Tuesday, February 13, 2018

B2B - Lab: Tracks vs. Tracks...

I volunteer at quite a few FLL (FIRST LEGO Lague) tournaments and I noticed that very few teams use tracks on their robots, mostly rookie teams. So the Brics~2~Bots Engineers decided to test tracks on the field mat with various combinations of small rubber studs (Boost & Technic kits) and large red rubber studs (which were available when the EV3 was first launched). 

Our test robot was simple. An NXT with EV3 motors. Programmed with EV3 software.

 First, Brandon made a test program for the vehicle to move first backward then forward, turn left and then turn right. It used the programming block Move Tank at a power of 50 for 2 rotations, then repeated the sequence with a power of 75. There was a WAIT of 1 second between actions.  The program was set up to see if the robot could start & stop at the same spot; this would indicate the precision & consistency of the robot's movements. Observations of the robot's performance were recorded.

Tracks without studs.
Bumpy with slippage. Turns not consistent. Robot out of control!
Tracks w/small rubber studs on the outer edge or inner edge of the tracks.

Somewhat slow moving even at 75. Slightly bumpy on the FLL field mat & smooth surfaces. Seems to have consistent turns. Placement of studs is better on the outer edge of the tracks. To start and stop at the same spot it is off by 1-1.5 inches forward.
Tracks w/small rubber studs alternating inside & out positions.
Visibly less bumpy, but with consistent turns. To start and stop at the same spot it is off by .5-1 inches forward.
Tracks with 2 small rubber studs per track.
Appears to be a bit less bumpy than a single stud per track. Consistent turns. To start and stop at the same spot it is off by .5-1 inches forward.
Tracks w/large rubber studs on alternating tracks track.

It is bumpy at 50 power and very bumpy at 75 power. To start and stop at the same spot it is off by
1 inch forward and .5 to the left.
Tracks w/large rubber studs on every track.
Less bumpy that alternating tracks, but still rather bumpy. Consistent turns. To start and stop at the same spot was almost perfect.

Each time the robot stopped there was a rocking motion. This might be cause for concern traveling a longer distance than 2 rotations might cause inconsistent results.

It has a better grip on rough surfaces & is good for crawling over a low obstacle.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

B2B Lab: LEGO MINDSTORMS' 20th Anniversary...

Bricks and circuits are buzzing... 

2018 marks the 20th Anniversary of LEGO MINDSTORMS!

January 1998: The LEGO MINDSTORMS RCX Intelligent Brick and Robotics Invention System are shown at The Museum of Modern Art in London.

September 1998: The Robotics Invention System is launched.

September 1999: The Robotics Discovery Set, Ultimate Accessory Set, Droid Developer Kit and the Robotics Invention System 1.5 are released in the United States.


2008-2009: For the 10th Anniversary a limited edition (only 1998 copies) Black NXT controller brick.

August 2009: The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 platform iteration is released.

January 2013: The 15th anniversary of LEGO MINDSTORMS is celebrated with the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3.

So LEGO, is there something new in for MINDSTORMS

If anyone has any speculations, feel free to comment...

Sunday, December 31, 2017

B2B Lab: Happy New Year...

Happy New Year!

May your New Year be a healthy & happy one
full of Brics~Bits~Bots!

Happy 2018!
From L3GoBots-Lady & students of Brics~2~Bots

* * * *


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

B2B Lab: Happy Holidays...

engineers wish you a

Happy Holiday!


LeGoramas are dioramas made with LEGO, of course!
A medium EV3 motor programmed with an EV3 brick provides the movement and sound.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

FIRST - Inspires...

Whether you call it STEM or STEAM, 
FIRST robotics inspires!

Paula's Story

Please donate to FIRST to keep the success stories coming...

Another FIRST success story
and this one is personal to me...

Back in 2005-06, I had a FIRST LEGO League team called the CyberBots. These students are now in their twenties and doing great things: architectural engineering, research medical surgery,  electrical engineering, digital strategist, technology and more. Recently, one, Saeed Jabbar won the weWork Creator Award for his non-profit organization, Inclusion. 

Started in 2015 through a grant request, Inclusion provides training in computer coding and technology skills that would led its students to new and better employment.

Please donate to Inclusion to keep the success stories coming...


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Book Review: The LEGO Train Book...

Wondering what to give LEGO fans this holiday season who seems to have just about every new kit possible? Well, you could give them a bucket of LEGO elements (they could never have enough LEGO elements) or perhaps a new LEGO book.

Just in time for the holidays is a new book, The LEGO Train Book by Holger Matthes, No Starch Press, 2017.

Holger Matthes has been building with LEGO since 2000. He was involved in the creation of various official LEGO projects such as the Hobby Train set #10183 and frequently presents his models and gives workshops at LEGO exhibitions worldwide. He describes his book as a book  "about designing LEGO trains. The first part of the book gives an overview of LEGO trains over the different eras, covers some history, and answers questions about how to combine old LEGO trains from the attic with today’s kits. 

The second part of the book is about building your own LEGO train models, also known as My Own Creations (MOCs) . Using my many years of experience building LEGO models, I’ll show you how to create proper train models, covering both the possibilities and the limitations.

 Finally, the book ends with step-by-step building instructions for several models."

This is a wonderful book for the LEGO fan and particularly the LEGO train fan and possibly the model train enthusiast as  well.  It is also available at Amazon 


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

B2B Lab: The Inventive Spirit...

