Make: Lego and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronics

Just before Christmas I received this fantastic book and over the last few months I have been making my way through it.

I think this is the number 1 book if you are coming from a LEGO MINDSTORMS background and want to know more about electronics and the Arduino platform or are coming from an Arduino background and want to integrate it with an easy to use building framework like LEGO.

The book features nice big colourful photos and building instructions. It features a wide range of projects from a robotic clock to a drawing bot, you can even make a drinks dispenser.  The book also covers the basics of electronics, history and in-depth details of LEGO MINDSTORMS and the Arduino platform and how to connect a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT to an Arduino.

I would say the only sticking point that people might find with this book is that it requires a Bricktronic Shield/Motor Controller to build most of the projects.  Full instructions on how to make your own shield are provided in the book which is useful if you don’t have one. If making one is not your thing, you can buy one from Wayne and Layne (co-writers of the book) for a fairly cheaply.  Wayne and Layne also have some other cool projects on their site including an Arduino Mega Shield that allows you to run 6 LEGO NXT motors and 4 sensors.  I will be doing a review of that soon.

As I have already said, this book is awesome if you want to extend the possibilities of your LEGO MINDSTORMS kit or use LEGO with the Arduino platform.

If you would like more information on this book, check it out on Amazon

 

Raspberry Pi and the LEGO NXT

For Christmas my lovely wife got me a Raspberry Pi Starter Kit. I wanted one of these since I saw that people had made it control an NXT via NXT-Python.  I thought that it would be cool to do the same so I found this website and followed what I could.  I am a programmer but I have limited Linux and no Python experience.

I followed this installation guide from NXT-Python: http://code.google.com/p/nxt-python/wiki/Installation

You will need to install PyUSB, to do this just run “apt-get install python-usb” under root terminal.

I only managed to get this working once I had restored the LEGO NXT 2.0 firmware on to the NXT brick.  I also had to make a NXT-Python config file and enter the NXT’s address in to it (you can find this under settings and NXT version on the NXT).  Information on making a config file can be found here: http://code.google.com/p/nxt-python/wiki/LocationConfig

All of my NXT’s started with 0016.  This should be entered as 2 parts of the address so in the config file you should have something like

[Brick]
name = MyNXT
host = 00:16:XX:XX:XX:XX
strict = 0
method = usb=True, bluetooth=False, fantomusb=False

The video below shows the Mary example running from the NXT-Python samples.

What next? Well I now have a portable computer driving my NXT which has WIFI support and can run a webserver. It should not be too hard to turn the Pi in to an advance WIFI sensor for the NXT and cost a 1/3 of the price.

Introducing Wheeler 2.0!

A little late to announce it as it has been on Youtube for quite a while but here is version 2.0 of Wheeler.

Features:

  • Controlled via a Android device talking to a Lego NXT (Programmed in RobotC).
  • Completely redesign body from version 1.
  • Moves and rotates via 2 NXT motors.
  • Head rotates and eyes/mouth light up.
  • Arms can rise / lower.
  • Claws can open / close via 2 micro motors .
  • Uses a Mindsensors.com RCX Multiplexor

 

Video

 

PhotoStream
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lego_robotics/sets/72157630101631308/

Wheeler : Test 1, can it move!

One of the challenges of making large stuff is making it move.  The past 2 robots had been driven by tank tracks but I thought I would try something else.  So I posted on Eurobricks asking about giant wheel designs as Lego don’t make large wheels.  I had some awesome feedback and here is the result.

Update:
I must actually update the video as it works a lot better now.  I have replace the 16 long technic studded beams on the outer rim to be 15 long studless beams so that it does not lock up (clicking noise on video).

I have also removed the front set of balancing wheels and counter balanced the back ones so that it looks more impressive.  I will post an update soon.