Sunday, October 22, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

B2B Lab: LEGO board game...

A little board game history:

Probably the oldest board game known to have existed was Senet, and Egyptian game during the Predynastic (3500 BC) and First Dynasty (3100 BC). It was made of wood board with holes which were used to hold carved sticks that were moved about the board.

The game of Monopoly was originally invented in 1903 by American anti-monopolist Elizabeth Magie; It was intended as an educational tool to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies. Magie took out a patent in 1904. Her game, The Landlord's Game, was self-published, beginning in 1906. Later, in 1933, a variation on The Landlord's Game called Monopoly was the basis of the board game sold by Parker Brothers, beginning on February 6, 1935.

There have been lots of board games where you move around the board (usually made of cardboard) and accumulate play money, items, or be the first to make it to an end square.

In 2009, LEGO has also created board games made of LEGO elements (of course).

Two Brics~2~Bots engineers, Olivia and Jonas, have invented a rather different type of board game call Thief.

Introduction to the manual:

This game is a little different in that it is sort of three games in one. The object of the game is to catch the thief and return him to jail, thus winning the game. However, if a player catches the thief he could escape from his captor, but could also be capture by another player, or the thief could escape through the portal to another unknown time zone, winning the game. 

Of course like any exciting game there are obstacles and bonuses.


Monday, October 9, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Field Setup...

If you are still having trouble with the field set-up, rules, etc. check out FIRST LEGO League (European) website It's the same rules, but it sometimes gives another perspective & pictures. 

Shout out to: Mary Lee, St. Clare School Robotics, thanks for reminding me about this website. 


FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Water Treatment Model & Pump System...

You might have noticed that the Pump System can move when you try to attach the Pump Addition. Check the Hydro Dynamics Robot Game Field SetUp Guide. It says, "Secure the model to the North border wall within the marks." There are no Velcro marks on the field mat. So, it probably means use Velcro on the wall. See picture from another FIRST guide:

Also, if you are having a little trouble with the Water Treatment model working properly (and you know you built it correctly) check these points when you secure it to the field mat:

Then it should work perfectly...


Sunday, October 8, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: The Field Mat Update...

Update: Just a word of caution about the field mat...

1. Handle with care, because this mat tears easily.

2.  After applying the Velcro to the mat and sometime later deciding to remove it, it sometimes takes the picture coating off - really!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

FTC - Relic Recovery: Let's Hear it for the Girls...

Indiana Jones Robotic Style

As the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) season starts
let's get the girls involved in building and programming robots!

Check out
what's happening with girls & STEM @ the  Pitsco Blog!


Thursday, September 14, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Using the Color Sensor on the Field Mat...

Once again it is a new exciting FITST LEGO League season!

This year's mat is very colorful, so the Brics~2~Bots engineers decided to test (using our test robot "Testy") the color sensor out on this year's mat, programming with the EV3 software. So here are some tips  for new teams when using the Color Sensor....

Test 1: Using WAIT for Color > Compare > Color whether black or white the color sensor sometimes detected very light (for white) and very dark (for black). That could be a problem!

Test 2: Using WAIT for Color > Compare > Reflected Light Intensity you can:
    1. Calibrate for black or white before the matches using Port View on the robot controller to measure Reflecting Light and adjust your program to WAIT for Color > Compare > Reflected Light Intensity for the resulting Threshold. 


     2. Write a Color Calibration program using the Color Sensor block which can be made into a MyBlock. Then place that color calibration MyBock at the beginning of the mission program to calibrate for a specific color & Write/store it in a Variable (give it a name, i.e. the color) that can be used to Read data (the light's threshold vale) into the WAiT for Color  block in the mission section of the program.

    Color Calibration & stored                                 Applied in a mission to find the Black line.

      3. If your missions programs are all under one EV3 Project, you can write a calibration program, saving the Threshold value in a Variable that can be used in any of the missions saved in that project. Several different color variables can be stored in the project.

