Once again it is a new exciting FITST LEGO League season!
This year's mat is very colorful, so the Brics~2~Bots engineers decided to test (using our test robot "Testy") the color sensor out on this year's mat, programming with the EV3 software. So here are some tips for new teams when using the Color Sensor....
Test 1: Using WAIT for Color > Compare > Color whether black or white the color sensor sometimes detected very light (for white) and very dark (for black). That could be a problem!
Test 2: Using WAIT for Color > Compare > Reflected Light Intensity you can:
1. Calibrate for black or white before the matches using Port View on the robot controller to measure Reflecting Light and adjust your program to WAIT for Color > Compare > Reflected Light Intensity for the resulting Threshold.
2. Write a Color Calibration program using the Color Sensor block which can be made into a MyBlock. Then place that color calibration MyBock at the beginning of the mission program to calibrate for a specific color & Write/store it in a Variable (give it a name, i.e. the color) that can be used to Read data (the light's threshold vale) into the WAiT for Color block in the mission section of the program.
Color Calibration & stored Applied in a mission to find the Black line.
3. If your missions programs are all under one EV3 Project, you can write a calibration program, saving the Threshold value in a Variable that can be used in any of the missions saved in that project. Several different color variables can be stored in the project.
Using littleBits® and LEGO® - What
is littleBits?It is an electronic modular building system. “Bits” are electronic
building blocks that are color-coded (Power, Input, Output, Wires) and connect to each other magnetically to form
electronic circuits. The simplicity of building with them makes complex
technology more understandable and definitely fun. littleBits® has a Brick Adapter so that you can attach the Bits
to a LEGO model – so cool!
There are 4 types of Brick
Adapters that you will receive in a kit or order separately as a package.
Note: When stringing several littleBits Brick Adapters together and attaching them to LEGO bricks
they have to be fitted a certain way.
Q-Tip: If you are having trouble getting Bits, Brick Adapters, and LEGO
elements to “stick,” try first attaching the Brick Adapters to the LEGO
elements, then connect the Bits to the Brick Adapters by snapping them starting
at the top then at the bottom or vice versa rather than trying to push from the
middle of the Bit. Be sure to press only on the “shoes” - the color ends
of the Bits.
Even after snapping your Bits and LEGO elements together they still might
come loose. Try securing them with additional building elements. It will also make the
project look better.
Besides bricks, bricks w/holes, and plates, what other LEGO elements
can be attached to littleBits?
How to attach a littleBits Mounting Board to LEGO Connect a LEGO
Technic Beam to the studs on a LEGO building plate. Insert Half Pins (short end) into the
Beam; you will discover that when you count from the first insertion pin, every fifth hole on the Beam will match a hole on the littleBits Mounting Board. Attach the Mounting Board to
the Half Pins in the Beam. Secure with a LEGO #5 Half Beam.
If you happened to have a MinuteBot Base (they are hard to find now) you can attach littleBits to the Base using the littleBits
Brick Adapter, LEGO Beams and Half Pins.
Note: LEGO MIndstorms EV3 IR Beacon )also an Apple remote and perhaps some other remotes) can remotely control littleBits when used with a Remote Trigger Bit.
Check out the projects and Tips & Ticks on the littlBits website:
We all know that we live in a germ filled world, so it is important to wash or sanitize our hands before eating! However, sometimes when we try to use the hand sanitizer pump the bottle slips when we try to push the pump down and we make a mess... But wait, there is a solution to this problem (drum roll...)
The EV3 Hand Sanitizer Dispenser!
This is the creation of Beatrice, one of our Brics~2~Bots engineers.
This year's rules have basically remained the same as last year.
R01 - ALL EQUIPMENT - All Equipment must be made of LEGO-made building parts in original factory condition (remember LEGO is one of our sponsors - Thank you LEGO!)
Except: LEGO string and tubing may be cut shorter.
Except: Program reminders on paper are okay (off the Field).
Except: Marker may be used in hidden areas for identification.
R02 - CONTROLLERS - You are allowed only ONE individual controller in any particular Match.
For your Brick Controller you have the choice of the following LEGO Mindstorms Bricks: RCX (the one that started it all - mine still works on older computer OS systems), NXT, and EV3.
You may use any of the LEGO Mindstorms motors, however
R03 - MOTORS - You are allowed up to FOUR individual motors in any particular Match.
Other LEGO motors: Wind-up or Pull-back are not allowed.
R04 - EXTERNAL SENSORS - Use as many external sensors as you like.
R05 - OTHER ELECTRIC/ELECTRONIC THINGS - No other electric/electronic things are allowed in the competition area for Mission-related activity.
Except: LEGO-made wires and converter cables are allowed as needed. Wires from Mindsensors and other third parties may not be used in competition. R06 - NON-ELECTRIC ELEMENTS - Use as many non-electric LEGO-made elements as you like. Be creative folks!
