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...