Aug 30, 2013

Finally the wait is over, but wait....

Now that the Education EV3 site is on-line for some time, it was retails turn to show their models and content.
As of September 1st, the box 31313 is officially on sale in most mayor retail shops.
I'm sure that many of our readers already found the new LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 retail website.

But did you also know that the older NXT (2.0) site is still on-line?

If not then this is your time to download the last FIRMWARE, BONUS MODELS and NXT-G, before the site goes of-line.

Don't wait too long.....

Aug 29, 2013

EV3 Space Challenge Activity Pack - coming soon!

Now when the first EV3 education sets are released on the market and the software is downloaded we have something nice to look for. "The SPACE Challenge set".

Form the education website:
The Space Challenge is for all educators that want to teach STEM through hands-on problem solving. No matter if this is your first experience using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® or robotics or not, this learning program has been developed to support you and to make the materials suitable for your teaching environment.

In the Space Challenge Activity Pack, there are seven Challenge Missions, nine Learning Missions and one Learning to Gear project. Each Mission and project presents a fun STEM learning opportunity. Student and teacher materials are provided in a multimedia content environment with the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Content Editor featuring all the tools the students needs for documenting and presenting their findings and results as they progress through the material.

Three Research Projects, co-developed with space experts, provide rich opportunities for students to explore and creating innovative solutions to current space exploration topics. The Research Projects are built on three key problems that researchers around the world are trying to solve – how to ensure that humans survive in space, how humans can create energy in space, and how robots can help humans explore space.

Accompanying the Space Challenge Activity Pack is the Space Challenge Set, a theme-based set that includes three learning mats, the Challenge mat plus lots of LEGO elements for building the challenge models.
To undertake the Space Challenge in a small group, students require:
more here: [LINK ]

Aug 25, 2013

Robot localization with beacons

One of the most interesting challenges in robotics is the finding a solution to the question "Where am I?".
Aswin Bouwmeester, the creator of the holonomic NXT robot Agilis, has published a robot that solves that challenge by using a set of external beacons ("stars", one might almost say) for localization.

Find an explanation on his blog how this is done using the triangulation features built-in already in leJOS, the Java platform for MINDSTORMS.

Aug 23, 2013

PSA: Issues with Some EV3 Battery Packs

Over the past few days I’ve seen stories regarding the LEGO Education EV3 Battery Pack circulating on the various forums and FB groups. Yesterday LEGO Education released a statement to customers and partners who are affected by this issue, confirming the problem. I’ve put a small excerpt of the statement below. You can download the full text here (zip file with two PDFs): [LINK].

Dear Customer , The LEGO Group prides itself in delivering high quality products and regrets to inform customers of an issue related to the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3rechargeable battery . LEGO Education has identified a circuit error in the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 rechargeable battery . The error does not in any way relate to, or impact the EV3 programmable brick or the charger/transformer. The majority of the batteries that have been distributed do not have this error, but every battery in stock is now being retested to ensure it charges properly before shipping to customers, and new supplies are being sourced.

So in short, the issue is with the pack, not the brick. So for now, just use AA batteries until you can have the pack replaced (read the full letter how-to). Thank you Xander for posting this.

Aug 22, 2013

The Kid with the Timmyton 3.5!

Back in February when I was at FIRST I met with lots of bright kids at the MINDSTORMS booth but they where mostly asking me questions about upcoming EV3 and my WALL-E robots. The Next day I decided to drive my robot around and visit surrounding FLL teams booth this is when I came across the Radical Robotix Team 10147 member Kyle Markland who talked to me about his personal robot he was bulding, the Timmyton!  He said he would send me more details and a few days ago, he did!

Hello... we met at the World Festival. I was the one who told you about my NXT robot, the Timmyton 3.5. I wanted to inform you that I finished an upgraded version, the Timmyton 4.0. It has similar functions as the last model, but the mechanics are very different and all of the last model’s flaws have been resolved.
 I attached some pictures of the 4.0 above. If you want all of the details, you can find a complete rundown of both the Timmyton 3.5 and 4.0 on my NXT Log page. Just type in Builderdude35 in the search box and all of my NXT creations should be there.*

I found his robots and enthusiasm very inspiring and so I asked him to write me a short Bio... I felt like at the dawn of the EV3 Launch, why not share his story with you!

​Hello everybody, my name is Kyle Markland. I am 13 years old and I'm very passionate about building NXT robots. I was first introduced to LEGO MINDSTORMS three years ago when my school bought two NXT sets for the gifted program. Unfortunately, my fellow classmates didn't quite like the idea of “sharing” and as a result I never actually had a chance to do anything with it. This only made me more determined to get my own.

