Thursday, December 30, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lego Camera

OK, you gotta check this one out.  A fully functional Lego Pinhole camera by bshikin.  The builder even has a couple of photos at the end of the video.  The pictures are not very good, but if you consider the mechanism that took the photos, it is certainly a major triumph.  Nice.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Here's a new take on an old idea.  Take a tank tread, but make it flexible.  Throw the other one away and don't mount anything on top.  What you have is an absolutely awesome crawler that actually looks like a caterpillar when it moves.  Nice job, TomasZajac.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Here's a useful robot that one could build out of Lego.  It can be made to send balls in several directions to make it more challenging too.

Christmas Presents, Oh Yeah!

For those who celebrate Christmas or similar holidays, I sincerely hope that you had a good one.  My family and I celebrate Christmas, and we had a pretty great one.  My family members are all secluded in their respective areas playing with their new toys, so thing are good this year.

I've had a great holiday.  I got to see most my family, and everyone for the most part is doing fine.  Santa even granted me one of my wishes, so I must have been a good boy.  I was fortunate enough to get one of the Mindsensors Vision Subsystem v3 for NXT (NXTCam-v3)
After I open a present like that, it makes it hard to think about much of anything else for the rest of the day.  I have been quietly, patiently going through the day letting everyone else play their games on the computer and visiting relatives, but now that the day is done and everything is slowing down, I am chomping at the bit to get going on this thing!!! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Really Fast Line Follower Competition

Think you could build a line follower robot that could beat one of these speedsters?  From the 2010 All Japan Robotracer robot competition.  Perty sweet stuff.

Found on Robot Dreams

Show Off!

The Quadrotors are simply amazing.  Who would ever imagine that something that flies could ever be so precise?  Now they are playing the piano!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

LEGO-X Podcast 6

I am not even done watching this 23 minute video and I am posting it.  YouTube user jojoguy10 (who spends some time here) has posted a really neat video where he talks NXT and Technic.  Take some time and watch it. 

I think that he is filling a huge void in the AFOL and NXT community.

The part I like about it right now is that he is interviewing Xander Soldaat, who I have shared dozens of emails with, and who has helped me immensely in my building over that last few years.  I actually get to put a face and a voice to all those emails.  Cool!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kudos To The Developers of RobotC

I have been grumbling about the only real downfall of RobotC for a while and that was the fact that they didn't make it easy to communicate via Bluetooth to more than one NXT. I have six of those bad boys and it makes it very difficult to build a robot of any size if they can't communicate effectively. I had exhausted all of my normal avenues for a solution and still nothing. I have gone so far as to create an effective way to communicate with the PF LED and a light sensor JUST so I could communicate with more than one other NXT, but that has its limitations as well.

When I contacted the developers on the RobotC forum, the reply that I constantly got was "You can do it, but it's too slow to use BT with more than one slave." I didn't think that this was an acceptable answer, who are they to tell me what is too slow? They have no idea how I am going to use it.

In the latest releases of RobotC, they had actually taken away some of the "easy" BT communication commands, and I became even more frustrated. A lot of my previous code no longer works without a rewrite. Ugh! But I knew that BT still worked, I was just going to have to "relearn" how to do it.

So I got into it more with the "Help" files and Sample files that are available. I say that with some sarcasm because the Help files are limited, VERY limited. After a full weekend of scratching my head and cussin', I discovered that RobotC actually has pretty stout Bluetooth capabilities, and best of all, I can now communicate with three other NXTs, and I can use all ten mailboxes on each of them (even though their sample files and Help files don't tell you that you can). Yes, yes it is slow, and I am perfectly fine with that as long as I know it going into my project. It's just another design constraint that I have to deal with. There are a few commands that are extremely fast and I will judge each function case by case.

Anyway, Thank you RobotC developers for making the capabilities available, even though you really don't tell us how to do it.

Monkey See Monkey Do Robot

The Biological Cybernetics Lab at Tsukuba University has developed a robotic arm with a hand at the end that will mimic what the human controller does.  Pretty cool stuff..  I have always wanted to make a robot with three motors that is controlled by the movements I make with three legacy rotation sensors.  This robot "sees" what the controller does with two cameras.

