Aug 30, 2010

NXT Sequencer

This is a follow up to my previous sequencer.

Version 2 can be built from the NXT2.0 kit, and you can download the instructions and program here

The program is quite straightforward, just takes in a colour sensor reading (0-5) which feeds a 'value' switch. Each tab in the switch corresponds with a particular colour/note combination. Black (carpet) gives no note.

Damien Kee

Aug 27, 2010

FLL 2010, Body Forward Challenge

Through the 2010 Body Forward™ Challenge, FLL teams will explore the cutting-edge world of Biomedical Engineering to discover innovative ways to repair injuries, overcome genetic predispositions, and maximize the body's potential, with the intended purpose of leading happier and healthier lives.

Each FLL Challenge has two parts –the Robot Game and the Project. Teams need to attempt both in order to be eligible for awards at official tournaments.
2010 Challenge Details to be released September 3rd!

While waiting for the Challenge to be released, meet the Challenge Advisory Team (CAT) that helped develop the Body Forward Challenge. And take a look at these cool biomedical engineering links!

Teams can also customize the official poster for the Body Forward Challenge and use it to promote upcoming meetings, fundraisers, and any unofficial local events they organize.

read more


Aug 25, 2010

Low Cost Smart Wheel Chair

Daniele Benedettelli has been working on several new projects with the NXT lately. One of them is a robotic wheel chair with that uses the NXT. On his website he says:

"The aim is to realize a robotic wheelchair that will allow disabled people to gain mobility and independency. The motivation of this project is that existing smart wheelchairs are very expensive and they are not so smart.

The idea is to realize such a vehicle using low cost hardware such as LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, a netbook, other off-the-shelf technology, and custom sensors."

You can watch Danny's project presentation and several other videos using this link.

Aug 23, 2010

The duck family and the bad rat

last weekend 14/15 September, at a clubday of the dutch LEGO club "de bouwsteen" I saw this real nice demo.
A story about "The duck family and the bad rat".
The lady in the white designed and build the duck
the duck wonders around and when it finds its nest, it will lay an egg.
the rat is stealing the egg form the nest.
the small ducks have PF motors and are remote controlled.

more info:

Aug 21, 2010

Over The Edge: abusing "toy" hardware in new (wet) ways

Someday, the hardware police are going to come and take away my toys, citing me for criminal abuse. Until then, I'll continue to see what an NXT can handle... and what I can learn in the process.

On a recent trip to Niagara Falls, I was fascinated again with this huge, impressive natural feature. And thinking about the foolhardy souls that over the years have tried to survive going over the falls in a barrel, I did what was natural for me - thought about the NXT doing it. Of course, getting permission to throw something over Niagara Falls is unlikely to happen... and it's dangerous, and retrieving it would be extremely difficult. But I could certainly do some test runs... so was born the "NXT in a barrel".

I used an NXT slid into a 4" PVC pipe segment, sealed tightly at either end with removable closeout plugs. To keep it from bouncing around inside, I used a hot-wire cutter to shape foam "bulkheads" to support and lock the NXT into place within the tube, and attached a 50' line to retrieve it after. Then I went to a small local dam, started it, sealed it tightly, took a deep breath... and threw it over.

The NXT logged two sensors 30 times a second, a 3-axis accelerometer from Mindsensors, and the LEGO sound sensor. Above the dam it floated tranquilly, quietly, and approached the edge. During the fall, the sound level went up only a little, but the accelerometer clearly registered a freefall as it went over the edge. Then there's a sharp acceleration as the pipe hits the rocky bottom end-on, and the noise level suddenly spikes up, as water crashes down on top of the PVC pipe and the unit is tossed and turned at the sloped, rocky base of the falls. Then suddenly it quiets down, bouncing in the tailrace in the fast-moving water below the waterfall.

All in all, this gave me yet another chance to "live vicariously" and understand something that I have no (safe) way of experiencing myself. Could I scale this up? Certainly (& I'm planning to, in a couple of different ways). Could this be used as a teaching tool? Absolutely, in so many ways. Total cost beyond the NXT was maybe $15 total for the plumbing, and programming was very easy.

Niagara Falls it's not... but it's as close as most of us are likely to get. Now excuse me, I've got to find a bigger waterfall...

Aug 19, 2010

NXT 2.0 Discovery Book Video

This is a new video that I made for the NXT 2.0 Discovery Book. Check it out, and if you have any questions about the book, feel free to post them here.

Aug 16, 2010

Toy Story - Skill Crane

From Will G:

I wanted to share with you a new project of mine. I've created instructions for folks who want to build their own Lego Skill Crane. My son had the idea of building this after watching Toy Story.

Click here to view the video and LOTS of pictures plus instructions.

Thanks, Will!

Did someone say robots and pyramids???

Wait... they're using robot to explore the pyramids??? Impossible! Everyone knows that robots are too small and weak to be of any use in an archaeological manner... :)

Aug 15, 2010

A visit to LEGOLAND

One of the highlights of my vacation in the last two weeks was a visit to the mother of all LEGOLANDs in Billund, Denmark. Though there was not a single NXT there (not even in what is said to be Europe's largest LEGO® shop), it supplied other kinds of fun:

Aug 12, 2010

FLL 2010-2011 - Body Forward Team Materials

Marco over at TechBrick has been hard at work again preparing materials for the upcoming FLL season... be sure to check out everything he's offering by clicking here. Some details below...

