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"Lego USB Hub" Available in "Lego WeDo" Kits


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#1 DLuders

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 02:44 PM

I saw on Mark Bellis' Brickshelf gallery http://www.brickshel...ry.cgi?f=359239   that there was a Lego Power Functions-type "Lego USB Hub" available in the Lego WeDo kits.  It looks like this:

Posted Image  Posted Image Posted Image .

The Lego Education website http://www.legoeduca...a...t=1&ID=1573 describes the contents of the WeDo kit thus:  "The set contains more than 150 elements including a motor, tilt sensor, motion sensor, and LEGO USB Hub."  Bricklink lists it as Part 9581 ( http://www.bricklink...PG.asp?S=9581-1 ), but Peeron doesn't list it at all....   :look:

Apparently, one can power motors and/or sensors using a Laptop Computer's battery via the USB cable.  This MAY be useful in controlling some of the more complex Lego TECHNIC models can can be "tethered" via cables and which don't have to drive far.  Does anybody out there have this, or seen it used?

Edited by dluders, 08 May 2010 - 03:39 PM.


#2 Sinner

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 02:46 PM

Now that would be handy!





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#3 Sariel

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 04:03 PM

I happen to have the WeDo kit and I just got an extra USB hub and motion sensor for it. In general, WeDo feels like Mindstorms little brother - and by little I mean much more restricted and much less intuitive. The main cons are:
- limited mobility, unless you enjoy running around with your laptop in hand
- limited precision, because all the motors are controlled not by counting rotations but by a simple timeout function (I've tried to build a simple 2D printed with WeDo kit and it failed even to draw a square)
- limited use in general, as the kit comes with a single USB hub that can control up to two devices at once (the WeDo software can control 3 hubs at once so you can plug up to 6 devices, but the hubs don't come cheap)
- restrictive programming environment, because instead of a genuine programming language you get a software that allows you to create algorithms by putting together a series of blocks, each block representing a single instruction (such as e.g. run motor for a given time, run motor at a given speed, stop motor etc.)
- THE PRICE!!!

As for the "programming", I have to admit that despite dealing with advanced php, js & jquery almost every day at my job, I had serious problems getting the grasp of the WeDo stuff. It will feel weird for anyone who had something to do with programming. The 'instruction blocks' I've mentioned can be combined in various configurations, but are nowhere as elastic as e.g. basic php is. For example, you can create a simple conditional statement such as if/then, but forget about if/then/else. On the interesting side, the WeDo provides 10 levels of motors speed (more than with the recent dual-dial PF handset) and can run multiple algorithms at once (namely, the WeDo algorithms can send 'messages' and be initiated on a specific type of message, thus providing the possibility for a 'mother-algorithm' to control a number of 'child-algorithms).
There are two types of sensors that come with the WeDo kit: a motion sensor and a tilt sensor. The motion sensor is in fact more like a distance sensor: it detects object at distances between 15cm and 1 cm and returns a 0-10 points output indicating the distance. The tilt sensor is supposed to detect forward/backward/left/right tilts. Unfortunately, its accuracy is disastrous. It can work very well determining the tilt of a baseball bat you intend to swing, but forget about e.g. putting it into a vehicle to detect slopes.
It feels like there was plenty of options that could be embedded into WeDo but were left aside. For instance the software automatically picks up the input from your computer's mic. But forget about WeDo and voice commands - you can only determine whether there is some sound or not, or you can play the voices you've recorded. The same thing applies to the motion sensor - it can measure the distance with a satisfactory accuracy, except no WeDo instruction makes real use of it - you can just determine whether something comes into range or not.
Long story short, having the WeDo kit in my possession for about a year I have not been able to come up with a single practical MOC based on it. On another hand, things will probably change now that I have two USB hubs and a handy little netbook to plug them in. Still, if you hesitate between WeDo and Mindstorms, Mindstorms wins in all aspects. Some enhanced programming software and new, more interesting devices could improve WeDo's potential, but I don't really see that coming.
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#4 CP5670

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 06:17 PM

View PostSariel, on May 8 2010, 11:03 AM, said:

- THE PRICE!!!

This is the main problem I see with it. I was thinking that 3 or 4 of those USB controllers might make a cool manual control setup, similar to the Control Lab Interface from the 90s, but at $45 for each one the price is absurd. It makes much more sense to just get the usual PF IR units instead.