From Singularity Hub

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Funny Bloopers

Robot Dreams has a few end of the season Robot bloopers.  Check them out here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's a Slow Week For Cool Robots

I have been diligently looking for cool stuff this week and I am not having much luck.  It's slow right now, but it will pick up, so stay tuned.  Plus, I have been building and programming like crazy.

And in the meantime, check out this slow kinetic art piece by YouTube user WillemVanWeeghel.  It's simply a bunch of tubes controlled by 32 motors.  As you watch it slowly move, you can see things.  I think it would be a great thing to sit and watch while trying to go to sleep....but not now!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lego Babbage Difference Engine

Now here's an impressive Technic construction.  It's huge and has lots of gears (therefore, I LOVE it!)

It's called a Babbage Difference Engine.  According to the Wikipedia article..
A Difference Engine is an automatic, mechanical calculator designed to tabulate polynomial functions. Both logarithmic and trigonometric functions can be approximated by polynomials, so a difference engine can compute many useful sets of numbers.

According to the comments on the video..

This is a working hand cranked Babbage Difference Engine made using LEGO parts. It can evaluate any polynomial of the form aX^2 + bX + c for X:0 through N with answers to 3 digits.

For this video the machine is set to calculate the squares of the integers. The video shows the computation from X=2 through 8. It will output 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, and 64.

Don't completely understand exactly how it works, thus my intrique!

Behind the scenes: Lego Antikythera Mechanism

Here's a short video showing the making of the Lego Antikythera Mechanism video.  It's funny because it took them 40 days to make their video while my videos take about 15 minutes to record and a few hours to edit.  I see little difference. (jk!)

I can only hope to have a construction that is worthy of 40 days of filming.

Three Ball Juggling Robot

I told you yesterday that BotJunkie was on a juggling robot kick.  I think that today's video takes the cake. I have spent many hundreds of hours juggling three or four objects and I know that it took some time to get really good at it and now it's effortless for me.  This robot looks like it has been practicing juggling for longer than I have.  His form is perfect!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Antikythera Mechanism In Lego.

Being a Science Channel junkie, I watch just about anything they put on.  A few months ago I watched a special about this thing called an Antikythera Mechanism (Wikipedia).  Now, I don't claim to understand all the history of it, but basically it is an ancient mechanism that was found in a ship wreck in 1901.  It is thought to be built in 150–100 BCE.  For decades, nobody understood what the machine did, but they marveled at its extremely precise manufacture for a device that was so ancient.  All kinds of scholars have tried to unravel it's workings, and I am not sure that they have done it completely to this day.

Well anyway, someone has replicated the device in Lego, and it itself is a masterpiece.  The video shows some of the history behind it.

Found on BoingBoing

Micro Delta Robot

Ya, I am on a Delta robot kick right now.  This video has been around since 2007 and I can't believe I haven't seen it.  I thought I had seen them all.

This guy is cool because it has four of 'em on an endless conveyor belt.  And they are sooooo cute!

Another Delta Robot

Here's an interesting design of a Delta robot, but this one has an odd twist in it about half way through the video.  I like how the creator uses a smaller parallel linkage to control the robot.

More Juggling Robots

BotJunkie is on a juggling robot binge right now.  Here is what they are featuring today.

I especially like this one since I am working on a parallel robot project right now.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kinect Sensor on a Quadrotor

In case you have been living in a hole, the newest sensor out there is Microsoft's Kinect sensor.  It is made for the Xbox 360, but all kinds of robotic hackers are using it for stuff that it is not designed for.  According to Wikipedia, "it enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller, through a natural user interface using gestures, spoken commands, or presented objects and images."  In short, it is a major breakthrough in sensor technology, and it is relatively cheap compared to similar sensors like Lidar.

I know a person out there who can help us all out by writing some code so that we can use this awesome sensor with Mindstorms stuff (hint hint)

"Juggling" Quadrotor

I just love these Quadrotors.  I think they have so much potential.  In ten years, I think we will see them all over the place.

