Home page / Lego® / Robotics

If you don't know what Lego Mindstorms® is, please visit the Official Lego Mindstorms site. In brief, it's a system based upon standard Lego Technic parts and a special microcomputer, and provides an easy way to build and program your own custom robots.


We wrote a book!
My brother Giulio and I wrote a book about Mindstorms robotics. Click here to know more about it.


Table of Contents

1. My robotic creatures

2. EmulegOs, a legOs emulator

3. EmupbForth, a pbForth emulator

4. Custom sensors




1. My robotic creatures

Thumbnail

Name

Release
date

Description

Code
written
with

Comments

Beep Beep

Mar '02

Differential drive

NQC

A simple differential drive built to attend a series of races - called Grand P-RIS - organized by ItLUG.

Ritorno

Nov '01

Pivot drive

NQC

This robot attended the same navigation contest the robot Andata was designed for. However, this is based on a completely different principle: with its main wheels down it can go only straight; to turn, it lifts itself upon a central rotating platform, turns in place, then lowers itself again.

Andata

Nov '01

Modified differential drive

NQC

I built this robot to attend a navigation contest which took place during one of the Italian Legofests. It's a modified differential drive, which features a locking system that makes it able to go perfectly straight.

Plant Sprinkler

Nov '01

Indirect fluid pump

NQC

You are about to leave for a long-awaited vacation, but are worried about the fate of your endearing house plants... Fear not. This robotic plant sprinkler is the answer to your problem.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Milk Guard

Nov '01

Temperature
alarm

NQC

A truly useful robot! Now you can warm your milk leaving the pan unattended on the stove: this robot will warn you when it reaches the right temperature, preventing it from boiling over.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Floor Sweeper

Nov '01

Random cleaner

NQC

This robot is based on the principle that a vehicle moving randomly about a room will eventually touch every point of the floor :-)
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Flight Simulator

Nov '01

Flight
simulator

NQC

This flight simulator allows visual experimenting with thrust, lift, drag, acceleration, speed, heading and altitude. The RCX works like a sort of portable cockpit, which displays speed and altitude, produces the engine sound and a stall warning when necessary.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Tape Writer

Nov '01

Tape
writer

NQC

A robot that writes (with a pen/pencil) on common paper tapes made for printing calculators or cash registers.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Logo Turtle

Nov '01

Logo
turtle

NQC

This Logo turtle, inspired by the Logo educational programming system, is able to draw precise geometric shapes on the floor from simple commands.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Simon-Says

Nov '01

Electronic
game

NQC

An electronic game inspired by Milton Bradley's commercial Simon game.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Pinball

Nov '01

Pinball
machine

NQC

This pinball machine demonstrates that there's plenty of opportunities for projects which - though not considered pure robotics - are indeed a lot of fun to imagine, build and play with.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Piano Player

Nov '01

Piano player

NQC

A piano player designed to play on a real piano keyboard. It's capable of playing notes and chords on six consecutives keys.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Drummer

Nov '01

Robotic drummer

NQC

With the aid of some plastic wrap, this robot turn LEGO wheel hubs into a drum set. Just a few programming instructions and it's ready to rock!
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Broad blue

Nov '01

Mechanical chess interface

NQC

An extra-large robotic arm able to handle standard chess pieces and position them precisely in every square of the chessboard.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Chess interface

Nov '01

Visual chess interface

NQC

A simple visual interface to allow communicating with a chess program running on the RCX.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Tic-Tac-Toe II

Nov '01

Tic-tac-toe
player

NQC

A robotic Tic-Tac-Toe player than can be built from the RIS kits plus very few additional parts.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Maze Solver

Nov '01

Maze solver

NQC

This robot can solve a wide class of labyrinths provided that they can be represented with black and white tiles or on a sheet of paper.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Maze Runner

Nov '01

Wall follower

NQC

A robot able to find its way out of a labyrinth following the left wall out to the exit.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Johnny Five

Nov '01

Johnny Five style
robot

NQC

This reproduction of the Johnny Five robot from the Short Circuit film has been built from the parts contained in the Robotics Invention System kit plus an additional motor. Can be programmed for light following.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

