Self-Balancing Robot Uses Android And Lego NXT

LEGO NXT + Android = Self Balancing Robot

Self-balancing robots are pretty cool, but sometimes a bit too complex to make. [HippoDevices] shows us that it’s really not that hard, and you can even do it with Lego NXT and an Android device!

First step is to build your two-wheeled robot – go nuts! As long as the Lego NXT motors are strong enough you’ll be able to make most different shaped robots easy to balance. You’re going to need an Android ADK board to provide communication between the Lego motors and your Android device. [HippoDevices] is using their own design, called the Hippo-ADK which is on Kickstarter currently.

This allows your Android device to read the status and control the Lego Motors — from there it’s just a matter of programming it to balance according to the device’s gyroscope.

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Lego NXT Creations Are Even Cooler With WiFi On Board

nxt-wifi

The folks at Dexter Industries have just wrapped up a week of Lego NXT projects, most of which centered on the use of their NXT WiFi sensor. Developed over the last few months, the group has been hard at work refining their design and getting some of the kinks worked out, so now you too can control your NXT creations sans wires.

The demonstrations have covered various topics throughout the week, starting out with a short tutorial on how to use a computer to communicate with the NXT device using the TCP protocol. After taking a look at WiFi power-saving capabilities, they touched on pinging other networked machines as well as querying DNS records from an NXT device. An NXT-based webserver was the next project on the list, as was remote robot control over the Internet. Finally, they wrapped the week up by configuring their Lego robot to send a tweet.

If getting your NXT creations on the move with full-fledged network access is something that sounds interesting, be sure to check out their site for downloads, a WiFi manual, and more.

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 Printer Built Without NXT parts

[Squirrelfantasy] built a printer using LEGO pieces. It’s not a Mindstorm project but instead depends on some type of development board and some auxiliary components on a protoboard. We couldn’t get a good enough look to tell exactly what makes up the electronics so start the debate in the comments. We feel this is a printer and not a plotter because the stylus moves on just one plane while the paper feeds past it but that’s open for debate as well.

Guess this answers the question of why aren’t we building our own printers? Some folks are.

[Thanks Haxorflex and many others, via DVICE]

LEGO Announces NXT Beta Testers… Officially

Yesterday LEGO announced that they had picked their 100 beta testers. They represent a broad cross section of blah, blah, blah. I’m not sure if I should be annoyed that I didn’t get picked or feel sorry for our buddy Jason Striegel who seems to be the only person that was officially denied. Oh well, time to go spend this extra $150 on Mega Bloks.

[via the excellent Nextbrick]

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Sorting LEGO Is Like Making A Box Of Chocolates

Did you know that chocolate candy production and sorting LEGO bricks have something in common? They both use the same techniques for turning clumps of chocolates or bricks into individual ones moving down a conveyor belt. At least that’s what [Paco Garcia] found out when making his LEGO Sorter.

Sorting LEGO bricks using guidesHowever, he didn’t find that out right away. He first experimented with his own techniques, learning that if he fed bricks to his conveyor belt by dropping a batch of them in a line perpendicular to the direction of belt travel then no subsequent separation attempt of his worked. He then turned to [akiyuky’s] LEGO sorter for inspiration and dropped them onto the belt at an angle, ensuring that some bricks would be in front of others. A further trick he found is very well demonstrated in the chocolate sorting video below and shown in the image here. That is to use guides on the belt which serve to create speed differentials. Bricks move slower than the conveyor belt while pressed against a guide but when a brick leaves the guide, it accelerates to the speed of the conveyor belt, pulling away from the bricks still at the guide and thus separating them.

A further discovery had nothing to do with chocolate production, unless maybe for quality control. Once an individual brick had been separated out, it had to be classified. To do that he used Google’s Inception v3 neural network. But first, he had to retrain it for recognizing different types of LEGO bricks, something we’ve seen done before for use with recognizing playing cards. And to do the retraining, he needed many images of different bricks all separated into their different types. That’s where he came up with a clever trick. He used his own sorter for that. For example, to get a bunch of images of 1×1 bricks of different colors and orientations, he simply ran them through the sorter, saving the images to files and assigning them to the 1×1 brick class. He then used his desktop machine with a GeForce GT 730 GPU for the retraining, taking around 2.7 seconds per brick. For sorting though, he runs the trained neural network on a Raspberry Pi, taking 3.8 seconds for each brick. The resulting sorter works quite well, sorting with 89% accuracy. Watch it in action in the video below.
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