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Technic Control (TC) from 1986 is - at the very least - absolutely fascinating (to me). It was when TLG wondered into (electronic) robotics ... Evan Koblentz (@evank on EB), his website is http://brickhacks.com/, has assembled the most comprehensive resource available regarding TC - and it still grows ... a wonderful place to be. Thus nothing better to begin this thread with a spoiler … The project idea Building an “autonomously” operating, programmable “robot arm” constructed with original Technic Control (TC) LEGO elements (bricks, plates, 4.5V lamps and motors, interface A, all from 1986 – 1988) and PoweredUp (PUp) LEGO elements (hub, motor; from 2019). Most importantly: TC “interacts” with PUp in a way that TC tells PUp when to move the trolley “left/right” to pre-programmed locations consecutively , while operating “up/down/turn L/R, and grab/release” of the arm by itself. This thus requires 4 motors and TC cannot do that without help, as the interface A has only 3 reversible polarity motor outputs. See below for hardware/software details. What does this combo do? The robot arm [building instructions provided by @alexGS; shown here in a video on his YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLENEktsZdQ)] “quasi-autonomously” exchanges the storage locations of two “parcels”, using three pedestals on a stand and a trolley: (Left) Lord Darth Vader checking on PUp stuff; (right) Captain James T. Kirk checking on TC stuff; (bottom) MK stand + some TC and other LEGO bricks + 4.5/12 rails + 3 pedestals. Trolley: pulled with a “run-around” chain by a PUp medium linear motor on the left (color/distance sensor not used); (back) PUp Technic hub, powered by the permanent ≈ 4.0 V output of interface A using a small DC/DC converter in the hub’s battery box, see below; (top left) interface A powering the three 4.5V motors of the robot arm and the three 4.5V lamps in the base; (top right) ESP32 Dev kit + opto-coupler board connecting to output A of interface A, Arduino serial to parallel converter, RS232 cable to Win11 laptop (not shown); (center) robot arm, design by @AlexGS). Further to the right is the XT (not shown). “Quasi-autonomously” because instead of a LEGO PUp hub or PBrick of any kind, an IBM XT running PCDOS 3.3 and QuickBasic 4.5 is the brain behind the TC hardware – and I simply failed to get the XT moving on the trolley as well :D Why such a weird project? a) I wanted to show that TC can interact with PUp with only modest and cheap 3rd party elements used; b) wanted to use original LEGO TC ABS elements mingled with modern LEGO ABS elements plus some MK ABS elements; c) love to bring together vintage and modern electronics, particularly from TLG as they >never< show(ed) us how to accomplish this, and d) because I am simply running out of space up here in my attic and can’t do much more other than rotating something rather small by 180 degrees on the spot :D Did some remodeling up here lately to accommodate an original IBM XT (this one from 1985) – and these monsters do consume some room. Even worse, in the setup shown in the above figure, for a full 180 degree turn of the arm, it needs to be a) in the upper position, otherwise it crashes into a shelf; and b) the arm also needs to be moved laterally when turning, otherwise it crashes into a pedestal :D Space … the final frontier … Here is a short (and very boring video) of what the robot arm does – it was way more fun to bringing those two LEGO programming worlds together than taking that video. More on that below. (Video does for some reason not load - it does on YouTube: Just click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6WI4i-TcYs) LEGO Hardware used One version of the robot arm (grab/release, up/down, turn left/right) is depicted in one of the LEGO Dacta booklets coming with set #1092; however a >much improved< version was provided by @alexGS. I would not have been able (zill!) to build the robot arm without a ton of help from Alex. The turn table’s (the arm is mounted on) instructions are available as building card in Dacta set #1092. The simple trolley I made is pulled back and forth using the small LEGO chain elements and is operated by the LEGO Technic hub and a PUp tacho motor (see below). The trolley runs on dark gray LEGO plastic train rails. And oh boy – the rails are affixed to the base of a stand for the MK Flying Dutchman … for fun I added three LEGO 4.5V lights to the stand’s base – just for show, nothing else. Well, not exactly: It shows that the outputs of #9750 can drive much more than one 4.5V motor each … Up/down, rotation left/right, and grab/release of the arm is done with three #6216 4.5V motors, #9750 interface A, the XT (+ LEGO #9771 ISA bus card) running PCDOS 3.3 and a compiled MS QuickBasic 4.5 (1988) program I wrote for that purpose. So in essence most of the stuff used to build and operate the arm is about 35 years old; the stuff to pull it back and forth is from 2019 onwards. The Technic hub is powered from the permanent 4V DC output of interface A with an additional DC/DC converter: As said, the lateral motion of the robot arm is done with a trolley moving on 4.5/12V type LEGO rails, operated by the linear medium PUp M motor (#88008), hooked