​I saved up my money and about a year later, purchased my NXT kit. When I got it I realized just how much I could actually do with it. My first creations weren't that great because I was unfamiliar with the Technic bricks. I learned how to build by looking at my other Technic sets and thinking about what theirs had that mine didn't.

​Fast-forward two years; my school has formed a FIRST Lego League team. I helped lead the team to first place in the Long Island regionals in our inaugural year and we were invited to the World Festival. We competed and interacted with our peers from all across the world; it was a great experience!

​I am proficient with building and mechanizing my NXT creations, but I'm also trying to create more complex software programs. I've always wanted to build a 4-speed automatic synchromesh transmission but I'll need to improve my programming skills a little more. I would like to build an advanced NXT car that incorporates everything I've put into my previous cars. I am also trying to expand my horizons by building things other than vehicles and building robots that are more autonomous. 

I am also eagerly anticipating the arrival of the new EV3; it would make building these creations much easier!

Kyle on the new MINDSTORMS EV3

One of my favorite things about the EV3 besides the 4 motor ports and the IR control/beacon is the new medium size servo motor. I read on the Lego Education website that it spins @250 RPM while still delivering 8 Ncm of torque. I think it might make a good drive motor for my racecars because the power comes out the front and I can mount it longitudinally. The older NXT motors are difficult to fit into most vehicle profiles because the power comes out the side. I’d either have to place it upright (like in the Smart cars) or have it stick out the side.

One last thing, are you Lego designers telepathic? It seems that every one of my gripes with the NXT has been resolved in the EV3 kit. (Not enough motor ports, not enough memory, not enough gears in the base kit, not enough Technic panels, having to purchase the remote controller and sensor separately, etc.)

Haha I wish, to that I responded "We MCP's have been giving feedback to LEGO for the past 3 years... some things we didn't get (like backlit display) but many other we did get (like a smaller encoded motor, usb client etc...) I'm glad you like the new retail EV3 and I really hope you manage to put your hands on the new set.

Thanks for sharing with us all of your great robots via this video compilation make just for The NXT Step, I sure hope it will inspire many others to film and post their creations online.

Meanwhile, I've ReBricked you're video ;)

baz   : . . 

*check out details of Kyle's work here:

Aug 21, 2013

Timelapse video on EV3 EV3RSTORM

Damien Kee has produced a nice timelapse video on the new EV3 Home Edition, from unboxing to set to building, programming and running the flagship model EV3RSTORM:

Aug 19, 2013

Illuminating the NXT brick

Here's a guest blog post to The NXT STEP by Joshua "NXTesla" who's done some interesting stuff with illuminating the NXT brick:

LEDs make everything cooler, right? Even LEGO MINDSTORMS? LEDs look pretty cool on the new EV3, so why not put them on an NXT? I had some nice, bright LEDs lying around, so I thought I’d try it. Here’s what the finished product looks like.

Inline image 1
Inline image 2
If you would like to see more pictures go take a look at my Imgur album:

I uploaded the schematic so everyone can see how it works. My original plan was to solder the two power wires to the battery terminals located next to ports 1 and A. It was a good plan, but let me just say that the plastic case melts a lot easier than the solder does. Yes, the one corner of the case right next to the negative battery terminal is melted. Luckily, the white part of the case covers that part. Proceeding with caution, I found that it was nearly impossible to melt the solder, and I was forced to find a different place where I could solder the ground wire to the ground plane. The wire that connects to the positive battery terminal could not be moved as easily, so I had to do a really sloppy job of soldering that connection. In the end though, it turned out to be somewhat acceptable.

The Bluetooth power supply is apparently turned on only when the NXT is turned on, so I used it as a power switch for the LEDs. It would also be possible to, instead, use the signal that is used to control whether Bluetooth is turned on, which would make it so that the LEDs turn on only when Bluetooth is turned on. I decided against the latter because of the Bluetooth battery usage.

After I did all of the wiring and put the white cover back on, the LEDs were shining through the plastic and it looked horrible. So I spray painted the inside of the white cover black so that the light would shine only though the input and output ports. I also put a piece of paper between the LEDs and the ports to diffuse the light so that, rather than shining through the ports, the LEDs would glow through them.

If anyone would like to do something similar, I suggest using LEDs no larger than 3mm.

