Mindstorms NXT Firmware to be Open Source

LEGO has announced that the new version of Mindstorms will have open source firmware! This is very exciting news for anyone who likes to hack on robotics. While people reverse-engineered the original Mindstorms to come up with an alternative firmware called LegOS (which was renamed to BrickOS at the request of LEGO’s legal department), this time around LEGO is supporting software hacking from the get-go.

Also in the announcement, they’ll be making the Bluetooth interface and the 6-conductor connector system public and releasing Developer Kits for both software and hardware. They don’t say for sure that it will be free, but I hope that it will be.

Information about the NXT system is starting to become available via the panel of adult fans that LEGO has been consulting with (the Mindstorms Developer Program non-disclosure agreements allow them to release some information as of May 1, 2006). Here are some of the things I’ve found:

I’m looking forward to August when we get to see full retail availability of NXT![tags]lego,robotics,mindstorms,nxt[/tags]

BayLUG at Maker Faire

Maker Faire BayLUG at Maker Faire sure was a lot of fun! We (Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group) had a great time showing off our LEGO train layout to the public and other Makers at the event.

I uploaded my pictures of the LEGO layout as well as other things from Maker Faire up on my Flickr account.

One of the highlights was when I got interviewed by Blaed Spence about the club on the Yahoo! Answers stage.

I don’t know if it’s going to be an annual event or what, but I sure hope they do another Maker Faire event again soon![tags]lego,makerfaire,baylug,bayltc[/tags]

Halfway through Maker Faire

Wow, this has been a great show! It’s quite different from the train shows we (BayLTC) usually do. The Maker Faire crowd is a very diverse group of artists, geeks, and craftspeople. Plus, a lot of families with kids which is just like what we’re used to. One of my favorite things about the LEGO hobby is when little kids are staring through the “sneeze guards” at our layout with their eyes and mouths open, and just about the only thing they can say is “wooooaaahhh.” That’s fun.

Unlike the train shows we have a lot more non-train stuff at this show. David brought in his big crane (it’s about 12 feet tall, entirely made of unglued LEGO bricks, mostly Technic), and an assortment of other Technic creations including pneumatic walkers and an inclined cog railway. I also brought in the only sculpture I currently have assembled, my Maneki Neko (Japanese good luck cat) statue.

I haven’t had a chance to take many pictures, but we shot an hour of video, including an interview of me at the Yahoo Answers stage which was a lot of fun. Hopefully I can edit that down to a reasonable size and make a little video of the Faire. I am planning to take a lot of stills tomorrow, and will post those on Flickr in the next few days.

If you come by the BayLUG layout at Maker Faire today (Sunday, April 23) please stop by and say hi!


These two fish Fish were built as part of a display that my LEGO club, the Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group, maintains at the Stoneridge Mall LEGO store in Pleasanton, CA. On February 20, 2006 we installed an “aquarium” theme there, which lasted for about a month. Read more about the installation and see more pics.

More pictures of the model can be found on Flickr.

Getting Ready for Maker Faire

Next weekend (April 22-23) is Maker Faire, an event featuring “the MythBusters, and thousands of tech DIY enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, science clubs, students, and authors,” put on by the publishers of MAKE Magazine. This event is kind of like a giant science fair for grownups, mixed with an art show and all kinds of stuff. I don’t really know what to expect but we’re planning to treat it pretty much the same way we do the train shows.

We have a space that’s 30 feet square, which will feature a train layout and some additional non-train LEGO exhibits such as David Wegmuller’s giant Technic crane.

I’ve been frantically busy “making” things for the Faire all weekend. But last night I seem to have caught a cold. The worst part is the difficulty sleeping. And I don’t have the strength to build much LEGO even though I am home sick from work.

Also I want to apologize for the dearth of posts lately. Holly and I went to Charleston, SC for a week last month and when we got back, I was quite busy with regular life and just didn’t get back into the swing of things in the blog. But I’m going to start posting more soon, I promise!!

TransAmerica Pyramid

The TransAmerica Pyramid TransAmerica Pyramid in LEGO is one of the most distinctive structures in the city of San Francisco. In January 2006 my LEGO club, the Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group chose “mini-scale San Francisco” as the theme for our display at the LEGO store in Pleasanton, CA. I built this model, along with a scene of Lombard Street, for that display.

More pictures of the model can be found on Flickr and on Brickshelf (once moderated).[tags]lego,pyramid,sanfrancisco,mymodels,microscale,transamerica[/tags]

Old-fashioned Fire Truck

This old-fashioned fire truck Old-fashioned Fire Truck was built in July, 2004 for the display that my LEGO club, Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group & Train Club put on at a museum in Pleasanton, CA. Since the 4th of July was during that exhibit, we added a parade to the layout, and what’s a parade without an old-fashioned fire truck? So I built one.

More pictures of the model can be found on Flickr and on Brickshelf.

TCA Show – Sunday

I spent most of the day today TCA Show Sunday Pictures at the 2006 Cal-Stewart Spring Meet of the Train Collectors Association (TCA) at the Santa Clara Convention Center. My LEGO club, Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group & Train Club, had a big train layout on display all weekend (see my previous entry with pictures of the setup on Friday).

We had a 30×30 foot space, most of which was taken up by the layout, with a few tables offering LEGO parts and sets for sale by our members. My contributions to the layout included the Coast Guard base, San Ladrillo train station, and several smaller buildings and vehicles around the layout.

Pictures of the layout can be found on Flickr. Click the photo to see them.[tags]lego,baylug,bayltc,trainshow[/tags]

BayLTC at TCA 2006 Show Setup

Friday evening, March 10, TCA Show Setup Pictures I was at the Santa Clara Convention Center helping set up(*) the Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group & Train Club layout for the 2006 Cal-Stewart Spring Meet of the Train Collectors Association. It’s a combination conference and show, running all weekend. Saturday, March 11, it’s open only to conference attendees, but on Sunday it will be open to the public (for a small fee). Come on down and visit us! See the event information on the BayLUG site for details.

Pictures of the layout can be found on Flickr. Click the photo to see them.

(*) – not really. I was really late showing up and the other guys had already done the hard stuff. I just put a few buildings and cars down and took pictures….[tags]lego,baylug,bayltc,trainshow[/tags]

Great LEGO Video – 1985

Stephen and Austin Nolen have produced an amazing video for the song “1985” by Bowling For Soup. Now I don’t know whether they got permission from the band to use the song, but I love what they came up with. It’s a great song, and the LEGO animations fit the music very well. It’ll take a while to download though, so start the download and then make yourself a nice lunch. Depending on your Internet connection you might want to get dinner started while you’re at it.
[tags]LEGO, Animation, Brickfilm, BowlingForSoup, 1985[/tags]