Thank you, Paper Plus Parnell - the most honest shop I know

, posted: 11-Dec-2012 17:25

Sometimes a small act can restore so much faith in humanity. I had one of those experience today after I lost my iPhone 5 last night in Parnell. Please see my post in the forum from early today. Thank you to Paper Plus in Parnell for reuniting me with my iPhone 5.If you are driving back from work, drop in at Paper Plus. they got a 25% off EVERYTHING sale. They are open till 9:00PM tonight. Go and talk to William the store owner. We need more people like him in this planet to make this a better place.Thanks William for your honesty and returning my iPhone. It had some very precious photos that was not backed up in iCloud and I am very grateful that I got it back.If you got iPhone 5, (and if you have not done so already) turn on Find iPhone app and set it up. It will save your a$$ one day. (read the entire post)...

After the Tornado: How did Telecom help (and not help) to get my Internet back

, posted: 10-Dec-2012 09:49

Houses in my street in Hobsonville lost their Internet on Thursday afternoon. I got it back yesterday after three days. I thought I will do a quick post about my experience with Telecom (bad and good).Gripes- Telecom network status never acknowledged an outage. Every time you click on the number to get an broadband status, you get a message, "There are no known problems with the network". It would have been useful to have a message about the problem and an ETA of how long it is likely to be down so that people can mitigate against it.- Broadband helpdesk is shocking at how they respond to a call. I guess some people cant deviate away from the set call centre script and use common sense to deal with a difficult situation. I had families from all over the world trying to email us to see if we were OK after the tornado hit our area - but the members of our family had no way to respond [I was the only one with mobile Internet and I was away most of the weekend].- Ringing Faults and ringing 123 always ended up in being put back to the shocking Broadband helpdesk - more on that later. Ringing up customer service and telling them I need some compensation / temporary solution to get my Internet back (as I work from home) got no sympathy. I was told that it was a natural disaster and I just have to wait for it to be fixed. I said the Internet went down 3 hours after the tornado - but she just put me through to the shocking broadband helpdesk!!And as for the Broadband Helpdesk, I guess the problem with housing your first line help desk in the Philippines (or any foreign country) is that the person answering the call is not not tuned into the mood of the county. They have no knowledge of any storm / mini natural disaster / panic. A simple question like, "Can you please tell me when the broadband connection at Hobsonville will be back. It went down just after the storm" get a response like, "Do you mean your dial up connection in intermittent?, which lights are flashing on your modem?"On a positive sideWhen I got sick of not getting anywhere after three days of down time and talking to the same helpdesk that religiously followed the same script, I asked to be put through to the Complex Internet team at Telecom. I was not expecting much given it was Sunday - but...The difference in user experience was like chalk and cheese. The very friendly girl ( I think her name was Makayla) explained the problem in plain English. She empathised with my pain and dealing with the tornado and apologised for the down time. She had no problems giving more technical explanation when asked for (something about how the Whenuapai exchange lost power on Thursday, and the power company restored power at 7:30PM - but when the power was restored they had issues with DSLAM and one of the cards (which my DSL line connects to). The card did not come back online properly ... upon power restore). Why could n't the broadband helpdesk tell me anything like this?She contacted the technician team fixing the problem while I waited and quickly came back to me and told me the status of the issue (that they have restored the DSL line but my Internet is still down) - unlike the Broadband helpdesk guy who promised to call me back when he finds out from level 2 and never bothered to on Thurs / Fri / Sat!She remotely reset my modem - Unlike the Broadband helpdesk guy who told me to go and find my modem (which was was sitting in the loft) and make me unplug the modem and count to 30 seconds and plug it back on and watch the lights and tell him what I see!!She remotely monitored the modem status upon reset - Unlike the Broadband helpdesk guy who told me to go and to watch it for 5 minutes and tell him which lights were coming back on and which order!!Most importantly she fixed my Internet by doing a port reset on the DSLAM card! If you are one of the 1,000 or so people in Hobsonville and Whenuapai still waiting for Telecom to restore your broadband - I hope you get your connection back ASAP. (read the entire post)...

