Sunday, February 7, 2016

FLL - Trash Trek: NYC Qualifiers...

They are going to the NYC FIRST LEGO League Finals!

CCNY - Manhattan Qualifier
1st Place Champions Award
10871 - Collegiate School

1st Place Robot Performance
10871 - Collegiate School

2nd Place Robot Performance
22894 - Grace Gremlins 2

1st Place Robot Design
10053 - The Young Warriors

2nd Place Robot Design
19010 - Trinity Gold

1st Place Research Project
11916 - Blue Tigers

2nd Place Research Project
7651 - Grace Gremlins 1

1st Place Core Values
7399 - Grace East Side Middle

2nd Place Core Values
10827 - Manhattan Youth @ Quest

Queens Qualifier

1st Place Champions Award
15245 - Ryons Lions

2nd Place Champions Award
3071 - Flash

1st Place Robot Performance
1551 - Sonic Gears

2nd Place Robot Performance
2562 - Super Botz

1st Place Robot Design
15679 - QH Master Builders

2nd Place Robot Design
15072 - New Schooler

3rd Place Robot Design
760 Boggie  Bots

1st Place Research Project
3429 - GirlBot

2nd Place Research Project
 1551- Sonic Gears

3rd Place Research Project
3427 - Agent of  T.R.A.S.H.

1st Place Core Values
15919 - Robo Fusion 192

2nd Place Core Values
2762 - Ra Tech Titans

3rd Place Core Values

3432 - Trash Talk

Judges Award
2561- Top Gearz

Honorabe Mention
3430 - Composters

3431 - Legoneers

Other Results to Follow...

March 12, 2016


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

FLL - Trash Trek: Ultrasonic vs. IR Sensor...

As you may know, sometimes the FLL field mat does not quite fit properly on the recommended tabletop. So, in this year’s rules it is stated that, “Slide and align it so that there is no gap between the South edge of the Mat and the South Border Wall, then center the Mat east-west, with equal gaps at left and right.”

With the mat flush against the South Border Wall, a team may be able to use an Ultrasonic or IR Sensor accurately to detect the South Border Wall. 

So, this became a test challenge for the members of the Brics~2~Bots Academy. Brandon assisted in the tests by designing a test robot, writing programs in NXY-G and EV3 to test the NXT Ultrasonic sensor (on an EV3 brick), EV3 Ultrasonic, and an EV3 IR Sensor. We made a chart to record the results.

EV3 brick and software, at Power Levels 20-75, measuring a stopping distance of 10 centimeters

NXT Ultrasonic
EV3 Ultrasonic
(less than or equall to)
EV3 IR Sensor -Proximity
(measure in Centimeters)
(equal to)
5.5 centimeters - 20 power 10 centimeters - 20 power 10 centimeters - 20 power
5.5 centimeters - 30 power 10 centimeters - 30 power 10 centimeters - 30 power
2.5 centimeters - 40 power 10 centimeters - 40 power 10 centimeters - 40 power
2.5 centimeters - 50 power 10 centimeters - 500 power 10 centimeters - 500 power
3.5 centimeters - 75 power 10 centimeters - 75 power 10 centimeters - 75 power


NXT Ultrasonic - Seems to work with the EV3, but the response time is off. Measuring for 10 centimeters, it stops much closer and at different distances for the different power levels. See chart. This may be because the response time for the NXT Ultrasonic is slower than the EV3 sensor.

Ev3 Ultrasonic - AT powers 20-75 the EV3 stops accurately. Since the Ultrasonic senses a sound wave that is reflected out to the object; one might wonder, if surrounding sound would have an effect? Testing under noisy conditions didn’t seem to effect the performance of the EV3 Ultrasonic. However, at the  NYC FLL finals at the Javits Center, the noise level is so high that it might cause a problem for the Ultrasonic.

EV3 (IR) Inferred - Used in the Compare - Proximity mode measures in centimeters. AT powers 20-75 the EV3 stops accurately. Since it measures light waves it would not be effected by loud sounds that will be apparent at the NYC FLL finals at the Javits Center tournament.

Note: Power levels above 75 does not allow a long enough response time for the Ultrasonics and IR Sensor to detect an object (however, you could try to push it to 80).


Saturday, November 7, 2015

FLL - Trash Trek: The Color Sensor and the Field Mat...