up to a 4-port PUp Technic hub #88012. An ESP32 Dev kit board running Legoino is used for controlling the PUp devices; there is also the PUp remote (#88010) for manual trolley operation and PUp program control. I cannot (and don’t want to) get used to the LEGO PoweredUp app. After all, this stupid app >always< crashes, when operating TLG’s very own #88008 motor in tacho (PID) mode – even after TLGs 4+ years of app development … Other electronic hardware employed It turned out that using the ESP32 Dev kit/Legoino hard/software combo was (again) a fortunate approach as I was too dumb to use the LEGO PUp color and distance sensor (#88007) to simply sense light on/off. The TC and PUp brains are thus synchronized via an opto-coupler (4N28, already referenced in this book from 1983, we have to keep it straight on the vintage front ;) http://www.bitsavers.org/components/motorola/_dataBooks/1983_Motorola_Optoelectronics_Device_Data.pdf) hooked up to the ESP32 board, in accord with the interface A electronic layout philosophy, which also uses opto-couplers (2x LTV 487 M; 4 couplers in each chip) for separating the circuitry of the control computer/interface card from the power lines of the interface A. In my setup, one of the 3 motor outputs of the interface A is wired via a bridge rectifier (because forward and reverse need to be sensed) and a 470 Ohm resistor to the photo diode of the 4N28. The photo transistor goes low when the diode is turned on; thus the corresponding ESP32 input is tied to VCC(+3.3V) via a 1kOhm resistor. This little PANT board (I made that PANT thing up of course, Arduino’s have SHIELDS, Pi’s have HATs …) is riding directly on the pins of the ESP board: Total cost here, including the ESP board, is about $15. I used 4.5V wires (#766c96) with 2prong connectors, took off one connector and soldered Dupont connectors to the bare wires, which attach to the corresponding pins on the PANT board (interface A <=> ESP32 connection). See below for some programming hints on that; essentially, the ESP notices even the shortest low-level pulses on its inputs; I simply very briefly turns on/off the corresponding interface A output, so that neither a motor nor a 4.5 light bulb (visibly) notice that at all, but the ESP does. Well the ESP is more than 30 years younger than the other old farts :D The computer running QuickBasic 4.5 (or QBasic 1.1) or TC Logo controls the LEGO interface A. The interface in turn “controls” the LEGO PoweredUp Technic hub. Well, not exactly true: It signals the state of one of its outputs to the ESP32, which runs Cornelius Munz’ simply wonderful Legoino (https://github.com/corneliusmunz/legoino) software, which then provides bidirectional access to PUp devices, i.e., the Technic hub and the PUp remote. The PUp remote is only used for moving the trolley into its starting position and then telling the hub to listen to what the ESP is telling it to do. It can also be used to simulate light events etc. A note on the PUp environment: The tacho motor has a very high rotational resolution on the built-in encoders – way more than the TC encoders, but the principle is exactly the same: With the TC elements, you actually learn how that works; with PUp it is an icon in the app – or some code in Legoino. Nevertheless, the high precision, along with the built-in ramping routine, the speed is going up/down in a very controlled fashion, and results in absolute smooth trolley motion. Software Computer hardware controlling the interface A may be a modern Win11 machine, a semi-vintage machine running Win98 or the like, or a true vintage machine, e.g., an IBM XT, I am using frequently for such experiments. This >35 years range of computers smoothly operating the interface A became possible after Alex paved the road by partly disassembling the original TC Logo software from 1986-89 for PC’s running DOS and creating two new versions: One that does I/O via the parallel port LPT1 (TCLogo_p) and one that does I/O via the serial port COM1 (TCLogo_s). Both DOS executables are provided on his Bricksafe pages (https://bricksafe.com/pages/alexGSofNZ/interface-a-tc-logo). The original TC Logo for IBM PCs running DOS uses a LEGO parallel interface ISA card (#9771) with its own address for I/O. In this EB thread, there is a little documentation on the efforts of Alex and me regarding running TCLogo on modern computers: Why all these efforts? Simply because people like Alex and Evan and most probably many others like to run original vintage LEGO electronic hardware with the original LEGO vintage software. That’s all there is. Running the software alone on a modern computer is not an issue; there are many (DOS) emulators out there, some tailored towards playing original vintage games, others to actually mimic the functionality of a vintage computer. However, modern PCs/laptops don’t have any “true” serial (RS232) or parallel ports anymore – they do almost everything via USB. Nor do they have any means of providing 8-bit ISA bus functionality – at least not at an affordable price – if at all. I am pursuing another route: I want to run QuickBasic 4.5 / QBasic 1.1 in an emulator environment, and write my own BASIC code on a Win11 machine. Then transfer the program to the XT and run the robot arm from that