Friday, April 30, 2010

Balancing On a Ball

I saw this video and thought it was pretty neat....

But this blows it out of the water...

Just in time for the weekend....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Solar Powered Walker

I think that this is the first time I have ever seen the Lego Solar Panel used effectively.  Nice Job!


Someone has put a Robot/RC machine to work.  Nice..

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Last Rubik's Cube Video I Will Ever Post

...unless it's cool.

This one is cool because it can do 2x2x2 up to 5x5x5.

A couple of things have got me thinking about these creations.  The first is that the builder uses an old Vision Command camera.  I happen to have one of those, and it is stored in a plastic box at the top of my Lego shelf.  I would love to get that involved in some of my robots.  Does anyone have any experience in hacking that thing?

The second thing I noticed is written on the description of the robot.
The application uses a generic algorithm that can solve a cube of any dimension limited only by RAM and time. It has been tested with software models of cubes up to 100x100x100.

I suspected that this was the case.  I wondered if the solution algorithm changed every time the dimension changed.  What this means to me is that there is little difference between a solver that does a 3x3x3 and a solver that does 33x33x33.  Both are equally impressive, but the software is essentially the same.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lego Pinball Machine

Here's a good start to a Lego Pinball Machine.

Despite the fact that I really don't like pinball machines, I have thought a lot about building one. But the one I dream about would be epic. It would be absolutely huge and the ball would probably be the ball that came with the NXT 1.0. I dream of making it fit onto a 4x8 piece of plywood. It would be three dimensional and multilayered. Lots of motors and tricks much like the Great Ball Contraption.

I envision having maybe five or more balls in play at any one time. It would be a machine that would take all of your concentration and peripheral vision to play. You would feel the urge to just watch the balls race around, but while you are watching one thing, another would require your attention. There would be several paddles and controls all over the playing field, but not all of them would be the type of paddles typically found on pinball machines.  There would be gates, levers, seesaw devices, and all kinds of stuff that could be controlled, but points would only be scored if the device was triggered at the right time.

I would put challenges in the game, such as if you hit a target five times, an extra ball would would be entered into the game, but if other targets are hit a gate would open for balls to roll off the playing field.  I would put several challenges all over the game so that you wouldn't have to focus on just one challenge. 

You may have to bend to one side to see the ball and time your actions for one challenge, while another you may have to stand on your tiptoes to see the ball.  Think about how the Wii changed video games, the pinball game I envision would be just as interactive.

The game would have a very high degree of kinetic art involved.  You wouldn't only see balls rolling around, but tons of moving things that would distract the player's attention.

Here are some great inspirational videos

Like I said.  Epic

Thursday, April 22, 2010


A while back I posted about a NASA sponsored contest called Lunabotics Mining Competition open to colleges and universities.  Lego and some other companies now have a similar contest called Moonbots.

Both are used to foster creativity and mine the community for ideas how to solve some of the challenges that are faced when travelling to other celestial orbs.  I STILL want to get involved with this as I mentioned before, but on an adult level.

This video has been released showing some of the details of Moonbots.  Man, I love this competition.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

6x6x6 Cube

Somebody stop the madness!!!

Creepy Mouth

If you haven't been creeped out today, here's your chance.  A robotic mouth that actually makes sounds based on the shape of the lips and throat.  Enjoy (or not)

I found this at Gizmodo, but I wish I could censor them.

Delta Robot

As you may know, I am a fan of Delta Robots, especially the ABB Flexpicker.  I even built one.

Here is a non-Lego Delta Robot that rocks, and it is even comparable to the original.

I found this over at Make

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Homemade Cotton Candy Machine

I happen to be a fan of pure sugar in the form of pillow stuffing.  One of the local stores offers it free for customers and I always ask for a couple extra bags for "the kids."

Here is a neat video with instructions I found over at Make Magazine on how to make a cotton candy machine.  I am sure it would be a mess, but what the heck, sugar is water soluble.

MARVIN Porting

Yes, I am still working on MARVIN.  It's slow right now because of the nice weather we are experiencing, but I am still going.

Right now the motor count is at 27 and the sensor count is at 35.  I don't have enough ports for all the sensors, but I am mounting them anyway.  That way in the future I will be able to just switch sensors if I want to do something different.  They are useless sitting in my Lego drawers anyway.

