Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lego Supports Knowledge!!


This one of the coolest meeting I have ever seen.  A bunch of Technic AFOLs building.  There are a bunch of people that read Tinkernology that I would love to spend a weekend with doing exactly this.

A Tank Controlled By Head Movements

I have now committed all my spare change, all my recycled aluminum can money, and all my birthday money to buying one of these for the office.

Now I can take out my personal revenge on those people who don't make a pot of coffee when they take the last cup, those who don't put a lid on their food in the microwave, those who talk too loud on the phone.

This little snippet gets me in the mood for the impending battle...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sequencer Version 2

I found this over at TheNXTStep.  I really love the simplicity.

You could even take this one step further by increasing the distance that the color sensor is from the pivot point and slowing the rotations down.  You could play a much longer "song."  What a great idea.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Whaaaa... OMG!

Well, I did it. With very little warning, I did something that I have said I wouldn’t do. Yes, the unthinkable is..I tore MARVIN apart. All the way. No remains. Kaput. Nada.

Why you may ask? Because I need a break from MARVIN. I started working on him back in January. I worked very hard on him for many, many hours. But then summer came and I started working more outside, played with the kids, all the good stuff. I got distracted. Then last Friday night I sat down with about three good quiet hours and I was completely, utterly uninspired. The great cancer of a Lego builder.

Over the last few months I have been working “on the side” with a few other small projects but I couldn’t actually finish most of them because all my NXTs were tied up in MARVIN. That frustrated me. I thought, and still think that MARVIN is a great project and I fully intend to build him again, but I need to mentally stretch, take a walk and come back to him refreshed.

I also made some crucial mistakes while working on that project. First, I let my imagination get away from me. I literally had pages of notes of things I wanted to make him do. All of that would have taken time and when I looked at the list I was overwhelmed. I had a very hard time getting started on one thing because I had fifty other things on my mind.

The second major mistake was that I initially spent all my time building and very little time programming. I enjoy building much more than programming (but I do like to program) so when it came to make him do his thing, it was pretty much exclusively programming. I didn’t enjoy that. I had a pile of about seven thousand Lego parts, but I felt that I couldn’t mechanically change him because it might mess up my plans. My next project(s) (and when I do get back to work on MARVIN) I am going to build, program, build, program, build, program… rather than build, build, build and then try to program it all. At one point I had twenty five motors and over thirty sensors mounted but not a stitch of code. That was a big mistake.

So what this means is that I hope to do smaller projects for a while, throw some video up on YouTube, and offer more good stuff here on Tinkernology. I have some great ideas that I have started working on and in fact, I have already built one small thing that only took me about two hours. I really miss working on projects like that. I am very excited to be back building again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

8043 Motorized Excavator Solution Near???

The people over at TechnicBRICKS have posted a communication from TLG about the faulty 8043.  Check it out.

I put a battery box in the machine and ran it literally for about 30 seconds and then took it apart.  I didn't want to ruin the motors as many have already done.  But you can be assured that I will be contacting the Lego Group for my Service Bag to fix it.

I am actually surprised that they were able to fix it.  While I was building mine I noticed that the movement mechanisms were packed quite tight.  It didn't seem that a fix would be possible.  Kudos to TLG.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Confessions of a Lego Hoarder.

I have been actively collecting Lego for over twenty years. You might even say that I have been hoarding Lego for twenty years. I was buying Lego before the internet became popular, so I was one of the original members of the old rec.toys.lego newsgroup. I have watched the popularity of Lego skyrocket on the web. I also remember thinking “boy it would be really cool if someone would make something to control the Lego motors.” Today, I couldn’t be more pleased with the direction that Lego and the AFOL community have gone.

When I started collecting in the late 80’s, I made it a point to save all the instructions from every set I purchased. After a few years, I got my first computer and it came with a really cheap, barely useful spreadsheet. So in the early nineties, I started a database of all my sets. It included the set number, the name, the line, part count, the cost, and how many of the sets I own. About seventeen years later, I still keep that inventory, but I have upgraded to MS Excel. I am so glad I have because it tells me so much. I now have all kinds of data that I protect fiercely. I thought I might share some of that data.

