31 December 2010

Robot LDD and NXT ROS

So, I started working on a robot for my behavior based studies, and what I've come up with is something that will also (hopefully) let me incorporate my NXTCam v3. Here is what it looks like in LDD:

I couldn't quite get the effectors on because the axle is at the wrong angle, but you can tell where they go. And the wire is left there for the NXTCam.

The under-actuated mechanism is to pick up black objects on the floor, I hope, using the NXTCam to track the object. I didn't build the holder for those objects, but I know that won't be too hard.

I also forgot to mention in my last post about the new NXT ROS I found. Only fully supported on Ubuntu, the NXT ROS is the same sort of ROS they use for industrial robots. Except here, it can do it all on the NXT. I made the LDD because you can also transfer LDD files to the ROS 3-D software and virtualize it, so the robot actually moves with the commands on the computer. Neat, huh?

Unfortunately, my laptop with Ubuntu on it is only 9.04 and can't actually handle the 10.04 upgrade. And for some reason, my laptop cannot locate the brick. They say there is an issue with my configuration files, but I just can't figure it out. That will be my main hangup for now, until I get time to build my actual model.

28 December 2010

Its been a very long time ...

Hoo-ee its been a long time since I updated this blog. I'll try and be more dedicated to updates here. I just get so enraptured by the other interesting stuff other bloggers put up that I don't update my own blog. But no more of that.

Anyway, some interesting things have happened with my life and robotics. Our robotics club at school decided to join FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) which is for highschoolers who can't be as dedicated to do FRC. And my team, the Red HoloRAMS (don't ask about the name) did very well in the past couple of tournaments. We took 2nd in a November 22 tournament, and 1st in a December 19 tournament. We are now in the state championships, ranked at 12th. We even got the front page article in our local newspaper. Here is the link: http://www.tricityvoice.com/displayPages.php?issue=2010-12-24&page=1 (our team is in red, and our robot is the one with the bright yellow lego pieces). The whole event has been a total confidence booster in my understanding of robotics, and how far I can take myself if I apply myself to robotics. My understanding of team management; hardware, electrical, and software behind robotics; and programming skills in RobotC have jumped a huge bunch thanks to this event.

I have become interested in a couple of other blogs too.
Paul's works, at http://sariel.pl/ has tons of stuff that can be applied to Lego Mindstorms NXT stuff, and his creations are also very applicable to real life. The fact that all of them are motorized makes his creations more appealing too.
Thom has sparked an interest in me about behavior based robotics. His blog, http://roachnet.wordpress.com/ is full of resources from which I think I can get started from. I'm thinking of working on a project soon in this field, thanks to his blog.

All I can say now is that a lot has happened, and I hope to keep updating this blog.

02 June 2010

Budding Idea

Hello everyone. I have an idea for a new project, now that finals are almost out of the way, but am having a little trouble on the programming aspect of the issue. I was inspired by a robot at a museum that could spell names by taking an input of your name, and then it would scan letter blocks and rearrange them. I was thinking sort of the same thing, but with Lego NXT. I would, instead of having blocks with letters, have actual 3 dimensional letters laying on the ground. You input the desired name and it will then scroll the the list of letters given to it, scan each one, and place it in another row by until the whole row is complete. First of course, when the program is started, it will calibrate itself by scanning all the letters into its memory. However, the scanning process is kind of sketchy. I've got the basic design down, I think, but when scanning, I don't quite understand the logic needed to store each scanned image as a separate letter and recall it when it when the input letters are read. Here's something like what I saw ...

12 February 2010

Rubik's Cube Solvers

Solving the Rubik's Cube using the Mindstorms NXT has always been a pivotal point in a builder's career. This guy has gotten pass this point, but he still amazes us with his newer and newer machines. His new robot solves the cube much faster, but still uses the Nokia N95 to take pics of the cube. Here it is.

Pretty neat, huh? I have not seen anything faster than this yet. I also got the Lego Mindstorms NXT Thinking Robots book, but I have yet to build the solver yet. Have any of you seen a robot faster at solving the Rubik's Cube than this?

