Sep 30, 2008
Here's the description from the creator:
"This robot can play five chords using three NXT motors. The guitar is an ordinary acoustic guitar tuned in "open C" - it plays a C chord when the strings are strummed without the other hand touching the fret board.
And I can say that the robot plays the guitar better than I do!"
Yesterday, over 400 participants gathered at the Atlanta Girls' School for Bot'oberfest 2008 (up from almost 300 in 2007).
Classes this year included:
Intro to NXT-G Programming
Basic Robot Design
Reliable Robot Design
FLL Project & Judging Overview
FLL Missions Overview (and Discussion of Rules)
Open Meet & Discuss
I'll post a link shortly where you can view slideshows for the various classes. The event was a huge success, and we're already hearing back from attendees on what they liked and what they'd like to see next year. We broke the event up into a morning and afternoon session and allowed participants to sign up for one or the other (the schedule was repeated and the spreadsheet can be downloaded here).
Sep 29, 2008
Today, I ran over the web site of Boston Dynamics that features a video with a fascinating robot of theirs, the RHex ("The Rugged Robot that Devours Rough Terrain").
It's a six-legged machine that is able to walk over almost any terrain found out there, to climb stairways, steep slopes and railroad tracks and even to swim!
Though it's not a NXT robot, the video decidedly is some kind of inspiration in that regard (however, don't try to throw your brick into a pool of mud, don't you! Mind, it's not as sealed as RHEx...).
Watch the video - it's intriguing!
LEGO MINSTORMS NXT One-Kit Wonders, the new book by the blog contributors is scheduled to be printed around the fourth of November this year. This post gives you an outline of the ten chapters and their robots.
CandyPicker: A candy-picking robot with built-in generator and remote control
PunchBot: Old-school programming using your NXT
M: the m&m sorter
NXT Dragster: The NXT STEP Dragster Challenge
BobBot: An NXT version of the Bobcat
RoboLock: A security system for your robots
The hand: A robot for those dirty jobs
SPC: Self-parking car
GrabBot: A robot that finds, grabs, lifts, and moves
Bike: A two wheeled, obstacle avoiding vehicle
Read more about the book in previous posts here.
Sep 28, 2008
I think it gets the Gracious Proffesionalism theme across particularly well, and how winning is not everything... just enjoy!
Good luck to all,
This week's inspiration is somewhat advanced: construction robots. Can you make a robot that builds something, on its own, out of LEGOs? It doesn't have to be another robot, or even something very complicated. You could have a robot build a wall, for example. Or you could have a pallet of pieces, arranged in the right order, that a robot selects and puts together on a workspace.
You can see some (very) elaborate examples of construction robots in the Aircraft Factory and Car Factory. Obviously, you probably wouldn't make something like this, but maybe a small, simpler, version would be possible.
Let us know if you make one!
P.S. See other posts in this blog series here.
Sep 27, 2008
The flame on the candle of the cake will "flicker" while the NXT plays the "Happy Birthday" song ,and when the song finishes, you can make a wish and blow out the candle. The sound sensor will detect the blowing, and then the flame will disappear!
Here is a video of the cake in action:
Sep 26, 2008
Several of the triangles shown have lists of parts and building instructions here.
Sep 25, 2008
1. Anne and Dave, our new mentors for FLL, have come up with the most amazing, simple, and effective method for helping a team work through the missions, especially for rookie teams.
Read about it here:
2. New Resource: Three Climate Maps
We found a range of global climate maps. Here's the worksheets we used to generate a huge amount of discussion.
See it here (scroll down to first new item)
3. Two new group communications games.
Download them here. Scroll down and look for the two new items.
What can be more fun than a barrel full of monkeys? A barrel full of NXT monkeys! We've had Biped, Quadruped, and even Bug Bot challenges on NXTLOG, but now we want you to have lots of fun and build the coolest creature on the planet.
Read on here at NXTLog.
EDIT: Due to a request from a reader, I've changed the link above to a hyperlink.
Visit the site - great stuff!
Sep 24, 2008
The Mexican Robotics Federation, the Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología del Distrito Federal (Institute for Science and Technology of Distrito Federal), along with local private and state universities hosted a national robotics competition, at Palacio de Mineria, from September 4th through 6th in Mexico City. The event gathered students from all over the country, from middle school to graduate students. It was an event that made national news.
This tournament hosted a great number of categories, from the Robocup and Robocup Jr. to the IEEE Latin American Students Robotics Competition. The variety of robots was big, from homebrew to Lego Mindstorms. You could see humanoid robots playing soccer, cleaning robots, arm disarming robots, rescue robots, line followers and much, much more.
