66% or better

Robotic Sloth Haunts Your Dreams

robotic sloth

Have you ever seen a wet sloth? They’re pretty scary. If that’s not bad enough, how do you feel about a robotic one?

Named the X-4 “Sloth”, this is one of [222Doc's] hardest projects to date — a highly experimental quadra-ped that can climb up and across ladders. It makes use of a Lego Mindstorms NXT controller, 8 servo motors for the joints, 4 Power Function Motors for the hands, and a whole lot of Lego. Due to the number of motors, he also had to multiplex the Power Function servos to make it all work!

Sure, it’s Lego, but it was far from an easy project, as [222Doc] estimates he spent well over a hundred hours on it, and it still isn’t complete. He says he’ll never say to himself “this will be easy…” ever again.

Stick around after the break to see it scale this ladder — we wish they sped up the video though, it appears the movement speed is modeled after a real sloth…

[Read more...]

LegoDuino for kid-friendly microcontrollers

Lego

[J. Benschop] is teaching his nine-year-old son electronics by giving him a few wires, LEDs, and batteries. Eventually, the son looked over at his dad’s workbench and wondered what the little bug-shaped rectangles did. Microcontrollers and embedded programming are just a bit too advanced for someone who hasn’t hit a double-digit age, but [J] figured he could still have his son experience the awesomeness of programming electronics by building a custom electronic Lego microcontroller system.

This isn’t as complex as a Lego Mindstorms system. Really, it’s only an ATMega and a 2.4 GHz wireless transceiver. Still, that’s more than enough to add a few sensors and motor drivers, and an awesome introduction to electronics development. The enclosure for the LegoDuino is, of course, compatible with every Lego brick on the planet. It’s made from a 6×16 plate, three blocks high, with enough room for the electronics, three AA batteries, and the IO headers.

Programming an ATMega, even with the Arduino IDE, is a little beyond the capacity of [J. Benschop]‘s nine-year-old son, so he made a few changes to the Minibloq programming environment to support the newly created LegoDuino. It’s a graphical programming language that kids of just about any age can pick up quickly, and with the included RF transceiver inside the ‘Duino, it can even be programmed wirelessly.

It’s an amazing piece of work, and much, much simpler than even the noob-friendly Lego Mindstorms. Not as powerful, though, but when you’re just teaching programming and electronics, you really don’t need much.

 

Le-GoKART; a GoKart built entirely from Lego

[Eric Steenstra], from the Netherlands, decided to build a GoKart entirely from LEGO Mindstorm parts. Tested at being able to carry just over 100Kg in weight, a 16 stone man(224 lbs). This GoKart can easily carry a child and propel him along. Eric used 48 stock Mindstorm motors, geared down,  and 16 battery packs to provide a balance between torque and speed.

This vehicle doesn’t expect to win any races in the speed department. From the point of view of being something different this wins hands down. The Karts first test drive was only two weeks ago so drivability and durability are still under development at this stage.  See the video after the break on this monstrous Mindstorms creation.

via[Make]

[Read more...]

Lego Mindstorms used to automate tedious laboratory tasks

lego-bone-machines

Modern society owes so much to medical research, though what happens behind the scenes in a laboratory is usually far less than glamorous. A group of scientists at the University of Cambridge are working to develop synthetic bone tissue, but the process to create the samples used in the study is incredibly tedious.

To make the bones, a substructure must be dipped in a mixture of calcium and protein, rinsed, then dipped in a mixture of phosphate and protein…hundreds and hundreds of times. Equipment that can automate the process is available but very cost prohibitive, so the scientists did what they do best and built a set of robots to do the work for them.

Their new bone manufacturing setup was constructed using Lego Mindstorm kits, which were a perfect solution to their problem in several ways. The kits are relatively cheap, easy to construct, easy to program, and able to perform the same function precisely for days on end.

Now instead of burning time manually creating synthetic bone samples, the group can focus on the more important facets of their research.

Continue reading to see a video presented at the 2012 Google Science Fair, showing how everything came together for the crew at Cambridge.

[via Make]

[Read more...]

Kinect Two-fer: MoCap movie and robot control

kinect_twofer

It’s no mystery that we like the Kinect around here, which is why we’re bringing you a Kinect two-fer today.

We have seen video hacks using the Kinect before, and this one ranks up there on the coolness scale. In [Torben's] short film about an animation student nearly missing his assignment deadline, the Kinect was used to script the animation of a stick figure model. The animation was captured and built in Maya, then overlaid on a separate video clip to complete the movie. The overall quality is great, though you can notice some of the typical “jitter” that the Kinect is known for, and there are a few places where the model sinks into the floor a bit.

If you want to try your hand at animation using the Kinect, all of the scripts used to make the movie are available on the creator’s site for free. [via Kinect-Hacks]

Our second Kinect item comes in the form of a gesture driven Lego MindStorms bot. Using OpenNI along with Primesense for body tracking, [rasomuro] was able to use simple motions to drive his NXT bot around the house. His movements are tracked by the Kinect sensor which are translated into commands relayed to the robot via his laptop’s Bluetooth connection. Since the robot has two motors, he mapped couple of simple arm motions to drive the bot around. We’ll be honest when we say that the motions remind us of Will Farrell’s “Frank the Tank” scene in Old School, but [rasomuro] says that he is trying to simulate the use of levers to drive the bot.  Either way, it’s pretty cool.

Videos of both hacks are embedded below for your perusal.

If you are interested in seeing some more cool Kinect hacks be sure to check out this Minecraft interface trio, this cool Kinect realtime video overlay, and this Kinect-Nerf gun video game interface.

[Read more...]

NXT hacks: tanks and heaters

Here’s a double-dose of Lego NXT goodness; a robotic tank and an automatic aquarium heater.

The image to the left is a robotic tank powered by the popular Lego Mindstorms NXT kit. The brains rest inside of a tube, including the controller brick, ultrasonic range finder, a gyroscope, and a compass. Two sets of treads surround each edge of the tube making us wonder which end is up? We’ve embedded a video of this beast after the break. You’ll see that the tank is incredibly agile in this configuration.

To the right is an aquarium heater. [Dave's] kid were growing some tiny water dwellers which we’ve always know as Sea-Monkeys. The problem is that the tank needs to be between 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit for the little shrimp to thrive. He dug out his NXT controller and paired it up with the Lego temperature sensor and a dSwitch relay. This setup monitors the Aquarium for temperatures between 72-78 degrees and switches a lamp on an off to regulate the temperature. This keeps his kids and the stagnant pool happy.

Now that we’ve whet your appetite for NXT check out the wiimote operated NXT Segway and the NXT Sudoku solver.

[Read more...]

LEGO Mindstorms Sudoku Solver

Swedish hacker [Hans Andersson] is no stranger to puzzle-solving robots. His prior work, A Rubik’s cube-solving robot called Tilted Twister, made waves through the internet last year. [Hans’] latest project only has to work in two dimensions, but is no less clever. This new robot, built around the LEGO Mindstorms NXT system, “reads” a printed sudoku page, solves the puzzle, then fills out the solution right on the same page, confidently and in ink. It’s a well-rounded project that brings together an unexpected image scanner, image processing algorithms, and precise motor control, all using standard NXT elements.

The building instructions have not yet been posted, but if the video above and the directions for his prior ’bot are any indication, then we’re in for a treat; he simply has a knack for explaining things concisely and with visual clarity. The source code and the detailed PDF diagrams for Tilted Twister are as gorgeous as his new robot’s penmanship.

[thanks Eric]