Jun 30, 2008
Read the thread at NXTasy and contact him there: http://forums.nxtasy.org/index.php?showtopic=2493&st=0&gopid=18725&#entry18725
Also visit the NXT OSEK website here: http://lejos-osek.sourceforge.net/index.htm
Hope to see this project more developed in the future!
PS... for those that know me, yes I can speak Chinese. I can even translate spoken English into Chinese and vice versa. But my written/typed Chinese is horrible. Need to brush up some. :-) I'll try to help though.
"NxtMgr is a utility that will allow you to control (your) Lego Mindstorms robots via Bluetooth. The program will allow you to define the port control, set the speed of different engines installed on the robot and the time of issuance of the order, among other possibilities.
To use NxtMgr, you need Palm OS 3.0"
The application costs 0.99USD and is available here in English and Spanish.
I haven't used the app and make no claim regarding it or its seller.
After creating a money counting machine, a car factory and a bubblegum sorter, the students of the Veit-Höser-Gymnasium Bogen in Germany are back with a very nice construction. This time they created a plane assembling factory. The description of the video announced that the factory included 25 RCX’s, and 73 motors.
Read more here (German). For those of you that use portable devices, a direct link to the video is here.
Jun 29, 2008
Here's the first inspiration:
Most mobile NXT robots move on the ground or something horizontal. So how about making something that moves in the other direction... up! There are several different kinds of robots that move vertically. Some examples include:
"Chimmney-Climbing" robot: this kind of robot uses multiple walls surounding it (like the inside of a box) to move up or down. The old LEGO MINDSTORMS forums even held a contest to make a robot like this. Each robot had to travel up two walls on opposite sides of the robot. Here's a picture of the winning robot (note that it's an RIS robot since the contest was held a while ago):
Notice how this robot pushes against each wall to gain enough friction, and turns its wheels to travel up.
"Fence-Climbing" robot: Another way to move vertically is to climb up a mesh-fence (or a metal grill), by grabbing onto the wires in the fence. If any of you got the Ultimate Builder set from the RIS, you may remember a robot that did this.
"Tree-Climbing" robot: Definitely a bit more advanced, but perhaps someone can even find a way to make a robot climb a tree! You might try making a robot that presses wheels on 2+ sides of the tree and rotates the wheels to climb up.
P.S. One of the Blog readers (basicxman) also made a list of robot ideas which you might find useful, here.
Jun 28, 2008
All of you who are near to the Alsace in France: do not forget to attend the Fana'Briques 2008 event that will take place in Rosheim tomorrow and on Sunday (28th and 29th of June).
Also the third run of Fana'Briques will be focused on the topic LEGO® in Locomotion: there will be an attempt for a speed world record with a LEGO® bullet train (TGV/ICE), a large DCC controlled roadway system, Mini- and Maxifigs at the Olympic Games and a building challenge for children as well as a particularly large Great Ball Contraption (targeting the size of 100 modules).
Jun 27, 2008
Jun 26, 2008
This weekend many people would be able to see the Disney Pixar film Wall-e in Europe and USA. The film about a robot that falls in love is one of the most creative to come out of the Disney-Pixar studio for a while.
To mark the release of the film, the oficial web site has a 'Build your own robot' section where you get to choose the looks / behavour / mobility etc.
And of course, if you got a NXT - you dont need to go to a web site to design a virtual robot. You can of course build your own real Wall-e! Well almost!!
To get you started, here is some inspiration. This version, designed about a year ago was based on a leaked picture of the robot and it won one of the NXTLog building challenges last year. My kids and I had a lot of fun creating it - it can be built with the components from one NXT retail kit and one 2007 TECHNIC Bulldozer kit.
If you want instructions on how to build it, check out the NXTLog instructions here.
Edit: Thanks NXTFanatic - I have updated the NXTLog link.