#5 Sariel

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 06:20 PM

Note that you can't use more that 3 hubs at once.
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#6 Mark Bellis

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 05:45 PM

The WeDo hub uses 5V not 9V so motor power is restricted.  Just as well for kids in school, but not so good for AFOLs!
I had the impression 8 hubs were possible?  If so, it would replicate the functionality of 9V Interface B for ports.
I found the software quite slow on my PC though, so not sure I wanted to attempt 8 USB items at once!

I have made some circuits to interface with the WeDo parts.
- a sensor circuit to exploit the tilt sensor software block and enable 5-speed reading of a PF IR receiver output.
- an output circuit to turn the WeDo motor output into a DC level signal for an RCX or NXT port.

The two together would enable 2-way communication with an NXT.

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#7 Sariel

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 07:32 PM

View PostMark Bellis, on May 10 2010, 05:45 PM, said:

I had the impression 8 hubs were possible?

Well, I'm too dumb to speak for the technical side :) but the official software only allows 3 hubs at a time.
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#8 Burf2000

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 10:47 AM

Thanks for this post, I was going to buy one to try out but I thought the price was soo high espically as it does not come with the software.  I too am a programmer and cant even get on with the main lego mindstorm NXT software, robotc all the way!

I think I save my cash for something else!

#9 Nathan Rackliffe

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:04 PM

Our FIRST Jr. LEGO League team used this for their exposition.  The kids built a rotating satellite dish for a moon base that was triggered by the distance sensor.  It worked well and was quite popular with the kids.  I showed them a couple sample programs, then one of the kids on our team was able to write the final code for it by hooking up all the logic blocks such that the motor power was controlled by the distance sensor.

It did manage to drain my laptop pretty quickly though; I went through three batteries during the couple of hours of the expo (which usually would be enough for the laptop to run all day)

It would be nice if the price could come down some and if there was a way to use other software than the WeDo with the hub.  I can think of some fun things to do with it hooked up to a desktop computer (where the battery won't drain down)

#10 Paddle2See

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 02:01 AM

View PostNathan Rackliffe, on May 20 2010, 03:04 PM, said:

It would be nice if the price could come down some and if there was a way to use other software than the WeDo with the hub.  I can think of some fun things to do with it hooked up to a desktop computer (where the battery won't drain down)

Well, the latest version of the free Scratch programming language (scratch.mit.edu) will let you run the WeDo motor and sensors.  But only a single hub, as far as I know.    That's how I'm running it, since I don't have the WeDo software.

View PostSariel, on May 8 2010, 12:03 PM, said:

As for the "programming", I have to admit that despite dealing with advanced php, js & jquery almost every day at my job, I had serious problems getting the grasp of the WeDo stuff. It will feel weird for anyone who had something to do with programming. The 'instruction blocks' I've mentioned can be combined in various configurations, but are nowhere as elastic as e.g. basic php is. For example, you can create a simple conditional statement such as if/then, but forget about if/then/else. On the interesting side, the WeDo provides 10 levels of motors speed (more than with the recent dual-dial PF handset) and can run multiple algorithms at once (namely, the WeDo algorithms can send 'messages' and be initiated on a specific type of message, thus providing the possibility for a 'mother-algorithm' to control a number of 'child-algorithms).
There are two types of sensors that come with the WeDo kit: a motion sensor and a tilt sensor. The motion sensor is in fact more like a distance sensor: it detects object at distances between 15cm and 1 cm and returns a 0-10 points output indicating the distance. The tilt sensor is supposed to detect forward/backward/left/right tilts. Unfortunately, its accuracy is disastrous. It can work very well determining the tilt of a baseball bat you intend to swing, but forget about e.g. putting it into a vehicle to detect slopes.
It feels like there was plenty of options that could be embedded into WeDo but were left aside. For instance the software automatically picks up the input from your computer's mic. But forget about WeDo and voice commands - you can only determine whether there is some sound or not, or you can play the voices you've recorded. The same thing applies to the motion sensor - it can measure the distance with a satisfactory accuracy, except no WeDo instruction makes real use of it - you can just determine whether something comes into range or not.
Long story short, having the WeDo kit in my possession for about a year I have not been able to come up with a single practical MOC based on it. On another hand, things will probably change now that I have two USB hubs and a handy little netbook to plug them in. Still, if you hesitate between WeDo and Mindstorms, Mindstorms wins in all aspects. Some enhanced programming software and new, more interesting devices could improve WeDo's potential, but I don't really see that coming.