I used to do a lot of juggling in my younger days and I got pretty good at it, so I am a little critical of using the term "juggling" here since it is only using one ball, but it is still awesome.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Octopod Walker

Sariel, the prolific Technic builder has built a really cool Octopod Walker.  It is super simple, yet very effective.  He shows how he built it  too.

Go see more at his site,

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I was a huge fan of Hot Wheels and Hot Wheels track when I was young.  I could never imagine this glorious creation.  This is one you may want to put on full screen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

10 Scary Robots

Make: has a post called Top 10: Robots doing stuff that scares the &$#! out of me.  I am not going to bother trying to copy all the videos here, but I assure you there are 10 really cool videos at the link.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tinkernology Is Now On Facebook!

I am working on setting up a Facebook site for Tinkernology.  By clicking "Like" from Facebook, all the posts will show up on your wall and be able to click on the link to go right to Tinkernology!  Yeah!  You can click on the Facebook badge on the right side of the page to go directly there.

LegWay + Wii Balance Board

Here is a combination of two of my favorite toys.  This LegWay is really awesome, one of the most stable versions I have ever seen.

From BotJunkie

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Speedy Delta Robot

Now that I am working on a Four Delta Robot cell, I see this stuff and it gets me really fired up.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What Did You Build this Weekend?

I did plenty of building this long holiday weekend.  I was lucky enough to have another epic building weekend.  Lots of time and lots of Lego.

I am inspired by the first twenty seconds of this video...

I had a lot of success with my first Flexpicker and now thanks to a friend I have some awesome code that will run the Flexpicker far more accurately.  So I decided to make my next project would be...(click "Read More" below)

Cool Stuff

Check out this kids cool Lego Collection!

Just kidding, it's about the really cool marble run.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Power of the Sun

For those of you who are wondering where we can get a free energy source in the future, check this video out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Strandbeest That Can Be Riden.

Theo Jansen has inspired soooooo many people, including myself.  This video is unique in that the operator can actually ride his creation.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Flexpicker II

I have been working a new Flexpicker.  I have some great ideas since building the last one. Here's a shot of this WIP.

There's a lot of similarities, but there is one MAJOR difference.  On the first version, I faked the movements.  The robot basically moved around to several preprogrammed positions.  It didn't really do any mathematical calculations.  But now I have found someone who has done those calculations and he was kind enough to share lots (all) of the mathematics I need to make this thing pretty impressive.  He even did a complete and thorough tutorial on the Trossen robotics page.  See it here.  I have been following his instructions and they are quite good.  If you want to build a complete Flexpicker Delta robot and don't know where to start with the programming and Math, go here.  It's pretty involved though, so if you don't have a strong stomach for 3D geometry and Math, be warned.

I am confident that his programming works because he has a great video that can be found on the tutorial.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Banana Cutter

"Necessity is the mother of invention."  I had no idea that there was such a need for banana cutters!

Put a few teeth on that CD and I bet it would slice a finger!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Festo Air Driven Robot.

Here's a video of "Airic's arm" which is appears to be a completely pneumatically driven articulated arm with a hand and even fingers.  If you put the video on full screen, it feels like the robot is reaching out to touch you.

Festo Automation

I perked up when I saw that FestoHQ released another video today, but the video wasn't super cool and up to their normal caliber.  Still, it deserves a mention and a look-see because the scale of it is down in the range of Lego Mindstorms.

Here's a "box" of sensors, pulleys and gadgets that is flying a kite in front of some powerful fans.  You'll see the motors tugging on the kite strings and moving it around some.  Not spectacular, but I think it could inspire someone to build a similar contraption out of Lego to fly a kite.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Lego Version of Roomba: Pulito.

I found this cool article over at Hack a Day.  It's a rather sophisticated Mindstorms version of the popular floor sweeping robot Roomba by deejayspinz.  Pretty cool stuff.

MAKE: Featuring Their Top 10 Useful Lego Inventions.

Check it out Here.  Not my 10 favorites, but all still cool nonetheless.

