Oct 29, 2011

NXT Books for our German Readers

While numerous NXT books are available to English readers, there are relatively few of such books published in other languages. Within a few weeks, Matthias Paul Scholz releases a completely new NXT book "Roboterwesen" for German Mindstorms users.

Last summer, a German edition of the NXT Discovery Book came out, entitled "LEGO Roboter". So if German is your first language, you'll now have some more choice in selecting a good book for your NXT (2.0) set.

Oct 28, 2011

Laurens' robots on LEGOWORLD

Laurens Valk, author of the "Discovery Book", has posted a nice video on his robots at LEGOWORLD 2011 just gone by:

Oct 24, 2011

Ricardo's LEGO® vending machine

Ricardo has published a video where he explains how his LEGO® vending machine works that can be admired presently on LEGOWORLD:

Here's another video with a detailed explanation of the inner details.

NXT controlled wheelchair

I've had the great pleasure of meeting Yaya several times, and her enthusiasm and skill never ceases to amaze me for someone so young.  This is her latest project where she uses an NXT and standard sensors in a helment configuration, to control a wheelchair.  Her video nicely steps through some of the issues she's had to contend with to get it all up and running.

She's entered it into the Melbourne University Engineering RoboGals competition so if you like it (or any of the other entries), feel free to stop by and vote (http://www.sciencechallenge.com.au/vote.html)

It is so encouraging to see students taking on projects that will ultimately go on to benefit society :)

Oct 23, 2011

LEGOWORLD 2011 - Zwolle

Last year I was extremely privileged to be able to attend LEGO World in Zwolle.  This year I am insanely jealous that I couldn't make it but luckily Xander has been taking plenty of video for us :)

Matthias has already posted Day 1 (KiNXT sumo's are cool!)  but here is Day 3 and Day 4 (not sure what happened to Day 2.... will need to have a stern word to Xander!)

Highlights for me from these videos were the NXT Blimp and Vending Machine.

Oct 21, 2011

Whay if you put together NXT, Android and OPENCV?

Have you ever thought of using your Android phone as a vision sensor for your NXT robot?
It is possible, putting together Android SDK, OpenCV and MINDdroid: the result is MINDdroidCV. In his page, Richard Szabo describes how to do it. The explaination is a bit techie, but the expert developers will find it a really useful resource. The source code of the project is available from here.

Video on LEGOWORLD 2011

Xander Soldaat has published a video on the first day of LEGOWORLD:

Oct 18, 2011

NXT Segway follows a line

A few days ago, I blogged about the progress on my NXT Segway with the Dexter Industries IMU. Here's a new video showing how it follows the line on the NXT Test Pad.

I will bring this robot to LEGO World (Netherlands) next weekend. Feel free to come by for a chat! We all speak Dutch and most of us speak Dunglish very well, too.

Oct 17, 2011


Only three days to go for world's largest LEGO® event: LEGOWORLD 2011 in Zwolle (Netherlands).
Starting from next Wednesday, it will last no less than a complete week until 26th of October, providing LEGO of all kind by hundreds of exhibitors, building activities, shops and other spectacles for ten thousands of visitors.

For a impression of how fantastic LEGOWORLD is, have a look at the various posts on the event The NXT STEP has published in the past.

Do not miss it!

A discovery worth mentioning

When I receive comments on my Youtube videos or someone subscribes to my channel I usually go visit their channel. I love it when I discover another NXT fan and find some amazing new creations. This situation happen to me recently when a comment from hydejump made me discover an interesting robot he is working on. It does not have a name yet, but the 16yo builder from Japan has posted several short video showing the progression of his work and programming.

I particularly like the video below showing how he used 2 Ultrasonic sensors side by side to have the head follow his hand!!

 I have sent him a few emails in hopes to get more details of this really cool DALEK-ish looking bot with bubbly eyes.  hydejump is new on YT but between his participation to WRO videos, his intriguing NXT snake video and his complex red robot, this is one channel I did not hesitate to subscribe to!!

I: /. 7.

