CNC-PBDU (pancake batter dispenser unit)

Flapjacks taste infinitely better when they’re machine-made. Well, that’s true for [Mexican Viking] who built an automatic pancake maker to the delight of his family.

Obviously, the building material of choice is Lego. The machine consists of a base with two linear gears on either side. A gantry is held high above this base, travelling upon geared towers to either side. The writing nozzle, fashioned out of ketchup bottles, can move back and forth along this gantry for a full range of motion along the X and Y axes. Lego pneumatic pumps supply pressurized air which forces the batter out of the bottle reservoir. This dispensing system is extremely clever and worth reading a bit more about. But if you just want us to make with the good stuff, you can see it grilling up pancakes in the video after the break.

The only thing missing is automatic flipping.

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Mini Google Street View car built from Lego

lego_street_view

[Mark] was playing around with a small GPS sensor when a light bulb lit over his head. He imagined it would be pretty cool to replicate one of Google’s Street View cars at a fraction of the scale using Lego NXT parts. He figured it would be easy enough to rig a few cameras to a remote controlled car, recording images and GPS coordinates as it went along.

The mini Street View car is controlled by a single NXT module that receives commands from a PS2 controller via a PSPNx sensor he purchased. A trio of cameras have been attached to the car, which are meant to take pictures in all different directions when triggered by his remote. A handful of additional motors are also used for driving the car, steering, and for activating the shutter release on the cameras.

The car worked decently during testing, but [Mark] says there is still plenty of room for improvement. He is having issues reliably triggering all cameras at the moment, but we’re sure he’ll have it sorted out soon enough.

Keep reading to see a video of his mini Street View car in action.

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Amazing quad pick and place system tirelessly sorts your Legos

delta_robots

[Chris] is quite the devoted tinkerer. He recently wrote in to share what can only be described as a labor of love. His Quad Delta Robot system has been in the works for about six years now, split into periods of research, building, more research, and rebuilding until arriving at its current form.

The system is made up of four Lego NXT robots which are tasked with sorting Lego cubes by color as they come down a pair of conveyer belts. The robots were built to mimic commercially available pick and place robots which can be found on assembly lines all over the world.

Each robot operates independently, receiving signals via a light sensor which tells the robot where the next brick is located, as well as what color it is. This data is sent by the main NXT unit, which uses a lights sensor to determine brick color and position, relaying the information to the other bots via flashing LEDs. All of the robots receive the same signal, but much like NIC cards ignore frames not destined for their MAC, the bots ignore messages that are not addressed to them.

The machine is truly amazing to watch – it’s clear that all of [Chris'] research and planning has paid off. You have to check out the video embedded below to truly appreciate all of the work that went into this system. Also, be sure to swing by his site for a far more in-depth look at how the machines work, it is definitely worth the time.

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NXT machine sorts LEGO blocks automatically

Smart people don’t put their toys away, they build machines to do it for them. Case and point: this NXT project which can sort LEGO pieces. Just dump a bucket of random blocks in a hopper on one end of the machine. One slice at a time, these plastic pieces will be lifted onto a conveyor system made up of several different belts, which allows for separation of the parts. One block at a time, each piece enters a specially lighted chamber where they are visually identified by the NXT brick. Once it identifies the block, a carousel of plastic containers rotates to place the correct home for the block below the output shoot seen above.

So do we now have a completed LEGO circle of life? Not quite. You can build structures automatically using a 3D LEGO printer and this sorter will have no problem organizing the parts for that purpose. But we still need a LEGO machine that can tear assembled bricks apart.

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Lego pinhole camera

[Bshikin] built a pinhole camera out of Lego pieces (translated). It is a fully automated unit thanks to the integration of the NXT pieces. It took a bit of careful calculation to get the film spacing adjusted to match the focal length, and quite a bit of tape was necessary to keep light out of the film chamber. But in the end, it’s an amazing build that takes decent pictures. The software has settings for film size and speed, and takes care of exposing and advancing the frame at the click of a button. See for yourself after the break.

If you hunger for some more camera building goodness check out this SLR hand crafted from scratch.

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Pulito: The LEGO Roomba

When [Dave] installed hardwood flooring in his house, he needed a solution to help automate the monotonous task of routine sweeping. Rather than go out and buy one of the many existing automated sweep robots out there, he decided to use his passion for LEGO Robotics to design and build a NXT based Swifferbot he calls Pulito. His version implements all the important features such as object avoidance using bump sensors, an IR beacon used to automatically return to the charging station, and a photoresistor to monitor the charge of the battery. [Dave] also includes a nifty LEGO sensor multiplexor, allowing him to save on I/O ports, which is almost worth sharing by itself.

Videos after the break.

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LEGO barcode scanner

Playing store just got really, really fun because you can now build your own LEGO barcode scanner. As you can see after the break, it works well and it’s fast like a real barcode scanner. Unfortunately it doesn’t scan real barcodes. Or at least not traditional ones. As we learned in the Barcode Challenge, standard barcodes are a set of white and black bars that make up the ones and zeros of the code. This system uses the same white and gray bar system but it seems that it’s only the number of bars that identify an item, not a code created by a particular combination of light and dark. The items above are all scannable because the scanner counts the 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 white beams on the bottom of each package. Still, it’s incredibly clever and a great toy for the young hackers to build if they have a little help.

[Read more...]

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