Oct 31, 2008
Oct 30, 2008
1. He should issue a challenge to EVERY FIRST LEGO League team to raise funds during their competition season to buy one or two of the water systems (mentioned at the bottom of page 3). Let every FLL team sponsor a water purification system for a village that needs clean water.
2. To someone who knows Dean personally - please ask him to bring the electric car to FLL in Atlanta next year.
3. Kids - do NOT follow Dean's example and quit school - it worked for him but the odds are not in your favor. Stay in school and learn as much as you can.
Oct 28, 2008
You can make many different kinds of NXT weapons. Some ideas include crossbows, pistols, rifles, machine guns, catapults, and slingshots. Below are some resources that you might find helpful if you want to make one.
First, there's Forbidden LEGO by No Starch, which gives instructions for making some neat-looking LEGO weapons. Although it's not NXT-related, it looks like it would be easy to interface the models with the NXT. You can also get some great inspiration from the models.
Some current NXT weapons include my Beam Weapon (scroll down) and robots entered in NXTasy's "Throw Me!" Contest, such as Matthias' Dicke Bertha and Dicke Bertha Typ II.
P.S. See other Robot Inspiration posts here.
Oct 26, 2008
Chapter 8 in our new book (NXT One-Kit Wonders) illustrates how to make one that accomplishes both tasks with just the front wheels.
Oct 24, 2008
What do you think about it?
Oct 22, 2008
Oct 21, 2008
Philo, one of the European MCPs, has published a new robot for odometry, the art of estimating the own position during wheeled vehicle navigation. It's called Odin and
"it measures as precisely as possible distances travelled and orientation of displacement. Its mechanical structure is well suited for that: when travelling it rolls on four parallel wheel so it is able to go very straight. For turning, it raises itself on a central pivot, turns around it and goes down, ready for the next move", as the author states.
On the associated web site you'll find ample documentation, images, videos, programs and building instructions for it.
What's more: you can build it was one single NXT Retail kit!
Oct 20, 2008
One issue you may need to consider when making a butler robot is how to make it work with non-LEGO materials. For example, the robot might need to work with salt and pepper shakers, cups, utensils, etc. Since these objects' dimensions aren't made to work with LEGOs, you may need pieces that are pliable or elastic. Rubber pieces usually work well, such as the 1x2 rubber pieces that come with the retail kit. Tires can also come in handy.
P.S. You can see other Robot Inspiration posts here.
Oct 19, 2008
Eric, Gerrit, Martyn and and friends prepared an MGBC setup for LEGOWORLD.
And, what is MGBC, you asks. MGBC is an expansion (in the fully sense of the term...) from GBC concept and stands for "Much Greater Ball Contraption" or "MINDSTORMS Greater Ball Contraption".
It uses MINDSTORMS balls at a much slower transport rate than standard GBC. About 2 balls per minute.
See bellow one photo from the actual setup running at LEGOWORLD.
Do you want to see more!?
Ok, take a look to this post, today from 13:00 PM to 15:PM (GMT) to see LegoWorld MGBC in action, at TechnicBRICKs live video channel. Then it will be repeated Monday and Tuesday at the same hours (occasionally you may find it streaming at different periods).
As alternative, you may follow it directly on this URL, or take a look at the original post in TechnicBRICKs.
Oct 17, 2008
Today was the first day of LEGOWORLD 2008.
At the MINDSTORMS booth we had a visit of Søren Lund (former Marketing Director MINDSTORMS), and I could show him and his family:
The NXT-sans (an underwater excavator build for NI-week). We displayed it inside a large tank of water. (do not put motors or other electrical LEGO parts under water at home!)
Also an almost 3 meter high ferries wheel, as part of a MGBC (Much Greater Ball Contraption= GBC with MINDSTORMS balls), the balls are first put in a basket that is picked up by the wheel, for a round, to clear out the basket at the other end. There the balls continue their journey in a train.
Most of the books (including a pre-press version of the One-Kit Wonders) are available for a look inside, and several models can be seen in real live.
You can play with the new WEDO form LEGO Education.
Various line followers are shown, and a copy of Steve’s Hassenplugs P-Sumo.
See you there...
Nice... but it could be improved, right? The NXT has an Ultrasonic Sensor, some motors, a nice loud speaker... this thing is begging to be "robotized"!
You can read a partial of the writeup here but the full article (Tech Briefs page 82-84) can be downloaded here.
Oct 16, 2008
Oct 15, 2008
LEGOengineering.com is happy to announce our new Community section. The Community section empowers LEGO educators from around the world to share lesson plans and activities and get feedback from other users. Users can also post questions, ideas, tips, problems and start discussions with the worldwide community. Users can view and share photos of LEGO creations from students.
LEGOengineering.com is a collaboration between the Tufts University Center for Engineering Educational Outreach (CEEO) and LEGO Education. The website was created to be a resource for educators around the world that use or want to use LEGO Mindstorms as an educational tool. All content is freely available to the public.
Oct 13, 2008
MINDSTORMS NXT 1.1 (upgrade) CD is for sale on the Shop@home.
Unfortunately only for the US customers.
This CD can also be usefull if you have the Education Kit (9797) and the Education resource set (9648).