R07 - SOFTWARE - The Robot may only be programmed using LEGO MINDSTORMS RCX, NXT, EV3, or RoboLab software (any release). No other software is allowed. Patches, add-ons, and new versions of the allowable software from the manufacturers (LEGO and National Instruments) are allowed, but tool kits, including the LabVIEW tool kit, are not allowed.
Keep in mind that robots and attachments will be checked at the Robot Inspection and possibly at the game table, so please adhere to the rules.
R09 - BEFORE THE MATCH TIMER
STARTS - After getting to the Field on time, you have at least one minute to prepare.
• ask (respectfully) the Ref to be sure a Mission Model or setup is correct, and/or
• calibrate light/color sensors anywhere you like.
R10 - HANDLING DURING THE MATCH
• You are not allowed to interact with any part of the Field that’s not COMPLETELY in Base.
Except: You may Interrupt the Robot any time.
Except: You may pick up Equipment that BROKE off the Robot UNINTENTIONALLY, anywhere, any time.
R11 - MISSION MODEL HANDLING
• If you combine a Mission Model with something (including the Robot), the combination must be loose enough that if asked to do so, you could pick the Mission Model up and nothing else would come with it. • If you combine a Mission Model with something (including the Robot), the combination must be loose enough that if asked to do so, you could pick the Mission Model up and nothing else would come with it R13 - LAUNCHING - A proper Launch (or re- Launch) goes like this:
• READY SITUATION
o Your Robot and everything in Base it’s about to move or use is arranged by hand as you like, all fitting “COMPLETELY IN BASE” and measuring no taller than 12inches” (30.5 cm). This rule has been re-stated.
o Reach down and touch a button or signal a sensor to activate a program. The Technician should not be touching any part of the robot during the countdown.
R14 - INTERRUPTING - If you INTERRUPT the Robot, you must stop it immediately, *then calmly pick it up for a re-Launch (*if you intend one). Here’s what happens to the Robot and anything it was
Transporting, depending on where each was at the time:
o Completely in Base: Re-Launch
o NOT completely in Base: Re-Launch + Penalty
• TRANSPORTED THING (Cargo)
o Completely in Base: Keep it
o NOT completely in Base: Give it to the Ref! The Ref takes it.
R15 - STRANDING - If the UNINTERRUPTED Robot loses something it was Transporting, that thing must be allowed to come to rest. Once it does, here’s what happens to that
thing, depending on its rest location:
• TRANSPORTED THING (Cargo)
o Completely in BaseL Keep it
o Partly in Base: Give it to the Ref! The Ref takes it.
o Completely outside Base: Leave as is (only the robot may bring it in Base during its run)
R17 - FIELD DAMAGE
• If the Robot separates Dual Lock or breaks a Mission Model, Missions obviously made possible or easier by this damage or the action that caused it do not score. Please try not to destroy the models - it delays the game in repairing them.
R18 - END OF THE MATCH - As the Match ends, everything must be preserved exactly as-is: • If your Robot is moving, stop it ASAP and leave it in place. (Changes after the end don’t count.) • After that, hands off everything until after the Ref has given the okay to reset the table.
If you own a Mac and are using LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0, you might have noticed that starting with Snow Leopard if you have Adobe Flash Player installed, NXT-G 2.1 software will not load. Now, with all the NXT kits that I have, that caused a bit of a panic. Ok, so you uninstall Flash Player!
I am now using Yosemite on my new main computer and guess what?? Flash Player still prevents Mindstorms NXT 2.1 Education version from loading. Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Home version cannot even be installed. So, now I have to use NXT-G 2.1 without Flash Player on my computer or I use my Windows 10 PC (sorry not that crazy about Windows). Looking into the near future of not having a Mac that will run NXT-G is a little scary; particularly with all the Mindstorms NXT controllers I have in excellent working condition that might not be able to be programmed. Plus, LEGO is no longer supporting the NXT, as of 2016. Yes, I can use the NXT motors, touch sensors, ultrasonic and color sensors to some degree with the EV3 kits, but the future looked grim for the NXT Controllers, but wait…
Could it be??? Yes, I found a couple of articles from LEGO(R) ENGINEERING blog site - the NXT Controller CAN BE programmed with EV3 software! Of course, not all the sensors and blocks work with it. The NXT Touch sensor, Ultrasonic sensor, Sound sensor, and Motor can be programmed on the NXT with Ev3 software. Even the RCX motor, Power Function Motors (except the Servo Motor), and RCX/NXT Lamp with a NXT conversion cable can be programmed on the NXT Controller using the Large Motor block and a LOOP block of the EV3 software. An of course, the EV3 Medium and EV3 Large motors can be used on the NXT and programmed with EV3 software using the Move Steering block or Move Tank block to operate them simultaneously, or the Move Tank with one motor set to zero or using the Large Motor block to operate one Medium or Large EV3 motor. If you use Parallel Sequencing in the program you can run up to 3 motors simultaneously. So, what EV3 programming blocks will work with NXT? Action Blocks: