Sunday, August 13, 2006

Advanced NXT Sensors

Along with releasing the schematics and software for the Mindstorms NXT Brick, the LEGO Corp has also decided to release the schematics and configuration specifications for all of the NXT sensors(found here). What this means to the everyday Lego Mindstorms NXT user is that the door has been opened to the possibilities of new advanced sensors.

So far two different groups, Hitechnic and Mindsensors, have utilized the information in the hardware manuals and have come up with some new and exciting sensor and motor configurations…

There are currently two new sensors available for the NXT system: a magnetic compass and a motor multiplexor.

The magnetic compass for the NXT, produced by Mindsensors, measures the deviation from the magnetic north pole of the earth. This sensor allows you to send your robot in a specific direction or heading. The compass is based on the orthogonal two-axis magnetic sensor from Honeywell (HMC1052). The sensor is compatible with the NXT-G, NBC, and Robot-C coding languages. It also has three different reading modes: Int/Byte/Float.

The second sensor, the motor multiplexor also produced by Mindsensors, allows up to four older RCX motors to be connected to the new NXT Brick. The multiplexor plugs directly into the NXT motor port, however because of the power draw limit for each port it must be powered from an external power supply.

While these two sensors are the only ones in production there are many amazing ideas being developed. A few of these include:
• 4 port/4 Motor Multiplexor, powered by battery or external supply.
• Temperature Sensor
• RCX/NXT communication bridge
• 3 Axis Angle Measurement
• Color Sensor

Be sure to check out these sensors and many more at Mindsensors and Hitechnic!

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