<span style="color: #DEDEDE">Robots and ROVs</span>

Robots and ROVs

MINDSTORMS inventions and development

LEGO made a lot of great sets. Sadly enough, most of them don’t move by themselves. Have you ever thought about using your MINDSTORMS hardware to let your favorite set move? Or have you ever made a robotic replica of it? In this contest, I challenge you to ‘robotify’ your favorite LEGO set(s) by using LEGO MINDSTORMS hardware and parts. You may also make a replica of your favorite set, such as a self-driving police car completely made of Technic pieces.

For rules and how to enter, click here.

Good luck and have fun!

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24 jul 2014

Yo guests! The official MINDSTORMS Community Building Challenge (posted by EV3COMMUNITY) of this month is the MicroBot Building Challenge. It asks you to build a prototype for a small robot that can help the humanity. I wanted to make something that can help with healing diseases. So I built GammaBug, a robot that can heal tumors that can’t be removed in the ‘normal’ way. Sadly enough, there are some glitches in the MINDSTORMS Community, so I can’t upload it there. So you can read here everything about the robot.



Side view of GammaBug, unfolted antenna.


Side view of GammaBug, folted antenna.


The idea

What is a tumor?

Before we can start talking about removing tumors, you have to know what a tumor is. Simply said, a tumor is growth. There are two kinds of tumors: Benign and malignant. As the name says, a benign tumor is not dangerous. Malignant tumors are not very funny. As the name says (again), a malignant tumor is dangerous. They can arise because of a mutation in cells that makes the cells duplicate without stopping. This causes a bump that will grow until the person with the tumor will die. It can also be possible that the cells of the tumor will come in the blood of the person, so that the cells will come on other places. That’s called a cancer. It is already possible to remove tumors by cutting them away. But when a tumor is on a difficult to reach place, such as in the brain, the tumor can’t be removed without destroying the brain (and when the brain is destroyed, the person will still die).


The GammaBug concept

As I told in the previous step, a brain tumor can’t be removed without damaging the organ. I wanted to make it possible to help people with a brain tumor. My idea was to create something that can remove/destroy the tumor from the inside. Because big stuff can’t go into brains, you need a small thing… And what is small, but still easy to control? Nanobots! GammaBug (I will tell you later why I chose that name) is a nanobot that can move into the brain (via the nose or the eye). Because the terrain in the brain is not flat, GammaBug has 6 legs to walk around. But how does it remove/destroy the tumor? I was first thinking about cutting it away. But because the excised cells must go to another place, outside the human body, the nanobot must walk a lot. And because that lasts too much time, cutting was no option. So I had to find a good way to destroy the tumor inside the brain. Gamma rays are a kind of invisible light (radiation) that can kill living things. If it is used on a small scale (nano-scale),  the gamma rays can kill specific cells. GammaBug has an Gamma-ray-generator that can, as the name says, generate Gamma rays and ‘shoot’ them to the tumor cells, so that the cells stop duplicating. If a lot of GammaBug-robots are used for a tumor, they can destroy the growth quickly without damaging healthy cells. I said earlier that I would tell you why I chose the name ‘GammaBug’. Well, it generates and shoots Gamma-rays and it walks on 6 legs, so it looks like a Bug. See the following text for the prototype of GammaBug.

The prototype

Walking system

Of course, it’s not possible to make a real robot on nano-scale (one meter is nanometer) with LEGO MINDSTORMS. So I built a prototype for GammaBug on ‘normal’ scale. Let’s start talking about the walking system. The walking system of the prototype is very similar at the walking system of the NXT 2.0 bonus model Manty (by L. Valk). But because the building instructions of Manty don’t tell how the system works, I will tell it. While the motor is turning forward, the middle leg is turning up and backwards, and forward and downwards. This makes it possible to move forward (it does the contrary when the motor turns backwards). The front- and rear-legs make that the robot is stable. The movement of the ‘support-legs’ doesn’t have a real function, it just looks cool. Because GammaBug (and Manty) have 3 legs on either side, with another motor, the robot is able to turn around. One of the most important things of the walking system is the synchronizing system. The robot has two touchsensors that can feel the egg-shaped piece that is connected to the motor, so that the robot knows how the legs stand. If this synchronizing system wasn’t there, the robot just barely walked (or jumped) around in a random way. The difference between the Manty system and my GammaBug system, is that GammaBug uses two touch sensors (one each motor), and Manty has one touch sensor for the two motors. My two-sensor-system makes the system more exact, but makes the shape of the robot wider.

