Mar 29, 2010

NXT Club Dance Robot, 3it3ot (BitBot)


Master builder NeXTSTORM keeps amazing us with his robot creations, and here's yet another inspirational design. In the past, the NXT has been combined with music several times, but this approach is one I haven't seen yet. Just watch the video to see what I mean, and read more on NeXTSTORM's webpage.

Mar 28, 2010

Humanoid Robot Sumo European Championship

Last weekend, the RobotChallenge 2010 took place in Vienna, allegedly Euope's largest robot challenge event, in connection with the Robot Sumo European Championship 2010.
MCP Mike Brandl made European Champion in the category "Humanoid Robot Sumo" with a NXT Robot called Evil Bill (while Bill's brother Evil Ted made Third):



Two more NXT robots by Mike made Second and Fourth in the Humanoid Robot Sprint challenge.

Hail Mike, European Humanoid Robot Sumo King!

Have a look at his elaborate web site on the event - in German, though, but there are a lot of pictures and movies.

Mar 26, 2010

Give your Brick some color


Reader Sebastian T. emailed me with this item. If anyone buys and tries it, please let me know your thoughts on the final results.

Adhesive Foil/Cover for LEGO Mindstorms NXT

You can read more about it here. I like the Orange the best.


The Hybrid Brick Sorter - NXT 2.0 Discovery Book update


This is one of the robot projects that you can build with "The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Discovery Book - A Beginner's Guide to Building and Programming Robots".

The Hybrid Brick Sorter sorts LEGO bricks by four colors and two sizes. Chapter 14 in the book will tell you all about this robot: how it identifies a bricks color and size; how to build it and how to program it. You'll also find various challenges to further expand on the robot program and design.

Learn more about the book here, or pre-order the book here. It will be available in April.

Mar 25, 2010

NXT 2.0 Race Car, Remote Controls


I have posted a new Race Car design for NXT 2.0 and three remote control strategies to go along with it. This project was designed to look like a real car, steer like a car with pivoting front wheels, and go fast. It works best with remote control, but you can't control it with the built-in NXT 2.0 software remote control because of the way the steering works (nor very easily with the "nxt-remote" program), so I also posted three NXT-based remote control stategies: one wired, and two Bluetooth from a second NXT.

Now I know that a remote controlled car is not exactly the most original thing you can do with an NXT set, but at some point you need to do one... This was actually one of the first designs I did with the NXT 2.0 set when it came out because the parts selection was screaming out "car" to me with the new car-like tires, but I am just now getting around to finishing it off and posting it.

The 5 Button Remote Control (Bluetooth) was actually designed by my son. We were playing "Battle Bots" in our Robotics Club, and we kept finding that a LEGO remote control of any complexity when in the hands of a kid in the heat of battle will end up coming apart somehow. So I challanged the kids to come up with a remote design that was sturdy enough to not come apart, but still allowed decent control of driving and a weapon/action at the same time. This "5 button" design is so simple that you can build it under 1 minute, but it is super sturdy, and the controls are positioned so that you can use both the finger and thumb buttons at the same time. My son would also like to point out that it has Wii-style wrist safety straps as well :-)

The Steering Remote Control (Bluetooth) is mechanically similar to my earlier Dial Remote Control but puts the control wheel horizontal so that it feels and acts like a steering wheel, which is good for the Race Car and similar things, and I rearranged the ergonomics a bit. And the control strategy is different.

If you are not a fan of remote control, the Race Car can also do some simple autonomous tasks with the color sensor mounted underneath, although the car-like steering does not allow very tight or precise turning.

Here is a video of the Race Car using all the different control stratgies:

"Endangered Species" Book Now Available in Australia

Fay Rhodes' book, "Robots Alive: Endangered Species NXT", is now available in Australia. The online order link is here.

New Mechanisms

One of our favorite designers, Yoshihito Isogawa, has done it again... he's made available a bunch of new designs that are perfect inspiration for new robots.

You can check them out here and here.

Thanks, Yoshihito!

Mar 24, 2010

The NXT Slug now on YouTube

When roaming about some prehistoric parts of my NXT-related web site lately it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to assemble some YouTube videos from media snippets of yet unYouTubized robots  created back then.
So here's one of the creeping Slug, one of my first NXT robots at all, dating back to my MINDSTORMS Developer Program days in 2006:

Mar 23, 2010

Hello!

