all who competed! I got to see the awards ceremony through webcast. For scorings and details, www.flloec.org

Congrats to all!

More High Mobility Vehices


Joining vehicles like LNE and 222Doc's TriTracks, I recently found out about two new "LEGO High Mobility" entries that I thought folks would like to see: Andreas Dreier's monsterous 3-NXT Crawler, and Michael Brandl's slightly smaller LCB (LEGO Chaos Bot). Both are really wonderful looking treaded vehicles, using a whole bunch of those new treads first seen on the #8272 Snowmobile set. Both look like they have an even greater terrain-tackling ability* then LNE, with four independant tread systems that each can be tilted. LCB can rotate the front of back flipper treads independantly, as well as drive the left or right side for conventional skid steering. Michael is working on detailed BT remote control, and can already drive it around some and is testing out its abilities. Notice how the old Mindstorms motorcycle wheels act as super-large driving hubs for the treads, and the use of the new yellow large hubs in the flipper treads. I'm not sure as yet what the two touch sensors are for. Andreas's Crawler is a huge mobility platform, with a flat top formed by the three networked NXT's he needs to control the eight independant motors in the beast. In his solutions, he seems to have abandoned the stock hubs altogether, instead driving the treads using ganged 40t gears. Each drive tread can be driven and rotated independantly from the other three, allow it to lift just one corner of the vehicle or various other exotic options. The downside is I'm sure trying to control all eight motors - manually I think it would be too difficult a task, so some degree of automation will probably be required. But, then again, that's why using Mindstorms for this is ideal - these are not just remote control toys, but can be made autonomous or semi-autonomous to suit the situation (like when the human driving them lacks eight hands). Of course, that "free spirit" can get them into trouble as well... LNE was recently caught making an escape attempt, for instance.

Great work, and I can't wait to see more of them.

--
Brian Davis

*At least, they'll be able to tackle terrain better if the treads don't slip. Yeah, traction is still a problem, but with 222Doc's glue-on rubber and my use of PlastiDip, things are looking up. And I'm sure there will be other solutions as well.

NXT Dog with Building and Programming Instructions


You may remember Laurens' brick sorter that was posted here last month. Laurens' dog uses parts from the retail kit, plus three extra gears.

Building instructions are here.

Programming instructions in RobotC are here.

The extra gears used are here.

Educators: What's Your Workaround for a Lack of These?


If you have the Education Base Set, you don't have any 3 x 3 bent beams with pins (pictured above). If the Education Base Set is all you have, how do you deal with a lack of these pins?:

A) Buy the Education Resource Set.
B) Buy the NXT Retail Kit.
C) Buy them on Bricklink.com (good luck).
D) You don't miss what you never had.
E) Buy them wholesale from Steve Hassenplug. (Just kidding, Steve!)
F) Use Jim Kelly's workarounds, listed here.
G) Some other solution.

May 18, 2007

DCTRW! - new robot design

I'm going to be away for a few days (possibly up to a week, but I hope not) so I got some last minute tinkering in today. I was inspired to do a little blending of the SPYKE robot and the new VEXplorer robot (the one with the camera and grabber hand on front - see my earlier post today of the "Create Mayhem" advertisement from ROBOT magazine for a small picture of it... anyway, here's the description and some pictures...


-----





"DCTRW!"







"Don't Cut the Red Wire" is my new project. I can't take complete credit for this, though - I got the idea from a robot I saw called SPYKE (www.spykeworld.com) and mixed it a little with the new VEXplorer bot.
My goal here was to build a small bot that was fairly stable using treads. I like the pyramidal-shape of SPYKE's motor system so I duplicated for the NXT. I added my wireless camera and a small gripper on front and now I can remotely pilot this robot to pinch someone's leg. Both tread motors are independently powered, so this robot has the ability to turn. The clickety-click noise it makes on wooden floors is also nice.







With enough motors I could add arms and maybe make the camera rotate. The robot is very stable and not top heavy at all. At the highest motor power, it'll cruise fairly quickly across the room and is fun to play with.






Teachers and Parents: How do You Handle the Technical Challenges of the NXT?

MSNBC did a review of the NXT this week. You can read it here.

The above-mentioned review is positive and good-natured. However, the reviewer also calls the NXT a "brain-buster" and "too complicated for adults".

In my opinion, Lego has done three things to make the NXT accessible to the "technically-challenged":

1) Lego made the user interface of NXT-G simple enough for even an adult to use. :-)

2) In the NXT retail kit, Lego packs the parts for the TriBot in a separate box with separate instructions. You can literally start building "right out of the box".

