DominoBot NXT (ver1)

May 2006:

Update: DominoBotNXT has been enhanced. See DominoBot2.

For those who do not know about the Lego Mindstorms Developer Program (MDP), back in January of 2006 Lego was seeking assistance from the Lego community on their next generation Mindstorms product (NXT). Approx 9600 people applied to become one of the 100 MDP’s. In late February, I received an invitation to participate and of course jump at the opportunity. For a few months, the group of us were under an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) where we could not talk, show or discuss anything about what we had been working on in the MPD. Now that May 1 has passed, we can now open to discuss some of what we have been up to.

We all had an opportunity to participate in different areas of the testing/development process areas from software to Bluetooth to building robots. Initially, I wanted to get involved in more than one area, but time was limited, so I decided to focus on building only. I wanted to try and re-build my original DominoBot robot to see if I could make a better, more efficient version of it. I also wanted to test the new motors’ built-in rotation sensors – as I needed this functionality.


DominoBot 2

DominoBot 2 was my take on re-creating my original DominoBot. After I had finished the original,
I found ways to make it more efficient and better at what the original did. I also did not have the limitations of the parts supplied with the RIS and UBS sets.
One of the parts that needed re-designing was the mechanism used to force domino’s out of the chamber. The original tended to have difficulties at times. I devised a mechanism using rack plates (3 – 1×4’s). It is driven by the same motor that moves the loader arm, but the method does not allow slip-up or misalignment. A touch sensor at the full-out and -in positions ensure that Dbot2 knows exactly when a domino has been pushed out and when the rack has reset.

Check out newer versions of DominoBot (NXT).



I managed to re-work an old design. By using 2 motors and drive mechanisms, I was able to get the walker to steer. The key to steering is the syncro mechanism that I setup. It uses 2 touch sensors – 1 on each of the left and right center drive legs. Using NQC, the code will monitor the timing of the rotations.
It goes something like this: When sensor #1 is triggered – is sensor #2 triggered? If not, stop drive #1 and wait for drive #2 to catch up, then start drive #1 again. This works quite well, except that the bot looks odd when in correction mode. Using the proximity detection from my previous bot (Proximity Detector), this walker will detect obstacles and engage in reversing and turning around. Steering is accomplished by reversing one drive unit. This will set one set of legs in reverse and steer the bot.
For more pics, go to the CREATIONS link and view the Steerable 6 Legged Hex pics.

MarbleMiser I

Marble Miser was designed to meet the challenge of the 4th Annual Lego Robotics Competition / Get together at U of T in Toronto Ontario.
Many thanks to Calum and the boys for putting this together.  It was the first event that I was able to attend, and it was a great time.  The turnout yielded many more entrants than initially expected.
To find out more about the event, visit RTL Toronto Website.
Now to get down to details.



It had been a few months since I built my last robot (Climber). During the early summer of 2002, I received an email from Syngress.
They had indicated that they were going to create a series of “10 Cool Lego Mindstorms Robots….” books, and invited me to produce a model for one of them. For some time I had the idea of building a robot that could mimic the activity of laying down dominos on a pre-determined path. It was the perfect opportunity and hence DominoBot was born… Given that I was in the midst of assisting with wedding plans, and moving our business, I had a busy summer already. But, I was not going to pass up this challenge. This is something that I had hope for since I began building Technic creations in my young days.

Update: View my NXT version of DominoBot.


MarbleMiser 2

MarbleMiser2 takes First Place in RTL15 – Deep Yellow Robotics Event here in Toronto. It was a great day. The competition consisted of 2 events. The first being Connect Four, the second being Marble Sorting. There were 9 robots competing in the Marble Sorting competition. All of which were great designs. Some robots (including MarbleMiser2) were designed to move around the field while picking up marbles and throwing out the opponents colour. Others used more simple techniques. Read on for more details…



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