Lego Mindstorms: Banner Print3r Bot

This is a repost of our Lego Mindstorms: Banner Print3r Bot build. I wanted to make it more clear and added a few more tips and pictures. I hope it helps out anyone building this right now!

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Since the Lego Mindcub3r took so long to build and get working, the kids played with it for more than a few days. It wasn’t until last week that we decided it was time to take the Mindcub3r apart and build a new bot to play with. Josh gave us a few options, and I decided we would try the Banner Print3r bot.

The Banner Print3r bot can draw or write on a cash register/calculator paper roll using a standard Sharpie marker. If you have a washable marker though that works as well as and is the same size as a Sharpie, I’d recommend using that.  We didn’t have any cash register paper rolls and I didn’t feel like taking all the kids to Staples, so I ordered a 12-pack off Amazon. At first, I thought I had bought too much paper, but it ended up being a good thing. We are already using our second cash register paper roll!

Since this is a monster post (1500 words!), I am going to place the rest of it under a read more.

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Lego Mindstorms: Wack3m Robot

Update: Lego May have taken down the Lego mindstorms robot gallery so the programs are no longer available there.

For the longest time, I could not figure out where the programming for the robots on the Lego Mindstorms website were! I feel very silly now, but in case there is anyone else out there who could easily find the build instructions on the website but did not know where to download that particular robot’s program, here is how to find the programs for the “official” Lego Mindstorms robots.

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To access the programs for the Mindstorms robots, download the EV3 Programming software under the Downloads tab. I tried using the app for accessing the programs, but I did not see a way to look at the “extra” robots on the app, only the 5 that come with the Mindstorms kit.

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Once you have downloaded the software and opened it, the screen will look something like this. On the screen are the 5 starter robots. If you look at the 3 tabs near the bottom of the screen, one tab says MORE ROBOTS. Click that to change the options at the bottom of the screen.

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It was like a revelation once I clicked that MORE ROBOTS tab. Two of the robots we had built were there: the PRINT3R bot and EV3D4. For this build, we went with the WACK3M bot. It’s an arcade-style bot that lets you play whack-a-mole.

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Once you click on WACK3M, the screen changes to the Mindstorms programming environment. This particular build had onscreen instructions for actually building the robot and even let you run a few short programs to test your robot in the middle of your build, just to make sure you have each part running correctly.

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In the above pic, Thias is building one  of the units for the WACK3M bot using the Mindstorms software. Usually, he builds them using the iPad, but I think this way might have been quite a bit easier.

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In the upper right corner, you click the arrows to take you through each page of instructions.

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Once you are done with your build, you can look at the programming. This one was working as is of course, so my kids went straight to playing.

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The two-tired “wand” Thias is holding acts as your hammer for the game. All my kids loved the hammer and kept using it NOT as a hammer for the game.

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Here is a pic of the completed bot. This was a pretty smooth build and my boys had few issues with it. They weren’t quite as fascinated with it as they were with the MindCub3r bot though. They did like that it told them their scores related to their reaction times.

All my kids were able to play with this bot though, so that made it a good build for multiple ages to try. They were all so crowded around it that I never got a good video of it working!

-Lynn

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Lego Mindstorms: The MindCub3r Robot Build

Even though we are done with school for the year, I am trying to make sure that we are still learning over the summer. For the past three days we have been working on the MindCub3r robot. We have an EV3 Lego Mindstorms kit, so we used the build instructions located at the MindCub3r website by David Gilday. All the programming for the robot is also located at the same website.

Corran and Matthias started the build Monday night. Lego Mindstorms robots typically take Matthias (our master robot builder 🙂 about 3 to 4 hours build. He builds the robot and then Corran will program it. It was later in the evening when they started the build, so they had to finish the build Tuesday morning. I ended up having to help at the end with the build, because the two robot arms weren’t working properly. We finished our build around 11 AM on Tuesday. I was supposed to make scones yesterday that I was going to post about on the blog here, but since I was helping with the robot instead, well, the scones didn’t get made until today.

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First stage of the build. Thias uses an iPad to download the instructions. Here they were seeing if the Rubik’s cube would fit in the tray.
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With the tilt arm and the scanning arm attached. We had a few problems with the arms. I’ll get to those.

I was wondering why Thias was bent down messing with the robot like this until I had to help with fixing it! It’s the only way to actually see what you’re doing sometimes!

We had trouble with the scanning arm not being able to reach all the way to the Rubik’s cube. I checked the arm against the instructions and moved pieces that were in the wrong place. It was often things like a peg being in the wrong hole. Corran ended up getting the scanning arm to work like it was supposed to, by moving two sides of the arm one peg over.

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The tilt arm wasn’t working properly because two of these little pegs were missing!
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A fully functional robot!
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The robot parts labeled

Corran took care of downloading the programming for the robot. He ended up having to update the software and the firmware on the EV3 brick. Troubleshooting the programming took us about an hour or two. Then, when we got the programming working, the robot wouldn’t go past the scanning portion of the program.

We spent probably another 2 hours trying to figure out why we were getting a scan error. Finally, after it successfully moved past the scanning portion once, we called it quits for the day and decided to try again later.

This morning, I decided to look up reasons why we were getting the scan error and how to fix it. On a YouTube channel in the comments, I read that someone had fixed their error by placing pieces of cardboard in the tray to keep the cube from moving around too much during scanning. The cube has to be aligned underneath the sensor a certain way and since ours was bouncing around a lot in the tray, the sensor couldn’t read the colors properly.

After some jury-rigging of the tray with slim pieces of cardboard and some mishaps with scotch tape, we got the robot working!

This is one of the best videos I could get of the robot solving the Rubik’s cube. It was a hard 3 days’ work to get it to this point! My two oldest boys kept wanting to quit working on it, but I wouldn’t let them. I told them that this is how real life is. Most of the time, a project you are working on won’t always work or go the way you want to the first time. You work on it one piece at a time until the project is finished.

As a bonus, Matthias and I learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube ourselves! We had to go to a website to figure out how, but at least, now we can do it!

I found this website very helpful in the way the steps were presented – Rubik’s Cube solution.

This was our first real project with the LEGO Mindstorms EV3. We are hoping to work on more over the summer!

-Lynn

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