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CHAPTER 11 LEGO MOTOR INTERFACES
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Figure 11-1. Remote control button pusher Figure 11-2 is an NXT-G program to reproduce a simple remote-control product called the Clapper. The Clapper turns something on or off when it hears a loud sound. The program waits till the Sound Sensor picks up a noise louder than 25; then it pulses the motor forward with the Motor block. This pushes the on-end of the remote control button. It then waits for a second loud sound. This time it pulses the motor in reverse, which pushes the off-end of the button. The program loops back and waits for another sound.
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CHAPTER 11 LEGO MOTOR INTERFACES
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Figure 11-2. The Clapper program The buttons don t require a lot of force, so the NXT-G Motor block shown in Figure 11-3 uses only 50% power. A 0.3-second pulse is all that s needed to rotate the mechanism far enough to push the button. Because the Next Action in the Motor block is coast, the motor naturally springs back to a neutral position.
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Figure 11-3. Motor block from button pusher
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The Etch-A-NXT
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Volume, tuning, position, brightness, and many other analog controls are rotary types. Designed for human fingertips, they can also be turned with an NXT motor. The built-in position feedback in the NXT motor really comes in handy for this type of control. All you need is a coupler to attach the LEGO axle to the knob of the control you want to turn. The coupler might need to be custom made, but gears, pulleys, wheels, or tires can usually be used to attach the control knob to an axle. Etch-A-Sketch is a drawing toy from Ohio Art that uses two knobs to control a cursor that draws a line on a screen. The right knob controls the vertical movement of the cursor, and the left knob controls the horizontal movement of the cursor. Drawing with it is particularly challenging because the cursor always draws a line. You can t just move to a new location and start drawing again. You also need to coordinate the movement of both knobs when you want to draw anything but a straight horizontal or vertical line. You can eliminate this difficulty by driving the knobs with the NXT creating the Etch-ANXT. Figure 11-4 shows the little assembly that holds the two motors in position. The particular Etch-ASketch in the picture is the pocket version, which is smaller than the original.
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CHAPTER 11 LEGO MOTOR INTERFACES
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Figure 11-4. Etch-A-NXT Couplers for the knobs are made using the #2994 30.4x14 VR wheels and the #6578 very small balloon tires. They were parts in the original MINDSTORMS Invention Kits, and are found in a variety of LEGO model car kits. One tire rim is on the wheel and the other is on the knob, as shown in Figure 11-5. It grips both well enough to drive the knobs without any slippage. The larger balloon tires that come with the NXT version of the MINDSTORMS kit fit nicely on the knobs on the bigger original Etch-A-Sketch.
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Figure 11-5. Etch-A-NXT knob coupler
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CHAPTER 11 LEGO MOTOR INTERFACES
The NXT-G program shown in Figure 11-6 uses a My Block to take care of reading values from a text file and turning the knobs accordingly. The movements are stored in the text file as relative horizontal and vertical distances. The short wait allows the motors to come to a full stop before continuing on to the next point.
Figure 11-6. Etch-A-NXT main program loop The My Block file_move3 is shown in Figure 11-7. Inside the two File blocks is the name of the text (.txt) file where the distances are stored. You must keep this file name the same in both blocks if you change it. When the last distance has been read, the STOP block is executed, and that ends the program.
Figure 11-7. My Block file_move3 The distances are stored as text, one value per line, with the horizontal distance first, followed by the vertical, as seen in Listing 11-1. You need to use a simple text editor program such as Notepad to generate these files because other word-processing programs add unwanted formatting information. Pairs of distances are read and fed in parallel to the Motor blocks. A Motor block ignores the sign or direction of the distance value. The direction of the command is determined by comparing the value to 0 and feeding that logical result to the direction input of the Motor block.
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