New iPhone announced - but Not for preorder in New Zealand until 28th October

, posted: 5-Oct-2011 07:59

I Went online early to catch the news regarding the new iPhone and iOS:

I like the new (US) price-points of the new Apple iPhone 4S.

[The comparison of the old iPhone vs the new one courtesy of Verge].

The iPhone will probably sell for around $600 (my guess) in New Zealand. Unfortunately pre-orders wont be available from Apple to start off with in New Zealand. However, the company will begin accepting pre-orders on October 7 for buyers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Germany and Japan the week after. I wonder if one of the carriers will sell it earlier here in NZ (In the past it has been just Vodafone - but this exclusivity is unlikely to continue).

The new iPhone is also a proper world phone - so it will work with both CDMA and GSM. It has the same A5 [Edited - Thanks Chiefie] chip as my iPad 2 and a 8Mega pixel camera and extra GPS features (and hence apps that take advantage of it).

The main thing I am looking forward to playing with is the Siri personal assistant (only available in the new iPhone) as well as the new revamped MobileMe - the iCloud. I been playing with iCloud Beta already with the new operating system on the iPhone - the iOS 5 Beta - and there will be lots of new applications that will leverage it - and the days of you syncing your iPhone with your PC or Mac via iTunes becomes less and less important when you got a cloud storage that is accessible everywhere and sync'ed with all your devices (assuming you also have an iPad).

What if you got an old iPhone? Apple has made the new iOS free for existing iPhone (and iPad users) and be available for download next week. Or if you are registered for the Beta - you can download the Gold master (GM) version of IOS 5 later today [I tried it and the Apple site said "We will be back soon" when I tried it. (Edit: The GM version is now downloadable for registered developers].

The Pre-orders for New Zealand will start on the 28th October. (read the entire post)...

Creating the ultimate chill-out room for a geek

, posted: 29-Sep-2011 11:40

Do you have a chill-out room where you unwind after a hard day's work? Do you have your own space in your house to escape to when your kids are being a pain?

With the Rugby World Cup on, I find myself spending more and more time in my chill-out room, and I thought it was time for an update of the hardware and sound gear.

1. Hi-fi / Sound

I started with the Hi-Fi especially because it was the oldest component I had in my set up - especially the Mission Cyrus 782 main speakers and the JBL Control 2 surround speakers. After spending a lot of time listening to many new speakers in specialist Hi-Fi shops, I could not find any that sounded better than the ageing speakers I already had. More importantly, None of the speakers I listened to gave me that same excitement and emotion that I had when I chose the hand built Mission Cyrus 20 years earlier when I was a student. The new Mission speaker range (as well as some Audiolab, Wharfedale speakers I listened to) - all sounded clinical and mass produced.

A quick Google search revealed that many of the old British high end audiophile companies (including Audiolab, Quad, Mission, Wharfedale and Castle Acoustics) are now taken over and they all come from the same production line in Shenzhen, China. I do not have any problems with things made in China - but the speakers lacked the soul the older models from these brands used to have.

In the end I ended up at Harvey Norman and while my wife was looking for a furniture set, I sneaked out to the Electronics section and stumbled on the Theophany speakers. I have never heard of this Christchurch based speakers - it was not long before the surprisingly knowledgeable Harvey Norman sales guy had me standing in front of the speaker set up with a demo CD and I found my self rediscovering the same excitement I had when I chose my last speakers and Amp all those years ago.

The Theophany M3's I just bought is discontinued model. The new range they have are better looking and they don't have the up-pointing mid range drivers (checkout the Theophany web site). However, I kind of like the older design. If you are lucky you might still be able to find one from some of the bigger Harvey Norman's.