08 February 2010

Robotic Arm Inspiration

For all those out there who are having a little trouble thinking about what a robotic arm is supposed to do, here is a perfect example:

Although it is remote controlled, it gives a perfect sense of what the judges are looking for in the Robotic Arm contest.

  1. Start off by noticing the end effector(the grabber). It has been designed so that it can squeeze an object to grasp it tightly. Also notice the parallelogram beams in the end effector. Right off the bat, this robot looks like one with industrial uses.
  2. Next, notice the number of DoF's (degrees of freedom). Although I personally have not counted, it would do you good to try and replicate the number of DoF's.
Hope this was inspiring, even though it is close to the contest end.

31 January 2010

Micro Robots

Robots.net posted a cool article yesterday. Researchers from the Argonne National Lab as well as other researchers were able to cultivate and channel the swimming motion of bacteria (Bacillus subtilis) to move micro gears. The picture (taken from robots.net) shows the bacteria pushing the gears. It also gives the time at each point of the gear rotation. You have to remember though, these gears are very small. The idea is that this could be a way of forming micro robots that can preform minuscule tasks. And the power would come from an army of bacteria, pushing the gears. How cool is that? In a way, its close to nanotechnology, in the sense of how small these robots would have to be. What do you think scientists and researchers would created with this kind of technology?

* For the full article please go to http://www.anl.gov/Media_Center/News/2009/news091216a.html

30 January 2010

Mindstorms NXT 2.0

Just go through finals week. Got to tell you, Pre-Calculus Honors is tough stuff. So this is a stress-reliever post got the Mindstorms NXT 2.0 set for Christmas. I started by building only the quick build, as the other three models do not really have any new structures, and the sensor are all the same, except for the color sensor, with built in lamp. The only really new features are in NXT-G. They have added both an icon editor and and a sound recorder, both of which work exceptionally well. The sound is very clear, and the image is quite detailed for such a small LCD. Here is a picture of the 4 starter models. The robot I have built uses the NXT 2.0 brick and the 1.0 brick. I'm hoping to utilize some of its features, like the sound recorder. Other than that, thank god finals are over!

28 January 2010

The King's Treasure

Actually, I got this book on Christmas. I was intrigued by the preceding books of this kind. Incorporating a story into the use of these robots is, I believe, a very good way to build different projects. In case you don't know, this is the book's cover:
For more advanced builders, the story just provides background info for the project. Because of this, you can go about your own way of building and programming the robot to complete the task. Or, if stumped, the book provides its own means of how Evan, the main robotics expert, builds his robot.

For beginners, however, this book is excellent. It can spark the child's imagination for what projects he may want to do in the future. But this book provides a realistic advantage as well. This shows one of the many future possibilities of robotics; use in the field of archeology. It is well known that there are countless traps for thieves who attempt to steal valuables. Robots make looking into these chambers without setting off any traps a much safer job.

27 January 2010

Robotic Arm Challenge

This is the new challenge on the NXTLog that ends February 28, 2010. It has 4 categories.
  • JUST FOR FUN--A robot built for pure creative purposes.
  • DEGREES OF FREEDOM--How many degrees of freedom does your robot have? How many motors are used?
  • INDUSTRIAL--Does your robot perform a function that is used in industries?
  • BIONIC ARM--Is your robot suite for the human arm as an extension or replication of the arm itself?
This is an interesting challenge, as there are 2 main challenges: the industrial and bionic robots. The # of DoF's in a robot are a natural plus. I have built a robot and programmed a robot for this challenge, but I have yet to find the time to test it.

There is one project that to me, really stands out. If you have the time, I suggest checking out brdavis42's "PnP" on the NXTLog. A simple, clean, and quite efficient robot, this robot is a nice example to those who plant to build an industrial bot.

* All credit for info and movie of the PnP goes to brdavis42

02 January 2010


This is actually my first efficient biped. It uses 3 motors, 2 at the ankles and 1 at the waist. It can also turn, because of this. My earlier biped used only 1 motor, and it did not really walk; it swiveled. This biped was also my first real program in NXC, although the programming can be done in NXT-G. You can see more about this walker and all my projects at the NXTLog through this link.