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TETRIX Curiosity Rover Programmed with ROBOTC

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IMG_1712We ran into Paul Utley from Pitsco at the 2013 FIRST Championship who designed a model of the Curiosity Rover with TETRIX parts, NXT brick, and programmed in ROBOTC! We were lucky enough to get a short interview with him about it. Check it out here …
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
If you are at the 2013 FIRST Championship in St. Louis, MO., make sure to stop by and check it out in person. For more information on Tetrix go to http://www.tetrixrobotics.com
 

Written by Cara Friez

April 25th, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Wiki Guide: How to Play Sounds Through a VEX Cortex Speaker

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Back in April, we did an unboxing for the VEX Cortex Speaker which we blogged about, here.

Since then we have had many requests for an updated guide on how to play custom audio files through the Cortex Speakers. Today, the wait is finally over. We have updated our wiki pages to include an in-depth guide on how to convert a sound file into a Cortex-usable format using the open source program, Audacity [link].

Once the file is formatted and downloaded to the Cortex properly, the ‘PlaySoundFile(“filename.wav”)’ command is used to access the audio file and play it through the speaker port (example shown below).


task main()
{

//Play a Sound File (need to use the File Management to Upload First)
PlaySoundFile("1.wav");
wait1Msec(1000);

}

If you are interested in the Cortex Speaker and what can be played through it, check out the VEX forum post about playing Nyan Cat through the VEX Cortex speaker. As an added holiday bonus, how about the 12 Days of Christmas?

We are continually updating and improving all of our support material; if there is anything you think would make ROBOTC more accessible, don’t hesitate to comment below!


Written by John Watson

November 21st, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Three New, Unique VEX Creations

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We’re always happy to see ‘outside-the-box’ robotics inventions, so when we were contacted by a local high school teacher  (Dana Clay from Baldwin-Whitehall School District) with a couple of youtube videos, we were more than curious to see what his class had cooked up. We were not let down. The first video shows a VEX contraption that shoots ping-pong balls through a pipe “hoop” with surprising accuracy. It even has a degree of human interaction; the light sensor can be covered/uncovered to control how far the attached arm rotates.


YouTube Direct Link 

The second video is a very cool movie of a VEX-built robot typing “I LOVE ROBOTS” on a keyboard. Robots controlling computers; now that’s an awesome idea!


YouTube Direct Link 

The final video is of a looped track with a VEX tank tread/catapult combo providing the upwards momentum to keep things rolling smoothly. This is the Ball That Never Stops, people, and it has a catapult; how can you not love it? All three were programmed in ROBOTC, of course. Enjoy!


YouTube Direct Link 

Written by John Watson

September 11th, 2012 at 5:51 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

PLTW Students at Walker Career Center create a VEX Claw Game

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Project Lead the Way Students at Walker Career Center have recreated the popular stuffed animal claw game using ROBOTC, VEX components, custom-made parts, lumber, and lots of hard work.

From the project page:

“The Vex Claw Game was chosen as our project for the first semester because we could really use it to promote engineering throughout the community. It’s not only fun and exciting, but it also incorporates each of the Project Lead The Way classes that we offer at Walker Career Center. Parts from the claw game include many skills that we have learned during out time in PLTW including constructing structures with Vex parts, programming, rapid prototyping, CO2 laser cutting, and wiring. This project took us around 3 months of in school time to complete.”

To read more about the project and see how it was built from the ground up, visit their project page here.

On behalf of the ROBOTC team, job well done!

Written by Jesse Flot

July 19th, 2012 at 11:44 am

Posted in Cool projects,Cortex,VEX

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RC Car to Arduino Robot – First car converted!

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The Arduino is one of the most diverse robotics platforms. It truly opens the world of modern electronics to the students by allowing them to interface with all sorts of relevant, modern technology. We have seen this unfold in our latest project with the Arduino, the RC car hacking project.