A better view on the walking system.


The synchronizing system.


Gamma antenna

The Gamma antenna is the part of the robot that ‘shoots’ the Gamma rays. In the nanobot-concept, the Gamma-ray-generator is inside the robot, so not visible. The generator is also not visible in the prototype, because I didn’t make something that simulates the generator. The colorsensor represents the part where the rays are coming from (the color sensor makes visible light, but the rays from the nanobot are not visible). The antenna itself (the TECHNIC parts and the motor) can do a cool thing: It can unfold and move outwards, and can fold and move inwards. So, simply said, the motor causes two movements: Unfolding (or folding) and moving outwards (or inwards). This system is partly inspired by the ‘shooting tail’-system of SPIK3R (and my SPIK2R). The 2-in-1-system is very useful, because you don’t need an extra motor (=more space and money). It’s quite hard to explain how the system works, I hope the pictures can help you with understanding.

The Gamma Antenna.


The system of the Gamma Antenna.




Controlling and program

The prototype is, like the nanobot-idea, remotely controlled. For the prototype, I used an app on my phone. The cool thing of that app is that it sends numeric data to the NXT (via BlueTooth), and you can make your own program that makes the reactions on the data. I made a program that can make GammaBug move forward and backwards, turn right and left and fold and unfold the Gamma antenna. When it is walking and when you give the stop sign (4), the robot stops walking (that’s logic) and it synchronizes. If GammaBug is doing nothing (if there is no action running) and when you press the 4-button, the robot will synchronize.

A screenshot of the program.



Inventing the nanobot, building the prototype, programming the prototype and controlling the final result was fun. I also learned something about tumors (I didn’t know a lot about it before I started this project), and I learned using some systems (walking, synchronizing, unfold and move outward). I think this was a successful project. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section. Please do not post off-topic questions. If you have an off-topic question, ask it here.

See you later! (Why am I saying that? I can’t see you now, so how can I see you later?)

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After a long journey, a robot lands on the surface of a planet in the Alpha Centauri system. The lander unfolds its solar arrays, and two flying probes leave the lander, explore the alien planet. The two probes meet an animal with long legs. They have found alien life. That's a possible story for a mission outside our own solar system. I made a project called 'Exo Terra', that gives you everything to make your own missions. The set contains ground pieces of the planet, 2 probes, one lander and 3 alien creatures. If you support, this can become a real LEGO® product!

For more info, and how to support, click here.

All parts of the set.


The ground.


A runner.


A runner from the side.


Two runners!


A clawer.


A clawer from the side.


The clawer can stand on its back legs.


A probe.


The camera of a probe.


The side of a probe.


The probes can stand on a standard, but can also be removed if you want to play with them.


There are two probes in the set.


The lander.


The solar panels of the lander can be folted.


Probes can be connected on the sides of the lander.


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Discover planet Mars with your own Mars Exploration Rover! You can build this based-on-real-model by using the building instructions. In this article, you can read about this cool LEGO robot. Enjoy!

I usually make MINDSTORMS robots, but when I read about a Mars Exploration Rover, I thought: 'Everybody must enjoy this!'. So I made a LEGO replica of a real MER, and I made building instructions.

About MER

Mars Exploration Rovers are a project of NASA. There are made two MERs: Opportunity and Spirit. They drive and drove (Spirit isn't longer functional), searching for life.

File:Spirit Rover Model.jpg

Computer animated picture of an MER.