I am actually using more PF motors than servo motors.  I have come up with some creative ways to control them with little or no feedback.  I mostly use them when I can say "turn the motor on for 0.5 seconds, and then reverse it for 0.5 seconds."  Or sometimes I attach a clutch gear and run the motor until I know the clutch gear will spin, and then reverse it.  The drive wheels are XL PF motors and I run them by time or by using the compass.  The bot is extremely heavy and I am glad I built the base frame ultra heavy duty.  I think I am going to use two XL PF motors on each drive wheel.  I built the drive train to accept up to three motors on each wheel.

Control of all the motors and sensors must be preplanned.  Below is an Excel spreadsheet I have been tweeking to get the best result.

Now that I know where all the elements are going, I have to wire the darned thing.  I have a feeling this is going to get messy.

Cool, Easy Weekend Science Project.

This is one you have to try.  It's not robotics related at all, it just fun, easy and cheap.  It will be messy.

A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid that exhibits normal fluid properties under normal pressure, but when a force or pressure is applied, it acts like a solid.  It is completely weird and will get your mind working, so you have to try it and feel it to completely get what I am talking about.  I have about 2 cups of the stuff in my kitchen that I have been messing with for the last two days.

Rocket Cars

I did this a few years ago.  My results were:  The rocket car left the ground, I scared the heck out of the people at the other end of the parking lot, and I spent several minutes looking for all the Lego parts all over the parking lot.

My recommendation is that you build the car heavy and lighten it up after a few tries, use only Lego that you can stand to loose, build the car as stout as possible, and plan to look for Lego parts all over the place.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Honda U3-X Personal Mobility Device

OK, these things are really cool, they look like fun,  but I am not sure there is a market for one of these.  I will tell you why I think after the video.

I don't think that this device will ever go past a novelty because it inherently has some problems.
  • You can't navigate large obstacles such as steps and rough terrain.  Every street, building or sidewalk has elevation changes that the wheel just can't navigate.  So at that point, you would have to stop, pick it up and carry it, and then remount.  This is cumbersome.
  • If you watch the video, the people riding it often are holding on to the seat.  The natural human tendency is to hold on to something while a machine moves you around.  Forget carrying anything else.
  • The battery life is limited, I don't care how technologically advanced it is.  At some point, you will be carrying it.
  • And probably the biggest drawback for me is that there is no failsafe.  All machines fail at some point.  When the machine fails, what happens?  Does the wheel lock up or does it roll freely?  Falling forward or to the side wouldn't be too bad, but what about falling backward?
That doesn't mean I wouldn't give it a try if someone handed it to me or gave me one!

Home Robot Sorts Your Stuff

I wonder if he can sort my Lego when I am done with a project?

Festo Coolness

I really like Festo.  Duh.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Homemade Robot

I submit for your inspection....

This "charity" supporter called JustGivingTV claims this person built this robot almost entirely out of parts found in a TV set.  Now I normally try to be positive in all my posts, but in this one something smells fishy, especially since there are donations and money involved.

I have never taken a TV apart, but I know basically how one works.  Here is how describes it.  To me, the statement of "I made this robot out of TV parts" is equivalent to saying "I made this hovercraft out of an iPod."

The question is.....Huh??

Your thoughts, please.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Awesome Line Following Robot"

I saw this and I chuckled a little bit.  Somebody obviously put tons of work into building this robot.  Should we tell him??

"Munchkin Maker"???

Here's a pretty sweet and simple Minifig assembler robot.  Plus I found myself swaying to the Rockabilly.

Animatronics Hack

This has to be one of the funniest hacks I have ever seen. The creators took an old animatronics band from a kid’s pizza play place and hacked it to play a Nine Inch Nails song. Then they did a great job shooting and producing it. If you don't smile while watching this, you must be brain dead.

I found this over at LetsMakeRobots.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cool Older Robot

I found a video on that is absolutely amazing. It is an anthropomorphic robot that has tons of degrees of freedom. It uses the old legacy 9 volt motors, and it appears that there are no rotation sensors, so I am guessing that all the movements are from a bank of RCXs or controlled manually. I hear beeps and blips, so I bet it is controlled by RCXs.

