Archive for 2011

New Materials added to the VEX Cortex Video Trainer!

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Exciting news! We’ve updated the VEX Cortex Video Trainer with two new sections.

First, we’ve added a section for ROBOTC’s new Natural Language Library. You’ll find tons of print materials, ranging from guides describing each Natural Language command available for the VEX PIC and Cortex to dedicated helper guides for each of the VEX Sensors. You can find the new page in the VEX Cortex Video Trainer by going to the Fundamentals section and choosing Natural Language.

Second, there are 4 new tutorial videos that show how to use the Ultrasonic Rangefinder, complete with helper guides and programming challenges. You can find them by going to Sensing and choosing Forward until Near.

The VEX Cortex Video Trainer is available for free, online. To purchase a copy that you can install on each computer in your classroom, visit the RoboMatter store.

Written by Jesse Flot

October 12th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

ROBOTC 3.04 is now available!

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Hi all,

We’ve just released ROBOTC 3.04. Head on over to the download pages to download the latest version!

Change log:

  1. Fixed silent updater bug
  2. Modified sensor scale and full count settings for gyros for VEX PIC.
  3. Eliminated deprecated warning for “#pragma platform”. Remove warning on “#pragma competition”
  4. dited BuiltInVariables.txt to include Battery & Power Control category, including 3 new entries for VEX battery level.
  5. Added intrinsic to ROBOTCIntrinsics to return BackupBatterLevel value.
  6. Corrected BuiltInVariables.txt to prevent displayLCDPos from appearing in “Undefined Entries”
  7. Updated BuiltInVariables.txt to reflect additions to VEX Display commands
  8. Modified RobotCIntrinsics.c setLCDPos command to “setLCDPosition”
  9. Merge fixes from 32Bit branch for >160 subroutines.
  10. Rebuild VEX firmware files because they were out of date.
  11. Change text for button on VEX remote screen from “Enter” to “Center”.
  12. Support on Prolific cables for workaround to protocol errors for IFI defined special Cortex messages. Previously was only implemented on integrated USB-to-Serial.
  13. Correct incorrect code generation for a parameter “call by reference” variable which is itself a “call by reference” variable.
  14. Add new intrinsics for VEX LCD to specify line and char position of the “Put”. Add alias “setLCDPos” for “displayLCDPos”
  15. Bump version to 9.04 / 3.04. Rebuild firmware.
  16. Eliminate NXT EXE encrypted file headers. It causes a bug with >160 subroutines on NXT. Need to rebuild NXT firmware to support this change.
  17. When return statement from a “non void” function is unreachable because function contains an infinite loop compiler used to generate an error message that “No return statement from non-void function”. Now it generates a warning that an infinite loop prevents return.
  18. Timer values on VEX (and NXT) were incorrectly truncated to 16-bits instead of preserving the 32-bit value.
  19. Incorrect code generation for assignments when the expression is a compound expression and it uses an intrinsic function that refers to the ‘l-value” of the assignment.
  20. Fixed Licensing System but when deactivating any product but ROBOTC for Mindstorms and it was the only product in the list.
  21. Hid two options in the “NXT Brick” menu to prevent crashing when in RVW mode
  22. Fixed an issue where the “Toggle Comment” button may crash ROBOTC when used near the beginning and end of a file.
  23. Fixed an issue where the “View” menu on the NXT was displaying incorrect data with the NXT Encoders.
  24. You can now drag/drop files to the ROBOTC application and also associate .c and .h files with ROBOTC.

Written by Vu Nguyen

October 10th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Robot Virtual World Discount Code (expires 10/31/11)

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You can get $30 off Robot Virtual World Single User licenses if you use the following Discount Code during checkout:

Discount Code:


Use the following links to add the desired ROBOTC version to your cart:

Annual Single User License for Robot Virtual Worlds – Mindstorms – $19 (was $49)

Annual Single User License for Robot Virtual Worlds – Cortex – $19 (was $49)

Annual Single User License for ROBOTC for Mindstorms and Robot Virtual Worlds – Mindstorms
– $59 (was $89)

Annual Single User License for ROBOTC for Cortex/PIC and Robot Virtual Worlds – Cortex – $59 (was $89)

Where do I type in the Discount Code?

When you click on any of the links above, you will be taken to  your Cart. Type in RVWFALL11 as shown below:

If you click Update, you will see the discount applied to your cart.

Written by Vu Nguyen

October 7th, 2011 at 11:35 am

Posted in General News,NXT,VEX

Lego George the Giant Robot

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[Thank you burf2000 from our forums for contributing this project!]

LEGO George the Giant Robot

LEGO George the Giant Robot

I present to you…

LEGO George the Giant Robot!

He moves, he dances, he can grab things… What CAN’T HE DO!?

This latest creation from burf2000 stands 5’7″ tall, and is a fully functional 5 foot 7″ robot.

He is controlled via a PlayStation 2 controller, he can move about, rotate his upper body, move his arms / shoulders and grab on to items. His head also rotates, moves up and down and if you get too close, his eyes will rotate.

Video of LEGO George:

I asked burf2000 some questions about his robot:

What inspired you to build this robot?

“I have always loved robotics and so Lego for me was a medium to build it in, I built another large robot last year but was not so successful. That one was based off T1 from Terminator 3. I wanted to keep things simple on this one due to size. It weights around 20KG. I also loved the Short-circuit films (johnny 5).”

