Jun 29, 2007
for all of you who are located around the Alsace (France), the weekend next ensuing provides a particular dainty: in Rosheim the Fana'Briques 2007 event will take place on Saturday and Sunday. Exhibitors from France, Germany and Belgium will show their stuff on the theme LEGO locomotion. There will be a GBC, trains, walkers, a track with remote-controlled LEGO race cars, ...
The particular highlight will be the building of a life-sized Bugatti T35 classic completely with LEGO bricks.
The address is
Halles au Marché (à côté de la Mairie)
Even for those of you who already have the neccessary pieces, this pack may be useful in other ways. Many people have noted how useful Hassenpins are and how hard they are to get - these things are selling for $5.00 a piece on Bricklink! In this Mayan Adventure Parts Pack, however, quite a few hassenpins are supposed to be included (the source thought it might've been six, but isn't sure). So this might turn out to be a good way to simply get more hassenpins if you really need them - 7 bucks isn't a bad deal.
From Robert: "There are no operational sensors other than the encoders, but work is in progress. The bot has tilt and compass from mindsensors that will direct and help the bot. The idea is that this bot will learn how to 'best' walk using acceleration & tilt readings. The server master was a challenge (comms speed wise) but after many hours I managed to get both sides talking at the speed i needed (30ms). Programing is being done in labview with NXT toolkit You'll notice it is based on RHEX."
I have had Mindstorms sets for about one and a half years now. My first was a RIS 2.0 kit. I liked Mindstorms so much that I bought another second handed RIS1.5 kit. And in January this year, I couldn’t resist buying the NXT set…
The robots I have built with these kits can be found here. Also, together with the people from the official Lego message boards, I launched a website featuring building instructions for NXT robots.
As some of you may have noticed, I am fascinated by LEGO brick sorting robots. I have built three of them so far. As you are reading this, number four is under construction…
The first and second used the RCX, the third was made of the NXT kit. The fourth will use both NXT and RCX.
This machine should sort 10 kinds of bricks. (5 colours and 2 sizes) To ‘see colour’, it uses a photocell and the LEGO lamp. This way the NXT is able to see the difference between black, gray, white, red, yellow, green and blue. This is impossible for the NXT light sensor.
When the folder is public, you can find some pictures via my Brickshelf.
I hope to provide some useful posts to this blog!
Jun 28, 2007
As promised by Philo, the PF motor specifications are now made available. They can be found in BrickJournal 8. A total of 5 pages are dedicated to the new PF system. Thank you Philo, Didier Enjary, & BrickJournal.
UPDATE: Power Function sets are now available! Here are the set numbers to look up at LEGO.com: 4957 (the "Ferris Wheel") and 4958 (the "Monster Dino").
One of the highlights of my visit there occurred on Tuesday. The LEGO Ed rep for Texas, Betty, knowing I was going to be at the conference, arranged to have a video conference using one of the NECC vendor's real-time video conferencing systems, setup right there in the showroom. I was told 4-6 teachers would be there and it would be a Q&A session about the Mayan Adventure book... when the video popped up, I was looking about around 30-40 teachers in Temple, Texas. We had a nice discussion for about 20-25 minutes before I had to run. (This technology is really opening doors and plans are being made to have more of these distance-discussions.)
This conference focused on technology and math/science services and products available to the education field and I was amazed at the 500+ vendors there with all kinds of things to show off... looking forward to next year.
Jun 27, 2007
We hope to see more great models soon!
Here's a British news report of an untrained peasant farmer who builds working robots. The robots get more fantastic as the video proceeds, especially when you consider that he builds these things from junk that people throw away. With formal training, this guy would be running Carnegie-Mellon.
He burned his house down while building robots. His wife thought of leaving him because of his obsession with robots. This guy needs an NXT.
Jun 26, 2007
Jun 25, 2007
They cost a bit more than regular crimpers, but hey... they aren't regular crimpers. These are for the NXT jacks! :)
Curses to Motocube.com for bringing these to my attentention... now I have to go buy some.
Jun 24, 2007
As you might deduce from the name, ScanBot scans black-and-white images, and you can build and program it completely from the contents of one Retail NXT base set #8527 (along with a computer that can run NXT-G, of course).
Jun 23, 2007
Have something to contribute to the discussion? Tips? Alternative solutions? Head over there and add to the conversation. We're hoping to increase the body of knowledge available on CAD and building instructions for NXT and asking our readers to help contribute.
Here is yet another sample preview page from - The Lego Mindstorms NXT Idea Book: Design, Invent, and Build.
Unfortunately, I splattered paint all over my PDF file when I was mixing the new color for my budget space rocket. Silly Me. I’ll have to remember to keep my PC away from the shop. I apologize for the mess but this is all I can offer at this time.
