Building Smart LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Robots

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Last month I reviewed Lyle Markland's book Building Smart LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Robots.

In part two of that book review I take a look at Kyle's signature model: the Timmyton Robotic Shark.

Kyle has made incremental improvements to the Timmyton Robotic Shark over the years. This has brought him to the current version (v5.7). He says, "this model is very polished and user-friendly."

Of the six models in Kyles book Building Smart LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Robots, the Timmyton Robotic Shark is assembled using parts from one 31313 Mindstorms EV3 set.

It is for this reason that I chose to review the Timmyton Robotic Shark in the second part of my series of reviews on the models contained in Building Smart LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Robots.

Read on if you have an interest in Mindstorms robotic engineering.

View image at flickr

The completed Timmyton Robotic Shark

As Kyle mentions in his text, ". . . considerable effort was put into designing [the Timmyton Robotic Shark's] exterior. Visual impact is imperative for the Timmyton . . . shark-like robot, you need to make sure that it looks the part!"

As you can see from the images below, I think that Kyle has more than adequately fulfilled that brief: the robot does have a definite shark styled exterior including pectoral fins and the caudal fins of the tail.

I use the rechargeable EV3 Rechargeable Batteries in my robots. It was necessary to lift the EV3 Intelligent Brick one pin higher than as indicated in Kyle's design to accommodate this battery.

The rechargeable battery pack is one stud thicker that the standard EV3 AA battery pack. Therefore the EV3 Intelligent Brick wasn't flush with the robot's chassis.

There are five cables running down the sides of the robot: three cables to the motor ports and two cables to the sensor ports. The cables are easily hidden down the sides of the robot behind the 3x11 white torso panels.

Under normal circumstances, I don't apply stickers to my sets bit in this instance I have applied the EV3 stickers so people can see what the robot looks like with the distressed EV3 panelling.

The Timmyton Robotic Shark uses the two principal sensors of the EV3 set: the EV3 Infrared Sensor and EV3 Colour Sensor in colour sensor mode.

The Infrared Sensor doubles as sinister shark's eyes while the colour sensor is embedded behind the shark's intimidating jaws.

It is clear that Kyle has designed an impressive shark robot despite limiting himself to the parts contained in the 31313 Mindstorms EV3. View image at flickr

Graphic User Interface

The Timmyton robots features a custom Graphic User Interface (GUI), which streamlines five different operating modes within one program.

The GUI image is uploaded into the EV3 brick and the user is greeted with this image on the screen of the EV3 display.

View image at flickr

Each brick button is assigned to its own case or subprogram: pressing these brick buttons will activate that specific program.

In addition, Kyle gets you to incorporate the Remote Control (RC) mode so that the Timmyton can be controlled remotely using the EV3 Infrared Beacon.

Programming

This model has several separate parts to the programming. When complete, the robot will search out food using the colour sensor and react differently depending on the colour of the 'food' eaten; dance to a waltz tune, roll along to the duunnn dunnn... Jaws theme sound.

The robot has an autonomous mode: the Timmyton will roam around randomly until it encounters
an object, then charge, stopping and turning around at the last second.

There are stages of the programming where all the graphic blocks on your Mindstorms desktop will look very complicated. Here, for example, is the Waltz tune as it appears.

Kyle gets you to compress some of the program into a MyBlock to simplify the appearance on the screen.

View image at flickr


View image at flickr

The book: Building Smart LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Robots

The Timmyton Robotic Shark is one of the six models in Kyles book Building Smart LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Robots.

Kyle Markland started experimenting with MINDSTORMS when he was 12 years old and the Timmyton Robotic Shark was his first major build. He started documenting his creations on his YouTube channel with the username Builderdude35.

I have found Kyle Markland's writing style to be very easy to read. He explains the physical building process of his models in detail and always links the engineering concepts he demonstrates to real-world examples.

The programming concepts are equally well described. There are clear references to the values set at various stages to the gear ratios of the Technic gearing.

The programming steps are laid out in easy to read, colour diagrams.

I also liked the fact that his models differ from other EV3 books that I have read. He steers away from the usual maze-solver and line-follower styled robots that are common in these other EV3 programming text books.

I have felt that Timmyton Robotic Shark has a personality of its own. Timmyton will talk about the food discovered as it hunts, or starts dancing a waltz, or it will take you back in time to the fictional New England summer resort town, Amity Island.

If you have mastered building and programming EV3 robots and want to take your programming knowledge to the next level, then Kyle Markland's Building Smart LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Robots is right for you.


Thanks to Toyworld West Auckland, NZ, who supplied the 31313 Mindstorms EV3 set at a discount for the purpose of this review.


This eBook was provided for review by Packt Publishing Limited but the review is an expression of my own opinions.View image at flickr

 

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3 comments on this article

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By in United States,

This looks awesome! I’ve had an EV3 set for years now, I don’t use it enough...

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By in United States,

"Timmyton Robotic Shark" do you mean "Takea on steroids?"

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By in United States,

Could these models be built using the original NXT and some additional parts?

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