Parts of the model

The LEGO model is made of different parts. I'll discuss them all.

LEGO MER from the side.

Here, you can see all parts of the model.

 The base

Every part of the rover is connected here. It also includes some details, as antennae and a weird thing in the inside...

Solar arays

In the 'real' rover, the solar arrays give the robot energy. In the model, they are just as decoration. The two panels can be folted.

The MER, folted.

Mast and camera

A camera is placed on a mast, so that the MER has a good view over Mars. The mast can turn 360°, and can be folted.

Robotic arm

To take soil samples, the rover uses a robotic arm. This part is very flexible.

Rocker-bogie mobility system

The ground on Mars is very rough. So a Mars rover needs a good mobility system, so that it doesn't topple. The engineers of NASA invented a good solution: The Rocker-bogie system. This uses six wheels. The cool thing is that all wheels will stand on the ground, also when one wheel stands higher than another. You can see in the picture, when the MER moves over a rock, all wheels stand on the ground.

All wheels on the ground!


What does your MER do? Does it discover new rocks? Does it find life? Or does it crash in the Valles Marineris? You can download free building instructions here. The file also contains information about the 'real' Mars Exploration Rovers.


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Damon Mabe (famous with the name DamonMM2000) is 13 years old and a builder and fan of LEGO® MINDSTORMS®. He have built a lot of cool robots, and now he's gonna write a book about EV3! When this book is published, he's the youngest MINDSTORMS® author. Here a small interview about Damon and his book.

You currently have the highest MindScore, what do you think about that?
It is true that I have the highest MindScore on MINDSTORMS Community. I really think that I shouldn't have the highest MindScore, as there are many builders that er more experienced (and better) than me. I'm the only one with 5 digit MindScore, which is kind of weird to think about.

What was your experience with robots, before you got your EV3 set?
I actually did have a week of experience with LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT last summer at STEM camp, although that was probably the only time I've ever had experience with robots before I bought my EV3 set.

What is your favorite kind of robot?
I've always been an enthusiast of cars, and my favorite kind of robots are robot vehicles.

Do you have other LEGO® MINDSTORMS® books?
Yes, I do! I own Daniele Benedettelli's EV3 book The LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 Laboratory. I am planning on getting Laurens Valk's book The LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 Discovery Book.

How do you look at other adult writers such as Laurens Valk?
It's hard to explain. They're really cool, you know; building ingenious robots, writing awesome books, etc.

What will be the name of your book?
I'm thinking of naming my book The LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3LUTION.

When will your book be published?
It is really hard to tell at this point. From the way it sounded in their last e-mail, my first choice publisher is somewhat reluctant to publish a book from me. I am thinking about publishing through another one if my first choice won't publish my book. I am guessing that I'll be finished writing my book by September 2014 at the earliest and early 2015 at the latest. Now, the real problem is how to get the money to publish my book.

For whom is your book intended?
My book is intended for anyone with an interest in LEGO® MINDSTORMS®, though probably geared more toward starters and intermediates. It is for people using the 31313 LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 Retail set. Note that I am not that much of an advanced programmer.

What will you learn with your book?
I'm learning a lot of programming techniques through experimenting and reading an EV3 book. I'm also coming up with new and improved robots designed specifically for my book. I might even include a slightly different ALPHA R3X (my popular EV3 replica of the original NXT Alpha Rex humanoid), although there is only a small chance that'll happen.

How many robots will be possible to build with your book?
I'm not sure yet, although I am aiming for about six robots.

I do not have the EV3 set, yet I want to know what you can make with EV3. Is your book an option?
Even if you own only NXT, it can actually be interesting to read an EV3 or even RCX book and implement the designs for your NXT robots. It is also fun to build replicas of the robots.

I already have a book about EV3, but do I need your book?
Since you obviously have more experience in robotics than me, it is entirely your choice. The previous answer would also imply to this question.

Can you describe your book with one word?

