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Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

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Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

Postby dimasterooo » 04 Jan 2012, 05:04

Ok, first of all, sorry that I haven't been very active lately, but I'm getting back to making robots. This thing has been in progress for quite a while, so I'm proud to present the first ever Skype-controlled LEGO Mindstorms NXT car that you (yes, YOU) can drive from the comfort of your home (or anywhere else, really, if you have a laptop).

This is how it works: you go to this website (see blog post or YouTube video description; links below), which has five buttons: a start button, a stop button, and three buttons with arrows (one left, one right, and one forward). When you click the start button, a Skype conversation with my computer will be requested, and you will automatically receive the video feed from my webcam, which is pointed at the area the robot can drive around in. Then, using Skype, you share your screen, and you'll automatically be taken back to webpage with the arrows.

That's where it gets interesting: when you click any one of the other buttons, the background color of the webpage will change to a different shade of gray. Since you're sharing your screen, the NXT at my computer can "see" the color of the background change, and therefore knows what arrow you clicked - almost instantly! It then simply sends a Bluetooth message containing this information to the other NXT, which will then drive in the specified direction. You, then, are able to see this on your computer!

For *a lot* more information, here's the link for the robot's post, complete with photos, coding, and everything you need to know about this project (also includes a precise step by step plan for driving this NXT Car): http://wp.me/p10flW-jF

You can find the YouTube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nVB8Us3omk For the first time, it's in also 720P HD! (thx, Dad!)

The robot will be up and running from today (January 4th 2012) to January 18th 2012. If you use it, it'd rock if you could leave a comment on the blog post saying what OS and web browser you used trying out this project, because I've only been able to test it on Windows 7 with Google Chrome, Firefox and IE.

Thanks for reading, and if you could tell your friends and family about this project, or even reblog it (that would ROCK), I'd really appreciate it because I'm trying to get as many people as I can to try this. Thank you!!!
- Leon Overweel (aka. dimastero/ dimasterooo)

My blog: http://www.leonoverweel.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LayOn_OverWhale
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Re: Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

Postby pepijndevos » 04 Jan 2012, 13:07

Nice idea, but it didn't work for me. Skype refused to share my screen. Other than that, your robot has a wire attached to it. I hope it didn't tie itself in a knot while I was trying to get my screen to share.
-- Pepijn
http://studl.es Mindstorms Building Instructions
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Re: Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

Postby dimasterooo » 04 Jan 2012, 17:48

Do you have the newest version of skype installed? I'll check if anything is wrong with it when I get hone tonight; thanks for the feedback!
- Leon Overweel (aka. dimastero/ dimasterooo)

My blog: http://www.leonoverweel.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LayOn_OverWhale
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Re: Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

Postby dimasterooo » 04 Jan 2012, 18:57

Actually, I'll just post the instructions here to make them easier to find

-Go to http://www.goo.gl/7LLaU
-Make sure your window is maximized
-Click the “Start” button
-Go through the dialog windows you get (there will be more on IE and Firefox than on Google Chrome)
-Wait for my video to start (this can take up to 20 seconds)
-Open the “call menu” at the top bar
-Click “Share Your Screen” – it’s about 3/4th of the way down the menu
-Click “Share Full Screen”
-You should now be brought back to the webpage with the arrows. Once you see the car stop, use the arrows to drive it around.
-To stop, hover your mouse over the little screen where you see the car, and click the red phone button
- Leon Overweel (aka. dimastero/ dimasterooo)

My blog: http://www.leonoverweel.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LayOn_OverWhale
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Re: Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

Postby littletim979 » 04 Jan 2012, 20:59

that's cool and creative - i never thought about doing something like that - i'm doing something similar soon using kleekbots
My Blog: MindstormsPodcast.wordpress.com/
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Re: Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

Postby dimasterooo » 05 Jan 2012, 04:48

Thanks! But what's (or what are) kleekbots? I think I've heard the name once or twice, but I never really got what it is. But thanks for the feedback!
- Leon Overweel (aka. dimastero/ dimasterooo)

My blog: http://www.leonoverweel.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LayOn_OverWhale
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Re: Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

Postby dimasterooo » 05 Jan 2012, 04:50

UPDATE (copied from my blog): Today was the first day my robot was online, and, as with any project, problems came up:

- The wire got tangled
- People didn't know how to shut the robot off properly (which is probably why other people weren't able to connect)
- The ball caster came off

These are some changes I made:

- I added a long, flexible rod to the back of the car to hold up the wire, so it's less likely to drive over it too easily. This should also help against the caster issue, because it mostly came off because the wire was pulling it
- I put some extra protection around the caster, to make it less likely to come off
- Towards the bottom of the page with the arrows, you can now read about how to shut the robot down, so people won't do it wrong anymore
- In case they do, an alarm will now sound if the robot has been driving in the same direction for longer than 60 seconds.

So thanks for the feedback everybody, and I'll keep on improving this thing further. To see the changes, go to http://www.goo.gl/7LLaU (you might need to refresh your page).
- Leon Overweel (aka. dimastero/ dimasterooo)

My blog: http://www.leonoverweel.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LayOn_OverWhale
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Re: Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

Postby littletim979 » 05 Jan 2012, 20:46

http://www.kleekbots.com/ - this is kleekbots
My Blog: MindstormsPodcast.wordpress.com/
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Re: Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

Postby littletim979 » 05 Jan 2012, 20:51

i haven't been able to get it to work - it's like as if it's turned off - it just sits still in the middle of the screen
My Blog: MindstormsPodcast.wordpress.com/
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Re: Interactive Skype-Controlled LEGO Mindstorms Car

Postby dimasterooo » 05 Jan 2012, 21:41

Yeah it got an error.. I'm not sure what it is but it seems like it can't run 24/7.. I might have to turn it off and on again once in a while. I'll look into it; thx.

It's working right now, though.
- Leon Overweel (aka. dimastero/ dimasterooo)

My blog: http://www.leonoverweel.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LayOn_OverWhale
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