Advanced Programming with LEGO® NXT

Advanced Programming with LEGO® NXT
Advanced Programming
with LEGO® NXT MindStorms
Presented by Tom Bickford
Executive Director
Maine Robotics
Advanced topics in MindStorms
 Loops
 Switches
 Nested Loops and Switches
 Data Wires
 Program view and Help options
 Display
 Math
 Variables
 Flat view versus Expanded view
 The block menus
The Loop
 The loop provides an opportunity to repeat any of the
instruction blocks inside the loop
 The loop will stop here in this line until the condition of the
loop is true
 Conditions:
 Forever (endless loop)
 Sensor (example: Do an activity until the touch is pushed)
 Time (loop for 20 seconds)
 Count (loop 8 times)
 Logic (loop while variable < 10)
The Loop, go in a square
 Go straight
 Turn (0.6 rotation on simple NXT = 90° turn)
 Repeat 4 times
The Loop, sensor
 Pick a sensor for the loop (in this case touch)
 The loop will continue until the condition is true (pushed,
released, or bumped for a touch sensor)
 This program will say “Hello”, “Goodbye” over and over until
the touch sensor is pushed
The Switch
 Switches allow for conditional assessments of the NXT
 Conditions:
 Sensor (all the usual to pick from)
 Value (logic, number or text)
 If the condition is true, then do the
top line of programming
 If the condition is false, then do the
bottom line of programming
 Equivalent to an IF THEN command
 Switches ask the question only once.
To continually ask if the condition is
true you must imbed in a LOOP
The Switch, terrarium control
(switch nested in loop)
 Using a temperature sensor inside a terrarium and a 9 volt
motor (LEGO or otherwise); this program will turn on an
exhaust motor to keep the terrarium temperature moderate
 This loop is set to infinite
 Temperature Switch
 IF temp > 100° then turn on
motor, ELSE don’t
The Switch, remote control
(switch nested in loop)
 By holding the NXT in the hand and having
a wire leading to the chassis, you can use
the NXT buttons as sensors, shown here.
 IF the orange ENTER button is pressed,
then the motors run forward, ELSE stop
 NOTE: set motor control to infinite. Most
programming blocks will stop the program
until the block is complete. So don’t use
“go 1 rotation” or you’ll have to wait for
the rotation to finish before reading for the
switch condition again.
Remote Control
(Multiple nested switches)
 What if you want to use the arrow keys to turn right and left
and the enter key to go forward and a touch sensor if you
want to go backwards?
 You use multiple nested switches inside of a loop
 IF right arrow, turn right
 ELSE if left arrow, turn left
 ELSE if enter button, go straight
 ELSE if touch sensor on 1, go back
o ELSE shut off motors
Remote Control
(Multiple nested switches)
 As you start to nest multiple loops and
switches inside of each other you find that the
program gets “away from you” visually. You
can no longer see it all.
 Each switch splits the screen in half and gets
smaller and smaller (or the empty space gets
bigger and bigger)
 Use the Lower Right help/view window
(question mark/magnifying glass) to see all of
the program. Click around to see parts that
aren’t shown on the major screen.
Switches and Flat View
 Switches can have Flat View disabled, and each
condition for the switch will then have a tab at
the top of the block
 Not a big saver in small programs but a life
saver in large programs
 Toggle the tabs to see the different sections of
code inside the block sections
 You can nest switches inside other switches,
but you have to display flat view to see it
Turning on/off Flat View
 Each Switch has a FLAT VIEW checkbox in the control area
for the switch
Data Wires
 We use Data Wires to pass
information around inside of a
program. This is easier than using
variables and accomplishes much of
the same function
 Data wires can go between blocks
and are connected at the Data
Terminals (normally hidden)
 Shown here are the same move
blocks with the Data Terminal hidden
and shown
Press here to Press here to
Linking the Loop to the Motors
 Lets run a loop from 0 to 100
 And lets make the Motor Power level equal the Loop
counter (0 to 100) which would match the range of the
motor power level
You need to go to the LOOP block and click the “show
counter” option at the bottom
Now open up the motor Data Terminal and use the cursor
to click between the LOOPS counter button and the
motor speed control
Set the motor duration to 0.1 second
Now the robot will start at a stand still (count = power =
With each pass through (0.1 seconds) the count will
increase until you get to at least 20 (the motors won’t run
with minimal voltage) and then start to move, slowly at
first, then faster.
The program will continue until
count = power = 100, then stop
Finding your way in a big program
Program view
 Here we see a large program that is bigger than will display on
the screen. The white area is what is showing on the large
screen, the rest is not displayed. Simply click anywhere on this
small window and you will change what appears on the large
Using the HELP options
 Click on block, such as the MOVE block and then go to the
lower right where the help window is (click on ? If the
window shows the program outline.