3) Lego's web site lists NXT books that include easy-to-follow building and programming instructions. An example is Jim Kelly's "Mindstorms NXT: The Mayan Adventure".

Still, the NXT can hold challenges for beginners. Teachers and parents: Do you have any pointers that would help other teachers and parents begin to master the NXT?

NXT Building Instructions for sale

Mirik emailed me a link to his new website - he's selling PDF files containing building instructions for his robots. The designs look interesting and at $5US each, some readers might want to check them out.

After the RIF thing, I've been a little hesitant to write about these kinds of products. We may see how reactions go before posting any other services like this one. So, if anyone wants to take a look and write a review, please let us know (and keep comments polite, please).

May 17, 2007

FLL Open European Championship

The FLL OEC Championship is currently in progress in the city of Bodoe in Northern Norway. If you are interested in seeing the event, FLL OEC will provide live streaming from the championship event on Saturday May 19 and Sunday May 20. For more information, visit the FLL OEC site.

Do Not Try This at Home


I saw this advertisement in the latest ROBOT magazine. It's not for the NXT, but it made me laugh as I remember having a little fun with a certain family animal a while back. I don't condone this behavior...


(If you look very carefully, you can see the robot's gripper reflected in the eyes - sorry for the low resolution, but it's from a cell phone camera.)


Always try to learn something new...


I'm always looking to learn new things, so I've been playing around with GameMaker for a little while, seeing what it can do. Of course, during my reading and testing, I began to put something together for fun, testing features and other stuff.


It's a game called Runaway Robot and is FAR from finished. I need to add new levels, new obstacles and enemies, possibly a scoring system and some of the user interface buttons aren't working yet (such as the Save feature).


Warning - it's a 7MB file and is zipped up. Don't worry - it's virus free, but if downloading this kind of thing bugs you, then please don't. Play around with it... no documentation, so the instructions are basically as follows:

1. use arrow keys for direction control
2. green beams improve your Integrity
3. batteries improve your Battery Strength
4. watch your Integrity and Battery levels at top of screen
5. avoid saws and round-floating electrical spikes - they'll eat away your Integrity
6. avoid battery drain items (skull & crossbones on them)... self explanatory
7. some levels have invisible walls
Again, this is in its early stage, so I'm open to suggestions but criticisms will be ignored ;)
This thing may or may not develop more than just creating some more levels... I've got plenty left to learn with how this GameMaker works. And excuse the little advertisement at the end of the game... couldn't help myself with all the hard work the blog team has done.
Download the game here.
If you're into game development or want to learn more, click here - the GameMaker is tool is free and online documentation is excellent. There's also a book available for it that I purchased and it is an excellent way to learn - 9+ games included that you actually put together and makes learning a LOT more fun.

May 16, 2007

Lego Mindstorms Inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame



The Lego Mindstorms robot (past and present incarnations) was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame today.

Read the article here.

"Scratch" is Now out of Beta


Scratch is a free, graphical programming language, similar in concept to NXT-G. It's a great resource for teachers who want to teach programming to kids.

The temporary download page is here.

More info about Scratch is here.

May 15, 2007

New Book about FIRST


I found a new book in the bookstore today covering FIRST. While the book doesn't cover FLL or the robots used in its competition, the book does cover the high-school age competition and provides many photographs and stories about how teams developed their robots. The full-color photography is great and you get to see some real detail in the thought-process of the teams covered. One item that caught my eye was a demo of how one team was casting its own wheels for their robot and the process they created to make the molds and pour them. Dean Kamen writes the introduction.


I don't know if I'll actually purchase a copy, but it sure would be nice to see a companion volume that covers FLL. I do believe the book might be very useful to teachers of FLL teams - just seeing and reading about some of the teams and how they attack the competition will probably be motivational for the younger teams.


May 14, 2007

Experimental base for possible robots



What you're seeing here are the not-yet-released, larger yellow hubs for use with the LEGO treads. They have some smaller black ones (smaller in diameter) but I found that the treads would tend to rub against the motors or jump the track. The larger yellow hubs allowed the treads (in my example) to completely avoid any parts of the NXT motors.
I tried various configurations of the hub-triangle (placing them closer or farther away with the top yellow hub of the pyramid being lower or higher). There are a lot of configurations that work, but I had the most fun with the one you're seeing pictured.
Next, I'm going to try and make some longer configurations so the thing can go over larger obstacles. The base you're looking tips over easily when it accelerates so I've placed the brick on top and further to the front to balance this - the torque of the motors makes it pop a wheelie if the brick is any further back.