R2-D2

Nov '01

R2-D2 style
robot

NQC

This reproduction of the R2-D2 robot from the Star Wars film saga has been built from the parts contained in the Robotics Invention System kit plus an additional motor. Can be programmed for light following.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Turtle

Nov '01

Robotic
turtle

NQC

A slow walking turtle with a sensor in its nose. When it detects an obstacle it stops and retracts its head for a while, then it resumes motion and manouver to avoid the obstacle.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Mouse

Nov '01

Robotic
mouse

NQC

Just try to catch this fast robotic mouse - it will speed around your room only stopping (briefly) if you grasp its tail!
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Skier

Nov '01

Skier

NQC

A simple robot able to snowplow on a snowy slope. The robot evaluates its speed throug a rotation sensor atached to the left ski pole, and a motor makes the legs more or less convergent to keep the speed in the desired range.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

SHRIMP II

Nov '01

High mobility rover

NQC

My second implementation of SHRIMP, an high mobility wheeled rover by the Autonomous Systems Lab.

Ankle-bending biped

Nov '01

Walker

NQC

Based on Miguel Agullo's Hammerhead, this biped moves its COG bending its ankle sideways. Due to its design, it can walk only forward.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

COG-Shifting biped

Nov '01

Walker

NQC

In order to move its COG over one foot before lifting the other, this two-legged robot has its RCX mounted on a sled, with slide over the supporting leg with each step.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Interlacing legs biped

Nov '01

Walker

NQC

This biped needs not to move its Center of Gravity to walk, as each leg is U-shaped and able to support the whole robot when the other leg is lifted.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Six-legged turning walker

Nov '01

Walker

NQC

A six-legged walker able to turn. This hexapod walks keeping its left and right legs synchronized, mantaining its stability. Its turning ability comes from a mechanism that can change the stride of the legs.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Six-legged walker

Nov '01

Walker

NQC

A six-legged walker able to turn. As the two groups of legs are not synchronized, it tilts forward or backward during its progression, resulting in a rather irregular and jolting walking.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Four-legged walker

Nov '01

Walker

NQC

A four-legged walker with no ability to turn.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Simple car

Nov '01

Steering
drive

NQC

A simple car-like robot based on a steering drive architecture.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Line follower

Nov '01

Line
follower

NQC

A steering drive line follower.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Room explorer

Nov '01

Differential
drive

NQC

A simple differential drive designed to explore a room and to detect and avoid any obstacles using its large bumpers. It can be equipped with an additional sensor that makes it capable of detecting drop-offs like stairways.
This robot is described in my book Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms.

Cinque

Jan '01

Multi-purpose
platform

NQC

A Johnny Five styled robot equipped to perform many different tasks: obstacle avoidance, line/hand following, object grabbing, dancing.

Aragosta

Jan '01

Mini-sumo robot

pbForth

Aragosta played in a Mini-sumo (RIS only parts) tournament during a public exhibition in Milan.

Golia II

Sep '00

2 speed
Sumo robot

NQC

Another robot built to play Sumo during a Legofest V. This one features a gear switch.

Shrimp

Jul '00

High mobility rover

-

An implementation of SHRIMP, an high mobility wheeled rover by the Autonomous Systems Lab.

Duna Rossa

Jun '00

Sailing trycicle

NQC

A rather unconventional robotic vehicle.

Otto

Jun '00

Multi-purpose
platform

NQC

Large, octagonal, two RCXs, pneumatic... Otto was born mainly to answer my children's request of a R2-D2 style robot capable of more things than the original DDK Lego model.

Eolo

May '00

Pnumatic
Sumo robot

NQC

This robot, built to take part to a Sumo tournament during the Italian Legofest V, is propelled by a pneumatic engine.

Golia

May '00

Sumo robot

NQC

A robot built to take part to a Sumo tournament during the Italian Legofest V.

S21

Jan '00

Dragster

NQC

I built this robotic dragster to attend a challenge at the 3rd Italian Legofest.