You Should Get More Of These Parts. Part II

I haven't seen these parts in any sets for some time, but they used to be a part of lots of big legacy Lego Technic sets such as the wildly successful 8880 Super Car.

The Technic designers have found many different ways to create angles and beams that are not parallel and perpendicular, but one of my favorites is by using Hinge Plates. 

As you look at the image of the Super Car above, you notice that there are a lot of weird angles which really add to the appearance.  The usefulness of hinge plates goes beyond appearance, but can add to MOCs structure.  If you are building something that requires three or six faces or sides, these hinge plates really come in handy.  I have used the following technique several times. 

Here is probably the most basic, where you can create a three way beam where the beams are at 120 degrees from each other.  This setup is surprisingly stable. 

Take that technique and throw on some diamonds on the outside and you have a hexagon shape.
Again, that shape is fairly stable as well and will allow you to create a more round shape for things like robot bases and platforms.  This is the technique I used in my Stewart Platform.

You can also create simple triangles.  Here is an example of an equilateral triangle and two right triangles using the 3-4-5 right triangle system, but in this case it is a 6-8-10 right triangle. 

If you take six of the equilateral triangles and match up their sides, you can get an extremely stable hexagon. 

A good piece of advice for you is that you should always use hinge plates in pairs as shown below.  You should have one on top of the beam and one below.  Heck, if you stack more than two hinge plates, it just get more stout.  It gets even more stable when you stack more plates on top to hold the hinge plates in place.

I also used hinge plates to create the 120 degrees that are needed to locate the motors on the Lego Flexpicker.

Here is a better view of how the motors are mounted on the Flexpicker.

The only real drawback I see for some of you out there is that you may or may not have many of the legacy Lego Technic beams.  You should get more of those parts too!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Huh. How about that.

Everybody is putting guns on robots these days..

A T-Shirt cannon.  From Make.
You know I have to throw this in...

Marble Maze

Someone stole one of my ideas!  I thought about this a while back about the time I purchased my HT Acceleration sensor.  It's really cool that someone built it, even though it isn't made with Mindstorms stuff.

From Hack a Day

Tentacle Arm

So you think that Festo has some really breakthrough technology?  (Oh they do!)

Well check out what MIT was doing back in 1968.  If only they had the computing power to control this thing, I bet we would see these things all over the place today.

Found at BotJunkie

I REALLY want to see someone build a version of this out of Lego.  Flippin' awesome.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cool Stuff - Whiffletree

I don't think I need to mention that I like cool linkages.  I found a really cool post on Make called "The mechanical glory of the IBM Selectric typewriter."  For those of you who aren't old enough to remember when computers weren't really around yet, much less word processors and printers, a Selectric typewriter was pretty much standard in most schools and offices.  I learned how to type on one and I also used one when I was a supply clerk in the Army.  They were pretty amazing and if you found someone who could type really fast they could cause quite a racket. 

And extra credit to the inventor of the linkage for the name...a "whiffletree" (Wikipedia)

Here's a short video of how they work.

On a similar note, I have worked with a machine that uses a similar style of printing using a large spherical print head except this one uses servo motors to position the print head rather than a whiffletree linkage.  This is one of the many, many items on my "To Do" list.  Not a great video to explain what is happening, but there are a few shots.

Platooning With Mindstorms

Although there is nothing particularly amazing about this video (except that not many people get to play with TEN NXTs at a time!)  I really like it just for the pure entertainment value.  I am digging the music.

Monday, November 8, 2010


This thing is really taking off.  I wish more people would/could do stuff like this.  Unbelievable

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Here is my latest creation..Sniepir

This robot is a Lego/Nerf Sentry robot. It is a combination of Lego Mindstorms and the Nerf Stampede machine gun. It has two tracks that can move it around to put it in the best location to do the dirty work. Each track is controlled by two XL PF Motors, so it takes four to drive it around. It also has an elevation device that can tilt the gun up and down to take aim. The trigger device is controlled by a Medium PF motor.

This robotic sentry operates in several different modes. It can be operated remotely with two remote controls, it can be fired manually, it can be set up to navigate around autonomously and it can be configured statically as an invisible trip wire booby trap.