Random bits of news...

1. LEGO has informed me that the Wish List that our readers helped put together is on their agenda for an upcoming meeting... not sure when that will be, but I was told that they are very interested in the list and that they do plan on going through it when their key personnel get together for some sort of brainstorming session.

2. NXT-G 1.1 list of upgrades/additions/changes - I put in a request for this list and have been told that the request was received. I did get an indication that some sort of response would be provided soon, but that it would most likely be an abridged list.

3. LEGO will have a booth at the Maker's Faire in California on May 19-20. Not sure who will be in attendance from LEGO or MDP/MCP groups.

4. Lots of new stuff coming - THIS YEAR! (Sometimes being under an NDA can be difficult.)

May 13, 2007

FLL Exhibits At Smithsonian Air and Space Museum


I finally had a chance to post some video of the team in action. The shots are taken from the National Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The team was invited to exhibit there on May 5th for the museum's annual "Space Day" event.

You can find the video on my site under the title Smithsonian Video.

Enjoy

May 12, 2007

Book Review - Maximum LEGO NXT


Well, I got a copy of Brian Bagnall's "Maximum LEGO NXT: Building Robots with Java Brains" and I've finished my first review of the material. In a sentence: The material looks awesome.

21 chapters and 3 appendices (in roughly 500 pages) - Brian starts out with a nice summarized history of Mindstorms and then quickly moves into a description of LeJOS. I've got a bit of experience with Java, and I actually read Chapter 3 (Java for Primates) and was reminded quickly of some standard programming rules that I had forgotten. He also provides a good but quick summary of the Java API. (I've skipped around a bit and also read Chapters 4, 7, 12, and 20, so I think I've got a fairly good grasp on the technical writing and the quality of the robots.)

Mixed into the book are chapters that cover a broad range of topics - one chapter covers the Technic components, another a little design theory, and he's got a really nice chapter on Bluetooth.

Around chapter 8, Brian gets into the heart of some serious robot building - the robots he includes are impressive, and he provides complete CAD step-by-steps (grayscale) for all of them. What's impressive is that he also provides plenty of mathematical discussions before getting into the actual Java code. I've forgotten a lot of basic geometry and I was surprised to see quite a bit of it included at various places in the book.

My absolute favorite design in the book has to be his version of the Mars explorer, Sojourner. His recreation is fairly true to the original - you really have to see it.

A lot of people have wondered why it took so long to get the book out. Once you see the work that went into this book, I think you'll understand and cut Brian some slack - the book is very well done.

Now I'm going to try and find some time to actually go through the remaining chapters and build his robots and try out the LeJOS code. It may take some time, not just because I'm busy and always have other projects, but also because the book is just very extensive.

Good job, Brian... definitely a quality NXT book... and I'll forgive you for not including The NXT Step as a reference in one of your appendices ;)

Mindsensors to Offer NXT Camera


More details are here.

May 11, 2007

LPub help anywhere?

I've been working with the new LPub 3 Alpha and the newest LDGLite to (CAD) document some new NXT robots I'm building. When I select Min Camera Distance from Utilities, it it responds with "Fixme!" Does anyone know where I can go for help with this---a forum of some kind? Or, better yet, does anyone know how to fix it?

Has anyone else been working with these new versions of Lego CAD software---or do you know of something else that works well these days?

Fay

May 10, 2007

Coach needs community's help

I received an email from Carlos who teaches a robotics program part-time in Merida City, Mexico. His team has a robot built that is a version of the TriBot from the NXT retail version. His team is also new to programming and the class is having a Sumo contest amongst themselves on Saturday. Carlos wants to provide a few programs for the students to install on their TriBots for the Sumo contest and he is asking for assistance from the NXT community. So, if you've got a short (or long) program that you think might help Carlos, please email your .rbt file to him at the following email address: carlos.Esposito@kraft.com

I'll email Carlos and ask him to watch this blog post - if you have questions for him, feel free to post a comment. I'll also encourage him to visit the repository at nxtasy. I'm certain Carlos will appreciate any assistance we can provide.

We probably won't be able to do this type of thing very often... maybe just this once. But I'm sure Carlos' students will be very thankful and they'll have some fun on Saturday!

Jim

Look before you buy...


Amazon.com finally... FINALLY... got around to making my book searchable. They've got a new feature that allows you to view a random page. I like this because it will allow people to take a look at the writing, screenshots, and other details when considering whether the book might be useful to them.


To try it out, click here. You can click on the "Surprise Me" link on the left -middle side of the screen.


