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CHAPTER 12 BEYOND LEGO MOTORS
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Figure 12-8. Crimp assembly You attach the Muscle Wire to the base of the tower and lever using black Technic pegs, as shown in Figure 12-9.
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Figure 12-9. Anchor at base of tower
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CHAPTER 12 BEYOND LEGO MOTORS
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The NXT-G program in Figure 12-10 applies power to the output for five seconds. The power level needs to be only about 25 to get full contraction. The voltage on the wire should be less than 0.3V/cm to prevent it from overheating. Then the program waits five seconds to let the wire cool down and stretch. Audible Start and Stop sounds are generated with Sound blocks, so you can tell when the NXT is switching the power on and off.
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Figure 12-10. Muscle Wire program
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Electromagnets and Solenoids
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A motor is just a fancy kind of electromagnet, and it probably isn t too surprising that you can hook up an electromagnet to an output instead of the NXT motor. A solenoid is also an electromagnet that includes a metal rod that moves in and out of the winding, called the armature. It s like a motor that goes back and forth rather than around.
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Kinetic Sculpture
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Normally, a swinging pendulum eventually stops due to friction. If a small amount of energy is pumped into the pendulum at the right time, like pushing a child in a swing, it will keep on going. That s the secret behind the kinetic sculpture shown in Figure 12-11. An electromagnet in the base is pulsed on to attract a small metal globe as it swings by. You control the timing by using an NXT Light Sensor to detect when the globe is in the correct position.
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CHAPTER 12 BEYOND LEGO MOTORS
Figure 12-11. Kinetic sculpture The metal globe is from the small toy pencil sharpener shown in Figure 12-12. You can probably find these in the stationery department of a variety store. The mounting hole in the North Pole of the globe is enlarged, and a blue Technic axle peg is pressed into it to allow it to be connected to Technic axle components.
CHAPTER 12 BEYOND LEGO MOTORS
Figure 12-12. Globe pencil sharpener The electromagnet (see Figure 12-13) is a coil removed from a device known as a relay. The relay is a Potter and Brumfield KRPA-11DG-6, which has a 6VDC coil (the correct use of relays is discussed in the following section). It s all right to use a lower-voltage coil because the 9V of the NXT is only briefly applied to the coil, and the voltage is much less than 6V on average. You can attach the coil to the structure with a rubber band or double-face tape.
Figure 12-13. Electromagnet coil from 6V relay
CHAPTER 12 BEYOND LEGO MOTORS
The NXT-G program shown in Figure 12-14 loops till the globe casts a shadow on the Light Sensor, making its value less than 50. The program then gives the electromagnet a short pulse on with the Motor block and makes a little click with the Sound block. After that, it waits till the sensor is exposed to the light again as the globe swings past. It keeps looping until the globe swings back from the other direction, which starts the whole process over again.
Figure 12-14. Kinetic sculpture program There has to be enough light in front of the sculpture so that the globe casts a shadow on the Light Sensor. Then you need to start the pendulum swinging by hand. After that, it keeps swinging and making a sound like a metronome. You can use it to provide animation for small objects such as flags or Minifigs.
Relays
Relays are controlled switches that use an electromagnet to move electrical contacts on and off. Usually relays have both normally open (NO) and normally closed (NC) contacts with a shared common connection. The common connection is also known as the pole. When the electromagnet is energized, the pole is pulled toward the NO contact to close it and away from the NC contact to open it. Figure 12-15 shows the basic relay circuit. The load can be a device operating at a different voltage than the NXT, and also something that requires substantially more power than the NXT can deliver.
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