Good Luck @ the tournaments
Remember Gracious Professionalism
Have FUN!!!


Monday, September 11, 2017

B2B Lab: Using littleBits® and LEGO®...

Using littleBits® and LEGO® - What is littleBits? It is an electronic modular building system. “Bits” are electronic building blocks that are color-coded (Power, Input, Output, Wires) and connect to each other magnetically to form electronic circuits. The simplicity of building with them makes complex technology more understandable and definitely fun.  littleBits® has a Brick Adapter so that you can attach the Bits to a LEGO model – so cool!



    There are 4 types of Brick Adapters that you will receive in a kit or order separately as a package.

  Note: When stringing several littleBits Brick Adapters together and attaching them to LEGO bricks they have to be fitted a certain way.

  Q-Tip: If you are having trouble getting Bits, Brick Adapters, and LEGO elements to “stick,” try first attaching the Brick Adapters to the LEGO elements, then connect the Bits to the Brick Adapters by snapping them starting at the top then at the bottom or vice versa rather than trying to push from the middle of the Bit. Be sure to press only on the “shoes” - the color ends of the Bits.

  Even after snapping your Bits and LEGO elements together they still might come loose. Try securing them with additional building elements. It will also make the project look better.

   Besides bricks, bricks w/holes, and plates, what other LEGO elements can be attached to littleBits?

    How to attach a littleBits Mounting Board to LEGO  Connect a LEGO Technic Beam to the studs on a LEGO building plate. Insert Half Pins (short end) into the Beam; you will discover that when you count from the first insertion pin, every fifth hole on the Beam will match a hole on the littleBits Mounting Board. Attach the Mounting Board to the Half Pins in the Beam. Secure with a LEGO #5 Half Beam.

If you happened to have a MinuteBot Base (they are hard to find now) you can attach littleBits to the Base using the littleBits Brick Adapter, LEGO Beams and Half Pins.

Note: LEGO MIndstorms EV3 IR Beacon )also an Apple remote and perhaps some other remotes) can remotely control littleBits when used with a Remote Trigger Bit.

Check out the projects and Tips & Ticks on the littlBits website:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

B2B Lab: Robotic Hand Sanitizer...

We all know that we live in a germ filled world, so it is important to wash or sanitize our hands before eating!

However, sometimes when we try to use the hand sanitizer pump the bottle slips when we try to push the pump down and we make a mess...

But wait, there is a solution to this problem (drum roll...)

The EV3 Hand Sanitizer Dispenser!

This is the creation of Beatrice, one of our Brics~2~Bots engineers.  

Read more about her device @ Knights of Bots 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: FLL Teams...

For all those "rookie" coaches and teams,
don't be afraid to test 
the "Hydro Dynamics" waters!

Click below to read this inspirational article about starting a team...

How Three Teachers Who Knew Nothing About Robotics Started a
FIRST® Program

Post Note: Today, Maureen is an active member in the NYC FLL and a veteran coach inspiring many successful teams.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Robot Game Rules Highlights...

Robot Game Rules - What's the rule?

This year's rules have basically remained the same as last year. 
R01 - ALL EQUIPMENT - All Equipment must be made of LEGO-made building parts in original factory condition (remember LEGO is one of our sponsors - Thank you LEGO!)
Except: LEGO string and tubing may be cut shorter.
Except: Program reminders on paper are okay (off the Field).

Except: Marker may be used in hidden areas for identification.

R02 - CONTROLLERS - You are allowed only ONE individual controller in any particular Match.
For your Brick Controller you have the choice of the following LEGO Mindstorms Bricks: RCX (the one that started it all - mine still works on older computer OS systems), NXT, and EV3. 

You may use any of the LEGO Mindstorms motors, however

R03 - MOTORS - You are allowed up to FOUR individual motors in any particular Match.

Other LEGO motors: Wind-up or Pull-back are not allowed.

R04 - EXTERNAL SENSORS - Use as many external sensors as you like.