Edit: If you want even more inspiratoin - check this out: I just came across an incredible version done by Joe Meno (BrickJournal Magazine). It is very faithful to the movie version and absolutleyincredible. OK - it does not have a NXT in it - but it sure captures the spirit of the Wall-e better than anything else I have seen.
Additional pictures and details on Flickr
Edit: Here are some more pictures of Joe's Wall-e from Brickworld last week. Special thanks to Brian Davies for the link.
Brickworld pics of Wall-e
Jun 25, 2008
Here's a card dealing robot that I've been tinkering with. This robot deals from the bottom of the pack using an NXT wheel to draw out a card. A second NXT wheel spinning 5 times quicker then 'spits' out the card. The whole device is mounted on a turntable to allow the robot to deal into different position.
Nothing overly spectacular, but I like how well the different speeds of the two wheels work to kick out the card.
The program is pretty straight forward and I've got image of it on the website, http://www.domabotics.com/projects.php
I encourage you to use these files in your own creations!
Good luck to those who are participating - this is one of those great opportunities to put your knowledge to the test and show off your engineering skills (building and programming) and your presentation and sales skills, too.
The forum discussion can be found here.
1st place: $100 (US) LEGO Gift Certificate
2nd place: NXT Rersource Set
3rd place: NXT Resource Set
Jun 23, 2008
The working title of the book is:
LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Idea Book, Volume 2: 10 More Amazing Robots for You to Build Now!
All of the robots in the book can be built with the NXT retail kit. More details are
The four wheels in the back are all driven by two differentials and they can tilt, just like the original version. To place the driving motor, I had to remove the turntable of the the little crane.
Now my question to you is, did you combine any LEGO set with the NXT? Or did you see some nice combinations on the web? Leave a comment here with a link to the robot and I'll start a new thread in the forums if there is enough interest.
Jun 18, 2008
The winner of the camel foot contest is Laurens Valk. You can download the instructions for his camel foot design HERE.
If you are interested in seeing some creative design work, check out the camel foot contest forum. You may find some of their ideas useful in your designs.
Thanks to everyone who contributed!
Jun 17, 2008
First, I was contacted by someone who wanted to know if it was possible to use the NXT to log the accelerations of a Hulahoop. So I said “I don’t know”… and tried it.
The first task was trying to get a semi-balanced hoop with the weight of the NXT. So I used the best thing I could to counterbalance an NXT… another NXT. Using duct tape (a lot of duct tape) I taped one NXT with a Hitechnic accelerometer to one side, and another NXT to the other side as a counterbalance. OK, now the next problem… I can’t Hula-hoop. At all. And a hula-hoop with a dozen AA batteries duct-taped to it isn’t the easiest thing to work with in the first place. But I was able to get it to at least spin around my neck… until the NXT slammed into my skull (note: this hurts. A lot. I was seeing stars for a few seconds, and had a huge goose-egg). In the end, I did get some interesting data from spinning it around my wrist in a vertical orientation (far safer), and found you could see both the rotation of the hoop (about one rotation every 4 seconds) as well as the revolution of the center of the hoop around my wrist (every fifth of a second or so… yes, I labeled the graph the wrong way around, I think). The folks who originally asked me about this work on electrically illuminated hula-hoops triggered by internal sensors, and I hope they were able to use some of this information practically… but even if they didn’t I had a lot of fun trying to get the data.