     This year’s FLL Field Mat is of nice quality, teams need to be aware that the high gloss of the mat may cause faulty readings for the color sensors. Depending on the type of light source and angle of that light source, some lighting situations may cause bright reflections on black lines causing the color sensor to read the line as a color value less than black.

Students at Brics~2~Bots Academy ran a test on the FLL Trash Trek field mat, under normal house lighting, to see how an EV3 Color sensor would respond to the mat and this is what they observed…
  1. When line following with one color sensor and using Compare Reflected mode detecting the black line, lighting could be an issue where glare is being reflected off the mat depending on the angle of the lighting. You might get various readings at different parts of the same line. However, using Compare Reflected mode detecting the White bordering the Black line seems to work fine. For those who plan to use Compare Color mode it seems to work fine as long as the robot’s motor power is 30 or less and detects the line at an angle of about 20 degrees; more than that or greater power may cause it to miss or go off the line. For a smoother moving robot (less zig zag) use a power combination of 30 and 10.
  2. When using duel color sensors, the power of the True Value motor can be as high as 40-45, while
    the other motor has a power of 10-20. This allows the robot to move in a smooth straight line.
  3. This year’s mat is very colorful, so when detecting a white line or a black line you need to be aware of the part of the mat the robot has to move across to get to that White line or black line. 
Moving over a light colored area to detect a white line, in Compare Color Mode, the robot might stop or will hesitate over white (duh!) and light colors, but tends to move on to detect the pure white area. 

When detecting black in Compare Color Mode there seems to be no problem as long as the motor power was 50 or less; greater power can cause the robot to over shoot the line; it is moving too fast to have the sensor read and respond to the line.

Moving over dark colored areas to detect a white line, in Compare Color Mode, the robot might stop or hesitate.  When detecting black in Color Mode the robot might hesitate over dark colors and stop on black spots of .5 cm thickness. The thin black lines did not prove to be a problem with motor power of 50 or less. 

When detecting a white line, in Compare Color Mode, the sensor will read light colors mixed in and may hesitate or even stop. 

If you use the Compare Reflected Mode to detect white and moving over a multi-colored area, use GREATER THAN/EQUAL TO the threshold and a motor power of 50 or less. 

If you use the Compare Reflected Mode to detect black and moving over a multi-colored area, use LESS THAN/EQUAL TO the threshold and again a motor power of 50 or less.

It is recommended that teams run similar tests using different lighting situations before you start programing your missions. Note, we did not test the NXT Color sensor, but we suspect that the results would be similar.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

FLL - Trash Trek: Scoring Apps

There are two FLL Trash Trek Robot Game Scoring apps for i-devices available:

FLL Trash Trek Scorer - Asha Seshan

FLL Trash Trek 2015 - Raymond Pang

Of the two, FLL Trash Trek Scorer - Asha Seshan is accurate. It has a Timer and Stopwatch. It starts with the 96 points that is given to the team in Black Bars and then adjusts the score as missions are accomplished or penalties are given. Scores can be saved.

The other scorer, FLL Trash Trek 2015 - Raymond Pang has a couple of errors, such as, scores for 5 animals when there are only 3. It looks as if the developer basically copied last years scorer; changing the words.

They are both free at the App store.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

FLL - Trash Trek: Field Mat Revisited...

So this year, in addition to BASE, there is a SAFETY zone. 

BASE is where you will launch your robot (with its attachments and cargo), which MUST be COMPLETELY IN BASE. 

When your robot is returning to BASE the robot, its attachments, and cargo only needs to be COMPLETELY IN SAFETY,  before you may touch the robot; and as you know touching the robot or parts thereof is an Interrupt/Touch penalty. A penalty is worth minus 8 points, but the maximum for Interrupt/Touch penalties minus 32 points - that's nice.

However, there are other deductions:
     1. A Junk Penalty is for elements used and left PARTIALLY or COMPLETELY Out of SAFETY.
     2. Minus 8 will also be deducted for BLACK bars left on the mat or in SAFETY, that are not in their original state, not in the proper green bin, not in the black bin, or made into a flower pot with the compost.

Notice, the key word this year is "COMPLETELY." In previous years "IN" meant just crossing the line. This year the robot+ or models must be COMPLETELY IN! In a few cases the word PARTIALLY is used, read that rule carefully for the conditions. 