Can you give a tip to other builders, maybe how to make cool stuff?

My advise to any LEGO® builder: be creative, never give up, work hard, and then the fun part; you will be rewarded to play harder!

Read more about Damon and his book here. Check some of Damon's creations here and here.


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Happy new year everybody! It's 2014! A new year, means new robots. Here an overview about some projects I want to do.

  • The year will start with uStormer, robots that can clean your house.
  • I want to create bigger robots, as the Rarety Marsrover II and a Rocket Crawler.
  • After a lot of prototypes, I try again to make the newest EBB Humanoid, the EBB Cyberwave!
  • Do I have enough money to buy the EV3 set? A new generation will give more possibilities, and also combinations of NXT-EV3!
  • I invented a quatropod to hold my camera, for clearer and better pictures.
  • There will come a lot of new info on the site. Not only of building and programming, but also about taking pictures, weird stuff about NXT, new inventions, and challenges.

This year will be a new amazing year to mindstorm!


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Hi everybody! I'm hard working for a new robot, a cleaning robot. It will look like the iRobot Roomba, a robotic vacuum cleaner that can move around your house. I've found some videos about Roomba, and here they are.

An official video about Roomba


See how Roomba cleans the floor.


What is this?



Because it is hard to program, I'll post it next year. And it don't come alone...

Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

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The strongest EBB robot ever made... With it's powerfull claws and tight treads, I can present you... The Giant Digger! As the name says, it is very big and it can dig. Read here all about it.

The Giant Digger.


It has a more than 50 centimeter long beam with claws on the end, that can dig a lot of bricks. An intense light shows dark caves, while a sensor shows the place. And it can move! A gear system gives more torque, so that the heavy robot can move over carpet, laminate, LEGO bricks and hills.

The right side of the robot.

The left side of the Giant Digger.

It contists of two parts: The base and the digger. I'll tell about both.


The base

This part let the Giant Digger move. It has a pair of tight treads, so it can travel and turn over a lot of terrains. When a motor rotates a small gear, and when that small gear drives a bigger gear, you have more torque (but less speed). I've used this system, so that the robot can move simply (but slow).

The base of the Giant Digger, without the digger.

A view on the treads.

A colorsensor and an ultrasonic sensor are connected on the base, to make light and to see obstacles. The NXT Intelligent Brick is also there.

The underside of the Giant Digger has a special shape: When it moves around, small bricks can go under the robot. If the design of the underside isn't good, the bricks will 'attack' the underside of the robot, and it will crash. When the bricks go under the Giant Digger, they will go into a funnel, so the bricks go safe away.

The underside.


The digger

The tallest part of the robot. Simply said, it is a long, strong beam. On the front side, you can see a motor with 'claws'. The 'claws' can dig bricks, and a gear system makes it stronger. On the back side is a small 'control panel' and a touch sensor. The digger is connected on 2 places on the base, so the digger can't fall.

The digger, without the base. It relies on 3 tires.

The front side of the digger.

The front side of the digger.

The back side of the digger.


Thanks for reading everybody! I hope you like this creation. Don't forget to check another giant robot in the MINDSTORMS Community, the Rarety Marsrover.

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EV3 is launced! With 5 cool Starterbots and 12 Bonus Models. It was possible to download the building- and programming-instructions as an EV3 Project (.ev3), but now they're also availabe as an PDF file. So you can also build EV3 robots without the new software.

When NXT-users want to build a replica of an EV3 robot, they must have the new EV3 Software to see the instructions. Now, you can download all 17 robots as PDF buildinginstructions. You can download them for free here.

Note: You need an PDF reader to open the files, but the most computers have one.

Other note: In the PDF's, you can't find the programming-instructions.

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You've built a cool robot. You've program it. But... You start it, and your NXT Brick says: 'Low Battery'. But you placed yesterday new batteries in it! Need help for saving energy? Read this article about a lot of ways to have longer fun with your NXT - with just 6 AA batteries.