Oct 15, 2011

A NXT machine that solves a Rubik's Cube faster than any human

Remember Cube Stormer one and a half year ago, the MINDSTORMS-driven machine that could solve a Rubik's Cube very fast?
Now, its creators have come out with an enhanced version, called Cube Stormer II. It can solve an arbitrary cube faster than any human:

Oct 14, 2011

LEGO® MINDSTORMS digital clock

Hans Andersson, well-known for his Rubik's Cube - and Sudoku - solving NXT robots, has published a new great creation of his: the Time Twister, a digital clock made from LEGO® MINDSTORMS.

Oct 13, 2011

NXT robots in Arabia

On TheNational, Abu Dhabi's leading English-language news publication, there's an article on education in the United Arab Emirates  with LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT.
More than 600 pupils there are preparing for the World Robot Olympiad which in November will take place in Abu Dhabi for the first time.

In the article it says
"Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), which organises the national heats, distributed 10 of the kits to each state school in Abu Dhabi last year and has been training teachers to incorporate the kits into their maths, science and technology curriculums."
10 kits to each state school! Isn't that great? I wish we had at least a noticeable percentage of that in our education system here...

Oct 11, 2011

Super Robo Rally

From the same team that did Monster Chess come Super Robo Rally, based on the board game "Robo Rally"

Robo Rally the board game

While it doesn't look like it has as many game pieces as Monster Chess, the game board itself looks considerably larger (That's Monster Chess in the background).

Each one of those game squares is completely LEGO and I'm guessing they're all 32x32 baseplates.

Now 32 x 32 baseplates = 1024 pixels and with 12 x 12 game tiles shown in the video that equals 147,456 pixels.  While I don't think they used 1x1's for every pixel, that's still a lot of LEGO!


Steve's blog - http://teamhassenplug.blogspot.com/ has lots more detail about how it was made as well as plenty of great photos.  Looks like it was a real hit at Gen-Con and Brickworld.

****Update from Steve Hassenplug himself****
Damien, the baseplates are actually 48x48 or ~330k 'pixels'.
If you look close, the board has an 8-stud 'warning stripe', so that's ~350k.
Including the entire boarder, (14x14x48x48) the whole board is ~450,000 studs, or 17.5'x17.5' or just over 300 square feet.
We estimate the tiles are 1/2 2x2 and 1/2 1x1, which means ~150,000 pieces.
Yes, it makes Monster Chess look small. :)

Oct 10, 2011

Touchscreen for NXT?

Once again Xander has the scoop on upcoming Sensors.  This time it's a touchscreen that is placed over the normal screen of the NXT.

He's waiting on an actual prototype but has been able to share a interesting looking CAD model of it.

It looks like the sensor will return the position of where a stylus is pressed (I'm assuming that this means it is resistive rather than capacitive) and might have some space where you can print out your own button decals to place underneath it.

According to the Mindsensors 'Coming Soon' page it will be shipping by the end of the month. (Although they don't state which month :D )

Oct 9, 2011

Building Instructions Page update

Our first update of the Building Instructions page is now up.  Thanks to everyone who submitted designs and their instructions.

Click on the 'Building Instructions' tab at the top of the page.

We're always on the lookout for more, so if you have (or know of) a great set of instructions, please submit them.  A few guidelines

  • Don't submit a whole site, instead, pick out one or two great examples to feature and we'll make sure it's known there are other builds on the site
  • We prefer instructions that can be made with the NXT kits and perhaps a few extra common pieces.  There is nothing more frustrating than getting halfway through a build only to find you need <insert speciality/obscure piece here>
  • Make sure they are clear instructions.  It doesn't matter if it was done in LEGO Digital Designer, LDRAW, MLCAD or even photos, as long as it's clear

NXTlog Spooktacular Building Challenge

It has been a while since the last one, but there is finally another building challenge at NXTlog! This one sounds fun, dig up you NXT and get building!

t’s been four years since NXTLOG has hosted a spooky Halloween challenge, and it’s time to get boo-ilding! Will you design a robot to dispense candy in a helpful way, or one that “tricks” you when you go to grab a “treat?” How about a robot that shows what your costume would be, or one that can carve a jack-o-lantern, or even a fright bot representing a classic Halloween icon, character, monster, or beast! There's no limit on amount of Spooktacular ideas there are or the amount of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT sensors, motors, NXT programmable bricks, HiTechnic sensors, or Bluetooth communication you can use on your NXT Halloween Bot. All entries must be tagged "spooktacular." Entries must be submitted by Halloween! October 31, 2011. What will boo, um we mean "you" make?"

