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Lego Mindstorms + Lasers 122

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the robots-with-friggin-lasers dept.
hamsan writes "My brother just hacked a laser pointer into an NXT light sensor and fully documented the process. From the page — 'Total Project Cost — $16.99 plus shipping. Time Required — Approximately 2 hours of tinkering. Having an Alpha Rex with a Laser — Priceless!' Of course, the usual warnings about voiding warranties and avoiding lasers apply."
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Lego Mindstorms + Lasers

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  • At lasst! (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrNaz (730548) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @11:29PM (#16332167) Homepage
    I can now have sharks with frikkin' laser beams! Albeit, Lego sharks instead of real 400kg Tiger Sharks and laser pointers instead of 2kW flesh-vaporising, ship-sinking Frikkin' Laser Beams(tm), but it's a step in the right direction.
  • Truly a milestone for Lego on their march toward their destiny as rulers of the planet.

    I, for one, welcome our Lego overlords.
    • by pryonic (938155)
      I deeply fear for the human race caught in the cross fire of the impending Lego vs Tesco world war then. Hopefully I'll fall victim to some collateral ClubCard points though.
  • That's all I want.
    • by timboc007 (664810)
      Throw me a frikkin' bone here!
    • Yeah?

      I want muthafuckin' lasers on a muthafuckin' shark!
    • You can't just dump lasers onto sharks you know, sharks aren't a truck... they're a cereal of tubes!

      (if you're gonna use such dated jokes, at least throw a few of them together!)

      • by cartel (845256)
        You know, they have LEGO sharks already. They could put the lasers on those...
  • by nead (258866) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @11:42PM (#16332283) Homepage
    How do you explain to a small child not to stare into a laser beam? The little guy in one of the last pictures obviously couldn't read or understand that safety label.
  • by Xybot (707278) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @11:43PM (#16332291)
    "My brother just hacked My Webpage into a 'Service temporarily overloaded 502 Error' and fully documented the process. From the page -- 'Total Project Cost -- $00.99 plus shipping. Time Required -- Approximately 5 Minutes of submitting site to SlashDot. Having a DIY Geek project page -- Priceless!' Of course, the usual warnings about 'cannot process the request due to a high load' apply."
  • by runlevel 5 (977409) <g.p.patnude@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @11:47PM (#16332323)
    Not to sound like a naysayer, but honestly the laser adds almost no functionality whatsoever to the Mindstorms kit. In a course I am taking we are designing and building ten different kinds of robots out of these kits, and there isn't one that would benefit from having a frickin laser beam on its forehead.
    • by MrNaz (730548) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @11:49PM (#16332349) Homepage
      Truly, your team's lack of vision is astounding!
      • by tomhudson (43916)

        Truly, your team's lack of vision is astounding!

        They must have been staring into the laser beams ...

      • by Isotopian (942850)
        That's easy for you to say. Hindsight is 20 20.
    • by creimer (824291) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @11:59PM (#16332421) Homepage
      Get a fog machine and Borg music from Star Trek. The possibilities are endless.
    • by NineNine (235196)
      Well, it looks like they're good if you want to make Little Kid Blinding Devices, as evidenced by the pictures of his son STARING into the camera, and a close up of the laser casing that says don't STARE at the laser or you'll go friggin blind.
    • by naoursla (99850) on Friday October 06, 2006 @02:00AM (#16333117) Homepage Journal
      Add two cameras a known distances apart. Write a blob tracker that can locate the point where the laser hits. Use the difference in the laser point positions seen by the two cameras to determine the distance the surface hit by the laser. Now make the laser track back and forth. You now have a poor-mans SICK laser range finder (which cost thousands of dollars).
      • 1) You just hacked the only light sensor that comes with the Mindstorms to make the laser module. 2) The Mindstorms kit doesn't come with any sort of "camera" that can generate an actual image, much less be used for a "blob" tracker. 3) If you can put together that sort of camera rig, interface and processing software, you are pretty much at a point where the Lego kit becomes superfluous.
        • by naoursla (99850)
          They sell wireless webcams. Just fasten a couple of them to the lego bot. If you can modify the light sensor to be a laser pointer you can do that. A blob tracker is nothing but a program that looks for a color range in the image and takes an average position of the colors that match. It doesn't take much effort to figure out how to pull images out of the camera and run a color match filter over the picture. You can coordinate everything using Microsoft's Robotics Studio, which is preconfigured to work with
          • mod parent up.

            I figured that there would be more use of a retrofitted laser on a lego mindstorms bot.

            Perhaps one could create a bot that would be able to launch projectiles while moving and be able to acquire targets using its laser pointing device.

