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Archive for August, 2012

Announcing ROBOTC 3.5! Beta Version Available Today

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The ROBOTC Development team is proud to announce thatROBOTC 3.5 for the LEGO Mindstorms, VEX Cortex and PIC, Arduino, and Robot Virtual World platforms will be available on September 7th, 2012. The new ROBOTC 3.5 update will be free-of-charge for ALL existing ROBOTC 3.0 license holders. Download a Beta version (3.45) today to get a sneak peak at all of the new features and enhancements available in ROBOTC 3.5!

ROBOTC 3.5 has a number of new features and enhancements:

  • Full ANSI-C support to support pointers, recursion, and stacks with an updated compiler and updated robot firmware.
  • New and Updated Debugger Windows:
    • “Local Variables” to monitor variables in the current task or function.
      (Note: Local variables are only available when your program is suspended)
    • “Global Variables” to monitor variables available to your entire program.
    • “Call Stacks” to monitor function calls in the currently selected task.
  • Updated Documentation and Wiki (www.robotc.net/wiki) – Still in progress!
  • Support for Standard C commands – sprintf(), sscanf(), support for character arrays, unsigned variables, etc.
  • Support for the Arduino family of controllers (Uno, Mega, Mega 2560) with future support and expanded functionality for the Arduino Leonardo and Due controllers.
  • Updated Robot Virtual Worlds support to include additional sensors and motors.
  • Improved Robot Virtual Worlds performance to simulate more realistic physics and robot behaviors.
  • Support for the new MATRIX building system with the NXT.
  • Many general enhancements and bug fixes – more in-depth change log to come with the ROBOTC 3.5 official release.

Please remember that the Beta available today should not be installed across entire school sites–this is a beta version, so install at your own risk!

You can participate in the ROBOTC 3.45 Beta version by downloading a copy here. Please note that the Beta version will uninstall your existing version of ROBOTC; the Beta will use your existing licensing so there is no need to ‘Deactivate’ before installing. If you have any issues/questions with the ROBOTC Beta, please e-mail betasupport [at] robotc [dot] net for assistance and to alert us of any issues to be fixed between now and release day.

Written by Tim Friez

August 24th, 2012 at 11:24 am

VEX Sack Attack Virtual World v1.0 Now Available!

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The Robot Virtual World team is proud to announce their initial release of the VEX Sack Attack virtual environment! This years competition field features a higher level of interactivity and simulation than ever before. Several new robots (with expanded motors and sensors) designed specifically for Sack Attack have been added to the line-up, and are fully programmable through ROBOTC.

Note that the new features in the virtual world also require that you have the latest Beta version of ROBOTC installed, which is available here.

Here’s a video of the Sack Attack virtual world in action:

New Robots
Check out Scooperbot scoring Sacks and Bonus Sacks in the Trough and High Goal:

And Plowbot pushing Sack and Bonus Sacks into the Floor Goals:

User Interface
The new and improved user interface allows you to switch between the robots, and tells you where the growing list of motors and sensors are connected:

Controlling the Robots
Sample code for programming the robots to move autonomously or via a Logitech USB Remote control can be downloaded here: Sack_Attack_Sample_Code.

Don’t have a Logitech USB Remote Control? No Problem! We’ve also added keyboard control for the robots when a ROBOTC program isn’t running! The controls are as follows:

  • “W” key: Robot moves forward
  • “A” key: Robot turns left
  • “S” key: Robot moves in reverse
  • “D” key: Robot turns right
  • “{” key: Scooper motor up
  • “}” key: Scooper motor down
  • “<” key: Arm motor up
  • “>” key: Arm Motor down

Future Enhancements!
We’re extremely excited about this release, but we’re not done yet. Check out some of the enhancements that are on their way!

More robots! Clawbot:

Holobot with claw:

Improved Sack physics, and Robot-to-Sack Interaction:

The VEX Sack Attack virtual world can be downloaded here, or under the Available Level Packs section of the RVW Download Page.

