May 30, 2007
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.
May 29, 2007
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
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.
• 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
• 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
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.
...check it out.
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
May 26, 2007
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
May 24, 2007
May 23, 2007
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
May 21, 2007
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:
This robot uses Tonka Treads as treads. It has a very interesting shape but very little description.
May 20, 2007
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.
*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.
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
Programming instructions in RobotC are
The extra gears used are
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
G) Some other solution.
May 18, 2007
"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.
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?
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
May 16, 2007
The Lego Mindstorms robot (past and present incarnations) was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame today.
Read the article
May 15, 2007
May 14, 2007
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.
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
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.
May 12, 2007
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 ;)
May 11, 2007
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?
May 10, 2007
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!
You can find more info here.
May 9, 2007
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.
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.
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.
Hopefully, teachers elsewhere are applying for grants to teach the NXT. The link to this grant article is
May 8, 2007
May 7, 2007
Read the entire press release from LEGO here.
Story and video about deaf middle school students performing a mission with the NXT. (Link is
May 5, 2007
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 describes themselves as "the world's largest open robot competition". They have over 70 different events, including some specifically for LEGO.
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.
"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:
The Download includes an english readme. (the page is german)"
Try it and provide feedback!
May 4, 2007
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.
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).
May 3, 2007
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."
Disclaimer: The NXT Step Blog is not responsible for any riots by RCX fans caused by these videos. :)
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?