Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wall-E and Hitechnic Sensors - Models for Monday and Tuesday

Name of Model: Wall-E
Created by: Joe Meno
Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brickjournal/sets/72157605651816828/
Of course, while I was out this past week getting ready for DGXPO, one of the NCLUG members who wasn't at DGXPO had to go and build something amazing. Joe Meno (editor of BrickJournal magazine) decided to mix his love of LEGO with his love of Disney by building this Power Functions-enabled version of Wall-E. This perfect rendition of the adorable little character has already become a viral internet phenomenon. It is worthy of the coverage, but I felt awful telling a kid in a Wall-E t-shirt that we didn't have Wall-E this time. Note to self: Make Joe doesn't take this apart before the next LEGOPALOOZA show.
Name of Model: 3 joint robotic arm
Created by: Ramin
Found at: http://nxtasy.org/2008/06/21/3-joint-robotic-arm/
I really wanted to blog about this one LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT- based bot, but how do you explain (on a blog that's supposed to be readable by kids) how tohandle programming challenges that I only learned how to deal with in college as a Computer Science major? I, for one, took a few class sessions to get programming the Runge-Kutta method down. Sure, sure, they provided the code for the C-based program, but I'm a firm believer in only compiling software I can understand - besides, it's not the same saying "I don't know" when showing off your creations. It should suffice to say that if you understand this, you know this is a great robot. If you don't get it, you'll probably still like the video. The sensors here are the new (LEGO-endorsed but unofficial) Hitechnic gyro sensors, and of course they're attached to a regular non-LEGO glove. Of course, this is a great project on it's own, but I'd really love to see the possibilities for a similar set-up in an assistive device with an algorithm based on a modified Runge-Kutta scheme that would allow a person to control an artificial limb. OK, so that's the next "big thing" in robotics, but of course you could just hook this up to a few different computers and do some great telepresence stuff too. How long will it be before we start playing with each other's LEGO® bricks remotely?

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