I had the privilege of judging the SEK category. There were 12 teams competing, all of the teams designed their robots using Lego Mindstorms (mostly NXTs, just a couple of RCXs). The designs were very creative, some simple, some complex; the principal sensors used were the ultrasonic, light sensor, touch sensor. some robots had to use two NXTs and Bluetooth in order to be autonomous. For more information on the competition rules click here (http://www.torneomexicanoderobotica.org.mx/downloads/SEK2008_en.pdf). The team Lego Troopers from the university of ITAM were the winners for this category.
Winners of the competition were sponsored so they can compete in upcoming international events like RoboCup, Robot Olympiad, the IEEE Latin American Robotics Competition.
This is a link of the SEK (Standard Education Kit) subcategory of the IEEE Latina American Students Robotics category (mainly is my students participation and touring of Mexico City)
Sep 23, 2008
I checked out the website and LEGO products are listed as being covered, but no word on in-store - if someone else wants to verify and drop me an email, it'd be appreciated.
Some key points of the piece (for those who'd rather pass on the complete article):
Through a series of management moves, LEGO:
1) Reduced its number of vendors and made larger, more regular purchases from each one, enabling it to leverage the company's scale with suppliers.
2) Better coordinated the production within its mold machines, resulting in better utilization and increased capacity.
3) Decreased fulfillment costs at their distribution centers by bundling orders in larger shipments.
4) Rationalized their production cycles into 4-to-12-week increments (instead of making every machine available to produce any element at any time).
5) Relocated its factories near its most important markets (e.g., Europe), thereby decreasing its distribution costs.
All of this means that, when dealing with LEGO, you'll (hopefully) get what you want when you want it.
The Brothers Brick is one of the LEGO Blogs out there. It isn't really Robotics focused, or even Technic focused. It's more of a "Check out this cool creation". They have a good group of authors, and a large readership.
The Brothers Brick recently posted their 10 Other LEGO Blogs you should be reading. And guess who is on the list! That's right. The NXT Step!
One of the other blogs they mentioned looks pretty good too. It's called TechnicBRICKS. They cover a lot of Technic creations, which often go hand-in-hand with the NXT Robotics creations too.
And one last find. The Brothers Brick recently featured a Tripod Turret that is fully automated, and appears to be powered by some PF devices. You can read their writeup here. The Brothers Brick - Auto-Controlled Tripod Turret.
Sep 21, 2008
Advanced Display Text NXT-G block
He's done a really nice job on the interface, including built-in help, and included a couple of sample fonts (one with larger characters, one with smaller characters, and one that is upside-down). Take a look and try this out - it should install just fine under v1.1, or under v1.0 with the patch. Let us know how you use these! And thank you Guy Ziv for authoring some nice blocks for those of us who still like using NXT-G.
Sep 20, 2008
I was just surfing the HiTechnic Website when I found that they have released a new sensor. The Electro Optical Proximity Detector or EOPD is used to ...accurately detect objects and small changes in distance...
The sensor has its own internal light source so it won't be disturbed by external light signals. Objects can be detected from distances up to 30 cm. Has anyone got or tested this sensor - if so please comment and share your experience with the rest of us.
Sep 19, 2008
On his trip around the world due to the 10th anniversary of LEGO® MINDSTORMS, AlphaRex has visited the idyllic Black Forest in Germany and I have been able to take some shots - have a look for them at the official LEGO® MINDSTORMS site.
Sep 18, 2008
Sep 17, 2008
For an (internal) contest some time ago, some MINDSTORMS veterans took up the challenge to build NXT tripods, i.e., NXT-based robots on three legs that would be able to autonomously walk in arbitrary direction (without rolling) and avoid or cross obstacles.
Though it doesn't look so at a first glance, this is a rather difficult task from the engineerical point of view which might be the reason why so few actual working tribot robots have been built so far.
One of the prototypes that arose from that efforts is that of Philo:
It walks along with a "dragging" movement. More movies can be seen here, pictures are available here, here, here and here.
Sep 16, 2008
Here's a simple but cool model for kids. The creator's description follows:
"This small robot starts with raising its head a little up and keeping it raised because gravity pulls it down. It goes direct until it approaches any thing then it decelerates its speed (so that if it hits that thing, the hit is not hard). Then when it is 25cm far from that thing, it raises its head and turns back randomly either to the right or to the left. The randomness was important to get out from small spaces after many tries."