            Who knows... someone can always find a use for this mod.
      • No need to have two cameras. Have the laser pointing slightly higher than the camera. The farther the object is, the higher the point will show up in the cam. Been done.
        http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~twd25/webcam_laser_ra nger.html [drexel.edu]
    • by benplaut (993145)
      slight modification to make is useful: put the bot on one side of a doorway, and a laser pointed at the light sensor on the other. Tripwire!
    • Agreed. I teach Robotics using the Lego Mindstorms (we still use the RCX's) and this is truly a waste of a light sensor. I've seen lasers used with these Lego kits before, but they actually detected objects [philohome.com] beyond the range of any other sensor on the market (even the ultrasonic proximity sensors from Mindsensors and HiTechnic). Of course the objects had to be covered in a specific reflective material, but still a lot cooler than this hack. He may as well have simply taped the laser pointer to the arm of
    • Not to sound like a naysayer, but honestly the laser adds almost no functionality whatsoever to the Mindstorms kit. In a course I am taking we are designing and building ten different kinds of robots out of these kits, and there isn't one that would benefit from having a frickin laser beam on its forehead.

      But think about it, you could have a robot that.... uhm... points at things? ... from a very low angle?

      Come to think of it, what is the point of a laser on the robot? I would find playing with a laser p

  • Ummm.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ian_mackereth (889101) *
    I'm a hardware geek, but I don't really see why a laser pointer in the robot is so great?

    Now, if it was a green laser, with a visible beam, that would be cool!

    Mind you, you'd have to put a '1' in front of the price tag...

    • Re:Ummm.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @11:55PM (#16332391) Journal
      Mind you, you'd have to put a '1' in front of the price tag...

      1$16.99? What the hell country do YOU live in where THAT is the proper number format for currency?
      • by Yvan256 (722131)
        I always wondered why some countries put the currency sign BEFORE the number. You don't say "miles 500" or "farenheit 40", why do you write "dollars 500"? It doesn't make any sense to me. Can someone explain?
    • One thing you could do is have jousting robots, where you try to line up your laser beam with the other robots sensor, like laser tag. When a robot gets hit it could dramaticly topple over.
      I'm sure there are far better uses for it though...
  • by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @11:52PM (#16332375) Homepage
    1. Build something extremely nerd-friendly out of items found at Amazon.com 2. Create website explaining how to do it (complete with amazon referal links) 3. Submit website to Slashdot 4. ??? 5. Profit!
    • by iogan (943605)
      1. Build something extremely nerd-friendly out of items found at Amazon.com 2. Create website explaining how to do it (complete with amazon referal links) 3. Submit website to Slashdot 4. ??? 5. Profit!
      4. Get site slashdotted into oblivion.
    • by Builder (103701)
      You say that like it's a bad thing ?
    • by teslar (706653)
      6. Use profit to pay part of the bandwith bill caused by slashdotting? ;)
  • Less than 15 comments and it's /.'d.
  • Slashdot his webserver. That'll teach him to stop stealing your marbles.
  • How about your brother hack us a mirrir.
  • by Chacham (981)
    Next thing you know, he'll replace the laser with a plunger and a string.

    I hear it's great for catching taxis.
    • now you're just showing your age :P

      The original was much better anyway
      • by Chacham (981)
        now you're just showing your age :P

        What, you think i'm a short circuit too?

        The original was much better anyway

        Yes. Disassemble? Dead? Disassemble? Dead? No Disassemble number five!
  • ISR (Score:2, Funny)

    by SeaFox (739806)
    In Soviet Russia, Lego Mindstorms tinker with YOU

    ...and put Friggin LASERS in your head!
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:52AM (#16333087) Homepage

    My first thought on reading that was "wow, somebody built a laser rangefinder for Lego Mindstorms". No such luck.

    Biggest problem with amateur robotics is crappy sensors and lack of feedback. It's getting better, especially in Japan, but slowly.

    • Building a range sensor into the RCX is not really that difficult. I built one for the older version (2.0) as part of my final project at university in 2004. The biggest problem was (and perhaps is) that the schematics included with a few of the books simply don't work. Before you say, "Hey, maybe you read them wrong," I'll simply say that I'm an Electrical Engineer and I know how to read a schematic.

      Anyway, it used IR, not lasers, but it had a ranged temperature and distance sensor. It used that informatio
  • by tehSpork (1000190)
    I for one welcome our new laser-armed lego overlords!
  • giving a laser to your son is a good idea?
  • This is exactly a useful, innovative, or even challenging mod.

    Whats next? We'll see the Slashdot headline "Man tapes laser to his dick: Fully detailed instructions with pictures"
  • Total Project Cost - $16.99 plus shipping.
    Time Required - Approximately 2 hours of tinkering.
    Bandwidth Bill For Slashdotting $5,000.00
    Having an Alpha Rex with a Laser - Priceless!!!
  • Few years ago my soccer trainer had his eyes and body injured while trying to fix his nephew's broken laser pointer... I don't know what he exactly did, but the lens exploded in his hands and scattered into tiny fragments.
  • Come on. This is a 1mW visible laser. If you avoid staring directly into it for long periods of time, you'll be just fine. And it would be pretty hard to stare into it anyway without blinking or looking away. The real dangerous lasers are the ones that have enough power to cause damage instantly, or that are invisible (usually NIR), so that you don't know that you're getting zapped by them.

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