Thursday, July 28, 2016

B2B Lab: Musical Nite Lite...

Is your little one (or yourself :-) a little afraid of the dark or has trouble falling to sleep?

Perhaps a Musical Robotic Nite Lite will help relieve the fears and provide a soothing way to fall asleep.

The Musical Robotic Nite Lite uses a NXT or EV3 programmable controller brick. A NXT programmable controller brick was used here, a NXT touch sensor, a NXT ultrasonic sensor, NXT/RCX lamps, Mindsensors® cables or LEGO Mindstorms cables, a NXT conversion cable, and of course various LEGO elements. Although a NXT brick was used, it was programmed with EV3 software (I'm having trouble NXT software and Mac OS Yosemite on my computer-see post: B2B - Lab: NXT and EV3, they work together  

How it works:
The touch sensor triggers it to start, causing the light to come on and lullaby to play. The lullaby was recorded from a stuff windup toy and had to be saved as a couple of small sound files. The song repeats for three loops then stops and the light turns off. The loop control can be adjusted to however long it takes the child/you to fall asleep. 
If one wakes up in the middle of the night, just a wave of the hand in front of the ultrasonic starts it again.

Be sure the sleep control on the programmable controller brick is set to  NEVER and the battery is fully charged or is plugged into the charger and electrical outlet.

Another version of a robotic Nite Lite was developed by Antonio, a Brics~2~Bots  Lab student, is posted at:

Sleep tight and don’t let the boogie monsters under the bed keep you awake…


Thursday, July 7, 2016

B2B Lab: Doggie Treater...

I have a cute, but not so little, Beagle-Dachshund dog that happens to suffer from a little “separation anxiety” every time I have to leave her alone for a while. “Calming treats” didn’t seem to work, so I tried to come up with a way to ease the anxiety a bit by hiding a couple of treats around the apartment, but she became so good at finding them by the time I was out the door.  What to do for my poor dog????

LEGO to the rescue!

A Doggie Treat Dispenser…

It is a NXT robot that was programmed with EV3 software. The recorded voice calling my dog sounds pretty close to my voice (I think). It is timed to call her after 90 minutes and toss her a treat. Due to memory constraints, timing had to be done in 3 (1800 seconds) blocks. The voice recording also had to be done in separate one-word blocks, instead of a sentence. The sleep feature on the controller brick is set to “Never” to prevent shutting down before the 90 minutes. It didn’t take many practices for her to get the idea – she’s a smart dog!



Monday, July 4, 2016

Book Review: LEGO Power Functions Idea Books...

     Back in 2010, Yoshihito Isogawa came out with a series of three amazing books The LEGO® Technic Idea Book Simple Machines, The LEGO® Technic Idea Book Wheeled Wonders, and The LEGO® Technic Idea Book Fantastic Contraptions, that shows you model ideas that can apply to LEGO® Technic building. The books focused on mechanical mechanisms with some Mindstorms® applications and use of Power Functions®.

Since them he has come out with two more books: The LEGO Power Functions Idea Book  - Machines and Mechanisms and The LEGO Power Functions Idea Book  - Cars and Contraptions, published by No Starch Press 2016. The focus, of course, is on models using LEGO Power Functions, but many of the ideas can be applied to mechanical and robotic devices.

For the teacher teaching a STEM or STEAM curriculum, the models can be used to teach various science concepts such as, gearing, Newton's Laws, Potential & Kinetic energy, etc. Also, for the teacher who has limited equipment, because these are small models using only a few elements, 2 or 3  models can be made from one Mindstorms® Resource set and a few Power Functions® sets; allowing more students to have the hands-on experience. No doubt, these little models will inspire students to create their own.

The books are all picture directions of the models with a list of the building elements you would need to build it, so having the eBooks (which is free with the printed book from No Starch Press) where you can enlarge the pictures for details is wonderful.

Check out his websites for videos of some of the models:  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

B2B Lab: LEGO Digital Design and Mac OS...

If you are having trouble opening and/or saving your models on a Mac with version 10.10.5 (Yosemite+), don’t trash the LDD software, just yet! Here are a couple of solutions.

For some unknown reason sometimes certain LDD files will not ope from the software. The solution: open  the file directly from LEGO Creations folder - Models.

Sometimes a file might not save (that’s frustrating). If you are experiencing this try saving the file first, before designing.

By the way, has removed LDD for their website. However, I Googled it and it appeared @

Could this mean LEGO plans to do away with LDD? OMG, I hope not! I find it a useful tool for my own models and as an instructor of LEGO Tech & Robotics Engineering it is excellent for teaching. 

Perhaps they are working on a new version…