Another fun project was actually not mine, but my sons. I firmly believe that a science fair project should be the job of the student, not the parent. In this case Ben wanted to determine who was noisiest in the school hallway (his hunch was the 6th graders), and decided after watching me, to do it with an NXT. He and I played around with using the US sensor or the light sensor, and eventually came up with a way to both “count” people and keep the system very well hidden from curious students. The idea was to use a very low-power laser (class I – a very low-power laser similar to what you see in a supermarket barcode scanner, for safety) next to the NXT at floor level, directed off a tiny inconspicuous mirror on the far side of the hallway and back onto the light sensor (set in “ambient” mode). Now every time someone walking down the hallway broke the beam of light, the NXT would add one to a “count” variable, recording the value of that variable and the average sound level detected during that interval every so often. Since the “system” was just an NXT with two sensors (with an ingenuous sliding positioning system for the light sensor) and a separate “super laser pointer”, it was easy to hide behind a box or under a video cart, and the laser spot was so dim it wasn’t noticed by students on their feet. All in all, a really interesting automated way to get information about traffic flow in the school hallways. And everything was done by my 10-year-old: designing the hardware, selecting the method, programming the datalogging, downloading everything & analysis. Oh, and he found the morning announcements by the principle were the loudest thing on most days, a fact he gleefully pointed out to her. My only contribution was soldering up a laser system that would run off AA batteries – the rest was his, and I was very proud of the result.
Finally, for another project I’m working on (more later), I was curious if you could use the NXT as a simple pedometer, logging each footstep. Most pedometers simply keep a running count – by the end of the day, you might know how many footsteps you’ve taken, but you’d have no idea if you’d done those at the beginning, middle, or end of the day. Since the NXT can be fitted with an acceleration sensor, it should in theory be able to determine the moment every footstep happens, and record that information any way you like – not just the running total, but details like how the footstep frequency changes throughout the day (when you get tired), or when you were sitting still, etc. Here’s a quick test of this idea, with the NXT logging the total acceleration measured about 50 times a second. At this resolution each footstep is clearly visible, and you could probably pick out details like how the acceleration changes when walking up or down stairs. Now, can my NXT record an entire hike for later…
Jun 16, 2008
See you there?
Jun 14, 2008
Their second announcement and call for papers can be found here.
Does anyone have more information about this conference? This PDF download is the only information I have been able to find.
Young readers (and older) - with Father's Day on Sunday, give your Dad a great gift by asking him to take a walk or bike ride with you... and make it a regular event. Invite Mom, too.
A few updates about Mars Base Command:
1. Instructions have been added to the zipped file containing the Mission Data Forms. The text file contains information on submitting photos and video links for inclusion in the Roster. The download location specified in the Module Booklet hasn't changed.
2. I've already received some emails from a few individuals about their attempts to solve the missions - thank you for sharing the details! Be sure to send me pictures, video links, and info when you're done so I can add it to the Roster area.
3. For right now, Mars Base Alpha: Plan B will remain in book format. I haven't found a suitable method (or price) for CDs or PDF digital delivery that I like - thanks to those who have emailed and let me know their books and the BIs look good. BIs in grayscale are always tricky, but I tried to enlarge as many images as I could to give you more detail.
4. I was asked if all modules will come with a color PDF mat that can be printed... simple answer is yes, but some of the mats may vary in size, depending on the missions. Remember, the PDF mat is NOT required to run the missions - I provide measurements for the size of the challenge area as well as placement of the mission models - the mat just makes it a little more exact for model placement as well as just being eye-catching.
5. Some of you emailed asking about Mars Base Gamma and the recent update to the homepage (www.marsbasecommand.com) - I can't provide any details yet but keep your eyes open for sneak peeks and hidden secrets. Tentative release date for the PDF Mission Summary document is late July with an August release of the Module Booklet.
You can find more information in the special forum section for the Contest here.
The prizes are nice, too:
1st place: $100 (US) LEGO Gift Certificate
2nd place: NXT Rersource Set
3rd place: NXT Resource Set
Jun 13, 2008
Check out this contest from Instructables. (If you haven't seen this site, check it out, also.)
Contest is currently OPEN! Enter yours or start voting now!
CONTEST STARTS:Apr 15, 2008
ENTRY DEADLINE:Jun 29, 2008
Instructables has teamed up with the folks at RoboGames to bring you the Robot Contest! Show them what you and your robots can do, and win a trip to go to RoboGames, flight and hotel room included!