Brainbot - A Robot that Learns


The Neukom Institute for Computational Science, at Dartmouth, is working to create robots that are capable of seeing, hearing and thinking, because their programming is based on the human brain.

You can read more here.

Robots That Navigate by Guessing

Researchers at Purdue University are building robots that map their surroundings by making educated guesses. These same researchers also plan to have multiple robots share their "maps" with other when they meet. Somehow it reminds me of explorers in sailing ships in the 15th-18th centuries.

You can find more info here.

May 9, 2007

NXTLOG #1999


Congratulations to dringo72 for the 1999th submission accepted by NXTLOG. Dringo72 submitted a design called Flat-Bot "Flounder."


From dringo72's post: "The aim of this project was to build the flatest bot possible. It has only the thickness of the NXT brick plus a few milimeters to clear the ground."


You can check it out here.

Winner - NXTLOG project #2000


Congratulations to Gateway57 for the 2000th submission accepted by NXTLOG. Gateway57 submitted a design called "Gateway57's First Project."

From Gateway57's post: "This is my first project and as far I’ve seen the first robot on this website to use the exo-force disk shooter! "

You can check it out here.

NXTLOG #2001




Congratulations to Indywin for the 2001st submission accepted by NXTLOG. Indywin submitted a design called Etchbot.

From Indywin's post: "I built this robot to hold a small etch-a-sketch and draw on it. After two attempts at a printer bot, I decided that an etch-bot would be easier. "

You can check it out here.

Grant Money for Teaching the NXT?

Savvy teachers have likely done what this teacher has done: received grant money for teaching science and math concepts using the NXT. The teacher in this article got $3,000, enough to buy several NXT sets plus curriculum. (In this case, only Texas teachers were eligible for a grant).

Hopefully, teachers elsewhere are applying for grants to teach the NXT. The link to this grant article is here.

May 8, 2007

NXT-G 1.1 and LEGO Education


I received some news from LEGO Ed regarding the new version of NXT-G. Anyone who orders from LEGO Ed today forward will receive the new 1.1 in August. They will ship 1.0 when the order is placed and then 1.1 when it comes out in August. FLL is apparently going to operate in the same manner. Whether you have a single copy license or site license, you only need 1 (one) upgrade copy.


Jim

A good way to go crazy...




Back on April 11, I wrote about the "NXT Black Book" written by Yoshihito Isogawa. If you take a close look at the cover of that book, you'll see a walker demonstrated.
The book does NOT provide the building instructions for this robot. What it does provide are 10 full-color photos of the robot from various angles. I was able to "reverse-engineer" this walker after a couple of hair-pulling hours - lots of mistakes and realizations and Ah-Ha moments. Finally, I was able to duplicate the walker.
Well, that was the good news. The bad news? I can't get the thing to actually walk. I've played around with this robot enough and have had it. I can't provide you with the building instructions because I don't know if that's legal or not. The author doesn't provide them, so you're forced to do what I did if you want to try and duplicate it.

What it comes down to is a robot that for all purposes APPEARS to actually walk, but doesn't. I've made appeals to the public to try and track down the author for a video or some technical help, but no such luck. I'm not saying the author doesn't have a real working-walking robot, but what I am saying is that if I've built the exact same robot from the photos, then this thing is just for looks. Maybe it's possible I missed some small secret part that makes the whole thing work, but I doubt it. If anyone else has the book, I'd LOVE to hear from you regarding if you were able to build the walker and get it walking.
I want to believe.

"Where is Up?" Robot


Reader msim made this interesting robot... although it might look like a basic rover, don't try to stop it by flipping it over! Two sets of treads on top and bottom of the robot allow this guy to keep moving even when flipped over on any end (except the two sides). Very nice design, msim!

Read more details about this robot on msim's NXTLog, here.

-Jonathan

May 7, 2007

NXT-G v1.1 Available August 07

LEGO Mindstorms has announced that an updated version of NXT-G will become available in August 2007. This version includes many great new features, such as memory compression (the new software is said to free up 30kb of space on the NXT and cut memory use on programs and sound files by 40%!) faster speed, and support for Windows Vista. People who already have the NXT will be able to upgrade to this software for 19.99 USD.

Read the entire press release from LEGO here.

-Jonathan

Course on the NXT at Horace Mann School for the Deaf


Story and video about deaf middle school students performing a mission with the NXT. (Link is here).

May 5, 2007

FIRST LEGO League registration is open now


Registration for this fall's FIRST LEGO League (FLL) season has begun. The 2007 Challenge is Power Puzzle - "Energy Resources - Meeting the Global Demand". You can get more details at http://www.firstlegoleague.org and you can register a team at http://register4fll.com/.