An NXT needs energy. Without energy, it wasn't possible to let robots move. An NXT must have 6 AA batteries to do things. (For more information about batteries, see page 22 of the NXT 2.0 userguide.) But batteries die. After a time, your robot will move slowlier, it will say 'Low Battery', and after that it will stop with all. This article tells you about batteries, and how to have longer fun with your robot.

When batteries die...

How do you know when you must change the batteries? Here are some symptomps:

  • The motors will move slowlier;
  • The detections of the sensors will be worse;
  • The NXT will say 'Low Battery';
  • The battery-indicator on the right above corner will flash;
  • The robot will turn itself off when you turn it on, or when it's running a program.

Tips for saving energy


Some sensors consume energy, other don't. What kind of sensor needs energy and why?

  • The Colorsensor/Lightsensor needs energy to make light.
  • The Ulrasonicsensor uses ultrasonic sound (very, not audible, high sound). To make this sound, the robot needs energy.
  • Touchsensors don't need energy. Via the wire, the NXT sends an electronic shock to the sensor. When it is pressed, the elecrtoshock will sended back to the NXT. The 3 buttons on the Intelligent Brick work the same.

Light in on-brick-programming

As I told you, the Color- and Lightsensor uses energy to make light. When you use the on-brick-programming (NXTprogram), that sensor will make light without using the 'light' function in the on-brick-program. My tip: disconnect the wire from the NXT to the sensor. When there isn't a sensor to make light, you don't need energy to make light.


The NXT Brick can use BlueTooth to communicate with other devices (as NXT's, computers and smartphones). This wireless system has one negative thing: It spends a lot of energy. So, if you want use your robot longer, turn BlueTooth off. Use it only when you need it. You can turn the BlueTooth of the NXT off via the BlueTooth menu, go to On/Off and select Off. You can turn BlueTooth on via the same way.

Sleep mode

Sometimes, you forget to turn off your NXT. You can use the sleep mode on the NXT, so that it will turn off itself after a time. Read more about this on page 28 of the NXT 2.0 userguide. I think the best time for the sleep mode is 30 minutes, so you can have enough time to play, and so that it doesn't wait too long.

Rechargeable battery

If you don't want to use normal batteries (if you don't want to destroy your robot to replace batteries), you can use the NXT rechargeable battery. This is a special accu for an NXT Brick, that replaces the normal 6 AA batteries. You can buy a rechargeable battery and a charger in the LEGO Shop. The NXT Education set normaly includes a rechargeable battery, so if you have the Education set, you don't need to buy extra stuff. Important: When you put the rechargeable battery in the NXT, the NXT will be one module thicker. This ensures that you can't make every model with the rechareable battery. There are two editions of the rechareable battery, but the newest and best edition is only available.

This is a small video by an NXT user, that tells about the rechargeable battery.


I hope you like this article, and that it can help you with having more fun with an NXT Brick.

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EV3R Shake

EV3R Shake

17 nov 2013

Do the EV3R Shake, the Harlem Shake in EV3 style! I saw this video on YouTube, and it is so cool that I wanted to share it.

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You can see a lot of EV3 boxes in toy shops. Maybe you have an EV3 set, and you have also the box. But how is it possible that the EV3 parts come in the box? With a factory! I'll show you how it works, with MINI EV3 parts. The parts will be putted in a box, and you have a MINI EV3 set!

Do you know the MINI EV3 parts I showed you? The 'real' parts will come in a box, and now the MINI EV3 parts also will be stored! I built a machine that can put parts on a production line, and on the end they will putted in a box. Check here all areas of the Factory and read how it works.

This is the MINI EV3 Factory.


The MINI EV3 parts

The MINI EV3 parts are a little different than the MINI EV3 parts I showed you earlier. They have simplier shapes, so that they can better be used in this machine. The MINI EV3 set includes an EV3 Intelligent Brick, and two same sensors (IR Sensors).

An MINI EV3 set includes these parts.