To operate it in R/C mode, the NXT is turned off. One remote control is used to drive and navigate. On the second remote, one lever is used to pull the trigger for about one half of a second, which fires a three round burst. The other lever is used to adjust the elevation of the gun up and down.

To operate autonomously, the NXT is turned on and any series of commands are sent to the PF receivers through the HT IRLink. The robot could be set up with a compass sensor or an acceleration sensor to take in additional information about its environment.

But the best way is to use the sentry robot in Trip Wire mode. I use a laser pointer mounted on a frame that is set up some distance from the robot. I mounted a light sensor in a black box with a large hole in one end on the side of the sentry. The box is full of clear Lego bricks used to diffuse the light around and make the target for the light beam larger. The laser pointer is turned on and pointed at the target. The light sensor then takes a reading of the light intensity. When the light intensity is lowered by about ten percent for more than twenty milliseconds, a three round burst is immediately fired directly at the light source and the object that is breaking the light beam. Kaploweee!

There is also another feature which is an ultrasonic sensor mounted under the barrel of the gun. It is used as a back up of the light sensor trip wire, but the effective distance in very short and the light beam is far more useful.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lego Technic Hexapod - "Spider L6"

I love this video from YouTube by user valibauer.  It's compact and simple, and yet very effective.   He gives some great close up views so you can see what is going on inside this little booger.  And plus, if you visit his user page, he gives an address where you can write to get instructions.  How cool is that!

PBS NewsHour Segment On Robots

PBS NewsHour has done a great nine minute story on robots of all sorts.  It's a great tour of all the most popular robots, research and effects.

From BotJunkie

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Please excuse me for a few minutes, I will be right back.  I have to change my shirt because I just drooled all over it.

Super Fast Micro Mouse

These things are really cool.  It is part of a "Micromouse Competition."   Competitors build and program really small robots to solve a maze in the fastest time.  The hitch is that they get to recon the whole maze before they solve it.  It makes for some really interesting thinkin' how to accomplish this task.

This micromouse does it in about 5 seconds.  That's blistering!

Asimo Is 10!

And to commemorate the occasion, Honda has released a video showing some of the highlights of his 10 years of "life."


Sneak preview.  More descriptions, details and video to come...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Barcode Scanner

What I like about this video is that it really illustrates how fast the sensors are on the NXT.  I use RobotC which I believe is one of the fastest running programs and I often find myself getting into trouble because the sensors are getting readings much faster that I had originally thought.

10 DOF Biped

Very slow, very cool.  But Asimo was slow at first too.  Can't wait to see what this thing can do.

And what I like best is that it is done with a single NXT.  Now that is power!  I mean, I bet this thing eats power!  Change the batteries every 5 steps.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Driving Simulators.

Give a bunch of engineers an unlimited budget and say "Go Nuts."  They don't go to Vegas, they don't buy big houses, they build this monstrosity.

Maybe I could build a big X/Y table and slap on a Stewart Platform.

But don't forget about the Formula 1 Driving Sim.

Wowwee Roboscooper

This looks like a fun project that could be done using either just PF motors with a remote controls or a NXT with autonomous behavior.

It's a lot like my Hen Mobile Robotic arm, but with a few extra functions.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Man Vs. Machine: Bowling

Man wins this one...for now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Advanced Motor Control In RobotC

Wanna know one way to control three motors with each having different speeds, directions and targets?  Here's how.  Copy the code after the break and create a file in RobotC.  Hook up three motors and run it.  If there is enough interest in the code, I will go deeper into dissecting it.

I apologize about the formatting and tabification of the code.  Blogger is terrible for that kind of thing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mickey Mouse Dancing Robot

I saw the commercial for this and thought that if I ever got one, the first thing I would do is strip all his flesh from his metal/plastic skeleton to see how he works.

My Next Set?

I was looking at the inventory of the 8053 Mobile Crane.  It's got lots of good parts in it, including some good legacy Technic parts in it.  Might just have to run to the Lego Store this weekend.