computer. The DOSBox-X emulator is perfectly suited for this task, as it also provides access to COM ports on the host computer (laptop) as per configuration file: serial1 = directserial realport:COM1 COM ports are “created” using e.g. an USB2Serial or USB2TTL adapter; they are showing up as such in device manager. Why not using the XT directly for program development? For one, an XT with 256 kByte memory cannot run QuickBasic 4.5 but surely compiled QuickBasic com/exe files. QBasic 1.1 in turn runs on a 256kByte XT, but cannot compile files; it runs them directly. Furthermore, a laptop is mobile, an XT is not. A modern laptop is quite fast – an XT is not. A modern laptop has a flicker free display, an XT has not … yeah, we got “softer” over the years … and older for sure … The last thing required to operate interface A is a fast enough serial to parallel “converter” to operate interface A through an USB channel into DOSBox-X and further into QuickBasic. This is a very simple task for any Arduino device; even an Arduino Nano can do that. I made such an “interface”: Serial to 8bit parallel, 6 output, 2 input lines, as shown again here: And finally the program codes, most probably full of bugs, but they run smoothly so far; my Bricksafe page is here: https://bricksafe.com/pages/Toastie; direct download links: QuickBasic 4.5/QBasic 1.1 program (9750 control/robot arm program): https://bricksafe.com/files/Toastie/lego-interface-a---9750---9771---tclogo/tc-meets-pup/Q9750_9.BAS Legoino (C++) source code for the trolley (Technic hub + tacho motor + PUp remote): https://bricksafe.com/files/Toastie/lego-interface-a---9750---9771---tclogo/tc-meets-pup/DactaArm_V2.ino Arduino Nano serial to parallel code (C++): https://bricksafe.com/files/Toastie/lego-interface-a---9750---9771---tclogo/program-files-/9750_Parallel2Serial_Interface.ino I am very happy to provide more info on the programs, but I guess I am the only one doing this weird stuff in BASIC … and I just keep it here for future reference. Updates will also go here. All the best, Thorsten
Hey Lads! i tought i would share this WIP as i am very proud of it If you have seen The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug then you'll probably remember this It is based on one of the last scene's in Erebor The Dwarves lure Smaug the terrible deeper into the dwarven fortress Erebor, Thorin came up with the plan to make a structure, wich is made of gold (as gold attracts dragons) to trap Smaug and cover him in hot fluent gold! but for that he's going to need molten gold. so they arrive at the Forge's (settled deep in Erebor) Thorin insults Smaug so he gets angry... and blows fire! Now the Furnaces are alight and the plan can fold out... So here's the WIP Keep in mind that this is not the front entrance, it is a side entrance wich leads to the Gallery of the kings This is Thorin, im going to make a scene where the dwarves fight against Smaug (Balin throws bombs, Bilbo pulls a lever for water etc) But to make that scene im going to have to wait until October 2014, a lot of cool sets are coming out and the biggest one features a molded Smaug! and my guess would be also Lake town clothes Bilbo, Dori, Bifur, Dwalin, Balin and others. until then im just gonna finish the MOC This is the furnace, i wil add a lot of fire Light it up up up... on fire! One of the carts where Bifur and Gloin land in, im looking for a good place for them Dwarf head WIP, I will make a scene where water comes out of its mouth A little gap, to look inside Balin's Bomb making area! Overview So i hope you like it! this is just the meager start but i think it's starting to look like the real deal, i will add a LOT more! i'll keep you updated See ya lads UPDATE: So lads! New features are added! So the door is updated, with a nice mosaic on top it represents the forge and all the hard work the dwarf's put in it (the mosaic is not completely finished) Here you see Bifur in his minecart (not final position) I don't really know what i wanted this to be, It looks very dwarvish And here's an overview! Well i hope you like it I'll keep ya updated lads See ya - Kevkipo
Deathleech posted a topic in LEGO Historic ThemesSo now that the sets from the second Hobbit wave have been out for awhile, which is everyone's favorite and why? Personally I am torn. I think Mirkwood Elf Army has some nice figures but the build's not that impressive. Lake-town Chase has a much better build that is more accurate to the film but the figures aren't as good (but they still are very nice). I like that Dol Guldur Ambush has hair and ears for the orcs and Beorn is a nice minifigure, and of course Dol Guldur Battle has some nice minifigs as well with Azog and Radagast, but neither DG set has a great build imo. I think overall I would have to go with Lake-town Chase as my favorite with MEA in a close second. If MEA would of included an armored elf or two I think that would of hands down been my favorite set. Usually I am a huge army builder fan but as it stands MEA just has too many issues; Thranduil is great if you buy the set once but beyond that is redundant and hard to use, the walls are pathetically short, and 3 elven scouts are too many when they are all the same imo. So, what is your guys' favorite wave 2 Hobbit set?