Sep 13, 2008
(Click here for a high quality video.)
Are you curious for the robots in this book? Here's a preview with three models and what else you will find in there. All ten chapters include building instructions as well as detailed programming instructions. In other words, all you need to spend hours of fun with an NXT kit.
Each author will be blogging about his robot design in the coming months. Stay tuned!
Sep 12, 2008
To be published November 29, 2008--just in time for Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas and every budding engineers birthday. :)
Each of the ten models in the book requires only one NXT retail kit. The Amazon link is
(NOTE: Amazon has the book listed as "NXT Idea Book Volume 2". However, the book's image on the link has the correct title. The publisher promises to correct this on Amazon as soon as possible).
Sep 11, 2008
Remember the post on the MINDSTORMS competition by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group where you should build an interesting NXT robot that uses Bluetooth to communicate with some other Bluetooth-enabled device in some way?
They have extended their deadline for submissions until end of October now and dropped the limitation to contributors aged 21 and over - a wise decision in my eyes.
Thanks to our reader Dirk for the information.
Sep 10, 2008
Today CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has successfully started its collimators that are used in the tunnel of the Large Hadron Collider or LHC. The LHC is the biggest supercollider in the world and is also be largest machine in the world.
Scientists around the world will be watching closely today when their colleagues in Switzerland flip the switch on what is being touted as the world's grandest experiment in particle physics.
If all goes according to plan, the Large Hadron Collider, a gigantic particle accelerator underground near Geneva, could re-create the very moment 13 billion years ago when scientists believe a tremendous explosion known as the "big bang" created the universe.
"It could be the most exciting thing since Einstein," said Yale Professor Paul Tipton, part of a multinational research team, including physicists at Yale and Fairfield University, that has spent years designing and building the collider.
Now what has that to do with Mindstorms?
Engineers at CERN chose National Instruments products (like Labview) to control the collimators. As many of you know Labview is also the base of the NXT-G programming language....
NI video about CERN
Google News on LHC
In a nutshell, though, they take small donations (as little as $25.00) and use the funds to create small "micro-loans" to businesses in poor countries around the world. You make a donation, browse the businesses that are trying to raise funds, and select as many as you want to support. I currently support 5 businesses, and have made donations of anywhere from $25 to $100 to each. Other donors make similar contributions and that's how these small businesses get their loans - usually anywhere from $250 to $5000. Each business is required to make regular payments on their loan and as payments come in, your account is credited back the money that you can either cash out or donate again to more businesses.
As a small business owner myself, I share in this organization's goals and believe that giving someone (or a group) the opportunity to start a business benefits that person, his/her family, and his/her community where the money typically stays in circulation. I'm a HUGE supporter of the "micro" method of raising funds - don't ask 10 people for $5000 each... ask 50,000 for $1.00 each (or in this case, ask 40,000+ blog readers to each contribute $25.00 - that's over 1 MILLION dollars!
Kiva.org is making a difference - they are having SUCH success that they've run into a problem! Six months ago, when I first joined Kiva, they had over 200 small businesses in their database for me to select from... today they have completely funded all their small businesses! That's a GOOD problem to have, right? They're working on adding more businesses to their database and have implemented a new feature - Kiva Teams.
I've created a Kiva Team - The NXT Step Community. The NXT Step currently has over 40,000 visitors each month from around the world, and I'd like to see what this group of NXT fans can do when it comes to fund raising. Every dollar goes to Kiva.org - not to me or to the blog. Your money will be credited back to your account as the loan(s) get paid back and you can choose what businesses to fund with your money. Seriously - if every NXT Step reader opens an account and contributes just $25.00 and not another penny, we will have raised over 1 million dollars. I've started the fund with $100.00 (credit - see image of My Portfolio) and will give periodic updates on how our team is doing.
For now, you can simply signup and join The NXT Step Community team. If you like, once you're logged in, click on your "My Portfolio" button and then click on the link "Add Credit" or wait until a business is accepting funding. Once you fund a business (or 2 or 3 or...) you're donation will show up on the Team Page.
Here are the links you need:
Kiva's homepage: www.kiva.org
The NXT Step Community Team Page: http://www.kiva.org/app.php?page=community&action=viewTeam&team_id=854
Invite your friends and family... ask your employer to make a matching contribution... ask your parents to make a matching contribution... challenge another FLL team to see which team can raise the most funds. (Come to think of it, I'm going to ask LEGO to consider making a matching donation each quarter or each year based on how much we raise! - will keep you informed.)
I want to thank all of The NXT Step readers for your your support of the blog.