The first person to figure out the subject of the chapter AND the function of the bot wins a wonderful opportunity to be the test pilot on the maiden voyage of my rocket when I complete construction. The keenest investigators will carefully examine all of the available evidence for any clues. Be careful! Each person is limited to 1 guess. However, if a correct answer is not posted by Monday morning I will throw in a hint and allow each person one additional guess.
Everyone is welcome to talk about it... But try not to give away any answers before you post 'em yourself!
Have fun! (splatter)
Jun 22, 2007
CLARAty is a framework that promotes reusable robotic software. It was designed to support heterogeneous robotic platforms and integrate advanced robotic capabilities from multiple institutions. Consequently, its design had to be portable, modular, flexible and extendable.
Sounds like a nice solution that should be made available for NXT, huh?
Jun 21, 2007
Jun 20, 2007
More videos from the book can be found in the video section of this blog.
From the site: "BrickJournal™, BrickStructures™, Team Hassenplug, Team Possible, Team B-squared and Fun Time Technologies have joined forces and are pleased to announce Brickworld'07 to be held in Chicago. Brickworld™ is a chance to showcase your creations right here in the Central Midwest.
Brickworld'07 will be held from June 21st - 24th 2007. We are excited to bring this show to the public during a time of year when school is out and sunshine & good weather are in.
The floor organization of BrickWorld™ will be designed to accommodate large collaborative displays, such as the Great Ball Contraption, Moon Base, Castle and Train Layout, in the center of smaller, individual displays where each AFOL has their own creations on their own table(s). Of course, there will be certain displays that don't even need a table."
Our purpose? To help shape the future of education. How? By bringing together the best Ed Tech has to offer. NECC 2007 boasts more than 700 presentations in a variety of program formats that:
* showcase the impact of 21st-century learning environments and virtual schools
* demonstrate the impact of technology on student achievement and school improvement
* emphasize the ethics and equity issues involved in all these topics
This year we're especially focused on technology's role in developing 21st-century learners. What's our collective 2020 vision? How do we carry that vision forward into reality? Can we develop an intentional course toward that better future?
Greater opportunities for all 21st-century learners—let's keep our eyes on that prize as we explore educational horizons and discover together a better future."
You can get more information here - LEGO and some of its reps are scheduled to be there along with some MUP/MDP/MCP members. More information as I can get it.
Jun 19, 2007
The heart of the book is building and programming instructions for five of da Vinci's contraptions: the armored car, the catapult, the revolving bridge, the aerial screw and the flying machine. Matthias provides five ways to program each of his five NXT models, using NXT-G, RobotC, NXC, pbLua and leJOS NXJ.
In addition, Matthias provides a detailed installation and configuration guide for each of the aforementioned programs. In my opinion, this guide alone is worth the price of the book.
Matthias provides a wealth of other material, including the historical background behind da Vinci's creations, as well as ideas for building other "NXT" da Vinci inventions.
A prediction: Matthias' NXT catapult will be standard equipment for office cubicles around the world.
Jun 18, 2007
Jun 17, 2007
The German company CLT Sprachtechnologie GmbH offers Dialog OS, a product for controlling technical devices by voice. The interesting thing here for the NXT-Community is the in-built support for LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT. Next to voice recognition, i.e. control of the NXT by words spoken by the user, there's also speech output on the NXT "in supreme quality" (as CLT states) .
Sounds interesting - have a look.
Jun 15, 2007
According to his wife Seby, Eric passed away peacefully on Monday 11th of June in the morning at 1 o’clock, after 1.5 years of fighting the cancer
Eric was one of the first persons in the Netherlands that actually showed the power of the LEGO MINDSTORMS set, released back in 1998. He was a remarkable personality, always building impressive models and proudly showing the new tricks. We used many of his examples, in our own models.
I’m sure that the results of his participation in the LEGO community will be alive for a really long time.
For now my prayers and thoughts will go to Eric's family and close friends.
1. LEGO is using the WISH LIST as a source for a potential future product... HINT HINT
2. LEGO told me it would be sending me notes/comments on the WISH LIST items shortly.
So, I need your help. Post some comments and let LEGO know that you're as anxious as I am to see their comments on the items we submitted. Some friendly pressure from our readers might help light a little fire...
(Keep it clean, polite, and short... this is just a friendly little 'poke' to see if we can get a response from them...)
It's from the chapter that introduces the building and programming of a fully working slot machine.
Note that the book contains very detailed building instructions for each robot. In the case of the slot machine, it's more than 100 steps!
