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...

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.


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!