It reminds me of some of the very popular commercially available robots such as Bioloid.

It’s cool and really inspiring. I originally thought that the user “legoasimo” was arrogant, but I don’t think so anymore.

200th Post on Tinkernology

Yes, believe it or not (I don't) this is my 200th post since starting this blog back in September of 2009.  I was hesitant about starting a blog because I wasn't sure if I could sustain it.  Turns out, I can.  I hope to keep going as long as I can.  I get a tremendous feeling of guilt if I don't post anything for a few days, and that is what probably keeps me going.

I use a free tool called Google Analytics, which I find very addictive.  It tells me all kinds of information about how many visits, how long you stay on the site, how you found my page, and all kinds of really cool information.  Don't worry, none of it is personal and I can't identify a single person, but I can tell that California has my highest viewership (shout out to Rancho Cucamonga!)

I have broken the 15,000 page views mark and I usually get about 65 unique visitors a day, which is really cool.  There have been some spikes and some valleys too.  You spend an average of 1 minute 32 seconds, and you view on average about 1 1/2 pages per visit.  More than half of the visits are direct traffic, which means that you have my page bookmarked and you check it fairly regularly.  Thanks!

Anyway, thanks for hanging around and I hope to give you more interesting information to keep you coming back!


The Robot Revolution Has Begun!!

This Roomba is just on the edge of breaking Asimov's First Rule.

Heard right before this video was recorded....."Come here grandma, look what I can do at the top of the stairs!"

Segway Targets

I debated whether or not to put this video up because it may be a bit harsh.  It shows snipers practicing their craft on human like robots, but I think that the way the robots react is really cool.  Plus there are lots of less violent videos after the initial kill shots.


Festo is really pushing the creative boundaries for robotic devices.

This animation excites me, yet scares the crap out of me at the same time.

Monday, April 12, 2010



Robotic Guides

Here's a pretty cool idea.  When you enter this building, you communicate with one of a team of robots where you want to go.  Then one of them take you to that place.

I think I am gonna teach MARVIN to welcome people to my home.  Cool.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Great info.

I found this interesting picture over at  I can't get it to show full size, so click on it to read it, or just go here to read it.

Cool Arial Robot

Hey, I've got an idea. Let’s petition Lego to make very powerful motors and propellers that are capable of lifting heavy weights. I love this video.  And I really want to go to MIT.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lego Humour

It's a cute little video.  But as the song goes...It's too late to apologize.  We all have 8 dimples on the bottom of our feet with LEGO spelled backwards in each of the dimples.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grant Imahara's Cool Robot

Here is a video of Grant Imahara's Cool Robot.  Grant is one of the people on Myth Busters.

Pretty cool Grant, but can you put eyes and eyebrows, two arms and a few gadgets on it?  The put it on wheels and make him roll around?  And do it with only Lego?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sweet ATM

Here is a darn sweet ATM.  This person really worked on the details, and it shows.

From The NXT Step.

Very Cool Machining Center

I knew this type of machining center would be available before too long.  Now imagine what machining centers will be able to do in 20 years.

Found at Singularity Hub.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010


I love this new Motoman articulated robot arm.  They have added two degrees of freedom and opened up a whole new world.  It can really reach into some tight spots with no problem.

UPDATE:  YouTube has update their site to "fix" problems.  Here is a link to the video.

Addition to CubeStormer

Ok, now you're just showing off...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NXT 3.0 Details

As if you haven't read it already, the NXT STEP has a few posts about NXT 3.0 that will be coming out in August 2010.  Looks pretty sweet to me.  Check it out.

And if the price is $125 like stated in the article, I can bet that there will be more people building multiple NXT robots like myself.

And by the way Lego Group, YOU'RE KILLIN" ME!!  Stop putting out all this cool stuff and making me want need to buy it!!

Alright, here I sit with Egg on my face.  The "trusted" NXT Step got me.  None of it's true.  DANG IT!

But just remember guys, I don't play to break even, I play to WIN!

Exoskeleton Suit

Paraplegics say "HEY!"

From Singularity Hub

More Lazy

How lazy are you?  I am so lazy that I make my robot fish for me.