Mar 27, 2014

Time Twister 3

Remember Hans Andersson's great Time Twister clock?
Last month, he's made a new version of it - Time Twister 3:

More details can be found on the associated web page.

Mar 26, 2014

Small and fast NXT cube solver

"Copper Dragon" made a wonderful small NXT based cube solver with an ingenious new mechanism to solve the cube.
below are some quotes how it is made:
The machine can turn the bottom face by blocking the middle layer with the fork and rotating the turn-table. It can not turn the top face at all and the cube itself can only be rotated around the vertical axis. This requires of course a special solving strategy and a special way to scan the colors: It needs to restructure the whole cube while scanning. This scanning process is rather cumbersome and takes up the first 18 seconds.
The solving algorithm consists of 7 phases with precomputed tables that solves a 2x2x2 subcube first, extends to 3x2x2 then F2L and last layer in one step. It tries 4 rotational symetries and chooses the shortest solution. By this an average of approximately 38 turns are needed for a full solve. What you see in the video is indeed a full solve that requires about 18 seconds for scanning, 1 second for computation and 26 seconds for solving. With the 26 seconds I was a bit lucky, but it seldom takes more than 30. 
I am using NXC with the enhanced firmware (for the motor control). While the code is pretty slow in execution, it is fast enough for my table-driven solver. Biggest problem was of course the tiny flash memory space. I would have preferred to use fewer and bigger tables for a shorter solution, but this is pretty much the best I could squeeze into the device.

I must also confess that I had to do two things you could consider cheating: The scanning process is not complete since the mechanism can not scan the middle pieces. Therefore I have to insert the cube always with the white face on top and the red face to the right.
Also the current mechanism can not handle an original Rubiks cube because of corner cutting problems. I am using a "Speed Cube Ultimate II" instead which has excellent corner-cutting. Maybe I can overcome the second restriction without loss of speed, but I have no idea how to scan the middle pieces without additional camera/color sensor.

I wonder what could happen if David or Mike, team up with Copper Dragon.

Mar 16, 2014

CUBESTORMER 3 Smashes Rubik's Cube Speed Record !!

(picture by

The world record for fastest time in solving a Rubik's Cube was set by a Dutch guy1 (5.55 seconds).
However it took only 5.27 seconds, for a LEGO robot named Cubestormer 2, back in the fall of 2011. Thanks to the machine's successor (Cubestormer 3), the time to beat is now 3.253 seconds.
The robot, which is the third in a series of automatons designed solely for the purpose of solving the Rubik's Cube ASAP, is powered by an octa-core Samsung Galaxy S4 and LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 bricks.

Congratulations to the designers David Gilday and Mike Dobson

Update some more videos

MOONBOTS 2014 challenge is now open for registration, sign in!

Do you have what it takes to put a robot on the Moon?
Can you answer 'Why We Should Go Back to the Moon for Good?'
Do you want to win a trip to Hawaii and other great prizes?

Then register a team and get going!
Reed the rules and keep an eye on the FAQ page, as that will help you to win.
Do you want to see more about the Google Lunar Xprize.

Mar 14, 2014

Line Follower using EV3

Ahhh the classic challenge of following a black line!  Of course this can be achieve quite simply by using the zig zag method but if you want a high performance line following robot you're going to need a little more math!

Line Following with a PID Controller

Image by:  Miguel Angel Blanch Lardin

Luckily Miguel the guy behind The Technic Gear blog has recently published a fantastic tutorial explaining in details how to create a PID controller line following robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3.  

I invite you to follow his tutorial found here With the help of his pseudo code you can write your own line following program or try his program thanks to the supplied EV3 source code.  Remember to give credit to his work if you use part or all of his code in a program for one of your competition or school work. Also do leave a comment here or on his own website about your experience with this tutorial it will mean a lot to him.

Another cool proportional control robot made by Miguel is a Wall Following robot shown here:

Miguel has many other project in mind. For example, he shared with me his intention of doing a two light sensor line follower as well as a tutorial on a self balancer (like Gyro Boy) using the EV3 Gyro Sensor from LEGO.

Don't miss any of his work, be sure to LIKE his Facebook page follow his blog and subscribe to his Youtube Channel

Happy programming :)

: . .

Mar 1, 2014

Available now: "Das EV3 Roboter Universum"

The very first comprehensive German book on EV3, the new generation of LEGO® MINDSTORMS is available now: "Das EV3 Roboter Universum".

On over 500 fully-coloured pages the three authors provide an in-depth introduction to all important topics of the new set as well as many tips and tricks also for the advanced MINDSTORMS builder.

Step-for-step building and programming instructions for eight cool robot projects enable every reader to acquire substantial knowledge on LEGO® MINDSTORMS EV3 and to design, build and program his or her own robot.

Each robot of the book can be built with a single EV3 set, while both the Home and the Education Edition are fully supported.

For details, refer to the book's web site provided by the publisher or to the book's Facebook page.
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