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This past weekend was World Maker Faire 2016 in New York. Maker Faire is a celebration of creativity, technology, and invention. I was lucky to attend the event again this year, showing off some LEGO robots at the ILUGNY booth. While the booth was constantly busy, I was able to explore and see some truly amazing projects. Follow me after the break for more photos from this incredible event!


I have gotten a ton of emails lately about how to follow a line with an NXT. I decided to build a bot to show off some of the easiest ways. Using twin light sensors and a LineLeader from Mindsensors, this robot shows 3 possible ways to complete that task. First, it can use a single light sensor and a simple threshold to follow the line. This method proves to be slow, but effective. Next it uses two light sensors to move forward and correct if one sees the black line. Finally comes the Mindsensors LineLeader which uses 8 light sensors and a control theory called PID to follow the line. As we add more light sensors and more complex control, the robot moves faster and more smoothly. Check out the bot and video below! has made an NXT replacement of sorts. Leveraging the power of the Arduino platform, this shield allows the popular prototyping tool to interface with 8 RC servo motors and NXT motors and sensors. The shield has some integrated buttons and operates over I2C. The library for the shield contains both hardware and software I2C implementations, allowing for full support of Mindsensors products at faster speeds.

The video below shows a simple program I wrote. Using the Mindsensors LineLeader and SumoEyes. The robot is constructed out of LEGO parts and uses LEGO MINDSTORMS motors and sensors. There are axle holes to mount the shield and the NXShield is small enough to use with other Arduino shields (think xBee shield or midi shield). Watch the video for more details, but this robot doesn’t even come close to using the full power of the Arduino platform. I have a few more projects in mind with the platform. In addition, I recently ported the library to the Maple. I am still doing some final testing, but if you would like to give it a try, post a comment below!


I love coaching FIRST LEGO League. It is a ton of fun and it is always interesting to see all the different robot ideas. One major challenge for my FLL team was building a strong motor base. While there are many good ideas out on the internet, I wanted to share one that my team really likes. Using 2 Technic frames and 1 1×13 beam, they were able to build a strong base. I have used this design before and I have been very pleased with the results. As you can see from the image, it is just a few parts and you are ready to go.

Actually, I used this design for a small robot I built last month. This robot uses the NXShield from Mindsensors. The video is on YouTube, though it wont let me make it public. I will work to get that sorted out and post again with the video in place. This is an early picture, but you can see the frames and base in the photo. I added a few more sensors for the video, but you can see how small and compact the robot is. In fact the entire robot is about 25 cm long and 20 cm wide. The robot is strong, and while I don’t recommend dropping your design, this one has survived a few falls.

The NXShield uses an Arduino and can easily be programmed in C. It has 4 motor ports and 4 sensor ports. My completed bot used a few touch sensors, a Mindsensors LineLeader, and a MindSensors Sumo Eyes. If you would like to learn more about Mindsensors and the NXShield, SumoEyes or LineLeader, check out

Got an idea on how to make a motor base? Post below! What is your best design?


Today is off to a great start here in Fort Wayne. Lots of people and lots of LEGO! I am doing some live demos of the NXShield and DI IMU. Be sure to stop by if you are in the area! Check back later for more pics!

In addition to NIWeek, I have a few new projects in my queue. After a busy week and a lot of LEGO, I will be taking a (short) break to explore some new toys from Texas Instruments. Right, you will see the new Panda Board designed by Texas Instruments. The board is an open source design featuring the TI OMAP 4430 (same as in the Droid 3 and Droid Bionic). Furthermore the OMAP featured on this board has much of the RF built into the single piece of silicon. The board can run Ubuntu and Android. I plan to make a thin VM to target the board from LabVIEW (similar to LabVIEW for Arduino).

The next two boards from TI are equally awesome! First up is the smaller TI Launch Pad with Cap Touch Booster Pack. This addon contains a capacitive touch board and a new MSP430 to interface with it. It has a built in proximity sensor and is pretty cool to play with. Over the next few days I plan to experiment with it and see what ideas I come up with. The last board to join my army of embedded (soon to be robotic) projects is the Beagle Board. With a community of over 50,000 members, the Beagle packs an ARM Cortex A8 and can run several variants of Liniux. I plan to get LabIVEW working on this board as well, but what is more important is that this board integrates nicely with daughter boards, bringing the power of the Beagle to new heights. Expect to see some code in the next few days. I want to thank TI for these boards and helping me to continue my hobby. TI makes amazing digital and analog products that are great for building cheap low power projects. For example a Launch Pad costs $4.30 from the TI eStore.

And just in case you were wondering, I have a lovely bot built from the NXShield from I plan to shoot a video this weekend and post it later next week.

Dare I say a late Christmas in July? Today the mailman brought me two new toys that I have been looking forward to getting my hands on.The gentlemen over at and sent me a rather nice gift. First up is the Teemino. As you may know, I recently got a DRIOD cell phone. I have been wanting to play with the ADK for a while now, but never had any hardware. The Teemino is an ADK board made by  I have a few projects in mind for this board, but I want to start simple (just blinking a light). Check back for more updates with this board.

The next item probably deserves a whole post in itself. The NXShield is an Arduino shield that replicates (most) of the NXT. The shield has not 3, but 4 motor ports and 4 sensor ports. It fits the Arduino Uno or similar form factor. (It actually wont fit the Arduino Mega or Teemino due to a power jack on the board.) The motors and sensors are controlled via I2C. Furthermore, since it is Arduino, you could stack in an xBee shield (or other custom shield) and make a modular robot. Maybe make a NXT to NXShield communication using a Dexter Industries NXTBee? Or we could even mix in that GPS Bee I posted about. With the Arduino platform, the possibilities are endless!

Now just adding a motor port is awesome, but the NXShield has 6 servo motor headers. This means it can really drive just about anything. It would seem the Arduino is now the limiting factor in the system, but what did I say about fitting Arduino form devices??? Well the NXShield does in fact work with Maple (and a few other Arduino boards). Currently the libraries are only for the Arduino, but I plan to do some porting to make it all work together. I will be sure to post my library on the files page as well as some code examples.

Speaking of porting, there is another platform this could work with. By now you have to be wondering when I am going to mention National Instruments or LEGO. Well fear not! National Instruments released a LabVIEW for Arduino toolkit. It has support for I2C (as well as GPIO and SPI). See where I am going yet? You could actually use the NXShield with an Arduino running LabVIEW. Expect some VIs and code examples to get you started there as well.

So WOW! What a day and what an opportunity! I cant wait to get started!