Super Massive Mobile Robot

I have no idea what the purpose of the robot is, but it makes me want to go spend $5000 at BrickLink to try to replicate it (as if).  LOVE IT!

I blogged about this some time ago, but at that time it wasn't finished.  I am not ashamed to admit that the base of this was a major influence on my current project.  There is a slight resemblance, mainly that it is BIG.

By the way, the gun is mounted and it works.  It runs around now using two PF IR Remote controls.  I want to get the NXT hooked up and programmed and it will be done! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just Need The Parts, Man!

If you are anything like me, you don't always want the whole set, just some of the parts.  I typically don't buy red or blue sets mainly because all of my creations are yellow, black and grey. It is VERY clear to me that TLC knows exactly how to make me pay $60 for just a few parts.  Yes, I do own several red and blue sets, but unless it is a Supercar or something, it typically doesn't get built, it just gets inventoried and put and blue in my "won't use again" stock and the rest in my active stock.  Thank goodness for all the inventories on BrickLink.

Just to prove the Lego forces us to buy stuff we don't necessarily want, take this video done at BrickCon recently about the new "collectable minifigures."  DARN YOU, LEGO!  It's funny but has some brief adult language.

Really Good Robot Dance

I remember when music was about the "music" and not about the dance.  Sheesh, video really DID kill the radio star.  Plus, she doesn't play her own instruments.

I bet they are saying "I went to dance class to backup a ROBOT????!!!"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Automated Food Slicer

Are you tired of slicing off countless fingers while chopping bananas?  Tired of the mess and the hassle?  Call now and get the Lego Mindstorms food chopper for only 159 easy payments of $109.99.  It slices, it dices....

But wait!  if you call within the next 10 minutes we'll quadruple the offer.....blah blah blah.


Here's a couple of videos of bbqqqbbqqq's Lego Mindstorms pinsetter.  Nice!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lego Storage Boxes

My nephew sent me a link to these cool storage boxes.  Unfortunately it looks as though they are only available in the UK.  They are even officially licensed Lego products, not some wanna-be.  If you click on the link above, you will see that they have a 2x2 version, a 2x4 version and a minifig head version as shown in this photo.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Non-Circular Wooden Gears

I likes me some gears.  'Specially some cool ones.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lego Wii Remote

Lego and Nintendo have teamed up to offer us a Wiimote all dressed up in Lego.  TRU is taking pre-orders and it comes out October 16th at a cost of $39.99.  Now you can control your NXT robots with something that LOOKS like Lego.

I have been thinking about getting a couple more Wiimotes and now I have an incentive.

A New Parallel Robot

Panasonic now has a version of the parallel robot.  The Flexpicker is still tops in my book, but this one has some extra features. 

Panasonic introduces a new Parallel link robot in Japan from HIC Network on Vimeo.

Build THIS with Lego. I dare you

56 motors, 3 modes of transport, tons of sensors.  I also noticed at 2:06 the operator uses a parallel linkage nearly identical to the Flexpicker to control the robot.  Pretty cool.

Cool Illusion

From  ISOGAWAYoshihito, the author of several Technic Idea books.  This is a really cool illusion that YOU can build.  And I just might!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Superfail is No Longer a Fail

This behemoth is no longer a static monument to an engineering mistake. It now runs well, a bit slower than I would like, but it runs. The gearing is slower and much more rugged. The tracks stay lined up when it turns and nothing slips. It looks nearly identical to this picture too.  Now on to the next task…mounting the NERF Stampede.

I really wish there were much larger motors and axles. The torque that is needed is pretty high, even for XL PF motors.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mechanical Art

Some things are just fun to watch.  I don't care it it tells time correctly or not.

Some Ideas For The Season

But you didn't get them from me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Next NXT Internet Viral Video

A spectacualar Wall-E

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Berkeley Bionics Reveals eLEGS Exoskeleton

Over at Engadget they have a post about Berkeley Bionics and an exoskeleton that they are working on to assist paraplegics walk.  This is particularly interesting to me because I have lost about 75% of my ability to walk because of a degenerative disorder.  It's great to see that so much progress has been made and by the time I can no longer walk this device may be available and the bugs worked out.  Hooray!

