We have officially started!

What this is all about?

We are bunch of people who has been granted an opportunity to start a Lego Mindstorm Guild inside our’s company organization structure. This means that we are working in an IT company that is supporting it’s employees hobbies, intrests and passions in most unusual ways — by buying Lego bricks and allowing us to create wonderful things with it (yes! on company time).

We trying to figure out what is what

We were eager to try to dip into connecting hardware and software together, but were rather discouraged by the complexity that is required to comprehend topics such as: soldering, circuit boards, servo motors, microcontrolers, and so on… This is why we have found a perfect solution for us — Lego Mindstorms.

It’s accessible for us, we are familiar with the “hardware”, the learning curve is quite nice and smooth, and it doesn’t feel like we are limited in terms of our creativity by the hardware itself. Quite the contrary. We are encouraged to learn from the vast pool of resources that are available online for us, presented in simple manner and fun to read/recreate in live environment.

We aim at creating cross technological projects that would be both fun and sophisticated. We are starting out small but have big goals. And most of all, we are here to have a lots of fun.

On Medium we will be posting articles about guild activities, documenting what we are doing, where we are heading with our projects and most of all, how much fun we have by doing all of it ;)

Lego Mindstorms Guild

On 5th August 2016 we gathered for the first official guild meeting in SMT Software’s Wrocław office, initiating the start of learning how to code, automate and most of all — have lots of fun at the same time!

Initial pack of goodies

Our Lego Mindstorms starter pack consists of 3 sets:

· 45544 — Education set which contains 541 pieces, including the EV3 central unit

· 45560 x 2 — Two expansions sets, 853 pieces each

That sums up to a whopping 2247 bricks and pieces!

First things first

Our Guild treat Lego’s the same way as we treat our code: it has to be clean and organised.

The “cause”

So we started off with unpacking all the pieces, matching them by shape and color, and putting them in their respective place. With so many bricks it wasn’t the easiest task in the world, and it was more time consuming as we thought initially, but our effort paid off instantly after.

The plausible “effect”

It’s alive! Alive!

With our Lego’s in place, we were ready to start the actual building and getting familiarized with how it works. We chose to build the initial set from the manual of the Education Set, to make sure that every module that’s vital for our future plans, like EV3 central unit, servo motors, proximity sensor etc. are fully functional and without defects.

The instruction is going too fast…

Our work with organizing paid off — building went smoothly and fast(teamwork!). After couple of minutes the first we came up with first working mindstorm!

It was a blast seeing it in motion!

Target acquired!

We quickly followed up with adding additional modules and programming them through the EV3 central unit. Everything worked like a charm, and the final result of our first meeting was:

Second meeting

On 12th August 2016 we gathered for the second Guild Meeting in SMT Software Wroclaw office. We took a look on possible usage of Mindstorms and we were simply overwhelmed. There are endless possibilities and combinations, and we would like to explore them all!

Let’s make some software together

We have examined the basic documentation found on the Lego website at http://www.lego.com/en-us/mindstorms/learn-to-program
And quickly started to create our own programs with dedicated software from the basics.

The easy one

After the official tutorials, which cover only the basic functionalities, we’ve switched to some more hardcore spec’s:

http://www.mainerobotics.org/uploads/8/3/4/4/8344007/advanced_ev3_robot_programming.pdf

The more complicated stuff

We’ve also done some research and found out that the global Mindstorms community is very strong (another point pro Lego bricks instead of soldering our own circuits). We got some useful links that will help us go deep down to the core of the EV3 central unit:

http://www.legoengineering.com/alternative-programming-languages/

http://www.ev3dev.org/

http://www.monobrick.dk/guides/how-to-establish-a-wifi-connection-with-the-ev3-brick/

https://sourceforge.net/p/lejos/wiki/Home/

We came up with great ideas for new robots that we want to build from scratch:

  • Kaizen recognition box for candy
  • Proximity sensor inspired by “Alien” movie
  • AT-AT(once a Star Wars nerd, always a Star Wars nerd)
  • Martian Rover

We just wanna have fun!

But hey! Our Guild is not just about programming and reading specs. We had limited time but we started building the Elephant droid! Putting the instructions on TV screen was a nice touch that boosted our performance

Still… the instruction is going too fast

And so we began assembling

The confusion arises

Unfortunately we ran out of time and the Elephant is ⅔ done, but here’s a quick video recap of our teamwork:

We can be fast at times

Next time we are going to finish our moving, horn-blowing, pole-grabbing Elephant!

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