There is a new movement that has grown out of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) or more appropriately STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design, Mathematics); it is learning by doing, which really isn't a new concept - John Dewy first brought it to light back in the early 1900s  - “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” This has initiated the Inventive Spirit!

This new movement is not just encouraging students in general, but also the Spectrum student (students with Special Needs). And although STEM may have been looked upon as "male thing;" females are being inspired and leading the way (such as, Ayah Bdeir of littleBits®).

Check out this video of a young inventor...

So, whatever medium you may use: LEGO, Mindstorms, littleBits, Tetrix, paper & glue, etc. or combining any of them together...

Go Experiment, Discover, Learn, Invent!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Faucet Model...

If teams are having some trouble getting the Faucet water level to stay in position after turning the knob, it might be because the beige long pin is too loose fitting or the blue axle pin on the lift mechanism. Try switching the blue axle pin with another or using a blue long pin instead of of the beige long one; the knob will turn easily and the water level will stay when if flips. 


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Robot Game Performance - Updates...

FLL Teams be sure to check for the latest updates @ FIRST

The latest update was December...

 Robot Game Updates 
NOTICE: Update 4 has been reworded, and Update 2 has been renamed. 

18 December 2017


Setup for the Filter model’s lock latch shall be dropped northward, and not perched upward.

7 November 2017 

When all four of a Water Well’s black slider buttons are in contact with the mat, that Well will be scored as if its entire circular base is in full/flat contact with the mat wherever the well is. Restated: Although it’s true that the sliders keep the circular base off the mat, the well will be scored as if the sliders were taken away. (Ignore picture of Well on its side - sliders are not making contact)

Each of these missions requires something to “rise,” by any method, and to “stay there” due only to a Big Water in the required place. 

A Robot entering Base will be considered “completely in Base” as soon as it matches the 2nd picture in Rule D07 even if there are portions of the Robot or something it has transported partially past the west or south border walls. This leniency does not apply for Launches. 

DIRECTION - Don’t be confused by the presence of yellow on both sides of the Cloud Model. The curvy cloud-like feature along with the lightning face east, as described and shown in the Field Setup Guide. If you have somehow come across a picture actually showing the Model backwards, see Rule GP5 #4, Bullet 1. 
DAMAGE – Be careful your Robot doesn’t break the lightning off the Cloud Model. Even though that feature is a decoration, Rule R17 still applies. 

Team members away from the table may hold Equipment after the referee has seen all of it in one place, but Models must stay in view of the referee. 

21 October 2017 

If you press your Pump Model against the wall but some of the Dual Lock is still visible (higher than the wall), re-apply the Dual Lock lower as needed until it’s no longer visible. Unlike with other Models, the precise Dual Lock pattern for this Model is not critical. Just be sure some pairs are low, and some pairs are as high as possible without being visible. 

In Rule D07, ignore the 6th picture and its caption. 

The Optional Loop sometimes tilts out of the airspace above Pipe scoring area. This has no effect on the scoring. 

After following the Field Setup page (not the video) accurately, you may notice that the axle leading from the Toilet doesn’t exactly trace perfectly over its mark on the mat… THIS IS OKAY. At a tournament, the Toilet will be built and placed as shown, so that’s the placement you should practice with. If your properly built Water Treatment Model doesn’t activate while the yellow lever is held down, the problem is friction in the treatment Model. Make sure no beam is being pinched between a gear and a brown axle-joiner, nor pinched between two gears. Spread such elements from each other just a tiny bit, to ensure free-play. Also make sure all pins are fully “clicked” into their holes, for alignment. 

UPDATE 1 – Leniency (REVISED) 
If you Interrupt the Robot while it’s Transporting something that came from Base during the most recent Launch, you may keep that thing. 


Saturday, October 28, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics Core Values...

The Core Values of the FLL - FIRST LEGO League is as follows:

          We are a team.
          We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
          We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.
          We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
          What we discover is more important than what we win.
          We share our experiences with others.
          We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
          We have FUN!

Well, here is a delightful video put together by several international teams exemplifying the 
FLL Core Values


Sunday, October 22, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Info for FLL Rookies...

Research Project:
READ the Challenge Guide, it gives you direction in what the challenge is about, plus valuable tips & resources to check out. Start on it right away!

Robot Performance & Technical:
If you kids are new to Mindstorms robotics, before you tackle the robot performance, teach them basic robotic building & coding. After they show some confidence & understanding have them put the field models together, discuss strategy, decide on a robot chassis or two, and then let them take it from there. 
Here are a couple of excellent links that will be helpful to the rookie teams:

Videos on EV3 Programming:


Videos on Building with EV3 & FLL tips:


Core Values:
Have the work on a Core Value or two each practice - explaining how it relates to their team, gathering pictures, ideas for their team board display, and possibly working on a song, skit, demo, etc.

Consider This...
I have been asked by rookie coaches, what is the role of the coach? FIRST is a fun learning experience, however, the kids need a foundation; the coach should be teaching them or reviewing the basic skills (how to build a simple chassis, basic programming, how to keep an engineer's notebook, how to do an experiment, note-taking, how to write a summary, how to do a blog, etc.) that they need to then go on and learn/make their own decisions/discover by doing. The coach's role after that is mainly management and directing the team on how to do problem solving & where to possibly go for answers. A coach doesn't just hand the team a kit, the guide, & say "go for it," because then they will not learn as much as they should from the FIRST experience.


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.