(Contest Instructions and Official Rules)
Jun 12, 2008
Taking Alpha Rex and butterfly photos was the most interesting and exiting experience I had when preparing the Alpha Rex tour in Taipei! It took me more than an hour to get the chance to approach the butterfly in such close distance. The butterfly was so focusing on her flower and allowed me (Alpha Rex) to touch her!
If you want to try taking photos in the wild and/or roadside in your area, be sure to consult local expert about the safety in the wild.
The butterfly: Parantica sita niphonica
The plant and flower: Eupatorium shimadai Hay
The place: Datun Mountain, Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei, Taiwan
According to Amazon, the book includes the following:
"1) a how-to guide for programming your robot, using NXT-G and Microsoft VPL
2) ten robot-specific projects show how to extend your robot's capabilities beyond the manufacturer's provided software. Examples of projects include:
Robot House Builder,
Search (obstacle avoidance),
Song and Dance Act
3) flowcharts and data flow diagrams are used to illustrate how to develop programs
4) introduces basic programming structures
5) includes a DVD w/ e-text, programming code, and link to accompanying website"
The problem is this: Syngress, the publisher, doesn't list this new book on their web site. I am guessing that the project has been delayed or dropped.
I know I could email Syngress and get the straight scoop, but our readers know (almost) everything.
Does anyone know the status of this book? Anyone? Anyone?
Jun 11, 2008
Jun 10, 2008
This successful initiative ran for the first time in Tasmania in 2007, and was the result of collaboration between the federally funded SiMERR project (Science, Information and Communication Technology and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia) and CELO (The Tasmanian Department of Education’s Centre for Extended Learning Opportunities), and is now also supported by LEGO Education.
SmartBots provides teams of students with the opportunity to work through weekly lesson plans using LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics kits. The program provides an excellent demonstration of introducing a transformative Information and Communications Technology subject into rural & remote schools where local staff had little or no prior experience of this content.
Following the success of SmartBots in Tasmania, we're now keen to trial SmartBots clusters in other areas of Australia. If you are an enthusiatic teacher of robotics (you know who you are!), and are interested in helping other teachers in your region develop robotics programs, please let me know.
Okay, so usually when I get a horrid case of Writer's Block and just can't seem to push through a project, I just walk away for a while and pick something that satisfies any or all of 3 conditions:
(1) It has to be completely non-productive from a business angle.
(2) It should involve some sort of purchase that I might regret later.
(3) It should take away 2 to 3 hours that I won't get back.
I'm happy to announce that my latest NXT project has satisfied all 3 conditions, making it a worthy blog news item - it's a non-autonomous tri-wheeled rover with virtual exploration capabilities.
Okay, it's a remote controlled tribot with a wireless camera that feeds into some virtual goggles I bought and allows me to drive my tribot while I'm not in the room.
Here's how it breaks down:
2. 2nd NXT Remote Control
3. Wireless Camera (with microphone!)
4. Wireless Camera Receiver
5. Video Eyewear (goggles)
The latest issue of MAKE magazine spurred me to do it - the cover has a remote control car that sends a wireless video signal to its owner's goggles. You've probably seen similar toys that allow you to view the action from the vehicle's point of view. Well, it works... and then some.
1. You can get dizzy if it gets moving too fast.
2. Turning left and right will actually cause you to either turn your head or lean in your chair.
3. It's addictive.
4. It makes your spouse shake her head and walk away mumbling something...
5. It's like having a 50" widescreen TV about 8 feet in front of you.
6. Yes, those goggles have ear pieces for sound (woo hoo - patrol your house for hostiles)
7. Did I mention you can get REAL dizzy doing it?
8. Yes, the goggles look a little goofy, but did I mention how fun it is to see things from your tribot's perspective?
9. I've got ALL KINDS of new robot ideas to try with this thing.
I wish I could post a video of what the experience is like - I'll do some digging and maybe I can find a way to split the signal and send it to my laptop so you can see what I see...
And... magically... my Writer's Block feels over. Back to work.
Jun 9, 2008
Jun 8, 2008
I'm already receiving email feedback about the first module/workbook in the Mars Base Command series - thank you all for your emails and kind words.