 Don’t be afraid
to use the HELP
Help option
features, it is
Opens up the web browser with the help files
Display Block
 The display block is one of the more helpful programming
You can display pictures, text, dots or lines
One thing you can’t display are numbers, so numbers have to
be converted to text prior to displaying
The display block is 100 pixels wide and 64 pixels tall
If you are displaying text, there are 8 lines of text
Display Block: Image
 You can select which of the images to show on the display and
where to position the top left corner of the image
 You can also tell it to clear the screen before displaying the
current image
Display Block: Text
 You can type in what text you want to appear on the screen and
which line you want it to be written on (total of 8 lines)
 You can also tell it to clear the screen before displaying the
current text is written
Display Block: Drawing
 You can draw on the screen as well and you have 3 choices: point,
line or circle
 You can also tell it to clear the screen before displaying the
current text is written
 Drawing on the screen is a useful way to show data from sensors
Display Block
Showing values from a sensor
 Here we take a LIGHT SENSOR
block (found under the Complete
 Connect it to a NUMBER TO TEXT
 Connect that to a DISPLAY block’s
Text data terminal
 You have to tell the Display block that
you want to display TEXT and which
line you want to display it on
Display Block
Showing different images
 Here is a LOOP with a touch sensor
 If touched it will show a smiley face
 If not touched it will show a frown
Display using multiple display blocks
 Here we use one block outside of the loop to write “light value” on
line 4
 Then we keep writing the value of the sensor at the end of line 4 and
we get:
 “light value 39” on line 4
Using Display to show sensor data
 Using a loop, we build a program that graphs a vertical line, whose height is equal to the
light sensors’ value divided by 2 (LS is from 0-100, but display only shows 0-64)
And we use the count value of the loop for our x axis position (0-100)
Each pass draws a vertical line from y=10 to y=10+value with x=count
There is also a pause/wait in each pass to make the information useful. We can set the
timer to any amount depending on if we want to measure for a minute or a day or a week.
The blocks at the beginning simply give us vertical grid lines as reference with 10 pixels
between them (or 20 points on the 0-100 LS scale)
The Math Block
 The math block allows us to
do the following:
Absolute Value
Square Root
 Values can be put in at the
program OR taken from
other blocks in the program
(sensors, counts, variables,
Shown here: The value of the light
sensor is being divided by 2, then the
value would be available on the outside
of the Math block by connecting to the #
data terminal
Range Block
 You can use the Range
Block to select a course of
action if a value falls within
a certain range.
 It doesn’t do anything by
itself and must be paired
with two things
 An input number and
 An output logic value
 This program reads the value
on the light sensor and checks if
it is in a certain range
 If it is it plays a note otherwise
it doesn’t
 Go to Edit and DefineVariables under
the menu at the top of the page
 Select Create from the pop up
window and give the variable a
name. On the example to the right
we’ve name it “LightValue” and set it
to a Number type (could also be
Text or Logic)
Variables in the Program
 In this program we see
TWO strands running at
the same time
 The lower strand is looping
and assigning the value of
the LS to the variable
“LightValue” and
 The upper strand is looping
and displaying the value of
the variable in the NXT
Switches with multiple discrete options
 In this example, the NXT will receive
a Bluetooth text message and feed this
as a value to a Switch
 The Switch has been defined with
multiple text messages to compare
this value to (forward, back, left,
right, and stop)
 In order to define multiple switch
options you MUST deselect the flat
view, then use the + or – options to
add or delete options
 You should select one of the values as
default (no new value), in this case we
selected stop
The Complete Pallette
 There are six sub menus on
the Complete palette
 Common Palette
 Action Palette
 Sensor Palette
 Flow Palette
 Data Palette
 Advanced Palette
Common Palette
 The seven common palette
blocks are:
 Move
 Record/Play (don’t use)
 Sound
 Display
 Wait for
 Loop
 Switch
Action Palette
 The five action palette
Send message
Lamp (can use motor as
 Most of this can be
accessed through the
common palette, although
there are slight differences
Sensor Palette
 The nine sensor blocks:
Touch sensor
Sound sensor
Light sensor
Distance sensor
NXT buttons
Rotation sensor
Receive message
 All of these are used as data
sources for other parts of
your program
Flow Palette
 The four Flow blocks are:
 Wait
 Loop
 Switch
 Stop program
 The stop program block can be
used any where in the program
to end the whole program
Data Palette
 The seven Data blocks
 Logic
 Math
 Compare
 Range
 Random
 Variable (read and write)
 Constant
Advanced Palette
 The 10 Advanced blocks
Number to text
Keep alive
File access
Calibrate sensor
Reset motor
Start data-logging
Stop data-logging
Bluetooth connection
Compass sensor
Image files
 The NXT-g software (MindStorms) uses RIC image files, which
is a raster based image format.
 NXTRICeditV2 is available on line to edit your own images
 These image files need to be in the program file directory
/engine/pictures in order to be automatically available with
the Display block
Sound files
 The sound files used by the NXT are RSO files
 There is a utility called WAV2RSO that is available to convert
WAV files to RSO and RSO to WAV files
 This would allow students to record their own sounds for use on
the NXT
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