If you have any questions about FLL, post them here as a comment and we will do our best to answer or point you to the people who can.

RoboGames entry deadline is May 15


RoboGames describes themselves as "the world's largest open robot competition". They have over 70 different events, including some specifically for LEGO.

RoboGames 2007
Date: Fri-Sun, Jun 15-17, 2007 (LEGO events on Saturday)
Time: Noon - 10pm
Where: San Francisco, Ft. Mason Center, Festival Pavilion

More details here.

Managing files on the NXT from a Linux machine

Lukas from Germany has written

"a tool to manage the files at the NXT via Bluetooth in Linux.
Here you can find the download at the end of the page:
http://lukas.internet-freaks.net/nxtmanager.php
The Download includes an english readme. (the page is german)"

Try it and provide feedback!

May 4, 2007

Steve Hassenplug's FLL Robot

400 points, 55 seconds. 'Nough said?

Steve Hassenplug has been coaching FLL teams for a long time, and always likes building an FLL robot of his own (hey, you can't expect a guy like Steve to just watch everyone else do a challenge...). Well, he's done a wonderful job of both building a Nano-challenge robot, as well as describing the how and why of the design. If you like videos of a good FLL run, take a look at this:



Steve has another video up on his webpage for FLL 2006 that I'd also recommend. But for any of you really interested in how folks think about these challenges, Steve's FLL NXTlog post, with a complete description of the robot & strategy, is really enlightening. This is a great example of a robot built to a specific goal, with a careful analysis of just what that goal is.

--
Brian Davis

A LEGO Ambassador's trip to LEGO

via Motocube

http://www.classic-space.com/plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?47804

And here is the article on Motocube.

It's a good read. Shows a bit of what LEGO is working on (at least what can be talked about right now).

Pictures of FIRST Teams' White House Visit




USFirst has posted pictures of the FIRST teams' visit to the White House.

More info and a link to the press release can be found here in the original blog posting.

"Player Piano" NXT


This NXT reads a strip a paper, then plays the melody that it reads from the paper strip.

May 3, 2007

NXT Missile Launcher



Simple but deadly. :-)
Uses the missile launcher found in the NXT Education Resource Set.

Dean Kamen on Iconoclasts

If you missed a peek into Dean Kamen's DEKA research labs...don't miss it again this Sunday, May 6th (8pm Central). They also touch on FLL.

Iconoclasts - Episode 4: Isabella Rossellini + Dean Kamen


"In this episode, actress/filmmaker Isabella Rossellini and inventor/scientist/entrepreneur Dean Kamen discuss approaches to helping others as they try out innovative devices under development at Kamen’s research labs in New Hampshire. Later, Rossellini tours New York with a seeing-eye dog she is training."

Chris

NXT Vs. RCX Videos

Tonya Witherspoon pointed us to some hilarious videos about the NXT versus the RCX. You can see them here. They take a while to load (they're all .mov), but they're really funny.

Disclaimer: The NXT Step Blog is not responsible for any riots by RCX fans caused by these videos. :)

-Jonathan

Lego Gecko

Although this isn't a NXT robot, it shows how limitless the possbilities are with LEGO Mindstorms. Rick just posted about a Gecko robot invented by Carnegie Melon, so I was surprised when I went on brickshelf and just happened to see a LEGO robotic gecko, made with the RIS, that can also climb walls. You can see more pictures here, and there's also a video of it crawling up a wall, here.

-Jonathan

"Gecko" Robot Walks on Walls on Ceilings


Carnegie Mellon has invented a robot that walks on walls and ceilings. These pictures of it performing are from a video that's here.

RF chip for NXT hackers...


I'm not the expert here, but I was reading on the MAKE website about a new, inexpensive RF wireless module.

Two links are provided and I'm including them here.

Simple RF Wireless Link

SparkFun's $14 RF Wireless Module

Question to the experts: would these be useful with the soon-to-be-released HiTechnic DIY solderable board?

More stuff on Danny's website


While visiting around Danny's website, I found a few other interesting items...


Apparently, Danny's next project is to build a NXT version of the Star Wars AT-ST biped/walker. I think Danny may actually be further along than we imagine, because on the website you can see a green-outline of the prototype... not sure what graphics program is being used to do this, but it looks like it may actually exist... what do you think?


Finally, you can also download Danny's degree thesis paper titled "Lego Mindstorms - based mobile robots team" - a pdf written, I believe, in Italian. I can't read it, but there are plenty of pictures to look at :)



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