There is some pretty cool video on the link.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Nice Game of Pong

For those of you who didn't live in the 1970s, Pong was a huge breakthrough.  Now anybody can program it on some Lego.  This version is really great, but the hardware is configured so that the combatants have to touch heads to see the NXT screen.

Fast Scanner

This thing is fast.  Simple, and fast.

Monday, October 4, 2010


If you haven’t figured it out yet, my current project is a Lego Sentry gun using the new (and might I add really cool) Nerf Stampede machine gun. Last weekend I spent about eight hours building the mobile base for it. I even ordered some needed parts from Bricklink before I knew whether or not it would work. I now know that it doesn’t work the way I currently have it built. I tried to give it enough power by putting two XL PF motors on each track, but that still isn’t enough. It moves fine going straight, but it won’t turn and every so often the track belts break.

I guess that is the price when you build big; your mistakes and rebuilds are big. But it looks really cool, so I thought I would show it off.

Back to the drawing board.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

ESA Rosetta Project-In Mindstorms

I found this over at the NXTStep.  I was struck by this video in particular because the entire video used Lego Mindstorms to describe how a comet lander will study the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.  The Europeen Space Agency's project is called  Rosetta.

Put the video on full screen and enjoy about 20 minutes of interesting space/Lego goodness.

Childrens Anit-Bully Robotic Suit

Let's just hope the bullys don't get ahold of these.

Challenging The Traditional Robot Platform

Really cool flying robots.  The first video is awesome.

Three dancing Quadrotors

Swarming behavior

AFOLs on CBS Sunday Morning

I got up this morning and turned on one of my favorite programs, CBS Sunday Morning and had a very pleasant surprise. I like that show because they show a lot of positive stories from all over America. The surprise was that they were doing a story about AFOLs. I sat through the five minute story with a big grin on my face, mainly because this dude and I are nearly identical, 'cept I use Mindstorms stuff.

Here is a link to the story. The full video is embedded in the page.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lego Wedding Ring

I wonder if they make a Technic/Mindstorms version??


Say what???

Just watch for a few....

Sentry Gun

Who would build something this cruel???

Thursday, September 30, 2010

One of My New Toys

Just got one of these last weekend.  It's pretty cool..

(ahem, cough cough)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Some Cool Automation

I love Automation.  It's fun to watch.

My Next Project

I just bought the major element of my next project. And it is not built by Lego but the colors match very well. I should start leaking info out very soon, but not yet. I still have lots of testing, building and rebuilding to do. Even my wife things it’s a cool idea.

By design, this is going to be a big build but not a lot of programming. I expect that this one will be about two to three feet long, about eighteen inches wide and between twelve inches high in the down position and about two to three feet high in the up position.

I have tested the new element I bought today and it works great, so my plans are on track. Now I have to pry my kids away from it because they have been playing with it all afternoon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kinetic Sculpture BMW Museum, Munich

I know I already posted a similar video once before.  And I know it is basically an advertisement, but I absolutely love this kinetic art.  I find myself staring at it wonder what it will do next.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Great TED Video

I have found a video that I am passionate about. It is by a TED speaker, and if you don't know anything about TED, you should make it a point to learn more. 

The video has absolutely nothing to do with Lego at all, but more about the internet community. How groups of people with similar interests, stories, experiences and desires connect on the internet using things like blogs, message boards and video sharing web sites. In fact, it's about you and the reason you read Tinkernology, The NXTStep, NXTasy and all the other blogs. Why we spend so much time watching YouTube and flipping thru Flickr craving cool images.

It’s because we are in a new information revolution. We now share information freely and immediately. Where we don’t depend on Hollywood and publishers to feed us the information that they think we want, but where we go out and find very specific information with few clicks of the mouse. We don’t look at pictures and read text so much anymore, but we now watch video.

But what makes this revolution so special is that everyone has a voice. The teachers and speakers are us.  Anyone can start a blog, anyone can post a video. Heck, even I have found a voice. TED has named it “Crowd Accelerated Innovation” and it will be a powerful part of our lives. It is why 2% of all videos on YouTube are Lego related. We are all sharing ideas and innovation.