I break it up into a few categories; “Sets”, “accessories,” and “other.” I classify “sets” as sets that are meant to be built by themselves. “Accessories” add to other sets, such as individually sold motors, sensors, brick packs and that sort of thing. “Other” is stuff such as Pick-A-Brick items, parts bought on Bricklink, Ebay, garage sales and such. Usually accessories are sold by Lego in Lego containers and “other” is sold as-is by other individuals.

So here is the dirt:

In the Sets category
Sets I own: 227 total sets, 195 unique sets
Piece count of Sets: 76,540
Value of sets (MSRP): $9,540.51
Average cost per piece: $0.125 each

From the lines:
Adventurers, Aquanauts, Aquazone, Basic, Bionicle, Blacktron, Boats, Castle, City, Creator, Cyberslam, Dark Forest, Diver, Divers, Exploriens, Extreme, FERRARI , Fright Knights, Launch Command, MARS MISSION, Master Builder Series Technic, Mindstorms, Mindstorms/Star Wars, Model Team, M-Tron, Outback, RACERS, Roboforce, Rock Raiders, Space, Space Police, Space Port, Space Triple Set, Star Wars, System, Technic, Technic Robo Rider, Technic/Star Wars, Throwbot, Time Travelers, Time Twisters, Town, Town/Flight, Train, Ultimate Collector Series, Wild West, Znap (yes, Znap)

I own the most sets from the Technic line with 86, but I only own 75 unique models. This means that I have bought several sets more than once. I own four of 8047 Technic Compact Excavator (out now, because is has parts I need) and I own the most of 8527, Mindstorms NXT 1.0, which I own six.

In the Accessories category,
Sets I own: 348
Piece count of accessory sets: 20,002
Value of sets (MSRP): $3,623.64
Average cost per piece: $0.181 each

Cost per piece is more because the accessories I buy are typically things like motors and sensors which really pushes the number up high.

In the Other category
From Ebay and Bricklink,
Piece count: 5,504
Value of purchases: $583.24
Average cost per piece: $0.106 each

And I estimate that I have picked up about 12,500 parts from different Pick-A-Brick walls from a few different Lego stores.

So here is the summary
Total Piece Count: 102,236
Total set count : 575
Average cost per piece: $0.13
Average cost per set: $23.91
Average Parts per set: 178

Total Value: $13,747.39 (staggering to me)

And keep in mind this number doesn’t include shelves, tables, drawers, totes and all the stuff it takes to maintain a fully operational, dedicated Lego Room.

Wanna come over to my house and play legos??

Lego Car

I don't think they got the colors spot on.  Oh well.

Robotic Fish

I'll get a line, you get a pole, we'll go down to the fishin' hole...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

LEGO NXT Prophet

I like this thing.  Lots of action, both controlled and uncontrolled.

8043-My Personal Choice

I finished putting the Motorized Excavator together yesterday.  It's a great build and it looks fantastic.  It's right up there with the great Supercars, the Backhoe, and the Bulldozer.  It also has some new features in the gearing that might be used in some of my builds.

Knowing there are some potential issues with the motors burning out, I am not running it at all.  I didn't even put batteries in the battery pack.  Right now it is just a nice static display.  In reality, I just bought it mainly for the parts anyway.  I am going to follow up on Lego's solution, as I am sure most of us will do and I know Lego will make good on their design mistake, but I don't want the hassles of sending stuff back, waiting, etc.

I can easily see why the motors burn out after an hour or so of use.  The arm extends quite a long distance which adds stress to the whole structure, mainly on the drive train.  Even PF motors have limits.

So now I prepare to take it apart and put the parts in their new homes.  The best part is that I have several new parts to find homes for!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Color sorter

I just found a very nice color sorter robot on YouTube...
It's fast and the design is efficient and clean...

A Numeric Pad

One of the problems which keeps coming up is the limited number of buttons on the NXT. At the moment I use sensor multiplexors to connect more buttons but it's not the perfect solution.

While browsing Mindsensors.com I found a new product they are working on: A numeric key pad. Fantastic!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

8043--Just in time!

Apparently the 8043 Motorized Excavator has been pulled from shelves. I don't know all the circumstances yet, but you can't buy it anywhere now. Which mean that the one I just bought last weekend is "Limited Edition." Makes me wonder if Lego will be offering replacement parts, re-release it or just discontinue it altogether? Hmmmmm.