Please note, also, that doing this will, in fact, void your warranty.

Aug 15, 2013

ALL HiTechnic sensors are supported on the EV3 Brick

today HiTechnic announced on their Facebook site:
HiTechnic Sensors supported on EV3
The complete range of HiTechnic sensors and accessories are now fully supported by the new LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3. The new EV3 HiTechnic software blocks expose the features of each sensor allowing EV3 programs to incorporate the extensive functionality available with the HiTechnic product range. HiTechnic sensors can now be used on both the MINDSTORMS NXT and EV3. Programming blocks will be available for download later next month.

More information at their facebook site.
and at their own website;

Aug 13, 2013

How to Update your EV3 Firmware

The first EV3 Education sets are shipped, and like with the NXT, also now you can update the Firmware. Until the community created their own firmware versions and other update programs becomes available, we have to use the LEGO software with their build-in solution.

  • start the Home (retail) or Education software
  • select "new project" from the menu bar
  • then select the "tools" menu and in there "firmware update"
  • have brick connected over USB
  • select a firmware in the available firmware list (by clicking it)
  • press the "download" button
  • after successful progress press "close" button

The HELP does refer to a troubleshooting section in the printed User Guide for help on resetting the brick, but when the download fails, (you accidentally unplugged the USB cable) it is possible to reset the Brick as follow (see image). Then follow the steps again to update the firmware.

There are 2 versions of firmware:
  • "EV3 Firmware V1.03E.bin" is the Education version.
  • "EV3 Firmware V1.03H.bin" is the Home (retail) version.

Just google those complete strings bold to find a download.
The main difference is that the Education version has some special code for data logging and if you want to run an experiment (with Education software on the PC/MAC) you will need to have the education version firmware loaded.

Some bricks may be delivered with firmware version 1.00 or 1.01, and advised is to upgrade the firmware first, before you enjoy building and programing.

Aug 12, 2013

EV3 Dolphin cruiser

Anika Vuurzoon has published another one of her fantastic MINDSTORMS movies: this time it's the Friends set #41015 that has been upgraded by EV3 components and some dolphins.

Aug 10, 2013

Remotely controllable NXT camera rig

Leon Overweel, the creator of the robot that is handing out flyers, has come up with a new nice machine: a NXT-driven rig for panning and tilting a mobile phone's camera that can be remotelly controlled:

Programming and building instructions can be found on his blog.

Aug 8, 2013

EV3 and NXT at Fana'Briques 2013

Finally I've found time to create a small movie on our community MINDSTORMS booth at Fana'Briques 2013 that took place end of June in Rosheim (Alsace, France):

Fana'Briques is one of the largest annual LEGO community events in Central Europe, with more than 8000 visitors on two days this year.

Aug 5, 2013

Lee, talks about the new LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 set that is available as of August 1st, 2013

NOW is the time!!! The best ever LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics platform starts to conquer the world! 

August 1st, was the official release date of the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Core set, while the EV3 consumer robotics platform, will hit retailers’ shelves on September 1st, 2013. 

Lee Magpili, lead designer of the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 set, talks about the new models and the joy of building and designing with the new EV3 platform. For more information on the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 set, check the Product Overview at the official LEGO Education site. Meanwhile, enjoy both parts of his interview:

Aug 4, 2013

JEEV3S, a sticker-into-flyer machine

Mike Brandl from Austria has created a very cool EV3-based machine that sorts stickers into flyers:

The 12 bonus models for the EV3 Home Edition

The day before yesterday, LEGO announced that the Home Edition of EV3 will be available at 1st of September for purchase in the stores.
Also the 12 bonus models created by members of the community have been revealed; each of these models can be built with one single Home edition set and building instructions for them will be published by LEGO for free download:
By courtesy of Marc-Andre Bazergui

Aug 1, 2013

EV3 preview and source code revealed at OHM2013

Last night at precise 0:00 Xander shared the source code of the EV3 firmware on his blog [botbench]. After a great presentation by Steven Canvin at OHM2013 [link], were he shared with the audience how LEGO decided to work with the community when creating the NXT and EV3 Mindstorms series. Many great examples of HACKs that were converted into products were shown.

At the same time various Education and Retail models were present so the audience could have a hands-on experience and when requested explanation on both software and models was given.

Xander joined the stage and called out to the community to help improve and change the product. He talked to a large group of "hackers and makers" that were eager to get their own hands dirty and work with the EV3 bricks brought especially for this occasion. So if you want and have some experience with coding, join the group and have fun.
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