Here's another plug for using WeDo with Scratch (scratch.mit.edu):  Scratch has most of your basic programming control structures that you are used to in a nice syntax-free drag and drop environment.  The distance sensor returns a value between 0-100 and you can set up branches on any value you like using If-then-else.  Scratch is limited to a single hub, however, so that might be a show-stopper for you.  But the software is free so you can pull it down and give it a try anyway.  In the interests of full-disclosure I will tell you that I am an employee of the MIT Media Lab (developers of Scratch) so I'm quite biased :)

#11 Burf2000

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 08:46 AM

I just brought a wedo hub (I know I know), does anyone know if there is any api's for it so I can control it in vb, c etc

#12 Jetro

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 10:58 AM

Received my second hub today (:D just testing).

Some time ago Ralph Hempel menstioned he had written a 3rd party app to control the  WeDo hub from a Windows machine. I have a copy of the app (it's lua based) but haven't had time to test it yet. It is supposed to support up to 3 hubs. [link]

#13 Burf2000

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 11:01 AM

Cool well if the source is there, I might be able to reverse engineer it in to some sort of activeX dll

What do most people code there lego in?

I use robotc for nxt and vb6 for my dacta control panel.  RCX, I probably use vb or robotc

#14 roamingstop

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 11:22 AM

Matlab RWTH Toolkit; C/C++; Labview... whatever comes to hand and serves to get quickest results really...
RobotC also looks fine... just not used it yet.

#15 Mark Bellis

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 12:08 AM

View PostBurf2000, on Jun 2 2010, 12:01 PM, said:

Cool well if the source is there, I might be able to reverse engineer it in to some sort of activeX dll

What do most people code there lego in?

I use robotc for nxt and vb6 for my dacta control panel.  RCX, I probably use vb or robotc

I like the ActiveX control for use in vb6 with my RCX.  Similar for WeDo hub would be great!
I wish the NXT could be used this way too, though NXC serves OK, apart from less interactive stuff, which would improve datalogging usefulness.
e.g. the RCX temperature sensor can drive a thermometer bulb diagram easily, but I haven't gone that way with the NXT yet.

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#16 Burf2000

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 09:27 AM

Well I got my wedo kit last night and well, the software is far too basic but at the same time not that simple but the actual kit is quite cool.  I made up a small program in a few minutes.  I think I am going to look in to aVB dll for this as its a waste with the current software

#17 roamingstop

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 09:33 AM

View PostBurf2000, on Jun 4 2010, 11:27 AM, said:

Well I got my wedo kit last night and well, the software is far too basic but at the same time not that simple but the actual kit is quite cool.  I made up a small program in a few minutes.  I think I am going to look in to aVB dll for this as its a waste with the current software
It would be interesting to see what chip is inside the brick... it would be great if it is something simple... if it is a Pic ... :(

Edited by roamingstudio, 04 June 2010 - 09:34 AM.


#18 skaako

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 03:15 PM

View PostBurf2000, on Jun 2 2010, 11:01 PM, said:

Cool well if the source is there, I might be able to reverse engineer it in to some sort of activeX dll

What do most people code there lego in?

I use robotc for nxt and vb6 for my dacta control panel.  RCX, I probably use vb or robotc
Hi there,

I think i'll stick with my Dacta Control Lab for the time being, i like the number of outputs it has, plus its easy to write programs for. For the Dacta i use vb or liberty basic. I have only recently got a RCX set to 'play' with and i have found NQC quite simple to use using Bricx to write and compile, if anyone can suggest something better i would most appreciate it. The only problem now is that i want an NXT.

Mike

#19 Jetro

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 11:10 AM

I took a couple of pictures of the inside of the hub which Philo has kindly added to his gallery at BS:

Posted Image

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The round black spot you can see next to the big blue condensator apparently covers a propriatory controller for the WeDo hub :(

#20 DLuders

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 04:45 PM

As Jetro noted, Philo posted 9 photos of the WeDo hardware on this Brickshelf folder: http://www.brickshel...ry.cgi?f=434406 .

#21 roamingstop

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 07:58 AM

Sorry to bump this - but I wondered if people could answer a few quick questions:
From what I see it is necessary to buy the WeDo hub seperately from the Lego driver - is this the case or is there some overlap with the NXT platforms?

Was there any progress in getting a ActiveX / DLL formed from the Lua scripts?