Please keep in mind that the forum does have a place where you can post questions, observations, and discuss your robot ideas. And, of course, I'm always around to check on the discussions.
And here is a video to go with it:
Jun 7, 2008
Below is a video of a brick sorter with the sensor. Read more about the sensor and the sorter here.
Jun 6, 2008
Reader Dan M. has an interesting challenge for The NXT Step readers. He has a manufacturing setup that he wants to replace and is considering using an actual NXT robotics kit.
Right now, the machine in question uses color concentrate that comes out of a large container/hopper. When the color needs to be changed, the hopper must be cleaned so the colors don’t mix. Dan would like to replace the large hoppers with much smaller containers that can be changed very quickly.
Your job? Help Dan design an NXT device or robot that can replace the color concentrate system by picking two or three of these color pellets at a time from a box or container and transferring them to a funnel system that feeds into a hopper. Now, when Dan needs to change colors, the hopper doesn’t need to be removed and cleaned – instead, he just replaces the color pellet box that the robot will pick from. This process will need to run 24 hours per day, 5 days per week.
Interested? We’ve created a special forum discussion area where you can post comments, questions, and maybe your solution! Dan has agreed to provide feedback as well as pictures of the final design if one can be found to do the job reliably and repeatedly. (And The NXT Step will give the selected robot/device plenty of coverage – we’ll definitely want to interview the designer(s) of any selected device.)
Good luck – you can view some pictures and get more details here.The rules are fairly simple:
1. Build the device with one (1) NXT Retail kit (sorry, Ed kit is out but if you have the Resource Set and Education Base Set and are willing to limit yourself to the parts found in a single Retail Kit, then please participate)
2. Deadline to have your design submitted is July 1, 2008.
Further information will be posted on the forum thread by either a blog contributor or Dan. Feel free to post questions on the forum thread, too.
UPDATE: The prizes provided by Dan's company are:
1st place: $100 (US) LEGO Gift Certificate
2nd place: NXT Rersource Set
3rd place: NXT Resource Set
Jun 5, 2008
Looks quite professional and entertaining.
Note: the site requires Silverlight, Microsoft's competitor to Flash.
As for me, my Firefox browser regularly crashes after a while since I've installed Silverlight. Hrmpfh!
Jun 4, 2008
The guys from battlebricks managed to control a NXT robot using an iPhone. How is that possible I hear you ask? First, build a robot that performs different movements based on the light sensor looking at different shades of grey. Then build a web application that displays those different shades on a website. Load one iPhone on the robot, and use another to remotely update the shade of grey on the other. Now why didn't I think of that?
It's written in NXC and full source can be see here
Jun 3, 2008
Today I've published version 1.5 of Lemon on my web site for Download.
Lemon is a Java-based application with a graphical user interface that allows for comparing two LEGO® models that are stored in LDraw or LDD format; the common parts are listed as well as the ones that are contained in one of the models only.
It's also possible to check a model against the NXT Retail Kit or (new to 1.5) against the NXT Education Kit - comes in handy if you want to know whether a model can be built with one of these kits.
Moreover, the new version supports multi module models now and contains numerous bugfixes.
Give it a try, please, and provide feedback and proposals.
Addendum: If someone is encountering problems with Lemon, please do not hesitate to contact me via the contact page on my web site.
Thanks to everyone for their patience... the first module is titled "Mars Base Alpha: Plan B" and is available today - 100 pages, $14.50 from cafepress.com, spiral-bound. 3 Mission Models, Challenge Rules, Scoring information, Mission Forms, FAQ, and more.
It all starts at www.marsbasecommand.com
Be sure to read the information on the Join, Data, and FAQ tabs... then click the Alpha tab to get started. You can download the free Module Summary document (PDF) and read the story and other information and decide if you'd like to attempt the missions.
Good luck - have fun this summer - and look for information on the second module to be released over the next month or so.