Dec 30, 2012

LEGO Mindstorms Trial Truck

Landon Andrews sent through this great video of a 4x4 truck he's been working on.

I noticed that there aren't really any really great mindstorm 4x4 trial trucks out there.  It seems as though all of the NXT trial trucks out their have 6, or 8 wheel drive (which by the way is still super awesome), or they don't really have good suspension.  So over the past few weeks I've been building my own, and I was just wondering what you think of it.
I love how manoeuvrable it is.  There are some seriously big boulders it manages to get over.  I'd love to see a close-up of how the suspension etc works.  What do other readers think?

Dec 26, 2012

Happy Holidays!

From everyone here at theNXTstep, we'd like to wish you, your friends and family the warmest holiday greetings. If you're taking some of this holiday time to work on an NXT, project let us know about it in the comments below.

Happy Holidays and we look forward to bringing you more NXT goodness in 2013!

Dec 24, 2012

NXT Gingerbread sleigh

What says "Christmas" more than a NXTified Gingerbread Sleigh? :)

Dec 23, 2012

Hispabrick 15

HispaBrick 15 is now out.  This great online LEGO magazine contains an amazing array of LEGO articles on all sorts of topics

Not a lot of specific MINDSTORMS content, but a nice little intro piece - An introduction to Robotics (Koldo Olaskoaga)

Get the English version here and the Spanish version here  

Dec 21, 2012

BetaBot - a LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT telepresence robot

Here's an amazing video of 9-year-old Rithik “Ricky” Kundu who has constructed a LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT telepresence robot to interact with his grandparents in India:

He called the robot "Betabot": "beta" means "child" in Hindi and "early prototype" in English.

Dec 20, 2012

Christmas robotics video

Not LEGO® MINDSTORMS, but matching both Robotics and the season: a very nice video by the Autonomous Systems Lab of the ETH Zurich.

Don't miss the outtakes at the end - they show why a general robot uprising is doomed to fail at least for the near future. ;)

Dec 17, 2012

FLL question; "So how to build strong"

Last Saturday I was at the biggest FLL Region finals in the Netherlands as the well known MINDSTORMS doctor, and there I got the Question;" How do I build a sturdy and good winning robot?"
It is real hard to answer that question, as all missions are different and need different robot approaches, but some general rules do apply always. First I tell the teams that the robot with all sorts of odd angles to connect the tools is not the best, (so rather not use the standard 9797 base robot). I advice the kids to do the following regarding the caster wheel: " go to a shopping mall, take a shopping chart and place it on a free area, then turn all the wheels perpendicular to the forward direction. then use one finger and push forward. Observe where does the chart goo? straight ? so what do you think happens with your caster on your robot? indeed likely the same, so if the free moving direction is not secure, what does that tell us of the mission motions? , right so rethink your caster....

but then there are some good advices to be taken form various books, and right now I like to highlight two:

The Unofficial LEGO Builder's Guide (Now in Color!) by Allan Bedford. (link)
The book is more basic about building technics, like houses, models and mosaics, but can be very useful for all your side work like building the project with LEGO. It even has a section about basic parts and that can be use to learn what other parts you can use to build the special tools for the missions.

The other book:
The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide by Pawel "Sariel" Kmiec. (link)
This one can be used much more there it basically talks about technic and that is what we use in the MINDSTORMS set. There are real good sections about how to use gears, and make much better reinforcements to make your model stronger. some advanced mechanisms might help the teams to make a tool that automatically turns back in a begin position. Advanced usage of pneumatics can be real nice too.

Dec 13, 2012

Swarms of MINDSTORMS Robots (feat. NXT2WIFI)

Ever wanted to control an unlimited number of robots in sync? Ever wanted to go beyond the limitations of the built-in NXT Bluetooth system? Now you can! Check out the article here. More details on this page.

Dec 12, 2012

Moonbots 2012 winners

And the Winners Are.....
Grand PRIZE - Hungarobots (Sopron, Hungary) 1st Runner Up - Incredibots (Columbus, Ohio) 2nd Runner Up - Apollo 19 (Escondido, California) 3rd Runner Up - Titanium Springboks (Pretoria, South Africa) The Moonbots team would like to congratulate all of the teams for their hard work throughout the competition. The Partners of the MoonBots Challenge really enjoyed all of the teams' enthusiasm and dedication. We would also like to announce some Special Recognition Awards to all of the teams.

Dec 11, 2012

Manipulator: E-Book for a robotic arm

Since six years, the polish RoboNET educates children in robotics using LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT. Originally organized in summer vacation courses called RoboCAMP, the courses are given also during school time now in whole of Poland, mainly in the areas of Gdansk and Warsaw.

The RoboCAMP people have published a new E-Book called "Manipulator LEGO NXT" now; it shows how to build and program a remotely controlled robotic arm with a single NXT 2.0 set:

After a small introduction into manipulators in general and their use in industry and military, there are very clear and instructive building instructions and step-by-step instructions for programming the robotic arm with NXT-G.
"Manipulator" is suited both for beginners as well as advanced builders who can gain interesting insights in particular in the creative mechanism for the grabber that can lift and grab using just one single motor.

At the end, there is a list with previous publications of RoboCAMP.

Check it out!

Dec 10, 2012

NXC simulator updates

In March we posted about a useful LEGO MINDSTORMS simulator made by Frank Knefel that allows you to program and test virtual wheeled robots programmed with NXC. 
The simulator runs only on Linux systems. The good news is that now on the project SourceForge page there's a Linux-Image to use with Vmware Player or VitualBox (Windows/Mac OS X), an image for a Live-CD, USB-Stick, the executable file and some additional files.
On his Youtube channel, Frank shows many tutorials for the simulator.

Dec 7, 2012

The NXTolaus, a Christmas robot

Christmas is approaching, so I decided to come up with a NXT Christmas robot this year, the NXTolaus:

The NXTolaus can be built with a single LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 set.

When roaming around with a closed bag full of presents, it will detect you with its Ultrasonic sensor. In that case, it will stop, speak some Christmas greetings and open its bag.
Once you have taken out the presents, the NXTolaus will notice that using a hidden touch sensor at the bottom of the bag; it then closes the bag and "walks" away.

See details and find building and programming instructions in the robots section of my NXT web site.

Dec 5, 2012

LEGO® MINDSTORMS Curiosity Mars Rover on German TV

The fantastic LEGO® MINDSTORMS Curiosity Mars Rover, built by Will Gorman and Doug Moran, keeps getting prominent: after having visited the NASA, the WRO in Malaysia and the European Robotics Week in Prague, it will now be shown in a very popular TV show called "Quarks & Co"!

These days, the dutch "NXT family" Vuurzoon, well-known for great creations like Mindy MINDSTORMS, LEGO® friends NXT or the LEGO® Gramophone, went to the broadcast station in Cologne for shootings where Anika Vuurzoon served as a presenter.
The scenery looks great:

MINDSTORMS Rover in the Quarks & Co studio driving in the “Mars” dessert

Anika controls the MINDSTORMS Rover during close up “drill” recordings
The show will be broadcasted on 11th December at 9 PM; I'll definitely be watching it!

Dec 3, 2012

Video on the Robotics experts' booth at WRO

MCP bazmarc from Canada (the LEGO® WAll-E man) has published a nice video he made on his trip to the World Robot Olympiad in Kuala Lumpur, mainly on our booth of the Robotics Experts:

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