I can say personally that blogs and YouTube have had dramatic influence on my creations. Ten years ago I often struggled with just coming up with a project to build. Today I struggle with which one to build next and it is because I have found so much inspiration on the web, not so much from “big contributors” but from you and the other people who post pictures, video and stories on the web. It’s absolutely powerful. Almost utopian.

It’s a long video, but it’s very interesting. It’s twenty two minutes long. The last four minutes are a Rolex commercial, so the good stuff is only about eighteen minutes long

Monday, September 20, 2010

Warning-I Will Be Bragging In This Post

I am guessing you probably have seen my Lego Flexpicker video on YouTube that I put up a while ago. If you haven’t, here it is. The video has been picked up by lots of blogs and websites.

Earlier this summer Niklas Dahlin from the Swedish technical newspaper Ny Teknik contacted me and asked if they could get some information for an article they would like to do on the Lego Flexpicker. I obliged, but in return I asked that I get a copy of the paper with the article. I got that paper today. With their gracious permission, I submit to you a scan of the article. But I can’t read it because they misspelled every word in it.

(Click to zoom in)

So if anyone can translate Swedish into English, I would be greatly in debt to you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shirt Folding bot

I must hide this video from my wife.  She would have me make this machine, plus a dishwasher, a floor sweeper, a window washer. etc etc....

Tinkernology Is ONE!

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Tinkernology.  I haven't looked through all the stats yet, but between myself and LegoAsimo, we have posted 321 posts!  Not bad for a year.  I was wondering if I had what it takes to keep it up, and I am happy to say that I do!

TRU Sale

In case you are in the market for some new Lego sets, Toys R Us is having a buy two, get the third free sale this week.  Check it out, they have some of the older sets too.

I was just perusing the site and I found this and thought it was kinda funny.  Apparently Lego sent them a photo of an incomplete 7746 LEGO City Single Drum Roller and that is how TRU is advertising it.

Air Powered Car

Checking out TechnicBricks today I found a really neat invention by Barry Bosman. Why do I like it so much? Because I absolute hate all those single purpose body molding panel things that come with many newer Technic sets.  I have a whole container full of them and I store them right beside a box of Znap parts.  If I do build the set, I use those parts once and them throw them into the box never to be seen again.

But now that I know that they can be used as a fan blade, I will have to blow the dust off that box and check them out.

Air powered car-3

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Android Greatness


And it looks like we are right on schedule for what happens in the year 2035...

Quadrotor Greatness

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More PR2 Greatness

If you are not familiar with Willow Garage’s PR2 robot, you should make an effort to do some searches and find out more.  It's a fantastic idea.

Basically, Willow Garage designed a very sophisticated robot with lots of features and then gave about a dozen of them away to worthy organizations. The software is open source, so the lucky recipients could program the robot to do anything they wanted. There have been groups who have programmed it to fold clothes, fetch beer, plug itself into an outlet to charge up the batteries, and countless other tasks.  All the big robotic sites feature articles on the robot all the time.

Click here to see some of the videos on YouTube.

The robot itself is a major milestone, but the concept of building a sophisticated robot and letting many groups develop the software independently is the truly innovative idea. Rather than a large corporation selfishly hoarding the information, these groups share ideas that were developed and then bring them together. That will make this concept race ahead of the competitors. It is absolutely one of the best ideas ever.

Here is one of the latest videos..

Oh, and by the way, you can purchase your own for $400,000. I’ll take two.

As I was working on MARVIN, I started to notice a few similarities between MARVIN and PR2. Obviously, the software was open source plus it could be programmed in any NXT compatible language. The robot had tons of features like twenty-five motors and over thirty sensors. The robot could be programmed to do an infinite amount of tasks within limits. The nice thing MARVIN was that not only the software was open source, but so was the hardware. I still had open motor and sensor ports, so you could easily add or take away features. Looking back, I think it would have been awesome to let some other Mindstormers teach him some stuff.