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Home-made Robots

August 17, 2008

Who wants to spend a thousand euros buying Sony AIBO robot dog if we have LEGO? It has been 10 years since LEGO introduced the Lego Mindstorm, and nowadays a lot of people is publishing NXT projects about their incredible robotic works. Is amazing to discover the huge and complicated projects that are being created right now by quite young people.

For example, Robocat2000 is more or less a robotic cat, it fall sleeping in dark places, if you touch its nose it says “Ouch”… and more stupid things that show us the wide possibilities that are offering LEGO tools. There are also robots that can scan a picture, select and pick up things from the floor with a robotic arm, or even can print letters. If you check the LEGO website you’ll find a big amount of NXT projects ranked, photos about them and also explanations about their construction. But be careful if you start watching photos or videos about this kind of machines, trying to understand how they work, one after another, after another, and it becomes dark and you have lost so much time with this freak hobby, so I’ve already advised you about the drug, now you’re free to do whatever: http://mindstorms.lego.com/

If you’re thinking now in going out to your parents’ house to rescue your old box of LEGO, wait and keep reading, there are so many tutorials about the LEGO programming system on the Net but it is very limited. Therefore to solve it you can use NQC to use this more easily, created by Dave Baum but now being developed by John Hansen: http://bricxcc.sourceforge.net/nqc/ It’s mainly a simple language with a C-like syntax.

From the Department of Computer Science of the Utrecht University, they have written the RCX Command Center, that is a wrapper around NQC, with many other options: http://people.cs.uu.nl/markov/lego/ They are currently investigating whether they can use the Lego Robots in their robotics teaching, as a means for the students to understand such issues as sensors, control, precision, etc. They mainly want to combine autonomous robots, in which the software is downloaded, with robots that are controlled by a PC and, hence, can use other information, like e.g. from camera’s. I think it could be a great source for those of you who want to investigate or start being free with your LEGO robots programming, in their website you’ll find a great tutorial about NQC and it’s translated to so many languages.

Enjoy,

BR

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