You will need not only two NXT bricks for this robot and five motors, but will also learn a lot from the programming instructions in terms of inter-brick communication.
Every now and then, I get questions on the support for the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Software on Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system or reports on problems with connecting to the brick (even with an USB cable). As far as I know, the present version is only supported on Windows XP and Mac OSX (and not on Linux, which is a shame!).
What are your experiences here? Does it work for you on Windows Vista?
Jun 14, 2007
Have a look at Barnes & Noble: they list the book written by the contributors of The NXT STEP already, and it says to be available at 7th of July!
It's the first public appearance of the final cover also, I guess.
How do you like it?
Jun 13, 2007
I'd like to invite teachers/coaches/parents/students to submit their programming questions - either by email or (preferably) on our forum. We can't promise to provide working programs for every question, but some of us may pick one or 2 of our favorite questions and try and give you a programming example (and then let others provide options).
It's written in the format of a lab book (the text looks like hand-written notes) and is VERY easy to read and understand. I wish I had found this book years ago when I was a student. It's got 100+ projects in it that are fairly easy to build using common electronics components found at most Radio Shack or similar-type stores.
I've read reviews in other places of books by Forrest M. Mims III and am very impressed with his style of writing and I can see why students are a prime target for this book.
While it isn't a true NXT book, any student interested in furthering his or her studies with robotics is going to have to invest some time in learning more about electronics - this book will jump-start you in that direction.
Jun 12, 2007
The following question was posted to our forums by Itry:
"Hi. I'm new to NXT, and trying to figure out the basics of programming. I need a light sensor to detect change in ambient light levels, and if above a certain range to activate rotation of a motor in the forward direction 4 turns & stop, and if below a certain range to activate rotation of the same motor in the reverse direction 4 turns and stop. The motor needs to complete its assigned 4 rotations before being allowed to reverse. The program needs to run continuously, forever, so that once the light level changes beyond the threshold in either direction, the motor will react. HELP?"
Well, here's a screen capture of my solution. My comments in the image should be sufficient to comprehend the program. Maybe other readers can offer up their own ideas.
Jun 11, 2007
"Gary" has asked how he can restore system files on his NXT brick if they're inadvertently deleted. Here's how:
1) Open up your NXT-G software and connect your brick to your computer. Make sure that you're connected to the internet.
2) Go up to the "Tools" menu and drag down to "Update Firmware".
3) In the new window that pops up, click "download".
4) After a few seconds, you'll hear a multi-toned sound. That means that all of your original system files are now back on your brick.
Jun 10, 2007
Since I reported on this blog that LPub 220.127.116.11 has not worked on my new Windows computer, it's only fair to report that I tried it again today and it now works! (Thank you to Kevin Clague, God, or whoever is responsible.) Version 3 Alpha, however, still will not allow me to set a minimum distance. (My pins appear to be the size of watermelons---or larger.) I also ran some models in ldglite, and Philo is correct---it does render faster, albeit with a different appearance than POV-Ray/Mega-POV. Publishers may not accept that quality, but it's certainly acceptable for most purposes. (This test dummy was rendered in ldglite.)
Jun 9, 2007
Here are some response options:
A. Traditional robot-building education (words with appropriate illustrations) including subjects like complex mechanisms, robotic theory, advanced programming for LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT...
B. Simple but cool models with detailed instructions for building and programming.
C. Complicated models with clear building steps and complete programs.
D. Models with a mechanism theme---walking robots, advanced wheeled robots, grabbing robots, learning robots....
E. Robots that show some artistic creativity---characters from stories, models with non-LEGO materials added...(I'd put Jim's Mayan Adventure book here)
F. Hacks, hacks and more hacks!
G. A handbook for creating digital versions of NXT models (I had to throw this one in : )
H. Your own wish list item---Please explain!
Feel free to elaborate.
I haven't posted for this purpose, but assuming that NXT publishers (and authors) are reading this blog, this is your chance to tell them what you are really interested in. Who knows, you just might get it!
While the book includes an introduction to the NXT as well as chapters on theory and design, its main focus is on detailed building and programming instructions.
Over the last few months, we've received lots of feedback from youth, parents, teachers, beginners and others who say, "We need more detailed building and programming instructions!" This book aims to meet that need.
Several readers of this blog have asked for more details about this book. More information will be forthcoming soon. In the meantime, you'll see more sample pages like this one in the weeks ahead.
Jun 8, 2007
Courtesy of Jim German of Motocube.
Using the Sensor Building Kit for NXT with PCF8574 IC, the SN754410 from Texas Instruments and some fancy wiring, Jim was able to control a Pneumatic Valve from his MINDSTORMS NXT.