Also the guys at Theophany are fantastic - and the founder, Garth Murray talked to me on the phone about how best to set it up - including how I could bi-wire it to the amplifiers to get better sound and how to position it - which I did. He also gave me a three year warranty extension free and sent me some docs by email. [In the end I used separate outputs for from the Amp to drive the tweeters and the mid range].

With the sound stage set-up, I was somewhat constrained by the electronics / gadgets and furniture I had in my chill-out room - In the end I positioned the speakers so my seating was about 3 meters from my head - and it sounded absolutely amazing. I added the Rel Sub Woofer (black box under the table in the main picture at the top) I already had - and the deep bass complemented the extensive dynamic range of the Theophany's. It works great - regardless of whether I was pumping my music iTunes library, TV or Gaming.

2. Computers

I thought it is time to retire the year old i7 Dell Studio desktop running Windows 7 /8 Ultimate. I replaced it with Apple Mac Mini (2.7GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 / 8GB memory / 256GB SSD Drive / 750GB SATA Drive. The best thing about the Mac Mini is that it is really quiet compared to the Dell or my HP tablet.

The Mac Mini came with the new Lion operating system. Having been a Windows user for 20 years, I really struggled making the switch to Mac OS - but having had an iPad2 softened the learning curve a bit.

However, In the end I really missed my Outlook and Office 2010 - so I bought VMWare Fusion 4 ($48). It took about two hours to migrate my old Microsoft Virtual PC image on my Dell to the VMWAre on the Mac - all my old applications worked just as before - if not better. I like how the VM applications and Mac applications integrate in the same desktop unlike VM's under Windows. You can have it so when you click on a link in your Outlook email, it opens the link in Safari in the Mac so you can keep all your Web History / Favourites in one location.

The only thing I have not been able to get to work on the Mac is the Hauppauge HVR-900H HD TV tuner. The EyeTV has issues recognizing my tuner on the Mac. The TV tuner is the only app I am running on the Dell - and as soon as I find a way to make the TV tuner work on the Mac, I will free up the Dell and put it in the living room so my teenage boys can play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3.

And as for display - I wanted to buy the new Apple Thunderbolt monitor - but thought it was a bit overpriced. Given my head is about 1 m from the screen I wanted a 28: / 32" display. In the end I settled (read the entire post)...

Good Bye, Snorkel the Hippo (who just died at Auckland Zoo) - [shot with Canon EOS 550D in HD]

, posted: 2-Oct-2010 13:38

My three year old is devastated when she heard of the old hippo being put down at Auckland Zoo.

Here is the last time I filmed the hippo:

... Plus it gives me a chance to show off the capability of the new Canon EOS 550 Digital SLR camera

The video was shot using the movie mode at 50 frames per second. Now I just need to learn to use manual focusing like those professional wild life cameramen!

(read the entire post)...

Cut cables in West Auckland: How am I going to survive for 4 days without my broadband?

, posted: 23-May-2010 07:18

I woke up yesterday, got out of bed and realized we were without power and water. I could not light the fire either as I had no matches.... It is going to be a one of those mornings...

Thats cool - I got contingencies in place: I turned on my backup power - and plugged my ADSL wireless router into it and turned on my laptop....

But You guessed it: the internet was down too and so were the phone lines.

Soon the power came back on... The water started dribbling with lots of noise - and then fully back on [Must have had a frozen water main - it was a freezing cold night!] But still no phones or internet.

Rang Telecom using my mobile - the only Telecom number I knew by heart (0800 GetXtra) and spoke to a girl in their call centre on the other side of the planet who not only could not pronounce my name but refused to put me through to faults without asking me a dozen retarded questions.... Then she hung up on me.

On my second attempt, I eventually got through to a nice friendly person in Telecom faults. who told me I am one of large number of households that are affected by a cut cable.... and Telecom Technicians are working on it and that I am likely to be down without phone / broadband / alarm monitoring for another four days.... [It will be back on by Tuesday night I think she said]

But I work from home I said. And I am working right through this weekend on a cloud roll-out! How can I project manage it if no one can get hold of me?

