Archive for the ‘National Instruments’ Category


So unless you have been living under a rock, I am sure you have heard of the ‘smart sock’, Sensoria Fitness. Heapsylon, the company behind Sensoria, sent me a prototype of Sensoria Gaming. Sensoria Gaming seeks to leverage the smart fabric and enable it to do much more than track your workout. The sock is able to isolate the pressure over different areas of your foot, allowing for unique inputs. The sock is super accurate and this lends itself to many applications. You can generate pressure heat maps and watch how pressures changes with balance. Sensoria Gaming gives the tools to use this input in a new setting, both in software applications and physical products.

Remember that helicopter post from before? Now you know why it crashed. (Turns out I stink at flying those things!) Actually it was much easier once I finished the project. As you can see in the picture below, I took a servo motor and duct taped it to the controller. I used some LEGO parts to make an arm and control it with an Arduino. The Arduino is connected to my computer. I connected the sock to my computer and used some LabVIEW magic to make the sock talk to the arduino. I add in some filtering for signal stability and there you have it. A brief video of it working is below, as well as some ‘outtakes’ from flying…


Sensoria has a bit of time left on Indiegogo if you want to get in on it. This is not my only hack with the smart sock, so rest assured, more cool projects are coming.

My helicopter hack video:

Official pressure map video from Heapsylon:

So it has been a long time since I last posted. I have been busy traveling and working on projects for school. I am happy to share that one projedt is about done. My senior design project has evolved a bit. DaNI is now sporting a wireless access point and a distance sensor on the arm and a gripper open/close sensor.


Check out the image. I will have a video on Wednesday night! Oh and you can see it in person at NIWeek!

Life has been crazy these past few weeks. From Brickworld, to FIRST, to school, there has been little free time. However this weekend brought me to the great state of Maine. Just a few hours east of FIRST HQ in New Hampshire, southern Maine is just beginning to get into robotics. Leading the charge is the Southern Maine Gearbots. Combining FIRST (FLL and FRC), VEX and some custom challenges, this group is working hard to prepare the engineers of tomorrow. Naturally any robotics event is not complete without a visit from some famous robots. Making an appearance was the LEGO MINDSTORMS Space Shuttle and Boston Engineering’s Robotuna. For many this was their first experience with real engineers and robotics.  I was honored to be invited to the event and it really seems to be a great program! Enjoy a few pictures capturing this really great event! Next year will be event better. Hats off to all involved!

I have made a few posts about my senior design project, but this one is by far the best. We have completed the main deliverable for the project. Check out the video below to see what we did. The robot has amazing accuracy.

Happy New Year! 2012 is here and I have some new code to celebrate the holiday!

The Dexter Industries dWifi sensor has opened up a whole new world for LEGO MINDSTORMS. For those of you who have looked at the sensor, you will notice it requires that a “newline” character (decimal 13). The dWifi also likes each byte to be sent individually. To cope with these requirements, I have posted a block that does all the work for you. As you can see from the screen capture on the right, there is a simple loop to send each byte (including the newline byte added to your string). The file is posted and is live now on the Files page of my blog. You can use the regular Set Speed and Read VIs that come with the RS485 2.0 download.

Stay tuned for more dWifi LabVIEW and NXT-G updates!

My senior design project has made some great progress. Besides all the software we have written, we have now officially mechanically integrated our robotic arm with our NI DaNI base. There are still some minor issues to work out, but the majority of the work is done. In the new year, we will be working on creating a demo to show off the robot’s flexibility. We will be posting a video with the new, integrated system working after classes resume in January. Since we have a fair bit of time (about 2 months) remaining, we plan to go hog wild on this project. If its worth doing, it worth over-doing, right?


I am in Mobile Robotics here at Rose-Hulman this term and my team is working with the original NI DaNI robot. Our latest lab asked us to add some IR sensors and some photo-resistors. Check out the upgrades! It is kind of fun to spend 4 (or more) hours a day playing with robots!


We are entering the final stages of robot assembly and test. Last week, DaNI got a line following sensor from Parallax. This sensor is much like the Mindsensors Line Leader for LEGO MINDSTORMS. It has 8 IR light sensors that see the difference between the ground a line. We have a PID loop running on the FPGA on the NI Single-Board RIO to control out line following. Basically a PID loop helps us correct for not following the line correctly by using the error of our sensor measurements to determine which direction we need to move. To learn more about PID, wikipedia has a great article!
Also, Jason, one of my teammates, has finished the Inverse Kinematics for the arm. I have integrated the arm control into the motor drive train. The arm is scheduled to be mounted by Monday. After that we just need to physically validate our software drive model and we are done! Check out our video below!

My Senior Design Project at Rose-Hulman is integrating a kinematic robotic arm on the National Instruments Robotics Starter Kit (DaNI). DaNI is small mobile robotics platform based on NI SingleBoardRIO and Tetrix. We are working with the arm and DaNI as two separate systems right now and plan to integrate it in December. We spent the last few weeks working on constructing and controlling the arm. All software done in LabVIEW! Check out the video below to see our progress!

As I mention back in August, the Day 3 NIWeek keynote was delivered by Tim Samaras. The video of his presentation is now online and you can watch Tim share his passion with the NIWeek attendees. Tim is both an inspiration and role model for future scientists and engineers. If you ever get the chance to catch Storm Chasers on The Discover Channel, you know the passion and drive that goes into one of the world’s most dangerous jobs. And I encourage all engineers to begin to measure wind speed in “cows per minute”. Enjoy!