Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Antikythera Mechanism & LEGO...

Again, science has proven that building with LEGO® elements and NXT robotics is more than child’s play! It is becoming a valuable tool in scientific study.


The ESA’s Rosetta Project made a LEGO® prototype for their space research for meteors.


Now there is a LEGO® prototype for the Antikythera mechanism.


(Click on the picture to see the video)


Around 100BCD possibly a mechanical computer using gears was developed. In 1900-01 possibly this ancient mechanical computer was discovered on the wreck of the Antikythera. In 2006 a high-resolution X-ray tomography discovers it's purpose; he Antikythera mechanism, a device with gears, was designed to calculate astronomical positions, such as the position of the sun and moon. In 2008 scientists concluded that it also tracked the Metonic calendar, and predicted solar eclipses.



LEGO® elements help to open up the mysteries of the past!

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Review: LEGO Technic Idea books...


For LEGO fans and teachers/instructors of LEGO technology and robotics here is a nice series of books to inspire ideas. They were originally published by Yoshihito Isogawa in Japanese (of course), but they have just been released by No Starch Press, in I guess you could say a universal language - pictures and icons. The series of three books: The LEGO® Technic Idea Book Simple Machines, The LEGO® Technic Idea Book Wheeled Wonders, and The LEGO® Technic Idea Book Fantastic Contraptions, No Starch Press, 2010, shows you model ideas that can apply to LEGO® Technic building, as well as, building with Mindstorms® RCX elements, Mindstorms® NXT elements, LEGO® Power Functions, Pull-Back motors, and Wind-Up motors. There aren't detail instructions for building the little models, but honestly it isn't needed with the various views of the models and icons.

What I like about these cool little models is that they can be used to teach various science concepts such as, gearing, Newton's Laws, Potential & Kinetic energy - to name a few. Also, for the teacher who has limited equipment, because these are small models using only a few elements, several models can be made from one Mindstorms® kit allowing more students to have hands-on. And of course, these little models will inspire students to create their own.

So for anyone new (or old) to LEGO® Technic building, these three illustrated books are a nice addition to your library.

Some of the models in the books are on his website with videos so check it out:

http://www.isogawastudio.co.jp/legostudio/modelgallery_b.html


Other models using the programmable bricks (RCX & NXT) and more complex models with videos are at:

http://www.isogawastudio.co.jp/legostudio/modelgallery_a.html

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review: The Art of NXT-G Programming...



There is a new NXT-G programming book, The Art of LEGO Mindstorms NXT-G Programming by Terry Griffin from No Strach Press, available for LEGO® NXT Mindstorms® robotics fans young (about ages 11+) and old, instructors of NXT robotics, and FLL (FIRST LEGO League) and FTC coaches (using NXT-G programming).


The book starts off with an excellent brief overview of the LEGO® NXT Mindstorms® kit and NXT-G software. Then the book goes into an in-depth coverage of the software. There are nice graphic instructions for building a rather simple “test” robot to practice
programming with. The instructions are given for both the Educational and Consumer/Home versions of the Mindstorns NXT kit. The Move block & Motor block are covered in one chapter and in another chapter an overview of the sensors and the programming them are explained. The rest of the book covers data wires, program flow, a couple of useful programs, my blocks, and datalogging for ding (educational NXT kit) experiments; everything you need to know to become a proficient NXT-G programmer.

The book is written in fairly easy to understand language, there are examples, and lots of pictures of the programming. The instructions for writing a particular program are clear and concise. What I like
is how the author has drawn circles on the programming pictures to highlight the item of discussion. The book’s discussion covers the LEGO® NXT Mindstorms® Educational and Consumer /Home kits and the NXT-G 1.0 and 2.0 software versions, if information is specific for particular version, it is noted with a little icon.

Whether you are a neophyte or intermediate programmer The Art of LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT-G Programming is definitely a good teaching book to have in your library.

