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Lego Robotic Resources
Robots are everywhere, yeah! Many companies see the value in building robots for the home. iRobot is building hobby robots, vacuum robots, gutter cleaning robots and military robots. My favorite robot is the Lego Mindstorms NXT robot and it is winning a lot of awards.
There is a nice collection of visual presentations available at ortop.org on the NXT robot and programming environment. Be sure to stop by the NXT STEP blog and the NXTasy web site for the latest information on the NXT robot. These are two great sites that can be used to keep up with NXT news and information. Of course I need to keep my normal Lego building skills up to date. Check out my latest creations over at mocpages.com.
FLL teams check out TechBrick for 2011 competition resources.
Robot Education - How to integrate teaching about robots
- After school programs, camps, parties
Search the internet and you will see the growing popularity of robotic after school programs, summer camps and you can even hire groups for robotic birthday parties. Bits Bytes & Bots is a popular destination for kids in Colorado.
- Society of Robots
Check out the information available from the Society of Robots if you are new to robotics. The site has good information on robotics and robtic concepts.
Lego Mindstorms NXT Class Lessons/Projects/Challenges
Ideas on NXT curriculum.
People are starting to publish free information for educators to help provide instructions on the NXT platform.
My Lego Dragster Challenge Idea:
A touch sensor must be used to initiate the burn out sequence. The dragster must re-stage itself behind the black line with out any help. Failure to stage is a disqualification. The dragsters will respond to a voice command to start the race. First to the finish line, with out loosing parts is the winner. A black line can mark the finish line and sensors must detect it to stop the robot. Students can use up to 3 motors. Students choose their gear ratios and wheels. Only Lego parts allowed.
Robot Competitions - Test your skills!
I will be starting to teach elementary school students in February how to build and program Lego robots so they can practice for FLL in the Fall.
- FIRST Competition
Competition for High School students. Many engineers from the company I work for help out with this competition. FIRST also has a FIRST LEGO League for ages 9 to 14.
Look for a competition in your area.
- Darpa Grand Challenge
What could be better than automating a car? The Darpa grand challenge has been run for a couple of years and the competition is getting stronger.
Lego Mindstorms NXT
The NXT robot is a nice upgrade to the previous Mindstorms RCX product. The kit contains new sensors that were not previously available, for example an ultra-sonic sensor, a sound sensor and a light sensor that can detect color. The New motors also integrate rotational information within the motor where before a separate rotation sensor was required.
The programming interface is nice to work with and I like the added capabilities. I just started training some Elementary schools students on this platform and it will be interesting to see how quickly they learn to build and program this robot.
Nxt on Amazon
Lego Mindstorms Sensors, Parts and Pieces
Find the extra parts and sensors you need by using the resources below. I have used the Lego Educational store many times to buy extra gears and special pieces. I have also started beta testing sensors for Mindsensors.com.
- Lego Education Store
Legos are used to teach a wide range of science topics. The lego store is a great place to pick up additional parts for your mindstorm robot.
Expand the capabilities of your NXT by using new components from MindSensors. I have started doing some Beta product testing for MindSensors and one of their soon to be released products allows me to use RCX sensors on the NXT.
- Third Party Expansion Parts by HiTechnic
Expand the capability of your Mindstorm robot by adding sensors which Lego does not produce. Need to know what direction your robot is heading? Pick up a Magnetic Compass sensor. HiTechnic produces a wide variety of components to improve the capabili
- Dexter Industries
Look for their new solar cell to power your NXT. Out soon.
Mindstorms NXT Books
WARNING! Some books have building instructions which require parts that are not part of the standard NXT kit. Others have parts packs which can be picked up from the Lego store.
Can Legos be Organized?
It can be done.
Stanley makes some great products which help to keep my Legos organized. The organizers have removable bins that simplifying the building process. The thin unit has 25 shallow bins and the large unit has 10 deep bins. I currently use 2of the 25 compartment and 5 of the 10 compartment units to organize my NXT and RCX MindStorms parts.
Amazon Carries these Organizers
I use this one for the small connector pieces.
Batteries and chargers from Amazon
I use nickel metal hydride batteries in my robots but research the best brands of batteries and chargers. Charging the batteries to fast will shorten their life. Jeff Atwood has a nice write up about batteries.
This is the new one and has the capability to charge, discharge then charge, refresh old rechargeable batteries as well as test them. This is a cool product that helps us know the state of our most important robot asset, power.
- ROBOT Magazine
I just started subscribing to this new magazine and enjoy the articles provided.
- Servo Magazine
Servo Magazine is another publication which covers robotics.
- Brick Journal
The Brick Journal just stated to publish their material in print form and you can subscribe to this great Lego resource.
- Robot Advice
Given the expense of robots, check online reviews before making a purchase.
Applied Robotics - Robotic solutions
The hope has always been that robots will take over or simplify the work that we have to do. Below are a few examples.
- Bombot, protecting Soldiers
Innovative Response Technologies develops the Bombot. A robotic solution which can save the lives of our soldiers.
- DirtDog, iCreate,Roomba and Scooba
I have started to save for a Roomba robotic vacuum to help keep the house tidy. The Scooba was recently released to take care of floors. The Dirt-Dog is a sweeping robot for your garage or other tough jobs. The iCreate robot has been released for tho
- Husqvarna Lawnmower
Lawn mowers seem to be the latest robotic creations to help around the house.
Be Prepared in Case We Get Good at Building Artificial Intelligent Robots - Remember Terminator 2?
Vex Lego Hybrid
Combine the best of both robots.
The metal pieces that come with the Vex kit are a bit limited, and since I started with Lego, I prefer the solutions I have used in the past. The teeth of the Vex gears match Lego gears. For the picture next to the text, I took a flat lego piece, lined up the Vex and Lego turntable gears then I drilled holes in the lego flat piece to match up with the Vex metal pieces. I then completed the front steering by adding additional Lego pieces to add support for the front axel. In addition to the turntable gear, Lego even has slip differential gear kits, gears which allow for better robot drive behavior.
Please let me know if you would like additional resources placed on this lens which would make it more valuable. If you have time, build your own Robotics lens and share your knowledge.
Visit my Lensography for a look at other lenses I have contributed to the Squidoo community.
Thanks for your time,