MINDSTORMS® NXT CDItem #: 4524081
Price was USD 19.99
Sale Price USD 7.98
Since your robot needs to move around without you controlling it, you'll need to give it the capability to detect and respond to (or not be affected by) potentially problematic situations. Aside from the obvious one of walls and other simple obstacles, these may include:
- Steep dropoffs
- Short overhangs: sometimes a ledge or other object may block the top of your robot instead of the bottom. In this situation, a mechanism for detecting obstacles soley on the ground level would not be sufficient.
- Bumpy ground
- Steep ramps: sometimes the robot might go up a ramp that becomes so steep that the robot falls over. You'd need something that could detect this (for example, a touch sensor in the back that gets pressed if the robot tilts back too far)
- Obstacles in the back or on the sides of the robot: sometimes the robot might back up or turn into an obstacle (perhaps from avoiding an obstacle in the front). You'd need sensors to detect such objects.
One of the greatest difficulties I've found in building these robots is getting around the sensor and motor limitations. There can be so many things the robot needs to detect, but only four sensors and three motors are available per NXT Brick. You could try using multiple Bricks if you have them, or try to give each sensor multiple functions.
One way to make the robot travel is to simply make it move randomly while monitoring for problem situations and responding to them when they appear. If you wanted to go advanced, you might try to make the robot travel to a certain destination through terrain with random obstacles. Another idea would be to give the robot a task, like cleaning a floor, that it could do while moving around and avoiding obstacles.
Oct 11, 2008
Brian Davis and others are having an interesting
(The top photo is Brian's. The bottom photo is a peacock with angled, TECHNIC wings taken from the
I haven't seen the NXT webinars, but the FTC webinar is taught by Timothy Friez, one of the developers for RobotC, so they seem to have the experts teaching these courses. Not only do the webinars provide nice learning sessions, but also give you a chance to ask questions. Definitely something to take a look at if you want to switch to a more advanced language than NXT-G!
Oct 10, 2008
A German builder named leggor has created a remote control for his NXT fatboy motorcyle. That by itself isn’t anything new. Many folks have created remote controls for their NXT projects.
What is neat about this remote control… is it simulates a real motorcycle handlebar. Complete with twistable throttle and a break.
A simple shot of the controller:
Here is a short video of the bike and control in action:
Oct 9, 2008
1. Slow News Week/Month? - Yes and No. Keep in mind that we're coming up on the NXT's 2nd year anniversary - the product turns 2! I have no info on sales, but I'm sure things have leveled and the number of "unique" NXT designs aren't coming out as often as they did the day after it came out - but we're still searching for new robot designs and news - and we still invite our readers to point us to newsworthy items or even submit as a guest blogger (see the link along the right edge and click it for more info). We've seen weeks of non-stop news and other weeks with little to nothing to write about - just be patient and I'm sure we'll have some new stuff to share soon.
2. Mars Base Gamma? - Well, I really, REALLY, tried hard to get it out by Oct 1, but Hurricane Ike put a kink in my plans - I have someone who helps me develop and test the CAD building instructions and unfortunately he was in the direct path of the hurricane when it hit. He's fine, house and family are fine, but the CAD images are just a bit behind. The good news is that I just saw a completed CAD image of the major element in this module so we're close - very close. Stay tuned.
3. New books? - Well, there is the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT: One-Kit Wonders book that is due out in November. 10 robots that can be built with the Retail kit. Some of you asked about me? Well, after Jonathan and I got done with the FLL: Unofficial Guide I got contracted to write a non-LEGO book that is taking ALL of my time... well, MOST... 90%... maybe 85%. No, definitely 90%. Good news is that it's scheduled to be completed by December 15th and after that I've got some NXT ideas floating around in my head.
That's all for now...
Oct 8, 2008
Oct 5, 2008
From the creator's description:
"It works by attaching two long pieces to a motor. It must be stable so I lifted it up and taped it down. Finally I attached a cord from the motor to the Mindstorms main unit...I programmed it to listen for sound to turn it on and off."
(EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't see any sound sensor, but I'm sure that one could be added).
More pictures are
Oct 3, 2008
I was lucky enough to have a close up look at the new WeDo robotics platform from LEGO Education. It is essentially a basic introduction to robotic concepts, aimed at younger kids (7-11 years old officially). As such, there are only a few robotic elements included; a motor, motion sensor and tilt sensor.
Control is done via the computer and a special USB hub which connects to the various elements. This means that it stays tethered to a computer permanently, but has the upside of not needing batteries. The software is extremely easy to use, and resembles a significantly stripped down version of NXT-G. There are blocks for making the motors move and blocks for interfacing to the sensors. Drag and drop allows you to quickly put together simple programs.
There are instructions for 12 different models out of the one kit, but just like all LEGO products, your imagination is the limit. LEGO Education are really pushing it as more than just 'robotics', encouraging kids to use their creation in stories to discuss and research other concepts.
Yes it is simplistic, but it is a great feeling to have something up and running within 10 minutes. I had an absolute blast playing with it all :)
More info here
Oct 1, 2008
Klocki, a nice multilingual LEGO® blog (Klocki is the Polish word for Bricks), is hosting a new contest called Home Improvement: build a device that helps at home.
Entries may be submitted until end of October and there are three attractive LEGO® sets to win.
I have created a card that plugs into the input port of a NXT brick and can control 2 NXT motors. By using several card (on different address) one could have a lot more motors then the multiplexer method being developed by MindSensors and HiTechnics.