Important! The new features in the virtual world also require that you have the latest version of Beta version of ROBOTC installed, available here. Don’t have ROBOTC for Robot Virtual Worlds? It comes with a free 60-day trial, so download it today. Need help getting it set up? Check out the setup videos, here.

Written by Jesse Flot

August 23rd, 2012 at 4:40 pm

VEX Sack Attack Referee Training Videos

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John and Karthik at VEX Robotics have put together a fantastic set of videos for teams competing in the VEX Sack Attack Robotics Competition.

The 9-video series breaks down the rules for the competition, and shows how referees will interpret the different scenarios that may occur. It’s definitely a worthwhile watch for any teams competing this year (or anyone who wants to see John hug this years game object).

You can watch the full video series here, or on their YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEC832168771665F2


Written by Jesse Flot

August 22nd, 2012 at 3:38 pm

NXT ‘Coltar’ Blends Art, Science

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In years past, the science and art fields were generally considered to be diametrically opposed; if something was scientific it usually didn’t have artistic value, and if it was a work of art it probably didn’t do much for the scientific community. Recently, though, the line between art and science has been blurred and blended in some very unique and interesting ways.

A prime example of this is a color-sensing “Coltar” made by Youtube user PhilippLens. By mixing imagination with ingenuity, PhilippLens created the hybrid guitar using a LEGO Mindstorms NXT brick with a color sensor and two touch sensors (one on the Coltar itself, the other on the ‘pick’). Using the touch sensors to control chords and the color sensor to control which notes are being ‘strummed’ allows the Coltar to emit a surprisingly large range of notes.


YouTube Direct Link 

For more information on this cool project, check out Philipp’s Reddit post. You can also download the code here.

Written by John Watson

August 20th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

New NXT X-Y Plotter ‘Draws’ Attention

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The NXT X-Y axis plotter showcasing some simple shapes it drew.

When you think of a printer, what images come to mind? Generally, printers are considered necessary but frustrating (Office Space, anyone?) pieces of office equipment and like most other cubicle furnishings they are usually pretty boring.

Not so much anymore.

McNamara has yet again created something functional yet stylish, this time by turning an NXT and some Mindstorm parts into a surprisingly accurate X-Y axis plotter. Quite possibly the coolest thing about the plotter, though, is that (taken from McNamara’s blog) “An X–Y plotter is a plotter that operates in two axes of motion (“X” and “Y”)… The term was used to differentiate it from standard plotters which had control only of the “y” axis, the “x” axis being continuously fed to provide a plot of some variable with time.” This mean that the pen itself moves in both the X and Y directions (technically it moves in all 3 axis of motion, but the Z axis doesn’t come into play on this plotter, except to move the pen on and off the dry-erase board) and that the table stays in a static position; very cool.

Don’t take our word for it though; check it out on McNamara’s blog (complete with pictures, video, code, and building instructions)!

Written by John Watson

August 15th, 2012 at 8:52 am

Very cool Omniwheelchair

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2012-07-29-21.16.10

Simon Burfield, a.k.a. Burf has made a super cool model.  By model I mean chair and by chair I mean omnidirectional wheelchair. Oh and it’s life-sized, too.  Yeah, it is capable of handling no less than 90 kg!  I saw a video of an early prototype a few weeks ago but this new one is even better-er!

Some facts:

  • It uses 7 Mindstorms bricks. One for controlling and 6 that are used for moving.
  • Each driving NXT has two motors attached to it.  I presume that a third motor would probably be pushing it when it comes to providing current.  It’s not easy to push that much LEGO and human meat around.
  • The master NXT has 4 touch sensors connected (forward, back, left and right) and 2 motors to switch on the drive touch sensors.
  • It uses Rotacaster’s omniwheels to make it possible to move in any direction (except up, of course).
  • It is programmed in ROBOTC (of course)

Here’s one of the videos he made:


YouTube Direct Link 

Isn’t this awesome? Go check out the other pictures and videos on the original article page: [LINK]. [via BotBench]

Written by Xander Soldaat

August 1st, 2012 at 8:06 am