Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mech Warfare

How cool is this!!  These are some scratch built robots that fight each other by shooting at a scoring target mounted on each of the combatants.  They aren't completely autonomous, but the robot is controlled remotely by an operator who is only allowed to view the game via a camera mounted on the robot itself.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Incredible GBC Build

Oh man, you have to check this out!!!  So many fantastic Great Ball Contraption modules.  My new favorite.

Every module looks highly engineered, the colors are great, so smooth. Excellent!

Robot Playin' A Fiddle

Here's an interesting video of a robot playing a violin in China.

But then a commercial comes to mind.....


The Lego Company has always put out shirts and clothing designed for kids, but I think it is time that they start offering shirts and caps for the adult Mindstorms fans.  I tried to buy an apron from an employee at a Lego Store once, but was turned away much to my dismay.  I particularly like the Mindstorms shirt on the left.

The New Excavator (8043)

Over at TechnicBricks I found a review for the new 2010 flagship Technic model.  Looks like it's another that I absolutely must have, if I can only wait until August.  I usually only build the larger, cooler sets, and this looks like it will be one of those.  It looks like a perfect match for the Bulldozer.

Part of the review is a list of all the parts.  After checking that out, it solidifies my "need" of this set.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gaming Robot

I have never heard of the game Quarto! but it looks like a pretty neat game. What’s more is that YouTube user BlaMule has built a really cool robot to play and win the game against a human competitor.

There are so many things I like about this robot. First, I like that it is a fast mover; there aren’t many pauses and when it gets moving it doesn’t stop and wait. The second thing I like is that it is a polar robot rather than a Cartesian (x-y) coordinate robot like the first version. That adds some complications to the programming, but this robot handles them very well and seems to be very accurate. I also like the linkage movement meaning that the gripper extends when in the lowered position and is retracted when in the up position. That shows me that the creator had to figure out how that linkage would work which is a task in itself. I like how the end part of the arm is very lightweight and the gripper is controlled using the older Lego Flex parts, which I don’t see done very much.

Very nice build!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Four Letter Words Display

This artist took some liberties in how letters are displayed using some flourescent lights.  It's interesting.

Four Letter Words from Rob Seward on Vimeo.

New LittleDog Video

Here's a video from March of this year.  I look at this robot and what it is capable of doing today, then I think about what it will be able to do in a year... 5 years...10 years.  It's almost frightening.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reality Check

My wife and I dusted off a toy for my youngest that my oldest got a year or so ago.  It's an Elmo Live toy.  After watching the toy move around and do its thing, I realized that my dream of MARVIN is nearly identical.  MARVIN will just have different movements, different sensors and different interactions.  But I do think that MARVIN will be very unique and I may be the only one who makes the comparison.

Short Attention Span Science & Technology

I just found a pretty neat YouTube channel called New Scientist.  There are over 700 videos there, most are only about 30 seconds long and they show all kinds of emerging discoveries.

Here's one that shows how a group is trying to create 3D images that are made by small flying helicopters with LED pixels.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Balancing Bicycle

I was wondering when someone was going to build this.  This video shows a two wheeled bicycle running while adjusting the steering to stop it from tipping over, or as the builder calls it "steer into the fall."  Pretty slick.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I spent 20 years of my life with the Engineers in the US Army and the National Guard.  One of the things we did was build bridges (and then blow them up!)  One of the ways to cross a gap was to use a very large vehicle called an Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge, or and AVLB.  I have spent years around the real thing, and my friend, this Lego MOC is just about as close to the real thing as you're gonna get.  Excellent build!

Friday, May 14, 2010


MARVIN has been coming along nicely. I have been working on him a lot in the last two weeks which is primarily the reason there hasn’t been many posts this week (not to mention the fact that all my resources have been pretty slow this week.

Last week I spent lots of time working on the radar system. I have the math figured out to get him to scan properly. The radar should be able to move back and forth as well as up and down to search using either the ultrasonic sensor or the legacy light sensor. I spent nearly the whole week frustrated because there was a bug in my code that I couldn’t find, but after much searching, I finally found it. About 5 seconds of editing the code and suddenly everything worked correctly. That’s a nice feeling.

This week I have been working on setting up the format for the code and the header files. I am taking a different approach this time. I have one program for each NXT, one specific header file for each program, and one universal header file that all six NXTs pull from. The universal header file contains common procedures to all the files such as display, music and communication. This is pretty handy because before each program had its own header file and there was little in common, so if I wanted to make a change to all four programs, I had to edit and debug four programs. That’s a real pain.

