Mar 29, 2012

Glidewheel - New sensor from Mindsensors

Mindsensors have updated their 'coming soon' page with a little teaser.  It's called the GlideWheel and it's an rotation sensor for those motors that don't have them already built in.  From the very brief description on their page, it looks like it fit nicely witht he Power Functions motors and the older RCX motors.  I know a lot of robot builders love these motors for their size, so it'll be fantastic to be able to control their position.

From the only picture, it looks an axle through the middle is all you'll need.  That could also be handy if you need to keep track of the rotation that is not directly on the motor.

From the post:
This Device will have several models -
One model will allow you to connect PF Motors to NXT Motor port. It will have encoder support to control them precisely.Second model will be similar, for RCX motors. Third model will be a digital angle sensor, to measure angle with 1 degree precision.

Mindsensors - Coming Soon 

iBrickit - Building instructions viewer for the iPad

Ohh, this looks interesting!  From comes a LEGO building instruction viewer for iPad.  This would be fantastic to hold all our building instructions for your current creations as well as doing some 'virtual' building when you don't have your NXT kit around.

Not a lot of info available, but if you know more details, please let us know in the comments.

Mar 28, 2012

Dexter Industries WiFi Week 2

Hot on the heels of their successful 'WiFi Week', comes Dexter Industries aptly named 'WiFi Week 2'.

Another 5 fantastic projects using the DI WiFi sensor.  They helpfully include lots of RobotC sample code for each to make life that little bit easier.

Monday - Using DIWIFI to send data (sensor values, motor positions, etc) to the Pachube service.

Tuesday - Reading in the weather information from Google and using that info to control your NXT

Wednesday - This time, the tutorial shows you how to take your own sensor data, and post it online to so other people can see it.

Thursday - Want more than just weather from Google?  This will show you how to grab the latest news headlines from Google News and display them on your NXT.

Friday - Last one for the week, this post shows how to access all the DIWIFI functionality from the LeJOS development environment.

So....  who's going to give one of these a go?  Let us know in the comments.

Mar 26, 2012

The BrickIt Sky Cam

The BrickIt Sky Cam (BISC) is an upgrade of the BIC5 (see and is another remote-controlled LEGO® MINDSTORMS® blimp, which uses helium to become almost weightless... 

Below, the video of it in action, filmed at LEGO WORLD Copenhagen, Feb 2012 more about this, see pictures etc... go to

Mar 25, 2012

Robot beings at SteinCHenwelt 2012

Last week I went to Switzerland to show the robots from my new German NXT book "Roboterwesen" (which means "Robot beings") at the SteinCHenwelt, the largest annual LEGO® event there:

From the robots of the book, "Streuner" (Roamer), "Kriecher" (Creeper), "Sucher" (Searcher), "Krabbler" (Crawler) and "Wächter" (Guardian) can be seen in the movie; only "Zyklop" (Cyclops), a light-searching robot, is missing as the ambient light in the hall was to uniform due to the bright lamps at the ceiling.

At the end of the movie, there are some other LEGO® MINDSTORMS creations designed by different creators.

Mar 23, 2012

MindCuber solves Void Cube

David Gilday, creator of the MindCuber, sent me his latest video which demonstrates his robot solving a Void Cube.
"MindCuber can be seen here solving the Void Cube. It is essentially
a Rubik's Cube with holes through the center of each face, which makes
it slightly more complex to solve. The description on the video itself
says a little more."

Mar 20, 2012

New NXT 2.0 bonus models

Three new MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 bonus models showed up on the MINDSTORMS Website, including the Tripod, the Pinball Machine and the MindCuber. Links to building instructions, programs, and videos are here.

Update: Kirk Backstrom uploaded his original video of M.O.R.P.H, the first bonus model:

Mar 19, 2012

ROBOTC Driver Suite V2.5

Xander over at BotBench has released his latest version of the RobotC driver suite.

The main additions are :

Two new drivers
Support for two new sensors has been added this time:
Grab a copy and more details from here

Mar 17, 2012

LEGO® event in Switzerland: SteinCHenwelt

This weekend (17th/18th of March), the SteinCHenwelt 2012 will take place in Sihlbrugg near Zug in Switzerland.

SteinCHenwelt is organised by the Swiss LEGO® User Group and is the largest LEGO® event in Switzerland, with many exhibitors showing their creations on more than 1500 m2.
I'll be around also, going to present the NXT robots from my book "Roboterwesen".