She kindly offered to divert all my land calls to my Vodafone mobile at Telecom's expense.

She said she will get Telecom Broadband to call me. Not sure what they can offer. A temporary Telecom mobile connection? It is Sunday morning and I am still waiting....

I am not impacted too much - but I do feel sorry for my elderly neighbour who wears a panic pendent around her neck linked up to Telecom. What happens if she has a fall or something? Must go and visit her today to make sure she is OK.....

In the mean time, I thought I will try the tethering feature of my Vodafone account which I never had to use before:

It was amazingly easy to set up - Just plugged my mobile, selected a popup on my E72-1 to 'Connect my PC to Web', and a message box came up straight away on my PC asking me if I wanted to install 'the Nokia PC internet Access'. Within 30 seconds, I had the app installed and the tethering setup screen came up... And all I had to do was to press the Connect button - and it used my Nokia mobile VF-NZ connection setting I had on the phone to link up to the Internet. Very impressive!

Been online for an an hour so far. Did a Windows Update, synced my exchange folder with my Outlook, and caught up with the latest from the Herald site and Geekzone site.... did this blog post.... Used up and only used up 5MB so far!
(read the entire post)...

Two great Robotic events in NZ!!

, posted: 4-Sep-2009 10:46

If you are in New Zealand and of school age and have access to a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT kit, then this should be of interest to you:

There are two robotic events coming up - First one is this Saturday:

The teams will be competing for trophies in Robot Rescue, Robot Dance and Robot Soccer.

More details (including registration info / costs etc.) in here.

I spoke to Mildie Meyer-Els from Toshiba (sponsor) - who has been working really hard getting everything organised. She is expecting big things this year. With over 100 teams competing on the day (of which 55 will be competing for the Auckland titles and the rest competing against the Auckland winners for the national Competition in the afternoon), this should be an exciting event tomorrow. I will certainly be there - feel free to twitter me at the event if you want to meet up.

The second one is still three months away -

but if you are interested you should register ASAP: FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is quite a well known robotics competition held in the U.S, and many international teams compete every year. However, this is the first time schools (and individuals 9-16) can take part in FLL in NZ.

More details (including registration info / costs etc.) in here. I spoke to Jason Kyle from Kiwi FIRST who is organising this pilot event. They are expecting about 24 teams working on challenges that transform the way we look at transportation. Jason told me that the trust has made available some loan MINDSTORMS NXT 9797 sets for schools that are new to robotics. They have also structured the fees differently from other parts of the world to make it more affordable for schools with multiple teams from same school who can practice with the same challenge set.

I hear Geekzoners outside Auckland screaming "what about us?":

For the Robocup the regional finals (in Wanganui, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago) are already complete and the winners from each event will be competing on Saturday in the above event in the afternoon.

For the FLL, Kiwi First Pilot runs only in Auckland this year. However, if you are in the provinces and interested in taking part next year, get in touch with Jason via the web site - so events can be planned accordingly.

So if you are in NZ, and you are into NXT robotics - please get involved: If you are of school age, you can talk to your school about taking part (if you are not already). If you are an adult, consider volunteering to do some mentoring with the kids and help out with your local schools. Trust me - it is great fun!

(read the entire post)...

Do you want to win $30 million from Google?

, posted: 9-Aug-2009 04:54

We all seen the Google Lunar X PRIZE $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, transmit video, images and data back to the Earth. It is really exciting. But are we in with a chance?

To win the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a team must create a rocket to take us to the moon, a craft to navigate on the lunar surface and survive long enough to complete the mission goals of roaming about the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending a defined data package, called a "Mooncast", back to Earth. Additional tasks includes imaging man made artefacts (e.g. Apollo hardware), discovering water ice, and surviving through a frigid lunar night!

