Posts Tagged ‘EV3’

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On my return trip from Denver, I enjoyed another book.  Instant LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 by Gary Garber is a quick read to get you up and going with the latest LEGO MINDSTORMS set. As you have seen in some of my previous posts, I do a lot with EV3 and I love sharing good resources for building robots.

Instant LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 is a great introduction to the educational version of the EV3. The book is great for teachers who are looking to integrate robotics into their classroom. Topics range from building a simple robot, to creating a proportional line follower.

Garber refers to the various segments of the book as ‘recipes’ and that really is a good name for them. Each section breaks down into steps, along with CAD renderings or screenshots. This makes for a good tutorial as it is easy to follow. Be it good or bad, you don’t need to read most of the book. The images are that good and easy to follow.

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I would recommend this book for anyone, but with the focus on the educational kit, it is really best suited for teachers (or students who have access to an educational kit at school). Unlike the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, EV3’s educational kit is quite different from the retail kit. The educational kit contains different sensors (ultrasonic instead of IR, no IR remote, and a gyro sensor), software (the educational software directly supports these sensor differences and includes data logging), and finally different parts (most notably the caster ball, pictured right).

One interesting surprise with this book is that I actually know one of the technical reviews. Chris Rogers, a professor at Tufts University and director of the Center for Engineering Education Outreach (CEEO). Chris and I had worked on some NXT projects (mainly involving my RS485 work). We seem to keep crossing paths.

Naturally, with technical reviews like Chris, and the detailed recipes, Instant LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 is a good book. While it does not go into to all the various ideas or projects that most other MINDSTORMS references include, it does a fine job of getting you up and going quickly. If you are looking for a quick read (under 100 pages!) or are like me and feel the need to read everything related to LEGO MINDSTORMS, you can find this book of amazon.com or from the publisher.

WP_20131005_008This past weekend was the Orlando Mini Maker Faire at the Orlando Science Center. I am not sure of the final attendance numbers, but I was busy the entire time. I brought a total of 15 robots to display. Naturally I had the Shuttle and segway bots, but this event featured a new NXT project in partnership with The MathWorks, makers of MATLAB and Simulink. The video will be coming (due to poor lighting at the event, I am having to shoot the video at home) but the project features control of the NXTs from MATLAB. Navigation is done by processing the image from a camera positioned above the bots, as you can see in the first picture. I will go into more detail soon, but The MathWorks provided a good foundation for the demo and I then added a few enhancements. The code running on the NXTs was written in Simulink and the image processing and control as in MATLAB. The bots communicated with the computer via Bluetooth. I was able to demo both the example The MathWorks provide and my enhanced version, but since the lighting was spotty, I was only able to do it once. (It was very sensitive to people walking by and casting shadows from the overhead lights.)

WP_20131005_001I also brought a long a few EV3 bots. I had a couple of ‘kit’ bots that were built with the instructions (EV3RSTORM and a robotic arm), but I also decided to make my own flyer stuffing robot. I will save the details of that bot for another post as well, but it is safe to say it was a hit with every one in attendance. You can see it right on the corner of the table in the picture below.

WP_20131005_003Below are a few more pics from the display. Everyone really seemed to like the interactive display. Other members of my LUG had displays that ranged from a trick or treating street, motorized technic models, and a BrickPi. We really had a nice showing and attracted a ton of attention.

WP_20131005_002WP_20131005_005WP_20131005_007I look forward to the next event, although I might need to scale it back a bit. 15 bots was crazy! Plus, I wasnt able to bring a few of my other projects. Stay tuned for more updates. I have quite a backlog and I hope to be updating them soon!