Hi,

My name is Martijn Hellemans, but in the community I go by the name of Dino_Martino. I was asked to become a NXT step contributor, andI can't let such an opportunity slip away.
Me in a nutshell:
Not LEGO related:
I'm fourteen years old. I live in a rather sleepy town named "Heist-op-den-Berg", Antwerp, Belgium. My native language is dutch. besides LEGO I love everything related to science, technique, technology, electronics, robotics,...
I got bit by the electrics bug when I got an electronics play-kit for my 8th birthday.
My other passion is music. I play the drums for 6 years now. My favourite styles include: Jazz, Funk, Latin, and other stuff.
LEGO related:

Like a lot of other peoples, I have been playing with LEGO's since I was *very* young. My older brothers had an immense stack of old style, classic LEGO. In fact, if it weren't for my brothers, I don't think I would have got into LEGO TECHNIC.
When I was about six, I watched how my brother amazing constructions/mechanics using the old - mostly brick&knob - TECHNIC. I got my first set when I was eight. It was the yellow heavy loader crane (#8421). That was the point of no return: that's when I turned into a true "TECHNIC'aholic".

One of the things I always loved about LEGO is that you get an infinite number of possibillities. When you look at a RC car, or one of thos robot dogs, you get one design and one behavior.
With all kinds of LEGO, the only limit is what *the builder does* with the blocks => his/her capabilities and his/her imagination.
When I saw a MINDSTORMS folder, I fell in love: the ability to program your TECHNIC creation opened so may options!
I'll quit boring you now, and show you some of my projects:

This is one of my earlier projects. It is called toiletpaper-bot. It won the earthday building contest. It is designed to prevent peoples form wasting toilet paper.
It is not build thàt good - I didn't have a lot of experience - but it does show some originality: great, funny solutions to whatever problem I encounterred. Perhaps too much security for toilet paper...
everything else you need to know:

This project is one of my most massive, most impressive project. It is a freefall attraction for minifig's. It carries 16 passengers, is one story high (2.5m = 8.2 feet). It tows the cart up, and launches it into freefall.
For more info:
Thank you for reading!
Martijn "Dino_Martino" Hellemans

Mar 22, 2010

After NXT...

One of our contributors, Jonathan Daudelin, has taken his love of robotics and moved forward with it at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. NJIT has recently posted some video interviews with Jonathan and other students about their experiences at the school - you can view Jonathan's here.

Jonathan is very busy... VERY busy... with school and all of us who know and have worked with him are proud of his accomplishments and look forward to seeing and hearing about the things he's working on. (Hopefully none of it will be classified, Jonathan!)

Jonathan was my co-author on the FLL Unofficial Guide book and I know he's a hard worker... I hope this encourages many of our student readers to continue to study and work hard and pursue whatever goals they have in life.

Guest Blog - Electricity used when pulling weight



We don't typically post items related to science fairs (I get a lot of them - they're always enjoyable but most aren't related to NXT but just use an NXT robot to facilitate something else), but I thought this was an interesting project worth sharing, especially because it's using an NXT to obtain the results - I've posted Keizo's results in the accompanying image.

BTW - Keizo is in 4th grade.

Thanks for sending this in Keizo! - Jim

-----

How Much Electricity Is Used When A Robot Pulls A Certain Weight

By Keizo M.


Hypothesis:
I think that the robot will use twice as much electricity when the weight of the car is doubled.

Why I Chose This Project:
Last year I got a LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 for my birthday. I really enjoyed it, but while using it, I noticed that the batteries run out quickly. I decided to measure how much electricity would be used when a robot pulls a weight.

Materials:
-Lego Mindstorms ® NXT 2.0 -Digital Voltmeter -6 Rechargeable Batteries -Weights

Procedure:


1) Make a robotic car out of Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0

2) Program the car to go forward and backward for 10
minutes
3) Charge the batteries

4) Measure volts in batteries

5) Put batteries in the car

6) Put weight on the car

7) Run the program

8) After 10 minutes stop the car

9) Take out batteries, and collect data

10) Repeat step 3 through 7 with different weights


Conclusion:
When weight was increased, more electricity was used but it didn’t double. For example, when I doubled the weight from 1 pound to 2 pounds there was only a 0.066-volt difference.