The problem with this competition is that most ordinary people here in NZ don't have the deep pockets and the access to technology to actually put together something like this to win this challenge.

So my kids and I were delighted when X PRIZE Foundation, Google and LEGO announced the new Moonbots challenge on Friday. The new contest will challenge small teams comprised of children and adults to design, program, and construct robots that perform simulated lunar missions similar to those required to win the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE.

First my children and I set up a team and started work on our first prototype. The first attempt was very encouraging - we managed to create an autonomous robot that can roam around inside a crater of the moon without hitting the edges of the crater. [We used our pool to do the testing].

Here is the video of our first attempt:

I will keep you all posted as me and the kids work on this and the design evolve in the coming weekends. In the mean time, subscribe to to be notified when the contest officially begins.

If you want to enter, click here:

(read the entire post)...

New Robotics Kit from LEGO MINDSTORMS

, posted: 27-Jul-2009 13:49

Couple of months ago I blogged about the new LEGO MINDSTORMS kit production line - including some rare pictures of the NXT kits being boxed for the August 1st launch.

Next week, LEGO officially launches the new version of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT.

For me personally, this is exciting news. I am one of the handful of LEGO MINDSTORMS Community Partners (MCP) from around the world (and the only one from New Zealand!). The MCP's have been involved in the development cycle of the NXT 2.0 right from the start, and have been instrumental in helping LEGO define many of the features LEGO have added to the product.

More on how YOU can also become an MCP and help LEGO with the future of NXT robotics later in the post below....

More about the New LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0

I made this video (with the help of my two year old) of the new kit in action which pretty much sums up what you can do with the new Robotics kit:

Click below:

The LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT 2.0 set has a bigger and revised element assortment of 619 elements, 16 building and programming challenges for 4 new fun and action-packed robotic models complete with building instructions [plus 10 more you can download shortly]

The new hardware mix consist of an NXT micro-controller, 3 Interactive Servo Motors - with built-in Rotation Sensors, 1 Ultrasonic Sensor, 2 Touch Sensors and the new Colour Sensor with triple functionality; it acts a Colour Sensor - detecting different colours, as a Light Sensor - seeing different light intensities and also works as a Colour Lamp.

Among the new software features there will be applications that makes it possible to make your robot display the images and play the sounds you want it to! There is also a Remote control application that allows for instant and direct control of your robot without any special programming needed.

Where can you get a NXT MINDSTORMS NXT from NZ?

The #8547 NXT 2.0 has just gone on sale at the LEGO Shop @ Home web site for you to pre-order. It cost NZ $499.99 plus shipping (about 8 -18 days depending on how much you are prepared to pay for shipping) - and have the brag factor of owning it before all your friends buy it from the shops in NZ in September.

The other outlets (e.g. / sell it for US$279 - but they don't ship to NZ.

Or you can wait till September and get it from the main LEGO TECHNIC retailers such as ToyWorld and save the shipping fees.

How you can become a LEGO® MINDSTORMS®Community partner?

Are You a Hardcore LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT User? Are you interested in robotics?

Do you want to have a seat in LEGO's closed web forum, the MINDSTORMS Community Partners (MCP), where LEGO® will involve you in their development and tests of new ideas, concepts, prototypes, products and discuss various issues around NXT SW, HW, FW and wetware…?

Then send an application via email with a description of yourself, your involvement with LEGO MINDSTORMS, your special areas of interest, and a paragraph on why you are eligible to be an MCP member!

Send it to with the header 'MCP 4 application'.

Applications will be received from now and until 31 July 1200 GMT. All email applications received after this date will be rejected. Applicants must be 18 years old to apply.

Good luck and let me know how you get on with the new kit purchase (or the MCP application).

(read the entire post)...