I have also worked out the bugs on the light communication. I am really beginning to appreciate communicating using the light sensors. I am finding that sending a message is slow because it takes about 480 ms to send a message, but it is very consistent and it I don’t have the minor timing variances that are common with Bluetooth. I don’t have to handshake the NXTs so as soon as the program is running, it is ready to send and receive messages which is really, really nice. Not to mention that I have six NXTs that are able to send and receive equally. Right now I have the programs designed to play a sound file after a certain amount of time and the synchronization is remarkable; it sounds like a single speaker, but in fact it is six speakers. I really fought with timing on the previous version.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

You Should Get More Of These Parts.

I have some parts in my inventory that I really like. I don’t see these parts used a lot in all the videos and pictures I check out, so I would like to start a little series called “You Should Get More Of These Parts”

If you are anything like me, you use BrickLink, or as many call it “CrackLink” because of its addicting nature. You can find these parts there. Sometimes they are cheap, sometimes not. The parts I am talking about today are relatively cheap; I know this because I have bought hundreds of them at a time.

You can find all the parts I am talking about by searching for “Technic Open Center.”

The first type is the slightly older Technic brick type. I have about a hundred each of the 6x8 and the 4x6, but only a few of the 4x4. I use them all the time because they can be used for so many things. I don’t have an exact count, but I would guess that MARVIN has about eighty in him.

First, they are great for all kinds gearboxes. You can put in a few gears and run a couple of axles through them. You can stack them by putting a couple of 1x plates between them and get a completely enclosed gearbox. You can attach a PF motor to the side and run the driving axle right into the gears. They are extremely stable and you don’t have to worry about figuring out how to attach two parallel Technic beams together.

Secondly they are great for large structures. You can pin them all together and create a large array or matrix for a floor or a base of a robot. If you put large plates on the top and bottom to link them together it becomes a super strong base. Pin a bunch of them together in a line and put some plates on them and they make a great bridge. Stack a few long beams on top of each other separated by some plates and it just gets stronger. This is how I created the long cross beams on the Lego Flexpicker. When the Flexpicker was together, the cross beams had very little sag, in fact I couldn’t see any.

The second type is the newer kind that goes by the name of “Technic Liftarm,” but I think that is a bit of a misnomer. I have never used them as a liftarm. I have only about a dozen of them and I find that they are also great for gearboxes. They have lots of holes in all directions that make it easy to attach gears and stack them. I don’t see much use in building large structures with them, but that may be only because I don’t own that many of them. If I can find some cheap, I will certainly buy them, but they are very expensive right now on Bricklink.

Your assignment, Go to BrickLink and buy some.  You won't regret it.

Nice Surprise.

Last week I had to pick up some PF parts for MARVIN from Lego S@H.  While I was there, I checked out Sales and Deals and found Set # 7746-1: Single-Drum Roller was on sale for about 50% off.  I don't particularly care for the set much, but I am always open for cheap sets for parts.  I got the set and started my normal parting out the pieces and putting them away and found a really cool surprise.  In this set, there is a single 16 stud long white axle.

I love it.  This will make a nice addition to my other long axles, including the 32 stud axles and the flexible axles I already have in my inventory.  I would like to have a dozen more.


The last two seconds of this rather ordinary video is shocking.

Everybody together......."OH S%$*@!!!!"

Friday, May 7, 2010

Marble Machine

Ok, this one is really cool, but is disguised by lots of text to read and monotonous dialog. It is full of very intricate mechanisms and well thought out gadgets. It's a marble machine, but the interesting thing about it is that the marble starts at the bottom and by the use of clever devices the marble is elevated to the top. It is made out of lots and lots of small pieces of wood and has taken the maker several years to make and perfect.

Do yourself a favor and watch this. The text ends at about 2:30 and then he shows the parts of the machine working, and then shows a full run at the end. It is about ten minutes long, but I am willing to bet that you will stick it out.

If you are still having problems sleeping after that video, visit his YouTube site at xeniaguy2's Channel.  He goes into more details about how he built it and some of his other creations.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hexapod Dance-Off 2010

If you know anything about hexapods, you know that they love to dance.  Here is a video from a dance-off competition held this year in Austria.

Feel the Beat!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cool Explosion

Click on the video and move the view around.

Funny Stuff

Not all robots aspire to be cube solvers.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Nice Doggy

Here's a quaint little dog that has some very nice movements.