R05 - OTHER ELECTRIC/ELECTRONIC THINGS - No other electric/electronic things are allowed in the competition area for Mission-related activity.

Except: LEGO-made wires and converter cables are allowed as needed. Wires from Mindsensors and other third parties may not be used in competition.

R06 - NON-ELECTRIC ELEMENTS - Use as many non-electric LEGO-made elements as you like. Be creative folks!

R07 - SOFTWARE - The Robot may only be programmed using LEGO MINDSTORMS RCX, NXT, EV3, or RoboLab software (any release). No other software is allowed. Patches, add-ons, and new versions of the allowable software from the manufacturers (LEGO and National Instruments) are allowed, but tool kits, including the LabVIEW tool kit, are not allowed.

Keep in mind that robots and attachments will be checked at the Robot Inspection and possibly at the game table, so please adhere to the rules.

STARTS - After getting to the Field on timeyou have at least one minute to prepare.
you may...
• ask (respectfully) the Ref to be sure a Mission Model or setup is correct, and/or
• calibrate light/color sensors anywhere you like.

• You are not allowed to interact with any part of the Field that’s not COMPLETELY in Base.
Except: You may Interrupt the Robot any time.
Except: You may pick up Equipment that BROKE off the Robot UNINTENTIONALLY, anywhere, any time.

• If you combine a Mission Model with something (including the Robot), the combination must be loose enough that if asked to do so, you could pick the Mission Model up and nothing else would come with it.
• If you combine a Mission Model with something (including the Robot), the combination must be loose enough that if asked to do so, you could pick the Mission Model up and nothing else would come with it

R13 - LAUNCHING - A proper Launch (or re- Launch) goes like this:
   o Your Robot and everything in Base it’s about to move or use is arranged by hand as you like, all fitting “COMPLETELY IN BASE” and measuring no taller than 12inches” (30.5 cm). This rule has been re-stated.
   o Reach down and touch a button or signal a sensor to activate a program. The Technician  should not be touching any part of the robot during the countdown.

R14 - INTERRUPTING If you INTERRUPT the Robot, you must stop it immediately, *then calmly pick it up for a re-Launch (*if you intend one). Here’s what happens to the Robot and anything it was
Transporting, depending on where each was at the time:
  o Completely in Base: Re-Launch
  o NOT completely in Base: Re-Launch + Penalty
  o Completely in Base: Keep it 
  o NOT completely in Base: Give it to the Ref! The Ref takes it.

R15 - STRANDING - If the UNINTERRUPTED Robot loses something it was Transporting, that thing must be allowed to come to rest. Once it does, here’s what happens to that
thing, depending on its rest location:
  o Completely in BaseL Keep it
  o Partly in Base: Give it to the Ref! The Ref takes it.
  o Completely outside Base: Leave as is (only the robot may bring it in Base during its run)

• If the Robot separates Dual Lock or breaks a Mission Model, Missions obviously made possible or easier by this damage or the action that caused it do not score. Please try not to destroy the models - it delays the game in repairing them.

R18 - END OF THE MATCH - As the Match ends, everything must be preserved exactly as-is:
• If your Robot is moving, stop it ASAP and leave it in place. (Changes after the end don’t count.)
• After that, hands off everything until after the Ref has given the okay to reset the table.

Next... the Missions


Thursday, July 20, 2017

FLL - Animal Allies: Animal Allies Leftovers...

The  Animal Allies FLL season has long ended, now what to do with the leftover Robot Performance field set-up models?

Well, you could disassemble then and add them to your growing collection of LEGO(R) parts. But before you do that, why not try to “remix” the models into something else.

Here are a few “remixed” field models created by the Brics~2~Bots engineers (Luc & Brandon).

Shark Tank to Fish Tank

And you don't have to feed them!

Beehive to Cat Treater

What's this???

I smell a treat!

Should I push the button that smells of catnip?

Mmmm, that was good!

Refrigerator to Candy Dispenser

Sometimes if you are lucky you get two!