Book Reviews *

Saturday, October 2, 2010

LEGO & the ESA Rosetta Project…

If you think building with LEGO® elements and building “toy” robots with LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT kits is just child’s play, think again!


Check out how LEGO® is being used by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Project.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er-TFVbnSKA&feature=player_embedded


Part 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oEaGjgOB0M&feature=player_embedded

Part 2:
http://vimeo.com/15955119


Truly amazing!


By the way, it seems FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics is not only encouraging youngsters to think about similar careers in science & technology, but is actually preparing them for those careers with cutting edge technology.


When Godtfred Kirk Christiansen developed the first LEGO® brick in 1949, he probably had no idea where it would lead…


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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gazebo, The Bionicle Hand Puppet...

A Bionicle hand puppet! Check this out... Gazebo


For LEGO building fans there are some nice building models posted on this blog too.


http://www.brothers-brick.com/


Friday, July 9, 2010

Book Review: NXT-G Programming book...


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In 2007 James Floyd Kelly released LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT-G Programming Guide – 1st. Edition It is no doubt THE reference book for NXT-G programming, whether you are using the LEGO Mindstorms consumer kit or educational kit. Since then LEGO has released the new consumer Mindstorms NXT 2.0 kit with new elements and programming features. To support the new kit, Mr. Kelly written a new edition: LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT-G Programming Guide – Second Edition. This EXCELLENT reference guide covers both NXT-G 1.0 and 2.0.

This wonderful book on NXT-G programming is a reference encyclopedia to the NXT-G programming blocks. Mr. Kelly not only defines the block, but also gives a description & example how it could be used - with a program diagram. By the way, diagrams in this version are slightly larger which is nice. Another extra in this version is at the end of many of the chapters Kelly includes Practice Exercise/Challenges with a description of the program to be created (using that chapter’s & previous chapter blocks). Of course, a solution is given and the Exercise .rbt files will be available for download on the Apress website.

And he accomplishes all this with a sense of humor – meet Spot, which in this version Kelly gives the reader instructions for building his sidekick.

For all MINDSTORMS(R) NXT builders/programmers of NXT-G, beginner to somewhat accomplished, this book is a MUST have!!!

James Floyd Kelly is a freelance writer living in Atlanta, Georgia, with degrees in English and Industrial Engineering. He is editor-in-chief of the world’s most popular LEGO NXT robotics blog,

The boos may also be purchased on Amazon.com

Book Review *

Saturday, June 26, 2010

LEGO stores in the NYC area...

Two new LEGO(R) Stores in NYC

LEGO
(R) Store in Queen Center Mall
90-15 Queens Blvd.
Elmhurst, NY

Entertainment Area, Level 2, JCPenney Wing

and

The LEGO(R) Store
Rockefeller Center NYC



A giant, 15-foot apple, entirely out of LEGO bricks was built at their Grand Opening and participants' creations were displayed in the mall.


To locate other LEGO
(R stores
go to
http://stores.lego.com/en-US/default.aspx

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review: The LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Discovery Book...


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The NXT Mindstorms 2.0 kit has some cool building elements and building instructions for the somewhat experienced builder; all that is needed is a REAL manual for those who are new to NXT robotics. Well, here is the missing manual; The LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Discovery Book: a beginner’s guide to building and programming robots!
by Laurens Valk, published by No Starch Press.

On the inside front cover is a very nice new Quick Build Reference Chart (in color) with a differential chart between friction and non-friction pins and axles, as well as, a gray tone equivalents as pictured in the book. On the back inside cover is the kit’s parts list.

The book is divided into 4 parts: Getting Started – which covers what’s in the kit, building and programming a simple robot; Building and Programming Robots with Sensors; Creating Advanced Programs; and Advanced Robot Projects (my favorite is the Snatcher – with a few PSP-Nx adaptations it could become my personal butler). Lot of diagrams and pictures in this book make it easy to use. The author makes reference to the new Sound and Display tools, referring the reader to LEGO Mindstorms User Guide; it would have been nice though he had included his own interpretation of using these tools, I’m sure it would have been better than what is in the user guide.