The new 'V' energy drink Advert with Monster truck - And how to make your own

, posted: 2-Dec-2008 16:42

If you been watching the TV over the last few days, you would have spotted the new 'V' advert featuring a monster truck. The whole thing is done very cleverly: It starts off with an amateurish cameraman filming his two mates finding an unattended monster truck (+ remote) with a big 'V' bottle strapped to it (yeap! - a hidden message to Red Bull drinkers). They turn on the remote and try to figure it out and in the process destroy a car in the Mitre 10 car park in Wanaka.

Monster truck from the 'V' energy drink advert

Video of my NXT monster truck

The complete video, done with Windows Moviemaker style editing to give an impression that it was done with a mobile phone even mimicking the shakes and the amateurish titles.

The advert has a URL link which takes you to a blog which is a centerpiece of a cleverly executed viral marketing type campaign that is going to run by itself once a critical mass of people have seen it on TV, and people start sending the link of the YouTube video.

But I am pretty impressed by the whole thing - it pretty much tunes into its target market.

But being a geek dad, what impressed me even more is the concept of the Monster truck itself.

Would n't it be cool to build your own monster truck?

That is what I did over the weekend. Inspired by the advert, I decided to build a remote controlled monster truck robot:
The picture on the left is the real remote controlled monster truck from the advert, and the one on the right is the NXT version !

The only thing the NXT is doing in the truck is to provide power to the motors and act as a Bluetooth receiver for my my mobile phone I was using to control the robot!

To get the real feel of a Monster truck, I used 4 TECHNIC tractor wheels, and 4 PF-XL motors.

With 4 direct drive wheels, the vehicle can handle any terrain. The giant tractor wheels are amazing - it is great to watch it climb over rocks, mud and ride through long grass - that normal NXT robots struggle with.

Check out the video ...

Video of the NXT monster truck

In the coming weeks, I will be extending this vehicle with more autonomy, more features .....
(read the entire post)...

Making your own Wall-e with a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT

, posted: 27-Jun-2008 15:05

This weekend many people would be able to see the Disney Pixar film Wall-e in Europe and USA. The film about a robot that falls in love is one of the most creative to come out of the Disney-Pixar studio for a while.

To mark the release of the film, the oficial web site has a 'Build your own robot' section where you get to choose the looks / behavour / mobility etc.

And of course, if you got a NXT - you dont need to go to a web site to design a virtual robot. You can of course build your own real Wall-e! Well almost!! To get you started, here is some inspiration. This version, designed about a year ago was based on a leaked picture of the robot and it won one of the NXTLog building challenges last year. We had a lot of fun creating it - it can be built with the components from one NXT retail kit and one 2007 TECHNIC Bulldozer kit. If you want instructions on how to build it, check out the NXTLog instructions here. (read the entire post)...

Sumo Robot Contest [Including How To Videos]

, posted: 14-Dec-2007 13:02

As you wind down this Friday afternoon and thinking what to do over the weekend.... Have you ever considered building a robot and entering a Sumo robot contest? It is a great fun for both adults and children.
Robot sumo is one of the fastest growing sports around. Now if you own a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, you can join in as well:

The rules are simple - you need to build an autonomous robot that will fight with another robot. The objective is to push the opponent out of the ring or somehow disable the opponent by flipping or toppling him/her in the ring.

Well the nice folks at LEGO NXTLOG team together with some robotic enthusiasts from around the world has come up with a great idea: They are running a building challenge where MINDSTORMS NXT owners can design and submit a LEGO Sumo robot that could actually compete in a LEGO Sumo match.

And here is a twist: A panel of MINDSTORMS experts will build a select number of finalists. The finalist robots will compete in an exclusive LEGO Sumo match run by the MINDSTORMS experts. The NXT Sumo robot that wins the most rounds in the match will be declared the winner of the MINDSTORMS NXT Sumo Competition.

Unfortunately the deadline is this weekend. If you want to know the details of the Rules – here it is: Sumo Rules

To get started I have got some great guides:

(1) How to make a Sumo robot:
Checkout my guide in the LEGO web site that walks you through the five steps in creating your own Sumo robot
Building a Sumo robot

(2) How to make a Sumo ring Checkout my guide on how to build a simple Sumo ring so you can test your robot at home.