Did anyone get the educational resource packs available as well? Im interested to see what the packs contain and the level of education provided.

Thanks
RS

#22 Jetro

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 09:35 AM

View Postroamingstudio, on 10 August 2010 - 07:58 AM, said:

Sorry to bump this - but I wondered if people could answer a few quick questions:
From what I see it is necessary to buy the WeDo hub seperately from the Lego driver - is this the case or is there some overlap with the NXT platforms?
The hub and software come together in the complete WeDo package, but they can be purchased separately too. There is no overlap or interaction with the NXT

Quote

Did anyone get the educational resource packs available as well? Im interested to see what the packs contain and the level of education provided.

Thanks
RS
The target age of the package is about 8-11. The activities cover things like pulleys and belts, gears and simple programming.
You can find more information here: http://www.lego.com/...s_kit&l2id=17_1

#23 DLuders

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 01:51 PM

All of the WeDo products for sale are shown on http://www.legoeduca...=20&c=0&t=0&l=0 .  The WeDo hub appears at the bottom of that webpage; it costs USD 45.  From http://www.legoeduca...655&c=0&t=0&l=0 , it says:

"Designed specifically for the LEGO® Education WeDo™ Construction Set, the LEGO USB Hub controls sensors and motors when connected to your computer’s USB port via the LEGO Education WeDo Robotics Software. The two-port hub controls motors and sensors, transmits power and data to and from the computer, and is automatically detected by the WeDo Software when connected to the computer."  It's In Stock now.

Posted Image

The WeDo software and site license costs USD 280.  From http://www.legoeduca...=1&s=32&ID=1677 , it says:

"Easy-to-use software and 12 theme-based activities for the WeDo™ Construction Set in one package! The drag-and-drop software v1.0, powered by LabVIEW™, is icon based, provides an intuitive programming environment, and features a digital Getting Started Guide with building tips and programming examples. Activities are divided into four themes – Amazing Mechanisms, Wild Animals, Play Soccer, and Adventure Stories – and provide up to 24 hours of instruction and project-based learning. Teacher notes, glossary, and building instructions included. When the software is used with the WeDo Construction Set, students will:

•Program using software.
•Design and create a working model.
•Use software to acquire information.
•Use feedback to adjust a programming system output.
•Work with simple machines: gears, levers, and pulleys.
The site license allows for the installation of the software on all of the computers at a single school or institution."

"Microsoft Windows:
•Intel® Pentium® processor or compatible, 800 MHz minimum
•Windows operating systems XP or Vista with the latest service packs
•256 MB of RAM minimum
•150 MB of available hard-disk space
•1 available powered USB port (500 mA minimum)
•CD-ROM drive

Apple Macintosh:
•Apple MacOS X v. 10.5
•Intel processor
•256 MB of RAM minimum
•150 MB of available hard-disk space
•1 available powered USB port (500 mA minimum)
•CD-ROM drive"


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#24 EpicXDFail

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 04:57 PM

View PostSariel, on 10 May 2010 - 07:32 PM, said:

Well, I'm too dumb to speak for the technical side :) but the official software only allows 3 hubs at a time.

Well, WeDo is also compatible with a more open programming language called "Scratch" by MIT (download it for free at http://scratch.mit.edu/), which is much more open and programmable as well as interactive compared to the WeDo software (still a drag-and-drop programming language). By using this, you could maybe have unlimited motors, but who honestly has enough USB slots for it to be practical? Also, unlike the WeDo software, on Scratch, you can't identify specific motors for certain commands - instead if you have say, 2 motors, by doing a command, it does the action for both of the motors. As well as that, the only other downside to Scratch for WeDo is that there's no block for "shaking" in the tilt sensor - but it really doesn't matter that much :P.

With Scratch, someone made these with WeDo:

Submarine project (uses WeDo to interact in-game): <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/6884185" width="400" height="250" frameborder="0"></iframe> (shows Scratch program too)
Balancing Robot (balances, but the trick is, it does it via the motion sensor!): <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/6669802" width="400" height="250" frameborder="0"></iframe>
Ferris Wheel (uses WeDo to interact in-game): <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/6969551" width="400" height="250" frameborder="0"></iframe>

So it does have some potential.

#25 Burf2000

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 05:27 PM

Has anyone found a way to use C# or something with WeDo?

I found this
https://github.com/itdaniher/WeDoMore




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