It contains a bit of electronics, but nothing too scary. Have fun!
I’ll be having a look if I can achieve a similar device with LEGO Mindstorms.
This year, Google’s science fair teams up with LEGO Mindstorms. The Google Science fair, although limited to the younger among us, always generates a great list of good and innovative ideas.
This year, sponsored by LEGO Mindstorms, we will hopefully see some more applications of Mindstorms in the field of science. Sign up is ending the end of this month (for all you that are, or have kids that are between 14 and 18 years old).
There are some really nice projects and videos with background information from this one and previous Science Fairs, on the Science Fair Youtube channel.
Here’s the video.
More on my Mindstrorms creation here.
The idea is really good. Robotic construction with the use of a cellphone (read: iPhone or Android) as the processing Unit. This is quite a step ahead from the standard available robotics kits, which either come as pre-assembled or one-purpose kit with which you can only make one (or a small set of) robotic inventions, or they come closer to the LEGO mindstorms kit or Fishertechnik that come with their own controller.
Romotive‘s Idea is to allow people to program and control their robotic kits, The ROMO, with their smartphone, using a combination of apps (a true “app store” for robots) and the Phones SDK, libraries are still in development. This flexibility will also come on the hardware side, where you can by modules for your bots, servo motors, different types of sensors, etc.
As a new start-up at Kickstarter.com Romotive is doing quite well and is almost near the 32.000$ of their financial target to make it a reality. Their starter model is a quite simple base with a phone stand and connector and looks like it will give quite some hours of entertainment. The basic set, as a Kickstarter Project backer will cost you 78$ and you’ll get the first base model. the interesting part is that if you pay a bit more (141$), they send you 2 models, with which you can “play” together in a mario-style augmented reality game.
Kickstarter project Page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/peterseid/romo-the-smartphone-robot
After some weeks looking at it, I decided last weekend to give my LEGO Mindstorms Pinhole Camera a try. We set-up a small darkroom in our bathroom to be able to load the paper into the camera and to develop it afterwards. The good thing was that we needed little space as the amplifier wasn’t needed.
It took me about 5 minutes to cut the strips of paper, load the camera roll and tape the camera box closed for the trial run. Once done, it was a bit scary to open the light, but we went to our roof terrace to make some test shots (taking advantage of the fact we had to be up there to hang our laundry up to dry).
Since I could find little information online on the exposure times to use when projecting directly onto paper, I went for pretty rough exposure times. 60 seconds and 90 seconds, each shot.
After the third shot, I missed the sound of the servo-motor controlling the film winding. Something went wrong. We took a couple of shots more, without moving the camera and decided to go down and develop the paper.
As you can see from the strips, there is some light leakage, which I don’t really mind. The images are over exposed, so I guess the exposure times should be more around 30 – 45 and 60 seconds depending on the light situation (we made these shots on a very sunny day in Barcelona). Also the as you can see from the strip above, there is a triple exposure.
The transport mechanism got stuck indeed. I believe that the main cause was the thickness of the paper, a lot thicker than the normal print paper I ran tests with.
I’ll now have a look if I can improve the transport of the paper, so it won’t get stuck and do some more tests with different exposure times…. to be continued!
Hanging up the laundry….
A couple of weeks back I started thinking about a new LEGO Mindstorms project. After a few nice, but too complex ideas, I decided I wanted to build a pinhole camera out of LEGO Mindstorms.
There are already a few examples online of standard pinhole models, but I did not want to make a typical one. I wanted to use Mindstorms to add some automation to it.
After a long think and a couple off GT’s I had a set of characteristics, I’d like to give it:
Once done, I wrote a small NXT program to see if it all works and the result was great. I can open/close the shutter using the shutter release button.
Also after making a picture the transport mechanism will wind up the cartridge enough to make the next picture, leaving a bit of margin between exposures.
The paper I use in these images are strips of normal paper taped together. Basically because I did not want us waste my last pack of photographic paper in the process. As you can see from the below picture, the transport mechanism works well. I have not yet estimated how much paper I fill the roll with, but I can guess I’ll be able to take about 20 shots.
After this, I have added a layer of black cardboard in the camera’s interior, to make sure it’s light-tight and I attached the Mindstorms Colour sensor.
The next part involves creating a NXT program that allows me to
I’ve started to program the timer. This took me most of my Sunday morning, as I did not read/know that the Colour sensor that can function as a light meter only does that when it’s plugged in into port 3 of the controller block. I can now read out the raw light values, add them to a variable and do a calculation that I then feed into the Pause between the shutter open/close. I’ll add the program here when it’s done (and working well).
Here are some images from my first self-build Mindstorms creation. Since the first two where done with the instructions that came with the box, I was eager to build something myself.
For some time now I have been seeing images of “Useless machines” out there, and thought I’d build one now I have the proper ingredients.
I’ve added a function to the standard box, which makes it move a bit when you get close to flip the switch.
The machine contains:
I found that building your own design without thinking it through a bit gets you into problems or challenges. I have now downloaded the LEGO Digital designer, a free official LEGO download to see if I can make a draft design first, before I start building.