I am up to step 23, so I am pretty early in the build. I am going to very closely inspect each step as I go now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sensor Input

I have thought about this very idea, except my "input device" would be operating an identically shaped output device, such as a robotic arm.

Robot With Big Head Serves Ice Cream

If you ask me, the robot went a little light on the ice cream.  Come on Motoman, don't be stingy with the ice cream!!!

Found at BotJunkie.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our new sets

I finally saved up enough scratch to buy a 8043 Motorized Excavator yesterday. 

Funny thing is that I used to buy the big sets through S@H, but now that Columbus Ohio has a Lego store, a couple of times a year we load the family up for a two hour drive to a huge mall.  I almost regret taking the whole family because since it is a mall and my wife and kids are with me, well, you probably get the idea.  We always hit the Lego store first, then I have to compose myself and NOT beg to go home so I can bust open all those little transparent bags of joy.

Then tonite, we all sit on the floor, I sort the parts getting it ready to assemble, my oldest works on her 4596 Beach house and the toddler plays with his Duplo 5813 Lightning McQueen.

And everything is right with the world for a few hours.

Nice Arm!

This video will amaze you and creep you out at the same time.

Gizmodo says "It’s the Robot Hand H-Type, which is made of polycarbonate and rubber. It has 16 joints and 22 actuators to make and can lift up to 1.5kg."


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lego UAV Quadcopter Maiden Flight

A moment of pure bliss followed by a moment of horror.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Smooth Walking Spider

This guy has an interesting color scheme that is easy on the eyes.  And the motion is soooooo smooth.

More Jansen Inspired work.

Here's a Theo Jansen inspired robot packed full of functions.  Is there anybody that he hasn't inspired????

LEGO NXT Quadcopter. No, really!!

I like where this is going...

I so wish that Lego would put out a fast, powerful motor along with an efficient propeller.  I can see reasons why they don't, a high speed sharp object spinning for one.  But think how awesome that would be.

E3-MB LEGO NXT Mobile Base

Bazmarc has created a really nice, complicated machine that has lot of interactivity.  I likey.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dancing robot

While watching this, I couldn't get "I feel pretty, oh so pretty" out of my head..


Here's a pretty cool robot playing the board game Othello.  Needs a little work though.  Just a little.

Factory WIP

I don't know what this will be doing because it is a WIP, but I like it so far..

Maslow-For Robots

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cool vending machines

Some time ago I bought a bottle of cola in the cinema and found a very cool vending. Here's a video of a similar fantastic machine:

While searching for videos of that particular machine I also found a video of a very nice LEGO vending machine. The way coins are handled is great. The design to drive the belts of the products is also very smart...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Programmable...But No Computer

Here's a clever idea....

Rock 'em Sock 'em

I caught this video over on BotJunkie.

I have thought for a long time that more Lego Roboticists would be doing more of this stuff.  I expected that people would be attaching compass sensors to their body to direct robots.  I thought that people would be putting gyro or acceleration sensors on their arm or head to direct turret guns or something else.  Even a rotation sensor on their elbow to control a robotic arm.

I guess I will have to put that on my "to do" list.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Using A Robot As A Simulator

Imagine going to your local arcade and sitting in a bank of eight of these things and racing with your friends.  But I wonder what would happen if you crashed and rolled it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

LEGO vs. Fisher Technik

Let me start with a little disclaimer on this one, I am
writing most of this from memory. I did check
Wikipedia but that did not gave me hard facts.

In the eighties I had several types of construction toys:
LEGO, Meccano and Fischer Technic. Because of the wide range
of possibilities the only toy to survive was LEGO.

The early LEGO technic sets where great but they lacked a lot
of components we take for granted today. Some examples of these
are the worm screw gear and the pneumatic cylinder.

These are the parts we need! But wait a minute... where did
I see those parts before? Maybe some came in a set like this one
(this is a modern version):

While the LEGO robot world was still living in the stone
age the Fischer Technic guys where building stuff like this:

Fischer Technic Robot

I think the LEGO people where "inspired" by the
Fischer Technic parts...