So why not taking a spring trip to wonderful Central Switzerland on Saturday or Sunday and dropping by?

Mar 15, 2012

HYPERbot, a NXT blimp

On RobotChallenge 2012 that took place at previous  weekend in Vienna (Austria), Mike Brandl has shown his brand-new fantastic HYPERbot, a NXT blimp:

More Details, images and movies can be found at the associated web page.

metaio® free AR SDK

Hey Apps developers, here is an interesting tool -- maybe something Mindstorms related could be developed?!

I met this guy from metaio® at the Intel booth at LEGO WORLD 2012 in Copenhagen

Today I received this email about their FREE SDK now available!!

Check out the official video below

Let us know if you try this out.

Mar 14, 2012

How Another NXT Aids Scientific Research

The idea isn't new to us but the uses are always interesting. Scientists at Cambridge University used LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robots to automate the creation of artificial bone-like structures. Understandably, they report that NXT robots proved to be much easier to set up and vastly more economical than more high-tech solutions. Other Science Research entities have reported the same bonus this toolkit has provided over the years and its not over by a long-shot. Cambridge's NXT research aid is featured in this video for the 2012 Google Science Fair.

Christopher R. Smith

Event Coverage: Austin, Texas - South By Southwest 2012 LEGO MINDSTORMS RUMBLE

LEGO MINDSTORMS and the Google Developers mixed again for another awesome event that reminded me of the movie "Running Man"..and I was Arnie. Rolling into Austin, Texas for SXSW was like driving a tornado in fast-forward. The trip squeezed in on short notice and immediately the darkening skies started raining windy oceans. Probably brought in by LEGO's Steven Canvin and crew flying in from some place with water...helping the rough drought year here in Texas. So, Thanks LEGO! With help from Steven 'The Human Vice' we 4-hour force-created the race table center-piece that helped rock the SXSW experience for the large turnout that braved the rain to join this event. The reward ... Beautiful Sunshine and high-stakes prizes...Android Tablets!

SXSW is a Music, Film and Interactive festival encompassing downtown and normally drawing huge numbers of all kinds from everywhere. The festival is something that lasts over a week and provides way more cool happenings than human mortals should ever attempt to experience safely. This year may have gotten off to a slower very wet start than in past years. But the clouds cleared to blue sky and the sun fired the festival into full-speed driving folks to the SXSW 2012 LEGO MINDSTORMS RUMBLE! A day-build/night-race at the Google Dev House...with a no-kit-pieces-barred fight through a nasty obstacle course to the finish. This year, LEGO MINDSTORMS and the Google Developers orchestrated another party that exceeded every expectation. The MINDSTORMS RUMBLE began at 10:30am, teams formed, and they were handed fresh NXT kits. Some had more prep-time than others before the race started well after dark. Many contestants and spectators claimed to have ditched speaker sessions and other parties to come to ours.

The whole event was live-streamed all the way to the big screens in adjacent rooms and the whole other-world webbernet thing too. Something that wasn't clear through the tornado to warn possible spectators before-hand. Those that were there know the level of coolness this event exhibits every year. Those that missed the event and the Live feed can still wonder at the wildness that keeps Austin Weird...EVENT VIDEO HERE...tubed just for you! Spot me wearing the brown shirt and hat dashing under Tyler's arm at 1:36:10.

The video is long but covers the contest completely, so grab some popcorn and get that beer robot to keep'em coming! The whole storm really was "unbelievable" and the running man made it back home.

2011's LEGO MINDSTORMS SXSW event video is available HERE. If you notice anything similar in this video...please, comment below for extra points.

Christopher R. Smith

NXT-G Segway Tutorial

I've published NXT-G example programs for a balancing robot with the HiTechnic gyro sensor. The program makes it easy to let the robot do what you want, without worrying about the robot's balance. Find the programs with a tutorial here.

Mar 12, 2012

NXC simulator

What if you need to test your NXC program, and you can't use a physical NXT robot?
Frank Knefel made it possible, with his nxcEditor and nxcSimulator software for Linux. The software is to be used in schools by beginners, to practice with the textual programming language. In the video below, you can see a simple line follower NXC program running in the simulator.

The Beer Machine

Today I got a mail form NXT1engineer, about his Beer Machine.