One last word about the BLACK bars...
     Technically, a team has 96 points at the start of the game for the 12 BLACK bars not in play yet.

1. So, 8 BLACK bars is in its original state, plus the ref 's 4 BLACK bars, that have not been used as a penalty yet = 12 Black bars
2. BLACK bars are worth plus 8 pts each = 16 pt, if you make a Flower pot with the compost.
3. They are worth plus 3 pts each, if they are in the proper Green Bin or Black Landfill Bin.


Friday, October 9, 2015

FLL - Trash Trek: NYC FLL Workshops & Clinic...

NYC FIRST LEGO League Workshops & Clinics

NYU-Polytechnic School of Engineering 
6 MetroTech Center 
Second Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Workshop Dates:                 Time: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday October 10th
Sunday October 11th
Saturday October 17th
Sunday October 18th 
Saturday October 24th
Sunday October 25th  

These workshops are for coaches, rookie and veterans. Topics that will be covered are team organization, robot design, basic programming, use of sensors, and mission strategies. Bring a laptop, LEGO Mindstorms kit - NXT or  EV3, and USB drive.

Clinics Dates:                     Time: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sunday November 15th 
Saturday December 12th

These clinics are designed for the coach and student to learn and build together. Attendance should consist of coach(s) and 2-3 students, *You cannot attend without your student(s). Please bring your laptop w/charger, complete NXT or EV3 kit (w/current built robot, 1 built attachment, and extra LEGO pieces to build another attachment from scratch. 


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

FLL - Trash Trek: NYC Kick-Off...

NYC FIRST LEGO League Kickoff

Saturday October 3, 2015 at 10:00 AM-3:00 PM
Polytechnic Institute of NYU
5 Metrotech Center Brooklyn, NY 11201

10:00-10:20 AM: Welcome & Introductions (Pfizer Auditorium, 5 MetroTech Center)
10:25-11:00 AM: Trash Trek Video and Project Overview (Pfizer Auditorium)
11:10-11:50 AM: Rookie Team Judging Workshop (Pfizer Auditorium)
11:10-11:50 AM: Veteran Technical Workshop (Rodgers Hall - Room 215)
12:00-12:45 PM: Rookie Teams Technical workshop (learn about robot inspection, design, &  software) (Rodgers Hall – Room 215)

11:00-3:00 PM: Game Performance Tables Overview (Open All Day) (learn game strategies and ask our head referee all the questions you can think of J) Rodgers Hall 116


Thursday, September 17, 2015

B2B - Academy: Our Duplo Pull Toy...

The creative talents @ Brics~2~Bots Academy have made a fun toy for toddlers. It's called the Buggy Pull Toy and it is made from Duplo(R) elements from LEGO(R) Early Simple Machines set and A Growing Caterpillar set. Not only is it fun to build and play with, but it shows toddlers (and some parents) what a gear is and how a linkage mechanism works - early STEM/STEAMThe linkage mechanism gives the illusion of the bug hopping and makes a slight clicking noise (kids love noise)

We submitted it to LEGO Ideas, so check it out and if you like it join and vote for it:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

FLL - Trash Trek: Challenge Release...

FIRST LEGO League Trash Trek Challenge,

has been revealed and it is quite a challenge!

Teams, rookie as well as veterans, need to read the Trash Trek Challenge Document and the Updates that can be downloaded from the FIRST website. 

According to Scott, FLL game engineer and designer, there has been quite a few changes in the rules. So be sure to read the document for explanations, don't just rely on the FLL Game videos.

and also look at


Let the Game begin...

Monday, July 27, 2015

FLL - Trash Trek: The Field Mat...

FIRST LEGO League Trash Trek Field set-up is now on route to teams; so let's take a look at the mat…

First impressions, the mat is made of a good quality material and is very smooth. It is colorful with various shades of light and dark which “might“cause a problem for color sensors seeking for the black lines for line following; similar to the problems that were caused with the Food Factor and Nature’s Fury mats; but there are solutions to it. It will prove interesting how teams use their color sensors. Notice also, there are no color lines (red, green) as in Learning Unleashed, Senior Solutions, Climate Connections, No Limits, (Wow, I’ve been around that long? Even longer!)
And what’s this, a curved triangular shape for the Base area? How does it compared to the old square Base area? It is a slightly larger area and the curved outside will be helpful placing your robot in any direction you want to leave the base. Notice a second curved line. I wonder why? What do you think it is for?


