3/28/07

LEGO Mindstorms NXT -Electronics based Robotics

As most of you know I've been exploring ways to revitalize electronics education via this blog and teachings at Lawrence Tech University and now ITT Technical Institute. It seems as though electronics technology (hands-on learning) has taken a back seat to Social Media Networking, Web Browsing, and Gaming. Now, don't get me wrong I'm not saying that all of those Technology Muses are not worth while, believe me I've done my share of web browsing. What saddens me is the days of building electronic circuits on breadboards or point-to-point soldering using Vector boards are far-few and in between in tech schools and universities. Hands-on experimentation has been replaced with virtual machine control and circuit simulation packages. These virtual tools are great for benchmarking an idea or concept but they will never replace building a working prototype. So, to revitalize the hobby, and profession, I'll be providing more content on basic circuits that can easily be interface with the LEGO Mindstorms NXT as well as the  RCX and Handy Cricket. These Article based projects will provide all relevant information needed to build  and test the finish robo-gadget product. Information on software development and test will also be discussed in the material using LEGO NXT G-Code, NXC (Not eXactly C), NQC(Not Quite C) and the Handy Crickets Logo programming languages. Its Amateur Robotics with a slant on Roll Your Own Sensory Detection and Controls circuits using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT (RCX, and Handy Cricket) as the main CPU (Central Processing Unit). So to whet your appetite here are few circuits I've discussed in my Digital Electronics 1 class I'm teaching at ITT Technical Institute to revitalize electronics education.

Project Lab 1

Project Lab 2

Project Lab 3

 

3/09/07

LEGO Mindstorms NXT: Real Robots

In reading the latest issue of Electronic Design Magazine (03/01/07) an article titled "Real Robots" in the Embedded Electronic Design column discussed 3 robotics platforms for R&D, and play: iRobot's Roomba and Scooba development platforms, Whitebox Robotics "PC Bot" and the LEGO Mindstorms NXT. During my lectures in teaching ECE (Electrical & Computer Engineering) and CEET (Computer and Electronics Engineering Technology) classes I'm always discussing with the students that the LEGO Mindstorms NXT (as well as the RCX) are real rapid prototyping tools for developing robotics and consumer electronics products. For the LEGO Mindstorm NXT its definitely a high power embedded controller development tool with a ARM7 microcontroller as the core intelligence component for the device. If you haven't discovered by now, I have a deep passion in Embedded Controls and the NXT has a enough development wares for advance electronic controls for robotic and consumer based projects. So the next time someone tells you to stop playing with the LEGO Mindstorms NXT, show them the article --- Real Robotics Developer in the House!!!!

Also, for you Handy Cricket Enthusiasts, check out the line robot video. Enjoy!!! NOTE: You need the latest version of Quicktime or iTunes to watch the video..

 

3/03/07

LEGO NXT Cable Mod

Before buying the LEGO NXT Cable Adapter, I performed a modification on the existing cable. This mod allows for interfacing external circuits and electromechanical devices to be controlled by the LEGO NXT. With its powerful 32 Bit microprocessor and configurable LCD, the LEGO NXT is perfect for the sci-tech enthusiast or robo gadget builder to build and test their own homebrew sensors, robotics, and embedded controls applications. The 20 page project shows how to perform the mod using parts found in your junk box. Also, as an added bonus I've included some tech notes on an Excel VBA (Visual Basic for Application) PROJECT VIEWER that can manage the build Cable Mod instructions as well.