BrickPi basic build (top view)
BrickPi primary assemble (prime view)

When prompted what led them to design BrickPi, John Cole, founder, Dexter Industries, shares, “We had a Raspberry Pi sitting on our desks for about six months and we didn’t know what to do with it. So it was a bit of a solution looking for a problem.” Thus was born the BrickPi.

BrickPi is one issue that micro-robotics DIYers would positively wish to attempt. Because of the title suggests, it’s a mixture of Raspberry Pi, co-opted to behave because of the ideas of the robotic, and LEGO Mindstorms sensors, bricks and motors. This downside has taken the crowdfunding route—by means of Kickstarter—to assemble out a platform for taking part in spherical with robotics. It has successfully raised its funding purpose on June 17, 2013 and acquired over $125,000 in pledged backing from bigger than 1720 supporters—technique above the distinctive purpose of $1889.

What’s a BrickPi?

BrickPi is a system that converts Raspberry Pi correct proper right into a robotic. The issue is a board and case that connects LEGO Mindstorms sensors, motors and elements to level out your credit-card-size laptop computer pc correct proper right into a robotic. It lets you be part of as quite a bit as three NXT motors and 4 sensors. It has a 9V battery present that powers the motors, sensors and Raspberry Pi, un-tethering the Pi from the wall. Lastly, it has a sturdy case with holes that snap match with LEGO elements. Thus Raspberry Pi is the ideas of a BrickPi joined with the LEGO growing system.

The system incorporates BrickPi board and the case. The BrickPi board slides over your Raspberry Pi, connects, controls and powers Mindstorms motors and sensors, and provides energy to the Raspberry Pi. The motors and sensors are all managed by the Raspberry Pi. Firmware for the board’s personal microcontroller is written in Arduino, so it’s open and hackable. The {{{hardware}}} designs and software program program program present code are all accessible on-line.

BrickPi as a tank
BrickPi as a tank

The case for the Raspberry Pi lets you be part of LEGO devices to your Raspberry Pi. It protects the Pi from impacts and falls that robots are inclined to have, and secures all the motors, sensors, and mechanical bits and devices you wish to join with the Pi.

How does it work?

The machine principally serves as an interface between the Raspberry Pi and LEGO Mindstorms sensors and motors, together with an have an effect on present for the Raspberry Pi.

The BrickPi has two microcontrollers, programmed in Arduino language, every of which controls two motors and reads the motor encoder values and two sensor values. The microcontrollers are managed and polled by the Raspberry Pi over serial traces.

“We chose Arduino platform because it is well understood and we wanted to encourage folks to improve and tweak the firmware the device runs,” says Cole.

The Arduinos can examine and ballot I2C sensors, analogue sensors, and specialty sensors like LEGO’s ultrasonic sensors.

The BrickPi has an have an effect on unit that allows you to energy the BrickPi and Raspberry Pi with a battery (barely than the equivalent outdated wall plug), so you possibly can even make cell robots. The Raspberry Pi, with two USB ports, helps WiFi and Bluetooth to make your robotic wi-fi.

The BrickPi connects 5 sensors and 4 motors utilizing LEGO’s easy-to-attach sensor cabling system. It furthermore incorporates an enclosure that LEGO technical elements, sensors and motors may probably be associated to.

BrickPi as a robot arm
BrickPi as a robotic arm

“We have put a lot of work into the software package for the Raspberry Pi as well. This includes easy-to-follow examples for robotic cars, turrets, tanks and arms. We have drivers for ‘C,’ Python and MIT’s graphic language Scratch. The beauty of the hardware architecture and the Raspberry Pi is that any language that runs on the Raspberry Pi can be used to control a student’s robot,” says Cole.

All of those decisions, working collectively, enable college faculty college students to shortly and simply put collectively a robotic that may very well be Web-controlled, USB-enabled and language-neutral.

Challenges confronted

To supply you this type of a platform, the workforce would possibly wish to have confronted a wide range of challenges. Cole shares, “We got a lot of great feedback from our backers on the KS site. They requested a few basic changes. Mid-campaign, we redesigned the entire BrickPi, basically doubling the functionality, improving the power system and opening it up to a lot of other sensors and projects, all while holding the price down. We were really proud of ourselves for redeveloping the whole thing in a two-week timespan.”

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