What will you find on our 2010-2011 resource page?

  • Table Elements Instructions in one zip file.
  • Body Forward Images For Your Own Worksheets, Posters, and Clothing
  • Worksheet for the "Body Forward" Challenge Table
  • 11x17 Field Worksheet for Strategy
  • A Worksheet for the Challenge Elements
  • Step-By-Step Programming Worksheet
  • Awesome Lego parts that can win you a FLL tournament (3 pages)
  • What is a Team Info Sheet?
  • Cool LEGO Ruler With Stud Counters
  • Mission Path Robot Speed Spreadsheet
And a time lapse video of the table setup... fun to watch:

Aug 11, 2010

Roila Robots language

Roila the first robot only language, designed to have an easy interaction between humans and robots.

This first robot language in the world, should improve communication with robots. The language is easy for robots to understand and easy for people to learn. The ruling is based on the major world languages widely spoken and the grammar is completely logical.
The robot can now carry some navigation tasks, but Omar Mubin researcher working on the possibility of a conversation with the robot. see the movie here
or more information on this site


Aug 9, 2010

AFoLs vs. LEGO Designers - a survey

I've been corresponding with some folks about how LEGO AFoLs and their MOCs are perceived (this goes far beyond just the NXT and robotics, but certainly applies to them). Some of these questions have really made me think, and I'd like to hear what others think of them as well. So, without further elaboration...

Official LEGO designers build a huge variety of models, but they also have a variety of constraints (price, "only legal" constructions, etc.). AFoLs end up following & evolving different rules & constraints. The result is a certain "style". Q: How do "official LEGO" and "AFoL" styles differ? What do you think the constraints are that each are subjected to? Or alternatively, is there a "style of innovation" among AFoLs, and how is it different than the official LEGO designers innovation?

Aug 6, 2010

Tilted Twister 2.0

Remember this? TiltedTwister.
Hans is back, and now with an even nicer Cube Solver, completely made with the NXT2.0 retail kit.

He supplied complete Building instructions

Happy building, and solving your little brothers cube.

Japanese NXT blog

Our Japanese readers may be interested in reading the blog called "LEGO Days". The website seems to be an interesting ongoing report of experiences from a father and son who are new to the NXT. There are numerous of photographs as well.

Aug 5, 2010

Inspirational Robotics

If you haven't seen this TED talk on his Seven Species of Robots by Dennis Hong, you'll definitely want to check it out.

Vending Machine for NXT 2.0

This Vending Machine project is one of the "bonus projects" available on the CD LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 by Example from A preview and video of the project are available on the website (see video below), and full building instructions and the fully commented NXT-G program are available on the CD.

Built with a single NXT 2.0 kit, the machine displays four LEGO parts for sale on the rack in front. The colored balls act as different coin values, with the color sensor detecting them as they are inserted. Using the display and buttons on the NXT, you choose your item from a menu on screen, then you insert balls to pay for it. If you inserted enough money, the selected item is dispensed down the slide in the front, and if you inserted extra money, the machine automatically computes and dispenses the correct amount of change via a hidden change reservoir into the change cup in front. The machine also handles various other error cases such as not inserting enough money, inserting too much money for the change reservoir to handle, and invalid coins. The user can cancel a transaction via a "coin return" lever, which returns the coins inserted and informs the machine via a touch sensor.

The program is in NXT-G, and since the task is longer and more complex than a typical NXT-G program, it is split into several My Blocks to break up the task into various parts, such as processing the on-screen menu, detecting coins, computing change, handling errors, etc. The My Blocks that process the on-screen user interface are "general purpose" (not specific to the Vending Machine project) and could be re-used for similar user-interface tasks in other programs.

Here is a short video of the Vending Machine doing a transaction:

Aug 4, 2010

MINDSTORMS NXT freefall ride (S.A.F.A)

You might remember my freefall ride I talked about a long time ago.
I have made a video using the old photos and video's. It is already on youtube: (or watch here below).
//note: The video on youtube is better quality

I built this contraption some time ago, and personally, I don't think it is constructed *that* good, however it *is* an interesting project...
I compiled the video from old recordings and photos, the videos are poor quality and incomplete... But it DID work. Unfortunatly I can't shoot new footage, because the model doesn't exist anymore...
More information om how everything works (and lot's of HQ photo's) on NXTlog!

Martijn Hellemans

HiTechnic SMUX blocks

Just got a note from the guys at HiTechnic that they have now released the NXT-G blocks for their SMUX

Each block looks just like the original, but with the addition of a small triangle up in 'Port' section.  Once you choose which port your SMUX is connected to, you can then choose what port within the SMUX that particular sensor is connected to.

They have a fantastic write up on their blog at:

Damien Kee

Aug 3, 2010

NXT Biped Climbs Stairs!

While browsing some of my favorite sites today I came across this amazing video.

It was done by 222Doc who frequents the NXTasy forums.

Congrats to 222Doc for a fine implementation!

Andy Dannelley
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