The boxes

The boxes are simple, but practical. They are build of LEGO® TECHNIC parts.

A box.


The brickline

This is the first part of the machine I'll discuss. This area of the Factory moves the MINI EV3 parts to the box. A gear system makes it possible that 2 caterpillars move with one motor. The small wheel in the middle ensures that the small EV3 Intelligent Brick doesn't move weird when it goes from a caterpillar to the other.

A view of the brickline, the motor and the gears.

Above the brickline.


The holders

The holders hold the MINI EV3 parts. The system works the same as the ball shooter in the NXT 2.0 set: The parts are stacked. When the motor makes one rotation, a bar moves backwards, let one part go downwards, the bar moves forward and pushes the part on the brickline. The holder of the EV3 Intelligent Bricks works the same as the holder of the IR Sensors, but the holder is tailor-made, so looks different.

Here you can see that the holder of the Intelligent Bricks is bigger than the holder of the Sensors.

The motors that control the holders.


The scanner

The scanner scans the small version of the EV3 Intelligent Brick, so it knows when it must put the Sensors. The scanner includes a Color Sensor, that detects the white color of the EV3 Brick.

The scanner of the MINI EV3 Factory.

The scanner, without decoration parts and wires.


Other areas

You saw the most important parts of the MINI EV3 Factory, and now I show you other areas of the machine.

Start button

To start, press this button. It is connected on the scanner.

The rails

Put here the box, so it can be stuffed with MINI EV3 parts.


Not the least important thing, the NXT. This controls the actions of the machine.

Alarm button

When there is something wrong in the Factory, press this button! It will stop all the robot's actions.

The start button.

The rails.

The NXT Intelligent Brick controls all the robot's actions.

The alarm button.


Using the MINI EV3 Factory

Now, you know how the robot works. But how can you use it?

  1. Put a box on the rails.
  2. Press the start button.
  3. The brickline will move, and a MINI EV3 Intelligent Brick will be putted on the brickline.
  4. When the scanner detects the Intelligent Brick, it puts 2 IR Sensors on the brickline.
  5. Wait some seconds...
  6. Your MINI EV3 set is ready!

The MINI EV3 set in a box.


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It began in 1998 with the RCX in the Robotic Inventor's System. Later came the Robotics Inventor's System 1.5 and 2.0, and in 2006 came LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT to the world. 3 years later was NXT 2.0 published. And now, in 2013, there is LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3. And it is time to celebrate 15 years of LEGO MINDSTORMS, with this new edition of the Second Lego League! What to do? Build a replica of another LEGO MINDSTORMS generation! Are you ready to build?

15 years, that is older than me! But really, the first LEGO® MINDSTORMS® set was the R.I.S in 1998, with the RCX system. Later came other editions of RCX, as the Vision Command sytem and the R.I.S 1.5 and 2.0. You can check a small movie of the full history of LEGO® MINDSTORMS® here:


After the succesful Second Lego League, I wanted to make a following version of the SLL. But what? The video above shows my inspiration.

You can check the rules for the Second Lego League here. I hope you enjoy the challenge!

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Every MINDSTORMS® fan wants one: an EV3 set. But, because it costs a lot, not everybody has one. What must you do when you don't have a set and if you don't have enough money? You can make replicas with an NXT set, as you know from me. But now, there is a second solution: MINI EV3! These are a small version of the electronic parts from the EV3 set. Small motors, small sensors, and also a small intelligent brick!

This is the family of the MINI EV3 parts:


The intelligent brick:


The sensors and the IR remote (yes, also a small remote):

Small motors:


You can download building insturcions for these parts for free here.

These parts are not for building, these parts don't really move or detect, these parts are only for decoration.

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23 okt 2013

Welcome on my new site.

On this site, you can find a lot about LEGO MINDSTORMS. You can read news and make ideas for your next robot in the blog, and you can download (coming soon) files. I hope you like it! If you want something that isn't on this site, you can click on some links about LEGO MINDSTORMS.

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