There is also a nice companion website to the book: http://www.discovery.laurensvalk.com/
So whether you are a novice or an experienced NXTer, you will find this book a wonderful resource guide to the LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 kit with some rather interesting new robot building ideas.

Note: To see other book reviews on this blog, type in "A Review" in the Search This Blog.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Swish! Robot Basketball…

Check out the basketball playing humanoid robot using the Mindstorms NXT 2.0 kit

by Matthias Paul Scholz's




Another basketball playing robot that can also keep and play "score!" can be found @


http://mindstorms.lego.com/en-us/Community/NXTLog/DisplayProjectList.aspx?memberid=4cfeac58-6161-4ec9-a00e-0e2f087d3cd0


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another NXT goes bad...


Update! May 20, 2010

Over the years I have had several NXT controllers lose their display. I can actually "download & run" programs there is no display. A few years ago, I called LEGO Education & after they verified that I had bought those 3 NXT controllers from them, they replaced my controllers, but offered no explanation as to why this happened. Since then 5 more controllers stop displaying. The controllers have not been dropped, nor exposed to extremes in temperature - I'm at a lost as to why this is happening.

Has anyone else had this problem??? Are there any solutions???

Well, I heard from author James Floyd Kelly who told me this is not an isolated problem, and so again I contacted LEGO Education Technical support who didn't offer an explanation why it happens, but were very willing to have me send the defected NXT controllers to LEGO Education (I'm assuming the ones I bought from them) and they will replace them. Sort of a happy ending...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

STEM & NXT Robotics: a Perfect Match...



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Recently at the FIRST robotics 10th Anniversary Celebration at the Javits Center in NYC, I was talking to an educator about how robotics can play an important role in S.T.E.M.
A perfect & inspiring example can be seen in a recent article: WizKidz Science and Technology Centers and Georgia Institute of Technology has received $490,000 from the National Science Foundation to implement computing learning institutes for students with disabilities.


Books & materials on STEM & NXT robotics go to:
http://www.vernier.com/nxt/

- Reee-Bot the Roving Robot Reporter

Saturday, March 27, 2010

RCX & Power Function Fans...

For those or you who still love the "ye ole" LEGO Scout, Spybotics, RCX or are into Power Functions check out this LEt'sGO Studio website: http://www.isogawastudio.co.jp/legostudio/modelgallery_a.html - it's rather interesting.

And for those who like LEGO mini-sculptures & electronic works look at
LEt'sGO Studio: Mini Works http://www.isogawastudio.co.jp/legostudio/modelgallery_b.html

On both these sites I see potential ideas for application to NXT robotics & there is a NXT compass...

Looking for info about
LEGO Scout & Spybotics? Check out: http://philohome.com/sdk25/sdk25.htm

- Reee-Bot the Roving Robot Reporter


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Educational Toy of the Year 2010...


Reee-Bot the Roving Robot Reporter here...

For all of those who think the LEGO(R) Mindstorns NXT kit is too expense for "just a toy", re-think that thought because it has been named EDUCATIONAL TOY OF THE YEAR!

Of course, educators (elementary through college) who teach with the NXT, and NXT robotics hobbyists (young and old), already knew the educational and personal values of this amazing kit.

Way the go, LEGO!!!

Book Review: King's Treasure....

James Floyd Kelly (the Indiana Jones of NXT robotics) does it again with LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT 2.0: The King's Treasure

King’s Treasure is the second in (hopefully) a series about an archeologist and his nephew who builds NXT robots to help on the expedition.

As an adventure fan you will like the story and as a NXT robotics hobbyists you will appreciate the interesting robots. Detailed instructions are given for building the robots, as well as programming.

As the title indicates the robots are made from the new Mindstorms® NXT 2.0 kit. For those of you who have the NXT Educational kit see:
http://thenxtstep.blogspot.com/2010/01/kings-treasure-parts-list-for-education.html for additional parts needed to build the robots in this book or improvise!

