Instructables
Picture of LEGO + Arduino = Brickduino (1. the LED)

I know LEGO has the Mindstorms-set that probably is great, but wouldn't it be even better (and cheaper) to hack your regular bricks into your own micro controller controlled LEGO? Well I think so!
I had this idea for a long time, but to many other projects stood in the way until Tristram posted this instructable: DIY-LEGO
We tried to work together on this project, but it seemed impossible to synchronize our agenda's and get together so we both run our own projects. First I took the same route Tristran took and even build myself a MYDIYCNC to cut the bricks, but finally I decided to take an other approach.

A nice first step in this project will be a simple LED in a brick.
(Tristram also did a LEGO-LED but with his own approach)

My goals for the LEGO-LED:
  • It must be 5V so is can be easily controlled by an Arduino micro controller
  • It must fit in a 2x2 brick and be flush within the brick
  • There must be come logic in the positive and negative poles
  • There must be a easy (LEGO-like) system to connect cables
  • The design must be useful for different modules in the future, like sensors and switches. (so there must be a possibility for three poles: 5V, GND and signal)
  • It must be repeatable
  • It must be cheap (not counting the CNC I build for it)
  • It definitely must look cool
 
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wholebean4 days ago
Found this trying to find a quick connect alternative for HO scale train track electrical joiners.

Have you done any more work with Legos since part 2? I'm very interested to see the sensor bricks and arduino case that you mentioned.
kenyer (author)  wholebean4 days ago

Hi! I can't see what you found. Yes I did some more work on it, but I still didn't find the ideal solution. Next month we are planning on integrating some sensors to make a Christmas village. Not sure if we will manage, because last year we had the same plan and we did't finish it than.

cold_steel2 years ago
Epic instructable, super.
I had to stop my own projects for a wile since I am swamped in work. But this project really is marvelous
Keep it up.
kenyer (author)  cold_steel2 years ago
Thanx!
It was actually a lot of fun to build the CNC and really great to get it up and running. Also the G-code isn't as hard as I thought it would be. Now I'm just trying to find a way to get my drawings in to g-code without me coding it by hand. That is not so easy on a mac...
True g-code is very straight forward. Altough doing it by hand would not be my first choice.
Very nice hack.
Can you also incorporate stepper motors and drivers into Lego?
cefn2 years ago
@Kenyer if you're hoping to drop the price of the Arduino, try the approach described at http://shrimping.it

In particular http://shrimping.it/blog/bill-of-materials/ shows you where we get stuff for workshopping with kids and adults. Following the circuits on the front page should get you a battery-operated standalone near-equivalent to the Arduino Uno for £1.40 (UK money), or around £3.05 if you need USB power and connectivity.

We're still working out how best to document the approach and standardise it for educators, and mostly working with local teachers so far on this, but would be great if we can support you out there too.

Weirdly my main hobby is paragliding. I lived in Ipswich for way too long - the same geology as Holland. Now I've moved near the Lake District. It must be frustrating not to have any hills. I'm putting together a project to create a flight instrument based on the Arduino as part of my PhD, and maybe that would be relevant to you as well.
kenyer (author)  cefn2 years ago
Hi Cefn,

It was also a great wish of me to build my own Arduino-based Vario. You must have noticed that I am a hang glider pilot.
It would be really great if you made an instructable from your DIY vario.

Your cheapduino is cool. I also make my own cheap Arduino versions, but nog as cheap as you do. I don't bother with the serial port and just program the ATmega in a real Arduido and then transfer the chip to my own board, but I don't manage to get my parts for 2,50 euro (a little bit more than 3 dollar) so I might order some kits in the future.

Peter
aka Kenyer
cefn kenyer2 years ago
On the Vario front, to prototype it I just picked up some cheap BMP085 on a breakout board, followed some code and libraries on the web, wrote some averaging code to drive a Piezo and job done! I reckon following the @ShrimpingIt strategy to replace the Arduino I originally used you could get a fully functional alti-vario for less than 10 euros.

My main research direction from there is to use the Nook Simple Touch (E-Ink with a Rootable Android Build) running either as a USB host and a Serial, or using the ADK with a USB host shield. That way you can have a nice, low-power daylight readable display permanently displaying data when flying. We should probably take this discussion off the thread. I'll PM you.
cefn kenyer2 years ago
The main trick of @ShrimpingIt is to bulk-buy the ATMEGA328-PU (not the ATMEGA328P-PU - only 1 letter different), which costs much less, but can be flashed with Optiloader to appear the same as an Uno. As far as I know it's binary and pin-compatible, but doesn't have Pico-Power (fancy power management) which I don't expect to use most of the time. Another trick is to use CP2102 for USB->UART which costs a tiny fraction of an FTDI even when shipped individually from Hong Kong. We've dropped the voltage regulator for simplicity as once again it's not needed for a lot of deployment scenarios. When you've finished programming the #Shrimp as a standalone device you can remove the CP2102 altogether, (unlike with an Arduino board) getting you down to that incredibly low cost. Aside from those changes all we're doing is following best practice of other "Breadboard Arduinos" and trying to standardise/document it well. I'm still trying to figure out if I can afford to sell them or if it's better to try to coordinate a buying consortium for schools/hackspaces to collectively buy in bulk.
emdarcher2 years ago
This is awesome, if you can make all of the other sensors and compatible motors then this will beat mindstorms by far. you should try to make some technic versions maybe.
kenyer (author)  emdarcher2 years ago
Hi Emdarcher,

I really want to make all the sensors and stuff that I planned.
My only problem with implementing "technic" is that I'm not familiar with the "new" technic beams. I'm from the bricks with holes in them :)

Peter

PS parallel connection brick coming soon!
Great Idea, great execution, great Ible!
http://www.instructables.com/id/Scrape-Free/