Tag Archives: MINDSTORMS

LEGO and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronics

Not surprisingly, one of my favorite non-LEGO blogs is the MAKE Blog, where Cult of LEGO author John Baichtel joins tech/geek luminaries like Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder to highlight everything from steampunk art cars to the latest adventures in 3D printing.

One frequent MAKE topic I’m fascinated by (though I certainly already have way too many hobbies) is Arduino. Dubbed “open source hardware,” it’s always fascinating seeing what just about anybody (especially kids) can do with these little boards.

John’s latest book, LEGO and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronics, is part of MAKE’s own how-to series, and merges two logical, inevitable hobbies.

John writes in today’s Monday Jolt to introduce the book, and talks specifically about integrating the two systems, as well as how the two systems compare.

Head on over to the MAKE Blog to read John’s intro. You can pick up the book from Amazon.com.

Because there can never be too many clowns

Guy Himber, aka V&A Steamworks, has created a mind-blowing, mouth-watering, magnificent, and majestic Mold-A-Rama machine. I saw it at BrickCon and even got to breathe the same air as the builder. Let me tell you, it was a pleasure and the machine definitely deserved the “Best Use of NXT” award that it received. I didn’t get to observe the effects in person, but I understand that many paying members of the LEGO-viewing public were reduced to quivering pools of confusion while trying to figure out how Guy’s contraption worked. And that, dear readers, is the sign of a great LEGO build.

LEGO - MOLD-A-RAMA by V&A Steamworks

I insist you watch the video:

Great Great Ball Contraption

Freelance Technic blogger, Peer Kreuger (mahjqa) sends us this beauty. I agree!

While most great ball contraptions are the result of a collaboration between many people, mechanical mastermind Akiyuki has been so busy building GBC modules that he made a damn impressive lineup all on his own. The intricate modules have an almost hypnotic quality to them.

LEGO Mars Curiosity Rover powered by MINDSTORMS NXT (not plutonium)

We’re generally not as quick to blog Technic and MINDSTORMS models here, so with apologies to our readers who’ve already seen this (but in the interest of completeness): Will Gorman and Doug Moran recently built a fairly functional version of the Mars Curiosity Rover, with four of six working wheels, robotic arm, and mast.

According to the builders, “The Curiosity Rover was created with 7 NXT Bricks, 13 NXT Motors, 2 Power Function Motors, and over 1000+ LEGO Bricks. The software was developed using leJOS NXJ.”

The LEGO Group provided all the LEGO, and the rover was featured at LEGO and NASA’s Build the Future in Space event at Kennedy Space Center.

LEGO Mindstorms NXT Turing Machine celebrates Alan Turing’s 100th birthday

Alan TuringToday is pioneering British computer scientist Alan Turing’s 100th birthday. Turing was instrumental in developing early computers, and worked during World War II to successfully crack the German Enigma machine. (Sadly, Turing was prosecuted for being gay in the early 1950s and committed suicide soon after, at age 41.)

One of Alan Turing’s key contributions to computer science is the concept behind his Turing machine, “a hypothetical device representing a computing machine” (according to Wikipedia).

Jeroen van den Bos & Davy Landman of CWI in the Netherlands write:

Abstract models are just that, an abstraction of something. In order to really show how simple the fundamental model of a computer is, we have developed a physical implementation of the Turing machine, using LEGO Mindstorms NXT.

LEGO Turing machine

Here’s a videos of the machine in action:

LEGO Turing Machine from ecalpemos on Vimeo.

Read more about the LEGO Turing machine on the team’s website.

LEGO sorting machine built from LEGO

The BrickIt team in Denmark has built a robotic system to sort LEGO bricks. The “Dynaway Sorting Plant” uses 28 Mindstorms NXT motors, 7 processors, 4 color sensors, and 14 touch sensors, and took over 250 hours of programming time plus 800 hours to build. The result is an amazing system that separates 2×4 and 1×2 bricks by both shape and color and then moves the pallets full of sorted bricks.

Read more about the sorting machine on BrickIt.dk.

Leveling up in Gears of War 3 & Skyrim with LEGO Mindstorms NXT robots

Though I prefer to earn my experience, medals, and achievements the old-fashioned way, I never cease to be impressed (and mildly amused) by those who design LEGO robots to accomplish their video game goals.

Guy Himber built a robot to get the Onyx Active Reload medal in Gears of War 3 (watch him get the medal).

Meanwhile, Justin built his own robot to max out his restoration level to 100 in Skyrim.

What do you think? Fair play or hax0rs?

LEGO Mindstorms “Time Twister” digital clock by Hans Andersson

Solving Rubkik’s Cubes isn’t the only thing that LEGO Mindstorms robotics are good for. Swedish robotics builder Hans Andersson has built a digital clock that even “blinks” with each second.

Check out more of Hans’ robots, including a Sudoku solver of all things, on TiltedTwister.com.

Thanks for the link, reader Thomas!