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

B2B Academy: Animated Mosaics..

What is a mosaic?  Well, it is a design, picture, or pattern that is constructed by putting small colored bits of material onto a surface.  Architectural Mosaics can be made of colored glass, ceramic, or stone pieces, set in a type of mortar or cement. Mosaic art can also be made out of paper, bottle caps, popcorn; whatever.  The size of the pieces used determine the resolution (the fineness of detail that can be seen in an image); the smaller the pieces the greater the detail of the picture.

LEGO mosaics are made with plates of various sizes or bricks attached to a building plate. LEGO Animated Mosaics uses a MinuteBot® baseplate with bricks, plates with holes, beams, pins, and gears to create a design with moving parts. It could be manually operated or possibly be “motorized” with LEGO® Power Functions, if the movement is a continuous motion. It can also be “robotized” with LEGO® Mindstorms robotics.

Here is Olivia’s and Jonas’ Animated Mosaic project is of a Mimon MC and a Two Man Band in a concert.



Saturday, July 18, 2015

B2B Academy: Medieval Castle...

For the Medieval Castle project we did some research on castles from Medieval Times or Middle Ages 450-1500AD and discovered some interesting facts. For example, there was usually a ditch filled with really dirty water around the castle called a moat. The moat served two purposes: one was for defense against enemy attackers because the attackers could not dig under the wall, nor could they get ladders close to the walls, and they would have to swim across, the probably, filthy moat which was often used for the castle’s waste disposal. For the residents of the castle, they were able to cross the moat over a drawbridge. Which brings us to a little physics of simple machines, the drawbridge is an example of a pulley system and the catapult used for flinging rocks, hot metal, and fire balls is a 1st class lever. 

So here is Olivia’s and Jonas’ Medieval Castle…

Olivia, grade 5, wrote this story:

Once upon a time in the land of Lionsville, there lived a king named Mark the II. He had a lot of troubles. The castle needed cleaning, and there was a lack of servants. 
One day he woke up to the sound of battle. A knight rushed in and told the king, “Sir, the skeletons are about to attack and the skeleton king, King Bones (short for Bonsai) has declared war on us. 
Mark the II groaned. There were enough problems already. “Send for the troop,” he commanded! Raise the drawbridge and get the hot water for ready for the Murder Holes.
“Yes Sir!” The knight responded and ran off to make ready for battle.
Finally, after fearce fighting, the battle was won. King Bones and King Mark signed a truce. The castle got its cleaning from the new skeleton servants. 
And all was well at last.

Jonas, grade 3, created a cartoon about the castle, this is part of it:


Saturday, June 27, 2015

B2B - Academy: Motorizing LEGO Car sets...

In 2004 LEGO released the LEGO Racers #8652 – ENZO FERRARI and the LEGO Racers #8671 – FERRARI 430 SPIDER in 2006. In 2014 LEGO created a model #10242 of the classic economy car the MINI Cooper Mk VII. All three models are beautiful replicas, however my students, Brandon and Luc, thought it would be really cool if they were “motorized.” So they took the models apart re-designed them to mooooove…

Mini Cooper
Brandon describes how he motorized the Mini Cooper. I built the LEGO®, MINI Cooper model #10242 kit, then I had to take it apart and redesign it a little to mototize it, because I needed to fit the LEGO®  Power Functions (PF) into the car. The LEGO®  Power Functions parts included one M-Motor, one IR Receiver, one IR-TX Remote, and a rechargeable battery box. I had to raise the base of the car to accommodate the motor and the wheels. Then I replaced the back seats with a PF rechargeable battery box and also replaced the engine block with a PF IR receiver. The car was too small to fit two motors in it, so I put the differential gear under the car and for the motor to power the drive wheels with a long axle. With just one motor the car can only move forward and backward.



Luc designed the Ferrai. I used both the LEGO Racers #8652 – ENZO FERRARI and the LEGO Racers #8671 – FERRARI 430 SPIDER models, to create a motorized LEGO Ferrari design. To do this I had to add two Power Function M-Motors, an Infrared Sensor, and a Battery Box to the car. On one side I use gears, so the motors will go in the same way. By using two motors the car would be able to turn. To move the car I used the Power Function remote.


Beeo, Beeo!