Monday, March 1, 2010

Robotics Monday: The MultiCuber Can Solve Multiple Sizes of Rubik's Cube

Name of Model: MultiCuber 5x5x5
Created by: IAssemble
Found at:
Yes, I know it's been just two weeks since I last featured an awesome cube solver. Sometimes you just need to find machines that can handle the rest of the Rubik's cube collection, though. The one can handle my 4x4x4 Rubik's cubes (except, of course, for the one rigged to explode, but isn't safety from that the main reason to let a machine solve this simple puzzle instead of solving it for yourself?). This machine can do more than just solve 3x3x3 and 4x4x4 cubes, though - it can also solve (as shown in the video) 5x5x5 Rubik's Cubes! You can see in the video the mechanism for allowing this - the cube is lifted to various heights to turn specific groups of layers, as compared to the simple twists of one-third of the cube that we're used to seeing. The design works for those three sizes of Rubik's cube without any modifications (minor modifications will allow it to solve 2x2x2 and 6x6x6 cubes as well). All of that, while amazing, is within the realm of things you could probably figure out how to build, given enough time and parts. This creation goes beyond that, though - much like the CubeStormer from two weeks ago, this is a purist creation that even uses the LEGO-branded Logitech QuickCam from the 9731 Vision Command set. Don't be fooled by the fact that we're seeing these put to good use now - the tech involved in that camera is now ten years old, and the SDK (Software Development Kit) used to program it outside of the graphical environment has not been maintained and is no longer supported. While putting the branded QuickCam to good use is increasingly becoming a difficult challenge (and an academic one, as so few people are big enough LEGO nerds to care if your LEGO robot is truly 100% LEGO down to the camera, and LEGO is yet to release a LEGO PC to truly finish the job), this model actually one-up's that too. The CubeStormer still communicated with the RCX. Now, the software challenge has been increased a bit - the computer interacts directly with the NXT based on the QuickCam input (the magic here is handled by C++). Successful projects that combine Vision Command and the NXT are few and far between, but this one is a clear winner.

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