Sep 9, 2008
The modules might be part of a GBC that will assembled on the 2nd Hispabrick that is going to take place in Barcelona on 6th and 7th of December 2008.
Sep 7, 2008
Explanatory notes can be found here: http://www.g7smy.co.uk/?lego/baudot
Yesterday (Friday) almost 1000 unique visitors from all over the world downloaded about 6000 documents from TechBrick.com. We received many enouraging comments. Thank you!
Sep 6, 2008
Sep 5, 2008
Sep 4, 2008
Better late than never, right?
Click here to be taken to the registration site - preference for filling classes will be given to registered teams, so be certain to include your team # and list the names of those members attending please.
Email link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.
The HALE mission has put out a nice YouTube video, showcasing some of the video as well as the still photos from the ground team end of the mission. It also gives (at the end) a run-down of some of the faces & names involved. Take a look, and enjoy the music & presentation.
HALE YouTube Mission
Steve Hassenplug has come up with a novel robotics game he's named "PSumo" (for "programmable sumo"). The idea isn't to make fantastically complicated or fast sumo robots, but instead to make a series of nearly equal robots that casual observers can "program" by using RFID cards swiped by a sensor on the robot. It was a huge hit at the recent Brickfair event on the east coast, and I'm sure we'll see it a lot of other places. We'll probably have a detailed blog post on this soon.
PSumo from Steve Hassneplug
A number of people have asked for plans or more details on my recent PnP arm, wanting to duplicate it or at least understand it better. While the odd, very-non-rectangular geometry makes it difficult to reproduce in LDD, I did do the arm itself and a partial attempt at a loading pallet. I've put those up along with some images and a stripped-down NXT-G program & video up on NXTlog, for anyone who wants to try it. Let us know what you do with it.
PnP on NXTlog
Here's a novel physics demonstration (hey, I'm a physicist, what did you expect) of non-linear resonance. Want to make a pendulum stand up the wrong way? Vibrate the support point fast enough, and you get an interesting effect...
Vertically driven pendulum
Finally, what do you get when you couple something like Jim's camera platform with heavy metal? A camera panohead that looks like the NXT was grafted on to a butchered store display frame, but it works :).
PanoKong on YouTube
Sep 3, 2008
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has launched a competition for fans to design a robot from the Lego Mindstorms NXT kit that uses Bluetooth technology to connect to other devices like mobile phones or PC’s.
Using components available from the NXT kit (and also creative additions if you like), all you need to do is capture your robot on video with its Bluetooth capabilities in action. The most impressive entry wins the competition, which has cool Bluetooth products for prizes.
More information here
Sep 2, 2008
Reader DTAAX submitted the following:
After building a robot that fired Bionicle balls at a light, my son suggested I use the same platform to build a Sundial Robot. The robot uses the NXT brick, 3 motors, Compass Sensor, Light Sensor, Touch Sensor and ~270 other parts. Three non-standard parts are used: The big wheel from the Star Wars Hailfire set, a cardboard tube to enclose the light sensor, and a PDA. The PDA is used to perform the trigonometric calculations required (because I was too lazy to implement trigonmetric functions on the NXT). In operation, the robot rotates 360 degrees to calibrate the Compass Sensor. It then rotates in 5 degree increments, the light sensor is swept from vertical until the Touch Sensor is pushed. During the sweep the maximum light level seen is recorded. Once the robot rotates from 70 to 270 degrees magnetic, the NXT sends via bluetooth the magnetic heading where the maximum light level was seen. The PDA then calculates the time and sends the result to the NXT. The NXT then sets the clock to the time. In practice, the robot is accurate to within 15 minutes or so.
Sep 1, 2008
The first RCX climber was slow and unbalanced. The second NXT version was much faster, but still not very stable since it used the same techniques. This third version is a new design, made so that it will automatically balance itself on one axis. Balance on the other axis is achieved with an acceleration sensor.
Imagine a line from the left wheels to the right wheels, through the middle of the robot. On this line, the robot tilts when it gets unbalanced. Unlike in the older versions, the main weight is now below this line. This means that it will keep itself balanced without help.
However, there is another possibility for the climber to crash. That happens when either of the sides loses a bit of grip or if both sides do not go as fast as each other. You can correct this error by making one of the sides go slower, so it will achieve balance again. You would only have to know how big the error is, and in what direction. This is what the Mindsensors Acceleration sensor measures. A relatively simple NXT-G program keeps track of the sensor and motor speeds. It goes up until it sees the ceiling and then comes down again.