Building a Sumo Ring
(3) How to submit your entry

You got until Sunday morning NZ time to enter your robot.

Submitting your entry

If you are interested in setting up a local Sumo event in New Zealand, checkout this thread

If you want some inspiration, here is a fantastic video I did of Sumo robots that me and my children built fighting against each other. Are you up for it?

(read the entire post)...

New Zealand YouTube Channel - and what difference it makes to videos posted from NZ

, posted: 9-Nov-2007 07:33

You might have read about the new New Zealand channel for YouTube a couple of weeks ago in Geekzone.

Yesterday, I posted my first video since the channel launch. I was trying to figure out the value proposition of a new localised channel - both for the publisher of video content and for the consumer. I am still not sure if I get it from the point of view of the consumer of the content .

However, as a publisher, the difference is pretty easy to spot:

Within 24 hours of publishing the video, I see my video has 23 honours (including four #1 placements in various categories) !! I never used to get any placement in any honour list before the localisation.

Although it is nice - it makes me realize a few things about NZ Youtube content publishers.

What do you think? - Are you using the localised page or the normal global one? Have you found any difference to the page views you get after the localisation of your videos you posted?

Tim (read the entire post)...

Helen Clarke, Fireworks ban and how robots will save the day

, posted: 7-Nov-2007 21:54

If you been following the news during the last couple of days, you would have heard Helen Clark's warning that this year could be the last for fireworks at home. Yesterday Ms Clarke also complained about not being able to sleep in her home in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden - where she has likened the noise to war-torn Afghanistan.

So - I been working hard on Guy Fawkes day to come up with a solution: This is the autonomous robot so Helen Clarke can sleep at night again without having to worry about fireworks maiming, injuring and killing the person igniting fireworks.

Using a few LEGO pieces this robot creation would eliminate the need for family members to go close to the fireworks to light it: This autonomous NXT robot will light multiple fireworks in a sequence - while the family sits back and watch the display!!

It uses LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, two NXT light sensors (one for navigation and other to detect when the fuse is lit so it can clear away from the fireworks). It also has an Ultrasonic detector (to adjust the torch arm height depending on the height of the fireworks fuse wire). It uses three motors - two for motion and the third to control the height of the torch arm.

(read the entire post)...

Robotized bulldozer

, posted: 26-Sep-2007 14:28

What do you get when you cross a LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT with the new LEGO® TECHNIC 8275 bulldozer that has just hit the market?

This is it!!

It is a totally autonomous robotic bulldozer! The PF motors are totally controlled by the NXT via infrared signals.

The new HiTechnic 'Infrared Link' (or IR-Link) sensor adds the Infrared communication capability to the MINDSTORMS NXT.

You can see it scanning the environment with the Ultrasonic sensors and then flattening anything in its path using the Ripper and the blade .. checkout the following video :

(read the entire post)...

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What on earth is this?

, posted: 10-Sep-2007 09:23

What on earth is this?

It was last spotted on a North Shore beach near Auckland over the weekend .... And what is that Windows Mobile Device doing on it?.

Click here for answers....

(read the entire post)...

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A floating robot to destroy bugs in swimming pools

, posted: 22-Aug-2007 17:11

If you live in New Zealand and own a swimming pool, you might have noticed a large presence of floating bugs in your pool after the recent rain. My children and I designed a floating robot to combat these bugs in recent weeks.
The robot, called SPIT (Swimming Pool Insect Terminator) is a special self powered autonamous floating robot that locates and destroys small clusters of bugs that float on the top of swimming pools.
We used LEGO MINDSTORMS to build this. LEGO TECHNIC wheels are used as floats. The only non TECHNIC part that was used in this project is a can of inspect spray.
The robot uses the light sensor to detect the presence of insect cluster while the Ultrasonic sensor is used to avoid bumping into the side of the pool by telling the steering motor to turn. When the Light sensor detects a cluster of bugs it tells a motor to push the button on a can of Insect spray. Another motor is used to power the SPIT forward.

