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