YouTube Direct Link 

For this project, we decided a good candidate to start with would be the New Bright RC ‘Interceptor’, a larger scale car that fit a standard-sized Arduino (in this case, an UNO) and a breadboard with lots of room to spare. This surplus of space opens up tons of options for adding sensors in the future. Plus, by tapping into the car’s standard battery we eliminated the need to add a second one. Since we needed to be able to control the RC car’s DC motors with the Arduino, we decided to use the VEX Motor Controller 29 to convert the PWM signals into corresponding voltage levels. This solution was cheap, easy, and effective; a true engineering triple play.

Once the Arduino was implanted into the RC car, it was time to tell the newborn robot to do something. Of course, we did this using our favorite programming software, ROBOTC for Arduino (more on this later).

Close up on the hacked internals of the 'Interceptor'.

It is important to realize that while most robots have a tank style drive system, the RC cars have the same steering system as that found in real-sized cars (Ackermann Steering). This unfortunately eliminates the possibility of making point turns, but it does open the doors to other interesting opportunities such as parallel parking (we plan on showcasing this in a later update).

Besides being incredibly awesome, this project also helps to expand upon the superb flexibility of the Arduino and VEX systems; although not specifically designed for one another, they can easily be used together with little or no modification  to either system.

We could never allow you, the reader, to miss out on the hacking. If you are interested in this or any of our other current projects, we encourage you to take a look at the tutorials on our wiki. At the moment they are works-in-progress, but we are well on the way of having step-by-step guides for hacking a variety of vehicles, with different scales and sizes, and different methods of operation. We ultimately want the tutorials to act as guides to hack any RC vehicle, even if we do not cover it specifically.

Keep an eye on this blog and our wiki for the latest updates. If you have any hacking stories, we’d love to hear about them on our forums. Good luck, and get hacking!

Written by Jacob Palnick

July 6th, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Michael’s Macro Mouse Project

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This project was submitted by ROBOTC user Michael B. He uses an NXT robot equipped with a HiTechnic EOPD (Electro Optical Proximity Detector) to determine the robots surroundings and then intelligently create and navigate a path through the maze maze.

From the creator:

It shows a robot solving a maze very similar to the micro mouse challenge. It’s an excellent application of 2D arrays. It’s also the most accessible task I could conceive of that would require students to build robots that remembered stuff about their surroundings, related that information and build on it, and then use that information to make intelligent decisions.

 

Here’s video of the Macro Mouse in action, with lots of additional detail:

Written by Jesse Flot

June 11th, 2012 at 9:36 am

Posted in Cool projects,NXT

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Bucket ‘o’ Bricks Brick Sorter

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NeXT-Generation, over on the ROBOTC forums, posted a very cool project he’s been working on for the last two months.  It’s an automated brick sorter made with a combination of Mindstorms NXT, Power Functions and Pneumatics.


YouTube Direct Link 

The video might be long but it’s well worth watching!

Naturally, we asked him questions about his creation:

What motivated you to make this?

I wanted to build a robot that was interactive and would entertain smaller kids, and be mechanically interesting to older ones, and even adults. Here’s what happened: I planned for it to be able to “learn” where the colors were supposed to go. You could tell it if it put the brick in the right or wrong area until it learned where they all belonged. But, mechanical glitches in the construction that I didn’t have time to fix prevented that from happening. I probably would have made another console with the other NXT with the yes/no buttons, and it could make sounds and use the display to interact.

How long did it take?

Well, if you count total time it’s been built, about two months. But, now here’s the catch: I’ve really only been working on it for about one month, because I got sick twice over the last two months, so in total I was out of it for about a month. During that month I was also working on other stuff. Probably about a week was lost to messing with my Boe-Bot and Pololu 3Pi.

Do you have any plans for future improvements or modifications?

I plan to revisit the same kind of concept, but with no deadline so that I can work out any problems that come up.

What is the average air speed of a laden swallow?

The average airspeed of a laden swallow is 42.

A very cool project, indeed!

Written by Xander Soldaat

April 30th, 2012 at 11:46 am

Posted in Cool projects

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