The machine can serve 2 kinds of typical Dutch beers, then it will open the bottle and cool it down to the perfect drinking temperature.
As a beer lover, I sure want to have his machine, but I'm sure it will also work with your favorite brand of soft drinks.
Enjoy the other movies where Jan explains how he build the separate parts of the machine.

Thanks for this nice winter project, if you make it with soft drinks you might even post it on the current MINDSTORMS challenge Crazy Contraption.


Mar 11, 2012


Here is the official video featuring NeXTSTORMS Boxing Robots filmed at LEGO WORLD Copenhagen 2012

In this excellent video you will see the original Real Steel Robots that where first seen in Abu Dhabi WRO event video but pay close attention and you will notice 2 Mini Boxing Robots as well as A One Kit version named "Muhammad Ali" that you will soon be able to build once the BI get published!

I've pasted below some technical details as found in the show more info of the video:

Real Steel Robots: Each robot set (the boxer and its controller) is consisted of 4 MINDSTORMS NXT Intelligent Bricks, 7 NXT motors, 2 light sensors, 3 color sensors, 9 Touch sensors, 4 rechargeable batteries, 1 HiTechnic Acceleration/Tilt sensors, 1 HiTechnic Sensor Mux, 10,25 meters of NXT cables.

The black Mini Boxing Robots are controlled over Bluetooth by ultrasonic-based controllers. Each mini robot set (the mini boxer and its controller) is consisted of 2 MINDSTORMS NXT Intelligent Bricks, 4 NXT motors, 4 ultrasonic sensors, 1 color sensor, 1 Touch sensor, 2 rechargeable batteries.

Finally the small white one boxing robot is called "Muhammad Ali" and it is made by a single MINDSTORMS NXT set.


Mar 10, 2012

NXT chatterbox - let your robot talk and listen to you!

Have you ever looked at your NXT robot, and wonder "Why don't you speak?"
I mean, really speak anything, not just the pre-recorded sounds of the NXT-G library.
Well, now you can. You just need to connect the NXT to your Android smartphone and start NXT Chatterbox, another Genuine Italian™ invention!

With this app, you can easily get your robot speak sentences in all the languages you want, changing voice pitch and speed, or command it to listen to your vocal commands (English and Italian supported), and react accordingly.
The app is available for free from here.

Mar 9, 2012


Come and visit Brickworld Indy 2012 on March 10 & 11, 2012 in the Indiana Convention Center. From 10am to 6pm on Saturday and on Sunday from 10am to 5pm.

Come and see 18,000 square feet of:
Displays made of LEGO bricks *
Interactive MINDSTORMS® robotic games
Mosaic pictures that you help build
IndyLUG creations and much more

Don't miss this opportunity to be a part of Brickworld!!!

Daily admission: $6 for kids, $9 for adults

Brickworld is a proud sponsor of FIRST® LEGO® League

Interview with Steve Hassenplug and Bryan Bonahoom taken from Brickworld Indy:

Mar 8, 2012

NXT Tripod finally on the run!

In 2009, I designed a NXT Tripod walker inspired to the War of the Worlds movie,
to be featured as a Bonus model on the official LEGO MINDSTORMS page.
Finally, I decided to publish it. The Tripod can walk in three directions, and it can turn within its own footprints in a unique way. I think this is the first LEGO tripod robot that can really walk. Instructions and program available for free on my website. Enjoy!

Mar 4, 2012

NXT 2.0 Bonus models

LEGO hosts some NXT 2.0 bonus models on their website, but the building instructions are somewhat hidden, and the programs even more. These models are very cool (M.O.R.P.H by Kirk Backstrom is my favorite), so it would be a shame if they were lost. I've compiled a short article with links to building instructions, programs, and information pages for each bonus model. Check it out here.

Mar 2, 2012

NXT-G Edu patch to fix Flash on Mac

Good news for those suffering the well know flash issues with NXT-G on the Mac.  LEGO education have just release a patch that will fix those issues.

*IMPORTANT - This is for the education version of the software, not the Retail*

From the downloads page -
If you have NXT Education software version 2.0 please use this update to correct all known technical issues with the software including Flash. This update does not include any new features. Download the appropriate file and double click it to install. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete installation. LEGO MINDSTORMS education version 2.0 need to be installed prior to installing the update.

You can download the patch from here (look for the 2.1f5 patch){02FB6AC1-07B0-4E1A-862D-7AE2DBC88F9E}
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