Oct 31, 2012


Now this is cool! LEGO MCP Mike Brandls has created a fantastic Mini Labyrinth game.  You start the ball in once corner and by moving the joystick, the table rotates.  Your challenge is to get the ball to the 'exit'.  Now that in itself would be great, but Mike has built in some very nifty software enhancements.

There are several different difficulty settings, with Basic mode being the easiest.  Push the joystick left, the table tilts left. Push it right, the table goes right.  Push it forward the table goes forward and push it back... you guessed it, the table goes back.

Mode 2 is a little trickier. Forward and Backward still works, but pushing left causes the table to tilt right and vice versa.

Mode 2 can also swaps the Forward and Backward controls (but keeping the left and right performing correctly)

Mode 3 swaps both the Forward/Backward as well as the Left/Right controls. Try getting your head around that!

And to top it all off, the NXT keeps time so you know how fast you solved it!  Keep watching the video until the end as there is a nice short 'under-the-covers' look of the mechanism that drives it.

Oct 30, 2012

LEGO Mold-O-Rama

For those of you who don't know, LEGO is made by taking some coloured plastic pellets, heating them up until they are liquid and then forcing them into specially designed molds.  The more complex the mold, the more complex the final product.

The Mold-O-Rama by V&A Steamworks, is an incredible invention that can create fully formed LEGO Clown Minifigs, ready to go.  To be able to cast in different colours, with moving arms/legs in one single mold is truly remarkable! :)

Thnaks Max (via - http://blog.makezine.com/2012/10/18/lego-mold-o-rama-makes-minifig-clowns/)

Oct 29, 2012

Motorized NXT gearbox

Aswin has created an interesting NXT gear box that "uses two NXT motors both for driving the output and for shifting gears. As such the full power of the two motors is available for propelling a device while there is no need for a dedicated motor for shifting."

You can see the device in action below. A detailed video explanation is here, and pictures can be found here.

Oct 28, 2012

LEGO Great Ball Contraption LEGO World Zwolle 2012

We've shown off a lot of these GBCs (Great Ball Contraption) in the past, but they never cease to amaze me.  I love how the very simple idea of moving a LEGO ball from Point A to Point B can result in so many amazing creations and mechanisms.

This one was put together at the recent LEGO world 2012 in Zwolle (of which a few theNXTsetp contributors managed to attend).  It's 15 minutes long, but if you're anything like me, you'll find that time fly by.

Not every section is NXT powered, but see if you spot those that are.

What's your favourite module?  I personally love the pneumatic 'worms's at 8 minutes, the 'pickers' at 10:15

For the technical details about how to create your own module, check out Steve Hassenplug's page - http://www.teamhassenplug.org/GBC/

Oct 26, 2012

Mark Crosbie's Sound Machine

Mark Crosbie from Ireland, known for such great NXT robots like the Queboid and the Streetview Car,  has published a new invention of his recently: the Sound Machine.
It's a LEGO® drum sequencer that allows for "building" music with standard LEGO® bricks:

The Sound machine is now even featured on the official LEGO® MINDSTORMS site!

Oct 22, 2012

3000 Posts!

A big milestone for us as we put up our 3000th post!

What started as a simple little blog collecting information about the newly released MINDSTORMS NXT system, has grown into an amazing community of like minded people.

We get several thousand views per day and over 2 million page views since Jim Kelly started it out back in mid-2008 2006.

There are few little surprises in the works, and hopefully I get them up sooner rather than later (once my backlog of work eases!)

We love all the feedback we get as well as news about the awesome projects you have all been working on.  Please keep them coming and thank you all for your support!

theNXTstep contributors

**Edit:  Jim has actually pointed out that they started in 2006!**

NXT2WIFI Now available

The NXT2WIFI Sensor (could you call it a sensor?) is now available!  After a successful Crowdsourcing start, our very own Daniele Benedettelli now has the NXT2WIFI available.

What does it do I hear you ask?  Well, let's suppose you want to control your NXT robot from your iPad... or your Android Phone... or your computer?  In fact, any device that can talk to the Internet, can talk to the miniture web server that is the NXT2WIFI.  Want your robot to talk back to the Internet?  (Think Twitter posts or Sensor data), well the NXT2WIFI can do that as well :)

  •   2MB Flash Memory onboard to store rich webpages!
  •   Transceiver 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi certified MRF24WB0MA
  •   3,7V 1000mAh LiPo onboard long-lasting battery
  •   Integrated RTC 32,768 Khz quartz onboard
  •   2 serial ports for communication: RS485 to NXT port 4 and miniUSB to computer)
  •   56 x 72 x 18 mm, 50 grams
  •   8 LEGO-compatible mounting holes

More info, including tutorials, sample code etc can be found here -

Oct 21, 2012

LEGOWORLD 2012: Day 3

And here's another video on the LEGOWOLRD 2012 which takes place presently in Zwolle, filmed by Anika and Jorim from the MINDSTORMS booth:

Oct 18, 2012

Zwolle, i miss you!