While Jim mentions that this design could be improved (it requires a 24v power supply for starters) it is a good proof of concept. I can see a new range of home-grown pneumatic robots taking over the world... or the living room.
The full writeup is found here: Pneumatic Valves via Motocube
We had a large LEGO MINDSTORMS stand. I was showing the photo robot coco5 and I discovered that the NXT did work with these Sony Ericsson models: K510i, W300i and Z710i.
Remember the recent discussion on this blog about whether or not it's legitimate to sell building instructions?
A well-designed model can take days (and weeks) to design, build and rebuild.
Creating CAD models with MLCAD, POV-Ray and LPub (18.104.22.168) is tedious, hard to do right and SLOW, SLOW, SLOW! I'm not sure people understand how much time it takes to create accurate and understandable CAD building instructions. Yesterday, I set LPub running on a rather simple robot and it took over two hours! (I have a 1.66 GHz processor) If I only had to run the program once, it might not be so bad, but every modification requires running the entire file again. It's not uncommon to run the instructions 10-12 times before they come out right. Perhaps, if I could use the newer versions, it might be a bit faster, but I can't. After the instructions are "done", Rick tries them out and then I have to address every problem he finds---some of which require significant changes in my MLCAD files.
After the building instructions are ready, then there are programs to write and test, screen shots to take (and retake). Then you need to explain the program. Don't forget, all the building instructions and programming screen shots then need to cropped and assembled in some kind of desktop publishing format. (I use Photoshop and InDesign.)
It's no wonder we don't find many accurate NXT model directions on the Web. They require a LOT of long tedious hours of work. Anyone who takes the time to create good models with accurate and clear building and programming instructions deserves to be paid well for his or her efforts.
One of the book's strong suits is its non-intimidating style. The book is easy to understand and follow, with clear explanations throughout.
Beginners will appreciate the primer on NXT's basic elements: sensors, motors and Technic parts. Beginners will also appreciate the book's overview of building techniques, including an in-depth examination of NXT gearing.
Advanced users will enjoy the chapter on pneumatics, and the brief but fun chapter on building Sumo robots. Both beginners and advanced users will appreciate the chapter on building animals, as well as the chapter on building robots that walk.
There are no complete building instructions in the book, which is probably deliberate. The book focuses on construction principles and design theory, leaving it to the reader to design their own creations. That said, there are a few design ideas offered to get the reader started.
The chapter on programming is only an overview, without detailed instructions. A more in-depth look at NXT-G would have been helpful for the beginner. However, there are brief overviews of RobotC, NBC, pbLUA and LeJOS NXJ for the advanced user.
All in all, the book is a great reference work, especially for those new to the NXT. Teachers will be able to adapt the material for classroom use as well.
1. It is LEGO, not Lego. All caps. All the time.
2. It is not Mindstorm (singular) or Mindstorms (plural)... it is MINDSTORMS. All caps. All the time.
3. It is not MindStorm or MindStorms... again, MINDSTORMS. All caps. All the time.
4. It is not Rcx or Nxt or rcx or nxt. It is RCX and NXT. All caps. All the time.
Now, LEGO, that said... I will NOT correct, edit, and/or delete posts and comments that use them incorrectly... I don't have the time and, quite honestly, people type fast (myself included) and frequently these little errors are going to pop up... sorry. But for the record, I have now posted a "general use" policy and have done my little part to try and educate our readers. You're welcome ;)
Jun 7, 2007
LEGO Challenge (Line Running Challenge)
LEGO Open (Robot Design Contest)
If you go send me some pictures! I'll post them here.
The previous blog brought up the World Robot Olympiad (WRO), a LEGO Mindstorms competition, which will be in Taipei, Taiwan November 17 & 18, 2007 (thanks Rick).
There are regular competitions for primary school, junior high school, and senior high school students: "Robo Rally" and "Robo Puzzle Race" for primary students, "Robo Ambulating Rally" and "Train of Alishan" for junior high school students, and "Robo Sorting" and "Alishan Timber Loader" for senior high school students. There is also an open competition with the Theme: “Civil safety, security and emergency response” (sounds exciting, but this link has yet to provide the details).
Since many of the readers of this Blog are only familiar with FIRST LEGO League, could those readers that have been to the WRO please share their experiences with the rest of us. (You may include links to your own picture & videos you have taken at previous WRO competitions, and to your team's website.)
Jun 6, 2007
Jun 5, 2007
Jun 4, 2007
More details are
Does anyone out there know what's going on with the site, or when a "fix" will be forthcoming?
Jun 2, 2007
You can read the announcement here.
Jun 1, 2007
Above is a screenshot of one of the pages in the Appendix - click on it to see a larger picture.