How long did it take to make?

“This one took around 3 months of the odd evenings and days, We just had a baby (my wife) so getting time has been quite hard. However my wife is very supportive and knew I needed to build this for a show. (”

What are your future plans with the robot?

“Glad you asked this, currently I am improving certain parts of this which I am not happy with like shoulder joints, main bearing and turning. Once they are done, I am going to build a second robot to keep him company. Its going to be another large one, using more NXT’s and hopefully will go round on his own. My aim is to get a whole display of large robots moving around and interacting with each other.”

I thank you, burf2000, for submitting LEGO George. We can’t wait to see his successor!

More Photos

LEGO George's neckClose up

The whole photo set can be found on burf2000’s Flickr page

Written by Vu Nguyen

October 6th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Posted in Cool projects,NXT

How to set up ROBOTC to use Third Party Sensors

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We found a great video that a user made on Youtube (username: JosGJosG) that talks about Third Party Sensors.

JosGJosG takes you through starting up ROBOTC and going through the Preference settings in order to enable the ability to use Third Party sensors.

Description of the video (from youtube):

When ROBOTC is downloaded, it is initially set up to recognise only LEGO sensors. A set-up change has to be made to allow ROBOTC to recognise third party sensors, (HiTechnic, MindSensors, Firgelli, etc.). This video shows how to make that change, and also briefly mentions the difference in set-up between the full ROBOTC, and the simplified Natural Language ROBOTC. This video is one of a series of free video tutorials that introduce students to LEGO MindStorms NXT-G and to the use of Third Party Sensors; you can see them at

The Video:

Written by Vu Nguyen

October 6th, 2011 at 11:18 am

Posted in NXT

Updated VEX Gateway Challenge (v1.02) available!

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2011-2012 VEX Gateway Challenge Level Pack

We have updated the VEX Gateway Challenge Level Pack that includes just minor changes. It also fixes the motor polarity to match the real version of the Squarebot.

Where do I download it?

Just go to and find the “2011-2012 VEX Gateway Challenge Level Pack”.

How do I install it?

Run the .exe file and it will walk you through the installation process. You do not need to uninstall the previous version if you already installed a previous version of this Level Pack.

Written by Vu Nguyen

September 28th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Cortex,VEX

ROBOTC 3.03 is now available!

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Hi all,

We’ve just released ROBOTC 3.03. Head on over to the download pages to download the latest version!

3.02 to 3.03 Change log:

  • Fixed issue with nMotorEncoderTarget when issuing a positive target with a negative speed.
  • Removed windows that would cause Virtual Worlds to crash when opening.
  • Fixed problem with large files not compiling to robot controllers. The Maximum size of user program was incorrectly given as 16K. Changed to 128K. Also added error messages to prevent “silent” failure.
  • Fixed “File – Print Preview” and “Print” commands to properly print source code.
  • ROBOTC will no longer crash if Fantom is not available.
  • Fixed issue with ROBOTC Auto-Updater. ROBOTC will now properly notify you when a new version is available.
  • No longer validate perpetual license and check for updates on every startup. This is now a periodic check.
  • Corrected a bug with an incorrect cast that was causing crash in compiler code optimization.
  • Fixed issue with VEX remote screen display where buttons were not emulating the correct value when pressed.


Written by Vu Nguyen

September 26th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Cortex,FTC,NXT,Releases,VEX

Introduction to programming using encoders

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Encoders provide a great way for you to control where your robot goes.  The video that is posted below is for someone who has never used encoders.

In this video we will talk about what encoders are used for and open a sample program that allows a user to see how the code works.  New programmers can try this program out using the Robot Virtual World software found at: 

Written by Robin Shoop

September 20th, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Posted in General News

FTC Bowled Over and VEX Gateway Challenge Virtual Worlds

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The ROBOTC team modified both the FTC Bowled Over and VEX Gateway Challenge Virtual Worlds to include four different starting positions and improved physics.  Each robot challenge has four different starting positions. The new options in the virtual worlds are designed to allow the team’s programmers to begin their path planning for the autonomous portion of the challenge while the rest of the team completes the robot.  Teams will be able to begin to build robot behaviors like straight for a number of encoder counts,  turning a specific angle, linetracking, forward until sonar or touch sensor before their actual robot is complete.

You can see a simple example of the FTC Bowled Over Robot Virtual World here:

YouTube Direct Link 

and the VEX Gateway Challenge here:

YouTube Direct Link 

The Robot Virtual World simulator only works in ROBOTC 3.0 or later. Learn more about Robot Virtual Worlds here:

Written by Robin Shoop

September 17th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Posted in General News

Grumpy: Robot with some personality

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[Thanks to jovel from the forums for submitting this!]

This is my power functions robot named Grumpy.
Like other robots he has some basic functions like:

  • Driving back-/forward
  • Turning
  • Lower and raise his arms
  • Open and close his claw to pick things up

But that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted him to have some personality. To do that I added some head movements. He can shake his head left/right and move his neck back- and forward. While driving he always looks in the direction he’s going. He can also move his eyebrows up and down.

Written by Vu Nguyen

September 14th, 2011 at 10:48 am

Posted in General News