For all of you out there who cannot make it to Zwolle this year for LEGOWORLD 2012,
Martyn and his friends are making us cool videos to share all we are missing in MINDSTORMS awesomeness!!!

We can take it... bring on the next day!!
 ps zWall-E says HI ;)

Edit:  here is Day Two video, Film and edited by Jorin

If any of you have videos of LEGOWORLD Mindstorms please let me know i'll add it to this post ;)

Oct 17, 2012

LEGOWORLD 2012 Zwolle (NL) about to start

Are you ready? Tomorrow LEGOWORLD Zwolle opens the doors to the public
And we are about to show you some awesome MINDSTORMS models.
The Wheelchair, the Le-GoKart, Laurens Valk is happy to talk to you about his books, and you can ask Xander all sorts of difficult questions about your latest sensor.
Over the weekend we will even have the Cubestormer II, the world record holder in solving Rubik's cube. and many more interesting robots, look for new posts every day.

If you are visiting I'm looking forward to meet you.


Oct 14, 2012

Robert Cailliau website

Came across a nice little site about LEGO... It's not very elaborate but it includes some nice schemes and drafts useful for many builders.
It contains some "pocket book reference material" that always comes in handy, especially for builders who use more than pure LEGO for their creations.
The "dimensions" in particular is a nice summary of stuff you might need to know.

No further explanation needed, check it out!

Oct 12, 2012

NXTBee Giveaway

Who wouldn't want a NXTBee and USB adapter?

Dexter Industries is running a giveaway with an NXTBee and NXTBee USB adapter as the prize.

So how can you win the $120 of hardware next week?
Check out our NXTBee Album on Facebook here.
Give our post or a picture in the album  a thumbs up (“Like” it . . . ), OR (even better) write a quick comment on the picture.
And that’s it.  Do it and you too could be tethering your LEGO MINDSTORMS robots to a computer!
On Wednesday, October 17th, we’ll announce the random winner from those that have given a thumbs up.  We will get in touch with you through Facebook, and ship it to you anywhere in the world.
Two basic rules: you can’t be a Dexter Industries Employee to win and you can’t win if you’ve won one of our contests before.
Be quick, the comp finishes next wednesday!

via - http://dexterindustries.com/blog/2012/10/10/nxtbee-usb-for-lego-mindstorms-giveaway/

Oct 4, 2012

The Coltar

The Coltar  (or Colour-Guitar for those of you not as cool!) looks like a fantastic little project.

YouTube user Philipp Lenssen has put together a nifty little guitar that gets its cues from a coloured fingerboard and a colour sensor.  Place the sensor over a different colour and get a different note - simple but effective.

What makes it stand out over similar projects (like my very own sequencer) is that a button on the side changes the chord that the colours relate to.  This allows him to create songs by following a set chord progression.

Oct 3, 2012

RoboCupJunior Australia Dinosaur performance

Quite a few people asked if there was any footage of the Dinosaur performance.

A quick search of Youtube gave me this.
This was the team "Five Polychomatic Cyborg Astronauts in a Bathtub" from Mackillop College and they took out first place in the Senior Dance Theatre category.

Action starts at the 2:30min mark.

Oct 2, 2012

RoboCupJunior Australia 2012 Championships

On September 22/23, we held the Australian Championships for RoboCup Junior.  This year we saw over 140 teams and over 400 kids from all over Australia come to Canberra to show off their creations.  I am constantly amazed at the ability of these students and what they are able to create.  We make it a point to interview every team to make sure that the work is substantially their own (not some well meaning but overhelpful teacher or parent).  I spoke to quite a few teams, who despite being in grade 10,11 or 12, knew more than I did after my first year of my Engineering Degree!
While not strictly a LEGO competition, given the ease with which LEGO can introduce students to robotics, we see a large percentage of competitors with NXT's (and even some RCX's!)

Hightlights video below, and you can find a few more photos at my blog -

More info on RoboCup Junior Australia - www.robocupjunior.org.au
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