We all love Lego. Whether you’re a fan of the video games (Lego Dimensions is a particular favorite (Amazon US, CA, UK), or enjoy building kits of various themes and sizes, the enduring brick building toy continues to thrill children of all ages.
Not just children, either.
The Mindstorms range of Lego kits feature an “intelligent” programmable brick that can be used to extend the possibilities of the kit. We’ve previously featured one such kit in one of our most popular ever giveaways, and the Mindstorms range is becoming an increasingly popular tool for makers of all skill levels and interests.
These 10 astonishing Lego Mindstorms projects will show you just what I mean.
1. Lego Plays Guitar
I know how you feel. You’ve been playing guitar for years and even hammering Rocksmith 2014 won’t give you the confidence to get to the end of a track from memory.
Perhaps you’re thinking “let’s play with Lego instead”… only to find that some wizkid knocked up a guitar playing Lego robot with his Mindstorms kit. Sickening, isn’t it?
The tune you can gasp at above is Little Talks by English-language Icelandic five piece Of Monsters and Men. Like me, you may not be familiar with the original, which you can view on YouTube should you want to compare.
2. Can’t Handle Rubik’s Cube? Lego Can
I know a lot of people can’t manage the Rubik’s Cube. If you’re one of them, don’t feel bad. It’s not in my nature to brag, but I find it a remarkably simple puzzle… if I take it apart and rebuild in the correct “completed” configuration, or even to just peel off the labels and put them back, leaving it, for all intents and purposes, “done”. (There is a simpler method of solving the Rubik’s Cube.)
It’s certainly a lot quicker to cheat than it is to build a robot to do it for you — but WOW! I’m not sure what I’m most impressed by: its ability to solve the puzzle as a whole, its facial detection and row turning, or just the pulling mechanism that tumbles the cube over.
Brilliant. But if you want inspiration for a quicker Rubik’s Cube solving robot, this beauty should suit your needs.
3. A Lego ATM Machine
While we wouldn’t recommend building one of these and installing it in a local store, it makes a great money dispensing machine for at home. From a security point of view, it’s obviously missing a keypad for PIN entry, and any cash stored within could be easily pilfered using one of those orange Lego brick separator tools.
But as a concept, it’s amazing to consider. We’re also impressed by this second ATM build, using an old NXT kit, which not only dispenses money, but also accepts it as a deposit!
4. Pokémon Booster Pack Vending Machine
OBLIGATORY POKEMON MENTION.
It might not be Pokémon Go (it predates the scourge of mobile batteries by a couple of months) but this vending machine is a great example of the love Pokémon fans have for the… um, what is it you collect? Virtual pets, or something?
(And evolve them too? Wow. Darwin would be so proud.)
Anyway, this clever Mindstorms build dispenses some Pokémon cards for cash, not too dissimilar a project to the ATM above. Ideal if you’re desperate for a game of Pokémon snap, or whatever it is Millennials do with them. If you want to make actual money from Pokemon Go, meanwhile, that’s possible without Lego.
Make sure you watch the full video, the interior mechanism is impressive.
5. This Mindstorms Vehicle Lays Its Own Bridge!
This is poetry in motion. Well, in Lego. Actually, no, it’s Lego in motion.
So, in short, a vehicle dispenses its own bridge, and then crosses it.
It might be a little slow, but this is a truly glorious Lego Mindstorms build, which according to the description:
…utilizes four servo motors, two linear actuators, two ultrasonic sensors, two touch sensors and two color sensors to accomplish its task. The robot was programmed in Robot C.
Make sure you watch this right to the end, to see the robot tidy up after itself. My word, you’d be proud of building that, wouldn’t you?
6. Build a Lego Car Production Line
“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black” is how Henry Ford explained the speed of his Model T assembly line when a new quick drying paint, available only in black, was introduced.
It’s also the only color of vehicle on offer in this Lego car production line, which is fully automated thanks to Lego Mindstorms. What’s great about this setup is that it could be reprogrammed to mass-produce a variety of simple of Lego builds, from cars and bikes to minifigs… and beyond.
Or even actual robots. Perhaps. Still: Lego building Lego. It’s like Terminator: Genisys all over again.
7. Knit a Jumper With Lego
Ever wondered how a loom works? Me too, and I bet you weren’t expecting the question to be solved by watching some Lego bricks, either.
In a superb Lego build that could have considerable repercussions for your future sartorial purchases, this Lego Mindstorms build automates the creation of a scarf. Presumably with a bit of sewing and stitching, larger garments can also be created.
For a closer look and to get an idea of the full details of the build, take a look at the designer’s gallery.
8. Charlie the Chess Robot
Bored? Want to engage in a complex strategy game based on ancient game design, but no one to play with? Sure, you could play a chess video game, but if you’re more of a “real world” gamer, this Lego Mindstorms robot is probably the answer to your dreams.
Says the designer:
Three motors are used for the movement; the first one for the movement on the X axis, the second one for the movement on the Y axis and the third one for picking up and putting down pieces.
Sound complex? Well, it’s not nearly as complex as the process that goes into enabling you to play chess… or even building a chess playing Lego Mindstorms robot!
9. Radio Controlled Car with 5 Speed Gear Box
In the words of the YouTube video:
This Lego Mindstorms RC car has a 5 speed gearbox and is controlled by the NXT 2.0. We used the EV3 to give commands to the NXT about transmission, gear, speed and steer angle. It’s our first project that uses a connection between EV3 and NXT.
That pretty much tells you all you need to know, other than the inclusion of an Android app. The end result is complex, but impressive.
10. Piano Playing Lego Mindstorms
We finish much as we began, with music!
The guitar playing Mindstorms robot at the top was pretty amazing, but the complexity of this build is also worth sharing. As per the YouTube video description, this build:
…uses one main driving motor, and 3 motors to control positioning of: the single finger of the left hand on the first note, the two fingers of the right hand on the third note, and the third finger of the right hand on the 4th note (sometimes).
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
I love the way in which Lego wheels act as counterweights — the arrangement is good too. There are simpler ways to get someone to accompany you on piano, of course, but the sheer art in this is considerable. Imagine teaming this project up with the guitar…!
We found these 10 Lego Mindstorms projects pretty jaw dropping, and particularly inspiring. What do you think? Have you tried any similar projects, or are you the proud owner of your own awesome Lego Mindstorms project? Tell us in the comments!