Discussion:
There wasn’t a huge difference when I increased the weight. Next time, I should make the robot go for 30 minutes instead of 10 minutes or put a heavier weight

Mar 20, 2010

NXTLog Challenge and FLL World Festival



With the FIRST LEGO League fast approaching, about a month away, the new NXTLog Challenge is Smart Move! From the NXTLog website:

"Your challenge is to look at your community and discover how people, animals, information, and things travel. Once you know how people and things move in your community, pick one main mode of transportation and improve it through a MINDSTORMS NXT robot design prototype."

All the standard rules apply; projects must be tagged "smartmove". Entries are due April 30th. Read more here.

The FLL World Festival will be April 14-17 at the Georgia Dome, in Atlanta, Georgia. As always, some contributors to the NXT Step blog will be there, so be sure to drop by! Also, the FLL World Festival 2011 will be held in St. Louis! Read more about this year's World Festival here. Finally, next years' challenge has been released: Body Forward!

Happy building!

Richard

Mar 18, 2010

NXT and Nokia Contest


Received the following:

Nokia have been running the 'PUSH N900 - MOD IN THE USA' competition that sought hackers and modders to push Nokia's new device, the N900, to its limits. Three teams of finalists have already been selected and are currently building their prototypes in time to present to a panel of judges at the CTIA Expo in Las Vegas next week.

Where does NXT come into this? Well, one of the three teams of finalists are developing a Twitter controlled robot, that uses the N900 as its 'brains' and Mindstorm NXT 2.0 for its body.
If you want to check out a bit more about the ''NIKO the N900 Robot' - here's their team page: http://blogs.nokia.com/pushn900/usa/category/niko/

All of the teams have been blogging their progress on the official blog: http://blogs.nokia.com/pushn900/usa

Mar 16, 2010

Contest - Win some books and more!

William over at GoRobotics.net sent the following:

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of my blog, I'm doing a series of giveaways. All three of the prizes packages include a Mindstorms book.

Read more here.

Thanks, William.


Mar 15, 2010

Wizkidz: the NXT meets disabled students

Do you remember the WizKidz Science and Technology Centers we blogged about back in 2007?
It's a  non-profit organisation in Georgia that works (amongst others) on developing the capabilities of disabled students to design, build and program robots, primarily using the NXT.
Rayshun Dorsey now sent me a mail on the most recent achievement of Wizkidz, who announced in a press release from end of February:
"WizKidz Science and Technology Centers in conjunction with the Georgia Institute of Technology has received $490,000 from the National Science Foundation -Broadening Participation in Computing(BPC) initiative to develop Accessible Robotic Programming for Students with Disabilities (ARoPability), a three year research project that will identify means for increasing the computing pipeline that taps into nontraditional populations and investigate the use of alternative interface modalities in engaging middle and high school students with disabilities in robotics-based programming activities."
This is great!
Have a look at their interesting web site and find out more about an awesome way of making use of MINDSTORMS NXT.   

Mar 10, 2010

NXT 2.0 Giveaway TOMORROW


Makezine.com has just announced a new opportunity to win an NXT 2.0 set.

Today, in association with The Lego Group, we're giving away a NXT set! All you have to do is leave a comment on our Facebook fan page. Simply find the post on Facebook corresponding to this one, and leave a comment describing a real or theoretical project you'd like to make with the set. We'll choose a random commenter to get the prize. The contest ends noon PST tomorrow. Good luck, and our thanks to Lego for their generosity!

Mar 8, 2010

Another NXT comparison chart

It occurred to me that I could easily use the new version of Lemon to create some other chart comparing the actual NXT 2.0 set to different other NXT sets out there.

So here it is: tables that list the differences of NXT 2.0 (#8547) to
  • the first NXT set (#8527), 
  • the NXT Education Set (#9797) and 
  • the NXT Education Set plus the Education Resource Set (#9648),
each in HTML, PDF and Excel format.

Not as elaborate as Clinton's hand-made wonderful comparison chart, but nevertheless maybe useful also.

NXT Motor multiplexer by Mindsensors

While browsing the Mindsensors website, I noticed that they're working on a new motor multiplexer for NXT motors. The device allows you to control two additional NXT motors and it requires an external battery pack.

You connect the multiplexer to one of the NXT sensor ports, but you won't loose a sensor port as you do this, because you'll be able to connect a sensor to one of the multiplexer ports which acts as a sensor port.