S19

Nov '99

Walker

NQC

This walker is openly inspired to a model found in a Lego Technic Idea Book, but it's been heavily modified to allow the robot to change its direction and avoid obstacles.

S18

Nov '99

Synchro drive

NQC

Another synchro drive. This one solves the problem of protecting each side from collisions using a single-sensor rotating bumper.

S17

Oct '99

R2-D2 clone

Scout
console

A modified version of the R2-D2 model found in the DDK. This robot features both the Scout and the Microscout, connected each other with an optic fiber.

TTT

Oct '99

Tic-tac-toe
player

NQC

A small group of us Italian Lego fans attended the MindFest at the MIT during October 1999. We showed our own robotic creature, which played a board version of the very well known tic-tac-toe game.

S15 & S16

Jul '99

Conductor & Piano player

NQC

S15 and S16 work in team, being the first a conductor that reads the "score", and the second a performer, who plays the notes on a real keyboard.

S14

Jun '99

Cyber-dog

NQC

You start, stop and drive it using a leash.

S13

May '99

Synchro drive

NQC

My first synchro-drive. In this kind of set up all the wheels are synchronized in both steer and drive. When a turn is executed, all the wheels turn in unison and as a result the platform itself does not rotate.

S12

May '99

Light finder

NQC

I called this a "space tank", simply because it's not similar enough to any tank on earth :-)
It looks for a light source, aims at it, goes to the proper distance and shoots its shell.

S11

May '99

IR hunter

NQC

A robotic T-Rex and its prey. They both continuously emit IR messages, used by the first to localize the prey and hunt it, and by the latter to escape.

S8

Mar '99

Learning brick sorter

NQC

A non-neural learning brick sorter. It can be instructed to distinguish among three different colors. The learning process is based on a reward/punishment logic that updates a (rather primitive) knowledge base. It smiles when rewarded and gets sad when punished.

S7
S9
S10

Mar '99

IR proximity
Line following
Odometry

NQC
legOS

I used this classical differential drive setup for three projects: IR proximity sensing (S7), line following (S9), odometry (S10).

S6

Feb '99

Two legged walker

BotCode

A walking bot. It has a very limited behaviour, but it walks with just two legs, which implies it has to move its centre of gravity to keep it inside the base of the single leg that is touching the ground.

S5

Jan '99

Line follower with pneumatic hand

BotCode

My first "big one". A joint-venture with my brother for a two RCXs, six motors, six sensors, pneumatic robot.

S4

Dec '98

4-wheel-drive

-

A never finished prototype for a four-wheel-drive. It uses homokinetic joints on the front wheels and three differential gears to transmit main power to the four wheels.

S3

Dec '98

Light follower

BotCode

A light-follower developed together with my brother Giulio. This robot uses its rotating head to detect the strongest source of light and go that direction.

S2

Nov '98

2 speed gear steering vehicle

BotCode

This vehicle, which lightly resembles an ancient car, is equipped with a motor-driven 2 speed gear and a motor-driven steering gear.



2. EmulegOs, a legOs emulator

emulegOS

A legOS (and RCX) emulator. Started by Marco Beri and me, this is now an OpenSource project managed by Mark Falco.

 



3. EmupbForth, a pbForth emulator

emupbForth

Seems I can't resist writing emulators...

 



4. Custom sensors

With the great help of Michael Gasperi I started building my own homebrew sensors. Now I have a rich collection of them.

My personal contribution to all the ideas you can find there is an "Hall effect" sensor that can detect magnetic fields. I developed it on Michael's General Purpose Analog Interface. My first prototype is a threshold version which is activated by the proximity of a small permanent magnet. It's great as a contact-free switch. I employed a A3113ELL Hall-effect switch, but 3119, 3121, 3122 and 3123 should work as well. All of them are very cheap. The Hall-effect switch is a monolithic integrated circuit with three pins. Simply connect the SUPPLY pin to the +7V of Michael's interface, the OUTPUT to Opamp input and the GROUND, obviously, to Gnd.

I built a more compact version too based on the Pete Sevcik's three-wire converter.

Linear output Hall-effect sensor exist as well (like UGN3501U), but I still haven't played with them.


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