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Sparra's World of Lego Mindstorms NXT
by Sparra McNamara
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To relax at evenings, at times when the weather is inclement and when my health lets me down, I enjoy building Lego Technics and Mindstorms Contraptions/Models. Lego has been responsible in keeping me sane, I think over the many years? I'm a "Baby Boomer" who still needs his regular BRICK-FIX!

Between myself and my two children we have around 50Kg of Lego, ranging from Large Containers of Duplo & Standard Bricks, to Technics & Minstorms kits & parts. I have in excess of 20Kg of Technic & Mindstorms parts which include 2x Micro-Scout kits, 2x RCX Kits and 4x LEGO Mindstorms NXT Kits.

When it comes to my Mindstorms NXT, I have the following attachments so far:

 

  • 4 X LEGO Mindstorms NXT Programable Bricks
  • 15 X NXT Motors
  • 1 X PCF8574 (I2C) based 8 Output LED Lighting Controller –Home-made
  • 1 X NXT 8 RCX Touch Sensor Multiplexer using a PCF8574 (I2C)Home-made
  • 4 X NXT Touch Sensors
  • 4 X NXT Light Sensors
  • 1 X NXT Modified Light Sensor with 5mW Laser instead of the LED Home-made
  • 4 X NXT Ultrasonic Sensors
  • 2 X NXT Hitechnic Colour Sensor
  • 1 X NXT Hitechnic IRLink Sensor
  • 1 X NXT Hitechnic Gyroscope Sensor
  • 2 X NXT Hitechnic IR-Seeker V2 Sensor
  • 2 X NXT Hitechnic Compass Sensor
  • 1 X Mindsensor Vision Subsystem v3 for NXT (NXTCam-v3)
  • 1 X NXT Mindsensors PlayStation 2 Controller interface(PSP-Nx-v3)
  • 1 X NXT Mindsensors Multiplexer for NXT Motors (Soon to bet at least 2)
  • 2 X NXT Mindsensors Multiplexer for RCX Motors
  • 1 X NXT Mindsensors Multiplexer for RCX Sensors
  • 2 X NXT Mindsensor Relay Drivers
  • 1 X NXT Mindsensors 8 Channel Servo Controller (NXTServo-v2) - A must have! Great for pneumatic valve control.
  • 1 X NXT Mindsensors PF Motor controller (PFMate)
  • 2 X NXT Mindsensors Port Splitter for NXT Digital Sensors
  • 1 X NXT Mindsensors Touch Sensor Multiplexer
  • 4 X NXT Mindsensor Port Splitter for NXT Digital Sensors
  • 8 X Metal Gear Standard 43g RC Servo Motors
  • 8 X Metal Gear Full-circle 43g RC Servo Motors
  • 8 X Metal Gear Standard 9g RCServo Motors
  • 4 X LARGE Power Function Motors
  • 6 X SMALL Power Function Motors
  • 4 X Power Function Recivers
  • 12 X RCX/Technic Motors
  • 20 X RCX Touch Sensors
  • 4 X RCX Light Sensors
  • 4 X RCX Rotation Sensors

 

The majority of my parts are stored in compartmented Clear Lidded Cases. The lid hinges have been modified to allow the lids to be unclipped and filed away whilst in use. The large Black and Yellow Boxes
are excellent with moveable/removable compartment dividers. In most cases I've use a Hot-Glue Gun to glue the dividers too stop them accidentally falling out. I've glued extra dividers in to create extra, but smaller compartments to help maximise the space. My most commonly used parts live in these boxes, excluding wheels.

Smaller versions of the Black & Yellow cases which have fixed dividers are used for the larger less commonly used parts. The remain small "Fishing Tackle Box" types house the least used and mainly small parts. I do have a couple of large plastic containers for the 4-5kg spare beams, plates, connectors & bricks which are not black in colour. I'd prefer to use my favourite colour green, but most parts are hard to obtain in the amounts I need.

I'm a very regular user of Bricklink and I regularly spent my beer money there instead of making it to the pub. Mindsensors also tend to do quite well out of my beer money too. I would love to be like Xander with his 7-8 NXT's but I guess I'll have to make do with just a pair for a while. I wish it was possible to go to the Lego website and just order 50 x 15 stud long black beams & 200 Black Technic, Pin Connectors! But, I suppose those who sell on Bricklink would be the looses otherwise. It's just hard to get large quantities of most Technics parts in the one Bricklink store fortunately.


The Mindstorms Central Control Room!

I don't have a dedicate room, so we tend to take over the lounge room. I usually work on the sofa in comfort. The commonly used cases of parts live behind the sofa when not in use.

I'm fortunate in that I spent my working life as an Electronic & Data Infrastructure Technician for many years until my heath let me down 10+ years ago. I am no longer able too work a normal 9-5 job and lot of my time is spent indoors. My Lego keeps me sane most of the time, and keeps the grey-matter active. You need to be very unwell before you are not to be able to "Play Lego"!

I have a full electronics lab set-up in my shed which has most equipment needed to work on extending my NXT. Unfortunately, cash was a bit short a few years ago and I ended up selling my 100Mhz, 4 Channel Oscilloscope, which I miss dearly. I will hopefully get a replacement PC based on in the future so I can work in comfort at my PC instead of the shed. A scope can often help solve many issues quickly when in development.

I advise every one with an NXT to purchase a Breadboard and/or one of the Sensor building kits available for NXT from Hitechnic and Mindsensors. They are a great way to learn what makes the NXT kit tick! A soldering iron and a multimeter are available for just a few dollars outlay now days and will definitely be handy for many things besides playing with your Mindstorms Kit.

For more details, please fly too my website:
www.rjmcnamara.com.



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The background images used on this page are © Todd Lehman,
available at http://www.lugnet.com/fibblesnork/lego/backgrounds/


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