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12 June 2013, 14:53

Raspberry Pi and Lego Mindstorms to be united by BrickPi

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A BrickPi Robot Tank
Zoom A BrickPi Robot Tank.
Source: Dexter Industries

Lego Mindstorms has been used to build robots since its introduction, but a small company by the name of Dexter Industries is now set to add a far more advanced brain to those robots, by installing a Raspberry Pi at the core, in a project called BrickPi. The project launched a Kickstarter campaign in May to raise just under $2000; with four days to go, the campaign has so far raised $96,000. Dexter Industries specialises in creating sensors and other enhancements for Lego Mindstorms equipment.

The BrickPi is a slide-on board that provides an interface to Lego Mindstorms NXT Socketed motors and sensors with an Arduino microcontroller (Atmega328) and custom firmware. The unit can control 3 NXT motors and read 4 sensors and uses a 9V battery which can power the motors, sensors and the Raspberry Pi itself. The developers have also created a Lego-compatible case which can safely carry the BrickPi and Raspberry Pi as part of a Lego-Mindstorms-based vehicle or device. A demonstration of the board and a device built with it are available in a video, while the Kickstarter video shows other devices (robot arms, ball launchers and tanks) as examples of BrickPi creations.

Introducing the BrickPi.

All the designs for the BrickPi, including the firmware and schematics, are provided for interested hackers to modify, with details of the hardware and other elements available on the project's GitHub repository. Software to drive the BrickPi from the Raspberry Pi is being written in Python with various examples available in the repository too. As the project has been hitting its stretch goals, the developers will be improving the BrickPi hardware further and will be writing a C/C++ library to also drive the BrickPi.



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