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Sparra's World of LEGO Mindstorms
by Sparra McNamara
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To relax at evenings, at times when the weather is inclement, or when my health lets me down, I enjoy building LEGO Technics and LEGO Mindstorms Contraptions/Robots. 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 150Kg of Lego, ranging from Large Containers of Duplo & Standard Bricks, to Technics & LEGO Mindstorms kits & parts.

The Photos of my LEGO Technics/LEGO Mindstorms were taken way back in 2005. I now have in excess of 100Kg of LEGO Technic & LEGO Mindstorms parts which include 2x LEGO Micro-Scout kits, 2x LEGO Mindstorms RCX Kits and 2x LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Kits 3x LEGO Mindstorms NXT Kits. It is almost impossible to set out my LEGO Parts Collection to photograph due to the size it have exploded too...

This does not include an Official LEGO Techics set Collection spanning over 25 years, and numbering close too 50 units. Unfortunately many haven't seen the light-of-day for quite a few years due to space considerations. Thankfully I have a large attic to store them in.

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

  • 4 X LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Programable Bricks
  • 4 X LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Large Motors
  • 6 X LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Small Motors
  • 6 X LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Touch Sensors
  • 2 X LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Colour Sensors
  • 2 X LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Touch Sensors
  • 2 X LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Infrared Beacons / Remote Controls
  • 2 X LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Infrared Sensors
  • 8 X LEGO Mindstorms NXT Programable Bricks
  • 30 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
  • 2 X LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Infrared 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)
  • 3 X NXT Mindsensors PlayStation 2 Controller interface(PSP-Nx-v3)
  • 2 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
  • 12 X RCX/Technic Motors
  • 20 X RCX Touch Sensors
  • 4 X RCX Light Sensors
  • 4 X RCX Rotation Sensors
  • 4 X LARGE Power Function Motors
  • 6 X SMALL Power Function Motors
  • 4 X Power Function Recivers
  • 8 X Metal Gear Standard 43g RC Servo Motors
  • 8 X Metal Gear Full-circle 43g RC Servo Motors
  • 16 X Metal Gear Standard 9g RCServo Motors

The majority of my parts are stored in compartmented Clear Lidded Cases, with the overflow stored in large Tupperware Containers. The lid hinges have been modified to allow the lids of the compartmented cases 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. Now-a-days I receive a lot of LEGO Mindstorms related Controllers and Sensors to Beta Test, which helps the back pocket somewhat.

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 LEGO Mindstorms and Technics parts in the one Bricklink store unfortunately. I find myself using a number of Bricklink stores to fill my requirements.


The Mindstorms Central Control Room from 10 years ago!

I now have a dedicate room, so I don't tend to take over the lounge room a great deal now-a-days.

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 in the mid 1990's. 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"!

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I have a full electronics lab set-up in my LEGO Room which has the equipment needed to work on extending my LEGO Mindstorms. It also includes a Digital Storage Oscilloscope which often help solve many issues quickly when in development stage.

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I also use Arduino Micro-controllers, Raspberry & Banana Pi Microcomputers, along with BeagleBone Microcomputers as a means to control my LEGO Mindstorms based Robots.

I advise every one with an LEGO Mindstorms Kits to purchase a Breadboard and/or one of the Sensor building kits available for LEGO Mindstorms from Hitechnic and Mindsensors. They are a great way to learn what makes the LEGO Mindstorms 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.legomindstormsrobots.com.



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