Sometimes I build robots that attempt to solve real world challenges. Other times, robots are built based on random ideas. This robot is a case of solving a LEGO challenge – specifically, with their Technic tracks/treads #575518. At no fault of theirs, these plastic tracks are slippery on many surfaces. Great for carpets, flat areas, dirt (if you dare) – and great for turning as well. However, when you try to climb with them, they are as slick as ice.
If you Google them, you will find some great ideas on making these treads more ‘sticky’. Some have used 1/2 Technic pins (which fit nicely into the supplied holes), others have used elastics wrapped around them – all great ideas that work fine. I attacked the challenge from a different angle. The result is DG – or Dual Grip (yes, the name is somewhat plain). DG went through numerous revisions as I worked out kinks related to weight, stability, traction, sensors, flex etc. At the bottom I have included some pictures on previous versions of DG – some changes significant, others subtle.
The idea was to have a treaded robot that could navigate varying terrain, turn quickly and of course, climb. Based on my experience with my other robots using the same tracks (eg UNV and DynaTrax), I found that they were not very good when it came to inclines. I figured that the LEGO rubber wheels have great traction on most surfaces, so why not slap a set of them along with the treads. However, this posed another challenge. I did not want both wheel systems in contact with the ground at all times as this would make turning tougher and be redundant.
The folks at Mindsensors were kind enough to send me over this Magnetic Compass sensor to test. The sensor serves the useful task of providing the NXT with an indication of its heading angle from magnetic North to the NXT. It uses orthogonal two-axis magnetic sensor from Honeywell (HMC1052) and provides digital communication with NXT. Click the image below to see a video showing the compass in action. I did a brief test of this sensor and it worked as expected. More on this later…
The sensor uses a standard NXT cable plug to interface the unit with the NXT. It is not encased in any plastic or bricks. Instead, it provides standard width Lego mounting holes to integrate with studded or studless beams and connectors.
This page is dedicated to the further enhancements that I have done to DominoBotNXT. For more info on the original DominoBotNXT, have a look here.
One of the drawbacks of the original was that due to the 3 motor limit, it had to backup to properly place dominos. This was because the domino-placing component was tied directly to the drive wheels. So, as it drove forward, a domino would make its way to being placed in the holder mechanism. Doing this caused the robot to move forward approx. 4 inches. Since this is too far for domino’s to actually cause any chain reaction, the robot had to move each newly placed domino back to be within 1″ of the last placed one.