Posts Tagged ‘NXT’


LEGO was all over World Maker Faire! Besides FIRST LEGO League, LEGO was a common sight. LEGO provides a flexible building platform and Makers love LEGO. While it might not ship in a final project, the iconic, modular bricks provides an unmatched ease of use for prototyping. This has been one of my favorite posts to write, showing off all the awesome creations of the community! Follow me after the break to check out more of the LEGO sights of World Maker Faire 2016!

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Many of the people that follow my blog know I do a lot of robotics. I build robots, I write software for robots, and I mentor/coach FIRST teams. If you know anything about FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), you know January and February are busy months. This is the build season. Between my research and mentoring a team, I have almost no free time. I do have a few projects that need to be posted and I will try and get to them as soon as I can. I have some updates on my Glow with the Show ears, APRS on a Beaglebone, NXT Simulink Tutorial, and VEX IQ.

In case you were wondering what this year’s FRC game is, see below!

Remember that Maker Faire demo I posted about a few weeks ago? Well as promised here is Part 2! This time I dive into the new features I added for the demo. The video format is a bit strange in that it presents a PowerPoint, but that was a requirement for a class. I ended up leveraging this work for my image processing class this semester.

One of the easiest ways to make a demo interactive is to kid a child a maker and say draw. That is exactly what this demo does. As the child draws, the robot or swarm will follow the line. I do some image processing to find the line. The first step is to reduce the search area. This is a huge time saver when it comes to processing and removes many of the issues of shadows or various markers and body parts the camera may see. Then it does a search in this region of interest (ROI) and looks for where the line intersects the ROI.

I tried to keep the new feature as streamlined as possible to avoid the issues of degraded performance. Image processing can be quite processor intensive. Since the code was already doing a lot of processing to get to this point, I wanted to ensure that any further enhancements did not add lag.

There is always room for improvement and one of those areas would be actually projecting the line to calculate the intersection. This would probably help for the cases where the line does not intersect the edge of the ROI, but that is a feature for another time. Check out the video for more details. It came together really well!

I am happy to share Part 1 of the demo I took to the Orlando Mini Maker Faire. This video covers the basics of what The MathWorks provided me. As you can tell by the video, it is somewhat dependent on lighting. But let me describe what the base demo does.

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The setup is 3 NXT robots running Simulink code that communicates with my computer. There is a camera positioned about 6 feet above the robots. Each robot has a unique pattern that can be seen by the camera. Using this pattern we can determine the position and heading of each bot.

The demo tries to get the robots to form a triangle. The position of the triangle is determined by the user. The robots will follow the triangle as the user moves it.  Check out the video above to see the tech in action! While the video was shot in my apartment, the picture, right, was from the Orlando Mini Maker Faire.

Now I love sharing cool tech with people, but I also love to put my own twist on it. What if we made the demo interactive and allowed kids to draw lines? One might think a robot or a group of robots might follow that line. One might also thing that adding more lines of different colors might allow different robots to follow different lines. Of course that is all speculation.  Maybe the photo below will be a helpful hint. 😉

Part 2...

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!

Brickbot

Posted: January 21, 2012 in LEGO
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Baz, an MCP up in Montreal, Canada, created one of the coolest robots ever, Brickbot. Brickbot is a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot, hidden under a big LEGO shell. For Christmas/my birthday, my roommate got me a few LEGO containers. Like Marc, I quickly made a robot to fit inside the shell. Using parts from only one NXT kit (but some may be different in color), I created the frame you see here. I put in a ultrasonic sensor that looks under the bigger brick to help it avoid objects. I wrote a quick program in NXT-G and my red Brickbot was born. He roamed around at the Greenfield Brick Expo and will be roaming around today at the IL FLL State Tournament in Chicago. More pictures below!

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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!

LEGO is conducting some product testing in the New York City area. If you are between the ages of 10 and 13 and own an NXT set, have your parents visit lego.com. Here is the post:

Attention LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT fans!

If you own a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robot, if you live in the area of New Jersey/New York City, USA, and if you are willing to help us with some product testing in early October, we are asking for help from our 10-13 year old fans! Parents can download and complete the form, found here:

http://mindstorms.lego.com/en-us/News/ReadMore/Default.aspx?id=320866 and send it back to us by 9/28/11

Once we receive the signed form, you may be contacted by a representative from the company, that conduct the focus group for the LEGO Group. If you are chosen, we may end up having you join us to help with some consumer product testing on October 8th or October 9th.

*Note – you must own a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robot, and live in the New Jersey/New York City area to be eligible to participate.

DI IMU: Coming Soon!

Posted: September 11, 2011 in News
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Dexter Industries has new product: the DI IMU. An IMU or Inertial Measurement Unit is a sensor that can measure rotation and acceleration about the x, y, and z axis. This sensors has a ton of applications, from data logging different movements, to balancing a segway. In addition to its awesome uses, the sensor is small, so it can be easily integrated into a robot. While much of the software is still in development, you can see some initial readings on the screen (sorry for the bad picture). Just think if you couple this bad boy with NXTBee, you now have a wireless IMU.

I have updated the examples for the NXTBee on the files page. These updates include timing so the screen shows the correct text and updating it to work with the 2.12 version of the block. If you have any issues with the newest update, please let me know!

Next, I am planning to update a revision to the NXTBee block in the coming week. It will likely be around version 2.20. This update adds a timeout to both sending and receiving. Sending will try 10 times to send and if it does not hear back form the other NXT, it will stop. Receiving will listen for 20 ms before it times out. This should make it so the software is easier to use. If you are interested in testing this, please leave a comment or email me.