Mar 7, 2010

Lemon 2.0: Compare your model against different NXT sets

Lemon (LEGO® Model Nibbler) is a tool that allows for finding out whether a LEGO® model can built with a particular NXT set or which parts are needed beyond the contents of that set. The brand-new version 2.0 is a Java application that compares a LEGO® models laid down in LDraw or LEGO® Digital Designer  format against different NXT sets and lists  the parts that are used in one model but not in the kit (and vice versa).
Using a graphical user interface, the model can be checked against
  • the NXT Kit 1.0 (#8527)
  • the NXT Kit 2.0 (#8547)
  • the NXT Education Kit (#9797)
  • the NXT Education Resource Set (#9648)
  • the NXT Education Kit plus the NXT Education Resource Set
The results might be exported to a HTML, PDF or Excel file then.

All you need for installation (best with Firefox web browser) is a Java 6 Runtime on your machine.

Give it a try - I'd be grateful for feedback, proposals or bug reports.
Don't hesitate to contact me in case of troubles with the installation.

Mar 5, 2010

NXTalk: Guest Blog


I received a really interesting letter from Dr. Michael Haupt in Germany - in his own words:

-----

NXTalk: Programming LEGO Mindstorms NXT in Smalltalk

There is a considerable number of programming environments for the NXT available, but dynamic programming languages are somewhat underrepresented, pbLua notwithstanding. The NXTalk project is another such environment, making the Smalltalk programming language available for the NXT.

NXTalk provides a Smalltalk virtual machine (VM) that runs on the NXT on top of the NxOS open-source firmware. In addition to that, there is a development environment that is available for the Squeak Smalltalk implementation. Smalltalk applications for the NXT are developed in Squeak before they are assembled to virtual images for the NXTalk VM and transferred to the brick via USB.

The NXTalk project started out as a M.Sc. research project at HPI in Potsdam, Germany. It is working - but there is only limited manpower available to drive its development, so it now seeks contributions from the broader community. Anyone interested in contributing to the VM and environment can contact the project maintainer (e-mail address available from the project home page).

----
I'd like to thank Dr. Haupt for sending this in - I hope some of our readers might find this of interest and be able to provide some feedback and assistance to him.

Mar 4, 2010

Mar 2, 2010

The NXT 2.0 Discovery Book, getting closer to release


With this post I'd like to announce that The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Discovery Book - A Beginner's Guide to Building and Programming Robots - is almost ready to be published.

Some aspects of this book changed since I first announced this book, so be sure check the above link for an up to date book description. The book is built around several keypoints:
  • A complete introduction to LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0

  • Building and programming instructions for eight innovative robots

  • 50 sample programs and 72 programming challenges (ranging from easy to hard) encourage you to explore newly learned programming techniques

  • 15 building challenges expand on the robot designs and help you develop ideas for new robots
In short, it's a book that will keep anyone who has a NXT 2.0 set have fun with it for hours. Whether you want to learn all about programming in NXT-G (including the basics and 'advanced' programming), wanting to build cool robots with one set, or whether you want to give a go at some of the over 85 programming and building "Discoveries", this is a good book for you. These are the models that you'll find in the book:
  • Explorer, a vehicle that roves around and makes sounds

  • Discovery, a robot that uses sensors to navigate around a room and to follow lines

  • Shot-Roller, a robotic defense system that can shoot in any direction to keep intruders out of a room

  • Strider, a six-legged walking creature (the robot on the cover)

  • SmartBot, a robot you’ll use to explore advanced programming techniques

  • The Snatcher, a robotic arm that grabs, lifts, and moves objects autonomously

  • The Hybrid Brick Sorter, a robot that sorts bricks by color and size

  • CCC, a compact robot that can climb up a chimney
You can view a video with one of the robots in action here. You can pre-order the book (worldwide) using this link, and if you live in the Netherlands or Belgium, you may also purchase an authographed copy through my website.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment here, or send a message to me personally.

Laurens

Mar 1, 2010

LEGOWORLD 2010 Denmark, aftermath

So, after 4 days LEGOWORLD Copenhagen is over, but what happened to that massive High bay warehouse?

Well, we took it apart (in 2 hours) to ship back to LEGO headquarters, were it will stay until its next demonstration. Here are some of the pictures.


The big gray robot crane, and its foundation take 2 boxes.


Now you can see the three main robot cranes (each 2 boxes), and in front of it are the roller tracks.


The road sections will fill up 3 boxes.


ALmost all is down, except for the main grid (24 boxes).


Putting it away in the mover boxes (K8).


All packed on 5 Pallets, 60 boxes, ready for shipping to the Billund warehouse.


Hope you all enjoyed it, see you next time.

Martyn
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