This is probably one of the hardest robots to design / construct and test as the water can damage the electronics very easilly. But we did it in the end and it actually worked!

If you want to see how to design your own SPIT, click here and follow the instructions and watch a video. All you need is a LEGO MINDSTORMS box and a can of insect spray.

If you got comments or suggestions for future projects, why not leave a comment below - Love to hear from you:

<<Read the full post>> (read the entire post)...

Atlast!! A new Geekzone forum for Robotics and LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT !!

, posted: 17-Aug-2007 13:04

Avid Geekzone forum users would have noticed that there is a new forum in Geekzone.

It has just been created and it is currently empty!

LEGO MINDSTORMS has been one of the geekiest and coolest toys many adults (and teenagers) have been playing with since its introduction late last year. The microprocessor (NXT) is so easy to integrate with - whether it is via USB or Blue tooth. Robots are so easy to build using the LEGO TECHNIC bits it comes with - whether it is a humanoid that moves with two legs, an animatronics robot, or a vehicle. It comes with three servo motors, and heaps of gears and stuff. It also comes with some cool sensors - an ultra sonic sensor / sound sensor / light sensor / touch sensor etc. You can also buy new compass sensor, infra-red sensor, colour sensor and gyro sensor made by HiTechnic and sold by LEGO. There will be more sensor coming soon - which I can't talk about yet. Please keep checking this blogs in coming months for more information on cool emerging sensors.

Why not use the new forum to tell us about your experience with the MINDSTORMS NXT? What is your coolest robot creation? What is the hardest thing that you ever had to do with the NXT? Have you tried to control the robot using your mobile phone / Windows Mobile using Bluetooth?

We love to hear from you!

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LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT - pick up a half price bargain today at DSE

, posted: 14-Aug-2007 16:15

Hi everyone,

Atlast here is my first proper entry in my Geekzone Blog!First a quick introduction:

I live in Auckland, NZ and I work for a software company in the banking sector. For entertainment, I am into robotics in a big way - My children and I spend a lot of our spare time designing and building robots with LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT.

I am also one of the 30 people from around the world selected by LEGO as an MCP (MINDSTORMS Community Partner). As a LEGO MINDSTORMS MCP, I have direct link to LEGO MINDSTORMS team in USA and Denmark and have access to exclusive information on LEGO robotics that I love to share with the Geekzone users from time to time. And if you have any technical queries on programming the NXT or getting the MINDSTORMS robot to do what you want it to do I might be able to help. I can also help you with linking up the NXT to all sorts of cool sensors and hardware including Windows Mobile via Blue tooth.

You can find out from the official LEGO MINDSTORMS web site.

Where can I get one?
You can buy one at your favourite toy store that sells TECHNIC and MINDSTORMS stuff. This include:
- Dick Smiths
- IQToys
- Toys 'R' fun

However, if you want a bargain (just for today), the best place to get one is from Dicksmiths Electronics - as they are having a sale. I understand the specials ends today. Ring your local Dicksmiths or visit the Dick Smiths MINDSTORMS page. At the time I posted this, they still had a few left in few of their stores.Remember the sale ends today!! Good luck!!!

If you missed out on the above offer - you can always get it from my store

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BlueToothKiwi's profile

New Zealand

I am a project manager / consultant that specialises in implementing cloud computing and Customer Relationship Management Systems. I also develop applications and especially interested in Smart tablet interfaces and Clouds.

I live in Auckland with my partner and four children. For fun, I am into robotics - My children and I spend a lot of time building robots with LEGO MINDSTORMS. I am also one of the 30 people from around the world selected by LEGO as an MCP (Mindstorms Community Partner).

My other interests include mobile devices and mountain-biking.