"Awards will be given in 3 areas. Award winners will be featured on LEGO MINDSTORMS News. 1) SPOOKTACULAR AWARD: This will be the Halloween robot that is so spectacular, so creative, and innovative that it spooks the judges silly! 2) THE TRICKSTER: This award will go to the trickiest robot on Halloween night. 3) THE TREAT: This award will go to the most iconic Halloween robot. How much does your robot really say, “Halloween?”"
Read more here

Oct 8, 2011

Segway balancing with Dexter Industries IMU Sensor

Recently I have been reprogramming my NXT Segway. The code is now much cleaner, and it also made it easier to implement Dexter Industries' latest sensor, the 6DOF IMU. The Segway runs around the room while avoiding objects with its ultrasonic sensor. This isn't new, but it's a nice demonstration of Dexter's new sensor.

In this robot I'm just using one "Degree of Freedom", namely one gyro axis. Other axes could be used for elementary navigation like making a 90-degree turn. The acceleration sensor could help determining whether the robot has run into an obstacle. Much interesting work left to do here!

Ada Lovelace Day

Today's Ada Lovelace Day, so also me as an contributor to THE NXT STEP takes the liberty to post about "a woman in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who has influenced us over the years".

For me, it's fellow contributor Fay Rhodes who constantly reminds me (who tends to approach MINDSTORMS from a rather technical perspective) of keeping in touch with the main target audience for LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, that is, the kids.

Also, here in the blog as well as in other forums and groups related to LEGO that I share with her, she always has a particular focus on a part of human mankind that still deserves more consideration than it gets in male-dominated sciences: girls.

Both of which also reflects in her wonderful books on robot animals, like The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Zoo, Robots Alive! Endangered Species or NXT One-Kit Creatures (the German edition of which I am the proud translator of).

Who is your robotic Ada Lovelace Day woman?
Tell us!

Oct 4, 2011


In case you do not know it yet (admittedly, I didn't until recently):  some time ago, LEGO® has set up an exciting web project, called LEGO® CUUSOO.

If you got an idea for a new model,  share it there. In case it gets at least 10.000 supporters, LEGO® will review it and maybe produce it as an official product (with you receiving royalties).

LEGO® CUUSOO is still in beta state, but check it out!

Oct 3, 2011

The mozo mozo machine

Isogawa Yoshihito,  sparkling source of ingenious LEGO® ideas, has published* a device with another way to move a mobile robot, the mozo mozo machine:

In the video it is not propelled by a NXT, but there's no reason why one shouldn't us one here ...

Besides: "mozo mozo" is Japanese and may roughly be translated as "to move in order to snuggle up to someone".

* actually some months ago, but I detected it just right now

New Java book for the NXT

One month ago, a new book has been published by Brian Bagnall, one of the main contributors to leJOS NXJ, the Open Source Java platform for the NXT: Intelligence Unleashed: Creating LEGO NXT Robots with Java.
Brian has already written NXT books with a focus on Java in the past, and this new one
"helps engineers and amateurs alike design and build their own customized robots, programmed however they desire. A diverse set of projects is accompanied by building tips, programming code, complete 3D-rendered building instructions, and hundreds of illustrations. The NXT intelligent brick’s Bluetooth capabilities are introduced, as are the newest available parts, from GPS to the RFID sensor, in this useful handbook that serves as the perfect compliment to the LEGO NXT kit."
as the description on Amazon says.
I have not laid my hands on it so far; in case one of our readers has already tried it or knows about videos or images on the robots of the book, please provide feedback here.
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