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Make LEGO Robot with Raspberry Pi Brains!
Works with Raspberry Pi A+, B, Pi 2 & Pi 3, Pi 4
Python 3 ready
PiStorms-v2 Base Kit
8GB SD Card with Ready to use PiStorms Image
Product Overview and Specs
You will also need power, we recommend one of these:
Buy the PiStorms-v2 Express Kit and save
(Includes PiStorms Starter Kit plus a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.)
Buy the WiFi Arduino Interface for PiStorms
Using this Board, write PiStorms Programs using Arduino IDE.
|For a limited time, take $5 off Raspberry Pi Camera Module|
Enter following Voucher code at checkout: OFF5PICAMERA
PiStorms is AWESOME
PiStorms is available as a base kit as well with incremental parts in two other variations to help you hit the road at your pace. I ordered the base kit which arrived several weeks ago. My order matched the shipping list. After assembling the base unit, I quickly ran the Hello World exercises without any hiccups.
The next step was to successfully test the MINDSTORMS TRACK3R missions using some of the key sensors and motors. But more importantly I found the Scratch mode very efficient since the initialization was done behind the covers and all the user had to do was to launch Scratch itself. The design principles behind all these features were well conceived.
The inaccessible power connection for the RPi board has been superseded by command(s) on PiStorms. Of course more prominent examples of these commands in the documentation would preclude unfounded end-user concerns which arise owing to unfamiliarity in driving higher current consuming devices through auxiliary power sources.
One other topic that I would like to mention is the superior support provided by Mindsensors especially to “newbies” like myself. The support team is very proactive and perhaps owing to experience in dealing with diverse audiences, the team is able to get customers back on track. My experience in this regard has been very positive since I had a self-inflicted struggle with the Epiphany web browser in RPi for downloads.
If you have a serious interest in LEGO MINDSTORMS sensors and, equally important, you want to be operational with a solution that matches the best in the market then PiStorms is for you in one of the three variations. You will be up and running very quickly with PiStorms. I, of course, will be busy testing the other sensors with PiStorms and working on other MINDSTORMS models through the familiar interfaces on a Raspberry Pi. I like the extensibility of the PiStorms hardware interfaces with a hierarchy of sensors. Now that’s a thought for more tinkering.
A lot of fun....
I got this with the intent of converting the robotics teams that I coach from EV3 to something real, and I think this will do the trick. I'm having a lot of fun learning how to use this so that I'll be able to teach it to 12 year olds.... so much fun that I may not lend them my unit! It is fully capable of doing everything that I previously did in EV3-G, but using Python. My kids have gotten to the point where writing in EV3-G has become cumbersome and slow. Once they know the syntax, writing in Python is significantly cleaner and faster. I haven't tried reading HiTechnic color sensors yet, but assume I can simply write functions for I2C.
Using the image provided by Mindsensors is extremely easy to get the unit up and running. However, my image did not have VNC start at boot as the documentation said. Some knowledge of Linux and RPi is helpful to get it communicating over VNC. The 3D printed mount is very nice with lots of mounting holes. Many of the holes are in the exact placement of the EV3 allowing one to swap out the EV3 and insert the PiStorms with little to no mechanical change. The menu system on the touch screen to launch programs is a great feature.
A few suggestions:
1. Better documentation. The examples are nice, but I believe the target audience is probably someone who has outgrown FLL or RoboFest using EV3's and is looking to convert a basic competition robot over to Pi without requiring new motors and sensors. Therefore, it would be very nice to have examples of common functions with comparisons to EV3-G. Basic driving to light sensor inputs, line following, etc. Nothing over the top, but maybe a side-by-side comparison of how it would be done in Python compared with EV3-G.
2. Better method for batteries. It would be great to sell an option for chargeable cells with a charging pigtail. Once this is in a robot, it's really difficult to get the batteries in and out to charge them. I'll build my own, but something like the rechargeable pack for the EV3 is nice where it can easily be charged in place. Also, my unit sometimes hangs at shutdown and I need to disconnect the batteries to kill power to the unit. Maybe a hard switch for this for times when the soft switch shutdown doesn't do the trick.
3. A better method to secure the shield on the Raspberry Pi. Maybe a few standoffs or something. It's quite floppy secured only by the header housing to the GPIO pins. If it's self-aligned, it would also help with my fear of not seating the shield on the correct pins and burning something out.
4. Easier access to the SD card. My fingers are too big to access it without having to unscrew the raspberry pi from the mount.
5. Some kind of audio feature would be nice. I teach the kids to add beeps and sounds as a way of debugging their programs. I miss having that in the PiStorms. Even a simple piezo buzzer would do the trick.
Well within 2 hours I have the screen printing Hello World and cycling the LED lights through different colors. Considering this is my first exposure to the PI or python, it is not too bad.
I think with some additional docs this could be a great alternative to the other controller choices. Nice job Mindsensors!