2019 in retrospect for Anton’s Mindstorms

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Here’s an overview of MINDSTORMS tutorials and models I did in 2019. It’s been a year of great growth for me, although I didn’t spend as much time building with LEGO as I wanted to. Most of my time went into editing videos, coaching kids and answering online questions.

The MINDSTORMS EV3 tutorials

2019 was the year of YouTube tutorials. I saw my kids learn so much from YouTube that I decided to contribute some lessons myself. These tutorials took most of my time.

Synchronizing two motors in a continuous motion

I started explaining some concepts I struggled with for a long time when building robots. It’s only recently that I discovered how to tackle sync problems properly. This video explains how to synchronize a wavy motion.

EV3-G: Finding the lowest number in a list

Arrays are a powerful part of EV3-G. I explained my FLL team how they could use arrays to find the lowest number in a list. This came in handy to make an FLL robot accelerate and decelerate smoothly. The resulting myblock was nice and versatile, so I decided to make a video about it. The FLL kids got the concept, but I fear the video was to advanced for the general public.

Stopping motors exactly to the degree

People often complain that the EV3 is imprecise. However, it needn’t be if you program it right. I shared my simple hack for perfect EV3 motor precision in this video.

Starting and stopping EV3 motors together, even if they run to different angles

I expanded on the concept of synchronisation of motors. Here I’m showing how to start and stop EV3 motors together when going different distances. With this trick you can make complex manoeuvres on two-wheel robots, animated robot fish and make quadruped walkers.

Inserting wires in a vertical plotter

Not software development, but a necessary skill if you work with vertical plotters: inserting the wires right. This was hard to show in the building instructions, so I made a video.

How to make MINDSTORMS building instructions

I used to struggle with LEGO Studio — formerly stud.io and Bricklink Studio. As I build more models and the program got more features, I got more fluent with it. Studio is still more geared toward stacking studded LEGO, not studless. With some tricks, however you can make really nice MINDSTORMS building instructions.

Sumo table painting in 90 minutes

For a local SUMO competition I built a table. I used LEGO in the painting process, so I decided to share a video of it too. This sumo table painting technique saved me a lot of time and led to a really neat ring.

Motor Power Demystified

There’s a lot of confusion about speed, current and power in EV3-G. I wanted to clear that up because I think robot makers should use regular SI physics units. It will help in their future careers.

Synchronizing lizard legs

More synchronization concepts in robot programming, this time specifically for synchronzing the legs of a walking Lizard. It builds on the earlier sync tutorial.

EV3 Remote control: PS3 gamepad

I’ve always been interested in remote control. The airplanes in the back of my videos are there because of my rc hobby. So I’ve spent a lot of time finding out how to connect a gamepads to the EV3 brick. I hope kids will enjoy their robots more with great remote control.

Building instructions: adding cables

Adding flexible elements to building instructions is the hardest part. It’s not possible in Studio. But Studio uses the open Ldraw format. So you can import and export to LDCad and add the flexble parts there. That’s great for adding cables to LEGO MINDSTORMS building instructions.

EV3 Remote control: Android app

The last tutorial of the year was a remote controlled race car. In 2012 I wrote my own remote control app for Windows Mobile 6. In 2019 I got my first Android phone and now I’m discovering great apps. The app I used in this video sends joystick data to EV3 bluetooth mailboxes and is really easy to set up.

Product previews

I don’t get many products to review (yet?). The only one I got was a SPIKE Prime pre-release. I was under NDA and couldn’t show everything I got, but I made two videos nonetheless.

The MINDSTORMS and Technic models with building instructions

I normally design 4-5 models per year. In 2019 I designed less models than average. The models below may still look like a lot, but I designed them mostly in 2018 and produced building instructions in 2019. I think it’s because I did more tutorials than usual. I also put a lot of time in Pybricks and SPIKE Prime. Because Pybricks and SPIKE aren’t released yet, I couldn’t publish the models I built for these projects. So 2020 has a lot of new models to bring.!

Forest Lizard Remix

I was lucky to be selected for a Robot Remix and I was asked by LEGO to build this Forest Lizard. I used only parts from the base mindstorms 31313 set and the 42080 forest harvesting machine .

Forest Mechsuit

This model started as some kind of joke. Nobody – including me – believed I could build this. So I went ahead and tried anyway. It was a very popular model at LEGO World in Copenhagen! This EV3 Mechsuit combines MINDSTORMS and pneumatic cylinders.

Plot SVG with EV3 MINDSTORMS vertical plotter

This is not a real new model, however I expanded the capabilities of my vertical plotter with SVG parsing. Now you can plot any logo or other SVG file!

Balancing BB-8 head Building instrucions

I still have to put up these building instructions for sale somewhere. I haven’t found the time to set up a shop. You can contact me if you’re interested however.

TMC Dumont building instructions

This model was standing on my shelf for a year, until I needed the parts from it. Time to make building instructions for this TMC Dumont motorcycle. It’s an awesome bike design by Tarso Marques. The video also includes programming instructions.

EV3 Remote control: race car

I think cars should go fast. This is pretty hard with MINDSTORMS EV3 since the motors are geared down and have a torque limit that is safe for children. However, I got this EV3 car to drift with some neat programming tricks.

The numbers

Considering all of my effort for producing content, I had expected somewhat better numbers for 2019. Facebook and Instagram have grown quickly, YouTube not so much. And with all of the COPPA stuff, the future of YouTube looks bleak. In any case the conclusion is: don’t this kind of stuff to earn a living. Get a real job. It is has only been costing me money so far. The biggest benefit is meeting great like minded people and getting thanks from the community.

Even if I frame this website as a hobby for myself, instead of a side-business, it’s still underperforming: If I buy computer games, my target is to have at least on hour of fun per Euro spent. Making MINDSTORMS tutorials and building instructions doesn’t even meet that target.

Anton’s Mindstorms in 2019 – income and spending

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Social media in numbers

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Happy 2020!

I made double the amount of videos in 2019 than in 2018. Depending on my personal joy and motivation I might keep that up in 2020. You would motivate me if you’d support AMH on patreon and invite your friends to my YouTube channel or Facebook page. For 2020 I’m looking for a way to cooperate with environmental organizations, so your support for Anton’s Mindstorms can go directly to them. That would be a huge motivator me too!

I wish you a very happy 2020 with lots of making, learning, sharing and robots!

Anton.

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