Posts Tagged ‘NXT-G’

NXT-G Block Update

Posted: July 15, 2011 in News
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As posted on Mindboards, I have been working on more complete blocks for the NXTBee and RS485. I am happy to report that I have made a lot of progress last night, but have some UI bugs to work through. My goal is to get them posted at a reasonable time tonight (I will write a blog post when they are all up).

In the mean time, if you have found any bugs with the current files posted, please send me an email or post a comment below. I would like to try an update everything in one go tonight!

Happy Friday!

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!

A few months ago Dexter Industries released the NXTBee. So far there has only been support of RobotC. Since then I have been working on making the device work in NXT-G. After a few months of a closed beta, I finally have what I hope is a release candidate (RC). Over the next day or so, check the files page or DI’s website for the download.

The block only supports higher speed settings (over 200 kbs). You will need to run a simple program to set the speed. In addition, the block will only work with the enhanced firmware produced by John Hansen. While the RS485 VIs and block will work with the standard firmware, the NXTBee cannot communicate at the speeds that the standard firmware operates. A copy of the most recent enhanced firmware will be included in the download.

I head out to Kennedy Space Center today to see the launch and help run my shuttle, so it might be a day or two before it posts. Finally I want to extend a huge thank you to everyone in the beta for finding those bugs and for Dexter Industries for sending me the sensors.

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!