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Tag: Robot

Upgrade to Mindstorms ev3 this year

Lego just started the buzz, should it be on their Google+ page or on their Facebook. Both of them provides links to their short announcement. So Le Mindstorms ev3 will be available soon. How soon ? From the media release, the ev3 set will be available in the second half 2013.

The content will be similar to the NXT 2 box, which means the programable brick, 3 motors and 4 sensors. It seems that there will be a remote control, which wasn’t included in the NXT 2 box. Actually, the sensors will be 2 touch sensors, an improved (compared to the NXT 2.0) color sensor and an infrared beacon.

Lego Mindstorms ev3

Lego Mindstorms ev3 preview

The programable brick have been improved not only in performances, but also with an SD expansion slot, USB, WiFi and Bluetooth. They also say that the brick is compatible with iOs and Android out of the box, but I suppose that this means that Lego’s apps will be available. Of course, you’ll can connect up to 4 other bricks to one programable brick.

And yes, the system will be backward-compatible with existing Lego Mindstorms NXT.

There are some photos of what will be available in this Flickr gallery. There is no information if it is the content of the box or not, but if it is, there are some inconsistencies with what was published on other sources. First, it is nice to see that the ultrasonic sensor is still there (and believe me, this is a useful sensor). It seems to be only one touch sensor and I can’t identify the one with the two arrows (the IR beacon ? ). There seem to be only two motors as we knew them, even if the third device seem also to be a motor as we can guess from the photo of the crane. Finally, we got a view of the the remote control.

LEGO Mindstorms EV3

From the pictures, we can also see that the motors are bigger (more power ? ), but all the bricks have kept the same pattern. You’ll be able to connect them exactly as the old NXT ones with one difference: the central hole is no more a circular one but a cross shaped one. I think that this will make sensors orientation easier.

The set is supposed to come with 560 technic elements and from the photos, lot of gears ! I missed gears in the NXT 2.0 box, so this should be nice. Also, the tracks have been replaced with the modern technic ones.

This looks like a great set for all robotics amateurs. But also for all geeks. As the new ev3 programable brick is based on a Linux, we can expect grater hacks of this device. The set will be available on second half 2013 with a price of $350 (USD) or €350.

Mindstorms NXT 2.0 are still available either on or Amazon UK. You may want to have a look on their prices but it is uncertain if the price will drop or not. Anyway, as the motors, sensors and of course, technic elements are compatible, you should grab one of those boxes as they are cheaper than the ev3 set.

LEGO Great Ball Contraption, craziest Lego machine ever

This video was published two days ago, and it already hits all the headlines. Lego genius Akiyuki built this awesome… hem… thing. The whole thing really looks like a production line with different modules, with the product going from module to module. Actually, Akiyuki seems to be a student in mechanics, at least that is what I do understand from Google translation of his blog which is in Japanese.

The machine total size is 5 by 21 feet (1.5 meters by 6.5 meters) for a total length of 101.7 feet (31 meters). It is composed by 17 modules, and each module is an awesome implementation of a mechanical device. Some of those modules have their own video, if you are interested in mechanics, you should check them. This video should be kept by every Lego Technics builder as a handbook for each module. Well, be aware that this build take him 600 hours over 2 years. Some parts have found inspiration in other builders work, but the whole result is awesome.

Now, your turn to build. If you haven’t got the stuff you need, you can start with the Lego Store on Amazon or on the LEGO Store.

Should you use your LEGO Mindstorms at work ?

Have you ever found yourself in the need of automation ? Have then considered looking for a custom made robot ? Have you looked for how to have a home-made robot ?

Robots are used for repetitive precise actions. If you need one, of course, you should consider calling a professional. But they are expensive and you may not have the budget for it.

Today, robotic and automation can be an inexpensive hobby. And such toys can definitely be used as prototypes. On the video bellow, the lab is using Lego Mindstorms for that repetitive action. Without it, a technician would have spent his day with a stopwatch immersing that sample.

This is an awesome demonstration of how a simple hobby product can be used a serious way. Can you use it a similar way ? For me, there are two situations when you should:

  • You need to build a prototype
  • You need to often change the behavior of the automate.

In both cases, you choose some sacrifices. Precision, resistance, software optimization… That will be the cost to pay for a cheap product but of course, this will not be the choice for all situations. You will not use it for surgical automates…

Such hobby sets are not designed for production. Actually, they are neither designed for prototyping. But they can still found themselves in such usage.

Lego Mindstorms NTX 2 box.

You can find LEGO Mindstorms on Amazon for less than $290.

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