Monday, January 5, 2015

LEGO Mindstorms and a Dead Robot

An old friend visited the other day.  Like me, he has kids, and is interested in exposing them to toys that breed creativity, especially ones with a technological bent.

In the course of talking about things like Minecraft, LEGOs, and the Hour of Code, I remembered that I had some old LEGO Mindstorms.  I pulled them out, including the robot I'd built a few years back.  Man, it's crazy to think how old these things are.

Sadly, my robot no longer works.  After replacing the battery, I found that there's a problem with the Control Brick.  Apparently, a piece of solder inside the Control Brick has cracked and caused the display to no longer function.  Searching Google, I found that this is a common problem with LEGO Mindstorms NXT V1.0, which is what I have.  I didn't have the time, resources, or gumption to fix the brick then and there.  However, I'm looking at it as a near-term project.  It'll be a good excuse to use the soldering iron, and it's not like I can make it much less useful.

It was a pretty cool little robot, too, even if it wasn't that sophisticated.  It used the sonar sensor to detect walls, back up, and change driving direction in the case that it detected an obstacle.  It also had the ability to back up and change direction if its wheels got caught and bound up in an unseen obstacle.  The sonar sensor was mounted on a motorized swivel, to allow for future expansion, with the idea that it might be able to do some primitive mapping.

All in all, he's a silly little robot, but worth saving, even if it's just to reuse his Command Block.

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