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Found it.

I found my dongle, but now it has a mind of its own.  It’s pegging the CPU for no good reason.

February 25, 2010   No Comments

I’ve lost my dongle!

I don’t know what happened to my dongle.  Think I should see a doctor about that?

February 25, 2010   No Comments

New Tricks

I’m not sure that playing nice and writing a proper Mindstorms program is going to work out.  It’s too difficult to tweak the motor settings on the fly, and drag and drop programming isn’t exactly conducive to setting up a complex command system where you send a packet that contains all of the motor settings.

So, I’m going to try something new…

You see, Mindstorms are popular because they’re not locked down.  Lego has released many technical documents on how the NxT Brick works.  Those documents include highly useful things like this:

 Set Output State

I can simply send a message directly over Bluetooth that tells the motor what to do.  That way, all of the control is on the PC application side, where it’s easy to tweak settings.

Hopefully this will make things run happier.

September 7, 2009   No Comments

Complex AI in Action

Computer Vision Processing Game Screen? Check.
Game Play Logic Predicting Ball Trajectory? Check.
Mindstorm Robot Attached To Paddle? Check.
Bluetooth Communication To Robot? Check.
Linking Trajectory Prediction to Robot Communication? Check.

Okay! Let’s go!

Maiden Voyage

Complex Systems Interacting To Produce Failure? Check.

That high pitched noise at the end after it jams is coming from the motor. Motors are not supposed to give off high pitched noises. Additionally, prior to jamming, it forced the potentiometer inside the paddle to skip past the end of its range a couple of times (The loud clicks that you heard). That can’t be a good thing to have it doing…

September 6, 2009   No Comments


The clicking was the motor moving.  I fixed the serial port reading issues, so now it doesn’t hang after the first command.

Unfortunately, the clicking is the motor turning on and turning off very rapidly.  I can send commands and see the servo turn.  Very very slowly…  I think it’s reading the command in one cycle, so it’s sending the command to the motor, then in the next cycle, there’s no command, so it shuts the motor down.  Gotta take care of that.

September 6, 2009   No Comments

Well, at least it’s doing SOMETHING…

It’s clicking.  My robot is clicking.

Well, okay, it only clicks once, then it stops responding altogether.

But still, that click means it’s doing something, right?


I mean, it should be rotating the paddle spinner left or right until I press stop, and it’s obviously not doing that, but a click means that the command is getting to the NXT over Bluetooth, so at least something is working right.  That is progress, isn’t it?

I guess I should actually be reading the return message.  And maybe I shouldn’t be closing the serial port every time.

Whatever.  I’ll look at it in the morning.

September 6, 2009   No Comments

For all the Whirlygigs in the House…


September 5, 2009   No Comments

SerialPort Killer

Looks like it’s just another serial port.  Not that I’ve ever used the SerialPort class, but the fact that it’s a built-in .Net class (prior to .Net 3.0) makes me happy.  (Most built-in .Net classes in >= .Net 3.0 make me unhappy.)

Here’s someone who has apparently done this sort of thing already:


On top of that, Lego even has some technical documentation that should be useful:


September 5, 2009   No Comments

Power To The People!

I forgot that the Mindstorms NXT base unit takes 6 AA batteries.  Now I’ve got to charge up a whole boatload of batteries.  Looks like it can’t be USB powered, either.  I knew I should have bought the power kit/battery pack.  I wonder if it’s worth  trek to the Lego store tomorrow to see if they have it.  Is the Lego store even there?

At any rate, while that’s going on, might as well start looking at Bluetooth programming.

September 5, 2009   No Comments

Build a Bot Workshop

Right.  So now I just need to build a robot.  Simple…

I’ve never built a robot before.  Software I’ve done, but a robot, no.  I guess it’s sort of the same, you build software using smaller bits and pieces and building blocks, and Legos ARE building blocks.

Task List:

  • Build Paddle Cradle
  • Build Spinner Control using Servo
  • Get Mindstorms SDK
  • Figure Out How To Use Bluetooth
  • Write Robot-Side App to Respond to “Clockwise” and “CounterClockwise” Commands
  • Write PC-Side App to Send “Clockwise” and “CounterClockwise” Commands
  • Ensure That Robot Obeys At Least Two Of Azimov’s Laws
  • Hook Into Existing Game Logic Application

Yeah.  Simple.

September 5, 2009   2 Comments