This is a fun book with great ideas…

Book Reviews *

Saturday, January 30, 2010

FIRST Robotics, Where Can it Lead....

The other day I had the pleasure and dismay of visiting a middle school in my neighborhood. They are planning to start an after-school LEGO NXT robotics program and I was there to give them information on how to go about it and what they could do with a LEGO NXT robotics curriculum. A conversation with one student revealed that he was afraid other students would think playing with LEGO robotics was childish; and asking his parents for a LEGO Mindstorms NXT kit would be out of the question because they think it too expensive for a toy and that they should be more concerned about saving for college - however, his family does own video game systems. I’ve heard that scenario many times before; as well as the woes of schools trying to get money to fund robotics programs.


Well, I explained to him that although NXT robotics is fun as in playing with a toy, it is also a very creative educational tool that one day may lead him to a scholarship for college as well as prepare him to be that engineer or any other technological (or non-technical) careers.


I wish at the time I had the following video to show the students and the teachers where playing with LEGO Mindstorms NXT robotics kits can lead to an amazing, innovative world in their future and that it is not just OK, but GREAT to think and create!


Video: Amazing Robotics Presentation From RoMeLa


- The LeGo-bot Lady

Friday, January 22, 2010

Book Review: Advanced NXT Robot Builders Book...



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For you advanced NXT robotics builders here is a challenging book for you; the LEGO Mindstorms NXT Thinking Robots by Daniele Benedettelli - published by No Starch Press.

There are two rather intriguing projects in the book, a Tic-Tac-Toe Playing Robot and Rubik Cube Solver (which will require a USB webcam) – I have never been able to solve a Rubik Cube, maybe this will give me a little incite for solving it (:-P.

Detailed building instructions for the robots are given for NXT 1.0 and NXT 2.0. The author states that the programs are in NXC and are quite involved, so instead of presenting them in the book the author gives you links to download the required software to run the programs.

Overall, the two projects are fascinating, but the book is definitely for the advanced NXT robotics builder and programmer.


Note: To see other book reviews on this blog, type in "A Review" in the Search This Blog.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Robotic Teamwork...

Ree-bot the robotic engineer here…


Recently, while hanging out on the shelf with my robot buddies I had a spark of an idea – suppose I had a project, needing two NXT controllers, where I needed the program on one NXT to start exactly with a program on the other NXT controller. What to do, what to do? Then it Touch-ed (sensor) me – ha, ha, ha!


First, I tried daisy chaining three NXT Conversion cables; it had some interesting results that didn’t work quite the way I wanted. So, next I tried two NXT Conversion cables - attached to each other, one was plugged into Input 1 of Controller X and the other into a Touch sensor on the other Controller Y, which also has a Touch sensor connected to Input 1 of that Controller Y. Now what? Have each program RUN, waiting for Wait Touch; press both Touch sensors at the same time, but what if one thumb is a split second faster that the other??? Then I remember a little artistic (it was just for looks) trick that a student had in Ms. LeGoBots Lady’s AMNH ( American Museum of Natural History) Robots in Space class. I have to give credit where credit is due – thanks Alexandra!!




Sunday, January 3, 2010

Using the Dswitch...


I recently purchased the DSWITCH from Dexterindustrie

As advertised:
The dSwitch is a controller designed to be used with LEGO(R) NXT Mindstorms hardware and software. The dSwitch controls any appliance in your house, such as a light, a toaster, or anything else you can plug into a 110V switch. The device acts as a switch, allowing your NXT inventions to turn off and on any appliance in the house.

Howwever, when I downloaded the dswithon & dswitchoff blocjs only the dswitchoff would import into the NXT-G (educational version). So I e-mailed the company & they responded right away with a new download, but alas that didn't import either. It was suggested that using the motor block at 75% will turn the switch on & off, which works, thanks!

I also discovered that the following program also works.









The Dswitch controller is pretty cool with the possibility of some fun applications!