Who is this LEGO Robotics Engineer?

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I am a retired Electronics and Computer Data Systems Engineer. I was forced into retirement prematurely in 1995 due to failing health, which thankfully has stabilized, but I will never hold down a proper 9-5 job again. That said, I am always busy with charitable pursuits including First LEGO League Mentoring and Coaching, as well as teaching Primary aged students Robotic using the LEGO Mindstorms Platforms using several programming languages.
Me at Brixhibition Launceston 2014
Setting up the first of a number of interactive displays at Brixhibition, Launceston, Tasmania. 2014.
For a little over 8 years after I fell ill, I rarely raised a Soldering Iron or Multimeter Probe until I came across some LEGO Mindstorms Kits in a post Christmas Sale. Being an old LEGO Tragic, I decided to purchase a couple of LEGO Mindstorms RCX (RIS) Kits. Within hours I was hooked and began searching the Internet for a LEGO Mindstorms Community.

I live in Launceston, Tasmania, which is Australia´s Island State, situated at a latitude of approximately 40° South. Launceston is Tasmania's second largest city, situated in the Central North of the state. I am a member of the Tasmanian Brick Enthusiasts Inc., and display at the four main exhibitions the club stages yearly called Brixhibition.

To relax at evenings and at times when the weather is inclement, I enjoy building LEGO® Mindstorms Robotic Models. I currently I use all three generations of LEGO's Mindstorms Robotics Kits, including the latest version which was released in September 2014, the LEGO Mindstorms EV3. The EV3 is LEGO's third-generation Mindstorms kit, and to date the most powerful running a full headless Linux Operating System.

Next was the Lego Mindstorms NXT programmable robotics kit originally released by LEGO® in late July 2006. It replaces the first-generation Lego Mindstorms kit, which was called the Robotics Invention System. The base kit ships in two versions: the Retail Version (set #8527) and the Education Base Set (set #9797). These sets comes with the NXT-G programming software, but a variety of unofficial languages exist, such as NXC, NBC, leJOS NXJ, and RobotC. A new version of the set, the new Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0, was announced in January 2009, featuring a colour sensor and other upgraded capabilities. The NXT 2.0 set was officially released on August 1, 2009 (set # 8547).

I have a collection of EV3 programmable bricks, NXT programmable bricks, RCX programmable bricks, and a large collection of both LEGO and after market Sensors. I have over 75KG of LEGO Technics Parts to complement the NXTs. I also have 2x LEGO Mindstorms RCX Sets, along with expansion kits to match, which were the predecessor of the NXT.

As well as LEGO's Minstorms Controllers, I also use the Arduino family of Microcontrollers and the palm-sized Raspberry Pi micro-PC. I use the Arduino in conjunction with the Mindsensors NXT-Shield to interface to LEGO Mindstorms Sensors and motors. I also use stand alone Arduinos to Automate my LEGO Model Railway functions such as Point Derailment avoidance and auto shedding the Locomotives via a Turntable. I am also using RFID Tags to identify each individual Locomotive with the help of an Arduino to locate their position and control track selection to avoid collisions.

Another favourite is the BrickPi, which inconjunction with a Raspberry Pi allows th interfacing of LEGO Mindstorms Sensors and motors. The Raspberry Pi uses the Linux O/S which allows for on-board programming of your Robots with virtually any Programming Language you like including Python, C++, C# and JAVA.

Videos of my Lego Mindstorms Contraptions!

I regularly post videos to YouTube and Blog Articles about my Mindstorms Robots. I also contribute to several LEGO Mindstorms Forum and Websites. I was also the instigator in having Rotacaster Australia produce a line of LEGO Technic and Mindstorms compatible Omni-directional wheels developed from their Rotacaster Rollers and casters

My other interested include Natural History, Botany, Evolution, Cosmology, Physics, Electronics & Photography too name just a few.

[buy rotacaster]

I am also a user and lover of the Linux Operating System. I prefer to use the Linux Mint distribution which is a free operating system (OS) for your computer. It replaces Microsoft's Windows OS with an extremely secure and reliable Platform for  any user who's fed up with viruses and other security issues inherent with MS Windows. An operating system is the set of basic programs and utilities that make your computer run. Linux Mint uses the Linux kernel (the core of an operating system), but most of the basic OS tools come from the GNU project; hence the name GNU/Linux.

Linux Mint

The purpose of Linux Mint is to produce a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use.

Started in 2006, Linux Mint is now the 4th most widely used operating system among households around the globe, behind Microsoft Windows, Canonical's Ubuntu Linux and Apple Mac OS, which is Unix; the virtual parent of Linux. Linux will run on your Apple Mac as well!

Windows Sucks
Tux the Linux Penguin: Sucking the last breaths out of MS Windows.

Some of the reasons for the success of Linux Mint are:

  • It works out of the box, with full multimedia support and is extremely easy to use.
  • It's both free of cost and open source.
  • It's community-driven. Users are encouraged to send feedback to the project so that their ideas can be used to improve Linux Mint.
  • Based on Debian and Ubuntu, it provides about 30,000 packages and one of the best software managers around.
  • It's very safe and extremely reliable. Thanks to a conservative approach to software updates, a unique Update Manager and the robustness of its Linux architecture, Linux Mint requires very little maintenance (no regressions, no antivirus, no anti-spyware, .etc).
So What Is Stopping You Switching?

I run MS Windows XP as a Virtual Machine inside Linux to give me access to Adobes Photoshop and Lightroom. All the other programs I use, are the Linux equivalent of windows based programs for recording and editing Video & Audio, as well as a comprehensive Office Suite along with many, many others. The best of all they are all Free Open Source programs which work as well, and in many cases better than the MS Windows based machines.

95% of the computers that make-up the Internet are Linux Machines. No Linux! No Internet! And No Smart Phones and many, many other devices as well. There's a very good chance that Linux is at the heart of your car's computer system as well! Many of the Governments of the European Union Countries are now mandating that the computers used in all tears of Government, including Education must be Linux based. The Universities of the world would collapse with out Linux.

Linux Mint

Please consider giving Linux Mint a try!

It's a Free Alternative to MS Windows.

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