Posts Tagged ‘LabVIEW’

I finally got around to posting the video to youtube. There is some Oscar quality acting by Scott and myself. You should check it out.(Please note: I do not sleep, dance or reenact Dragon Ball Z at work. However, there is a slinky on Scott’s desk that I do sometimes play with. And no, I do not work in marketing.)

Our project did very well. The actual robot is being displayed/demoed today at NI for the final round of judging. The video includes a brief overview of how we build the physical bot and the software (both with Vision Module and without) is posted on the files page.

So a few days ago I mentioned that I was working with another NI employee, Scott, to build a robot out of a myDAQ. Now at NI, we are know for our robots. Well today, I am happy to announce we have it working. Mixing some NI DAQ, NI Vision into the great stew that is LabVIEW, I present the “myDAQ in a Robot”.  Using my Lenovo netbook, the robot can move around the room. The netbook runs a small web server that shows the front panel of the VI. A user can log in and drive the robot and see where it is going using the web cam on my netbook. Total construction cost for the robot is under $20 and it runs fairly simple code. Check the files section for a link to download the VI. A video of it driving around my apartment can be found here or watch it below!

As most of you know, I work at National Instruments! Besides being an awesome place to work, sometimes they like to do internal competitions. This summer the challenge is to create something using the NI myDAQ. NI ran a similar challenge last year and some of the results can be seen in the myDAQ Zone.

I teamed up with another intern, Scott, and we decided to make a robot. Working under a $25 budget, we decided to engineer a robot from some spare parts most people have at home. Using a L293, some duct tape, LEGO wheels (you knew I was going to slip LEGO in somewhere), a hobby motor and gear box, and a box. Using some super glue we stuck most of the parts together. As you can see from the picture we even used a soda can (we recycle at NI) to act as a skid.

We wanted to keep this project “college themed” we “dead bug” soldered the wires to the L293. To keep the myDAQ safe, we put it inside the box. However we still wanted to use the myDAQ and cut a hole in the side to we can still use the DMM. The project uses only 4 digital I/O ports to interface with the L293. The myDAQ uses USB power. To get around this, we have a small battery box to provide the current needed to the motors. Building instructions and pictures will be posted after the competition is complete.

Since the project isn’t due for a few more days, Scott and I plan to add some lights and additional sensors. The myDAQ has the full power of LabVIEW and as a result we can do some cool things. For example, our robot will have a web interface and use my netbook’s camera to navigate. Using the LabVIEW web publishing tool, other employees at NI will be able to log on and control the bot!

Check back later for a video and more pictures! This project has been a blast! For more information on the myDAQ and LabVIEW, check out ni.com.

I am happy to announce new RS485 LabVIEW VIs and an official NXTBeeNXT-G block. After a few months of work and lots of testing, I am happy to report I have closed out all remaining bugs. The files are available now on the Files page and a new RS485 block (rev B) will be posted later this week as well as new blocks that have support for Boolean and numeric input.

Special thanks to Dexter Industries for providing the NXTBees, everyone who beta tested the blocks, and Mr. John Hansen for all his help! Included in LabVIEW download are sample VIs and there sample NXT-G code posted in the download area.

Remember that slower data speeds (and the NXTBee all together) required John Hansen’s Enhanced Firmware.  The Enhanced Firmware will still let you run NXT-G and LabVIEW code but adds support for these lower speeds. In addition, using RS485 allows you to connect to an NXT running any other firmware (Standard, RobotC, Lejos). Just make sure your speeds match! If you have any questions, email me or post below!

Back in October 2010 I was in Zwolle, The Netherlands talking with some friends about our NXT LEGO Project. We discussed many ideas, but one stuck out. 2011 was to be the end of the Space Shuttle program; a program that provided much of the technology for LEGO MINDSTORMS. So how to give back? Leveraging our talents, we began to flush out the idea for a BIG model. Come January, we began to work on the LMS Space Shuttle. The project was a team effort by John Brost and me representing America, Marc-Andre Bazergui representing Canada, and The LEGO Group in Billund, Denmark. Over the next 4 months, we constructed the shuttle from about 8,000 parts. Marc-Andre built an amazing robotic arm (fitting since he is Canadian). John build a stand that could rock the 5 kilogram orbiter 30 degrees side to side. I worked on the main orbiter body. With little more than pictures to go by, I build an interactive orbiter.

The shuttle has 11 motors and 12 sensors giving the user control of the arm, flaps, rudder, ailerons, cargo doors, and roll of the orbiter. The forward and rear thrusters also can light up! There are 2 remotes and 4 control NXTs. The NXTs link over Bluetooth and RS485. HiTechnic accelerometers and gyroscopes track the movement of the orbiter to keep the system well in control, while touch, light and ultrasonic sensors ensure the machine will not damage itself. The shuttle debuted on the April 12, 2011: the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle and the 50th anniversary of manned space flight. That following Saturday, the model was on hand at Yuri’s Night at NASA Langley Research Center. Since then, the model has been to FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, Brickworld Chicago, and schools all over the midwest. Currently the model is on display at Kennedy Space Center for the launch of STS-135 and shuttle Atlantis. Following the launch, the shuttle will travel to Texas where it will visit Johnson Space Center and be a featured demo at National Instrument’s NIWeek in August.

Like the real shuttle, the LEGO MINDSTORMS Space Shuttle has spawned some innovations of its own. The most famous of which is the first NXT-G RS485 block. This block (and supporting LabVIEW VIs) are what permits inter-brick communication for the running of orbiter systems. This new technology has already been leveraged by people all over the world for everything from a Masters Thesis to Wall-E 5.

It has been a lot of fun to work on such a large, complex project. I cant wait for the next one!