A brickobotik tinker project: the SPIKE breakout board

Guest Post by brickobotik:

LEGO Education ’s SPIKETM Prime is available on the market for more than one year by now. In our big test series, we presented in to you in detail. The Inventor 51515 which is the SPIKETM ’s home version, can also be bought by now. The software of both robots has reached a decent level. Earlier this year, we published our own e-book for the SPIKETM Prime Software that can be a helpful resource for everybody who still has questions about programming this robot. For people who like paperbacks more than digital e-books, we also sell it as a print-on-demand paperback on amazon.

At brickobotik, we nevertheless continue to work with the SPIKETM Prime. On the one hand, we use it in our workshops and teacher-trainings. On the other hand, we are also interested in the electro-technics of the SPIKETM Prime. Therefore, we give you a little insight in our „briokobotik craft corner“ and present a little project on which we currently work.

An adapter board for the ultrasonic sensor

Many of you probably noticed the two Torx screws on the back of the ultrasonic sensor in the SPIKETM Prime and the Mindstorms Inventor set which you can ‚t find on the other sensors. If you unscrew these two screws, you can remove the white ultrasonic sensor device so that only the black shell remains in your hand. Here, the cable of the LEGO Powered Up connector ends up in a female header. This 8-pin female header has a pitch of 1.27 mm which cannot be accessed easily with conventional Arduino cables. That is why we decided to develop an adapter that breaks out the 1.27 mm pitch to 2.54 mm which is the conventional dimension of the Arduino, perfboards, breadboards etc.

Technical details about the breakout board

There are six signals within the Power Functions 2.0 connection:

1x 3.3 V power supply
1x GND

 2x digital in-/output (GPIO), which can also be used for UART (115200 Baud, 8N1) Please note: The GPIOs do not supply enough current to operate the LEDs directly! A transistor circuit is necessary to supply an LED from the 3.3 V rail.

 2x PWM for the motors

Please note: The voltage of these signals is supplied directly by the SPIKE ’s battery! Aocording to our measurements it is between 8.4 V and 6.3 V.

Each GPIO signal is provided with a resistor in series that provides a minimal protection against wrong GPIO configurations. They can easily be bypassed with a solder bridge.

On the left and right side, the same signals are spread out. On one side, you find the two GPIOs together with the power rails and on the other side, you find the PWM signals with the power rails. The signal lines to the left and right do not only fan out to contacts of

2.54 mm pitch but also to contacts of 2.00 mm pitch for the Grove connector system.

The respective 3.3 V power supply lines are by default open solder bridges. In this way, two independent power supplies will not compete destructively if for example a Calliope mini or other microcontroller is used. The open solder bridges can be closed with a bit of solder if required.

New possibilities with the breakout board

With our breakout board, connecting and using other sensors and motors with the SPIKETM Prime becomes much easier. It also opens the possibility of connecting the SPIKETM to a microcontroller like the Calliope mini. But you should note one important constraint: projeots like these are primarily suitable for advanced users. The wiring as well as the programming needs experience with the electronics and the respective sensor protocols.

Technical details about the control

The Powered Up signals are directly controllable via the SPIKETM Prime app but only using Python projects and on one’s own account. There is no „UltrasonicBreakout“ Python module or something similar by LEGOO . Nevertheless, descriptions and instructions for the respective MicroPython classes and methods can be found in the internet. People with experience with other MicroPython devices, especially with operating the MioroPython REPL, can quickly familiarize with the necessary details.

Order your own adapter board!

At briokobotik, we are going to continue to work with the adapter board and test its conneotion to different sensors. But we would also like to give the possibility of experimenting with connections to the SPIKETM Prime to all other home constructors and electro-technios enthusiasts who like to try it themselves. So, if you are interested in this adapter board and would like to purchase it, just send us an email to [email protected]. We will collect all requests and if there are enough people interested, we will inform you via email about the possibility of preordering the adapter board.

You don ‚t want to tinker but you are interested in a certain sensor that could be conneoted to the SPIKETM Prime? Visit our website at www.briokobotik.de and leave a oomment or a message with your requests for future projects and we will try to take them into account.

New LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robot Inventor lets creators build and bring to life anything they can imagine

  • Builders can create and code one of five personality-packed robots or dream-up and build their own creations
  • Robot Inventor uses drag-and-drop coding language based on Scratch as well as Python to support those new to robotics
  • Over 50 new challenges and fun activities to help all abilities build coding confidence in a fun, exciting way

June 12th, 2020 – Billund: Today, the LEGO Group has announced the first addition to the much-loved LEGO® MINDSTORMS® theme in seven years. The new LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor 5-in-1 set unleashes a new world of fun, creative coding possibilities and provides the ultimate playful learning experience for young inventors and creators.

For over two decades, LEGO MINDSTORMS has inspired those of all ages to test and build their confidence with technology through play. By combining the LEGO building system with robotic and coding elements, builders can create anything they can imagine, while developing the STEM skills that 7 in 10 parents say are essential to their child’s future success.

This latest evolution of the much-loved theme continues this commitment to helping children develop STEM skills in a fun and exciting way at home. The new LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor 5-in-1 model gives builders aged 10+ the power to bring one of the set’s five unique designs to life or take their own builds to the next level by programming them to walk, talk, think and do more than ever before. Kids can also code their own remote-control features for the models in the LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor app or connect their own controllers to the app using Bluetooth.

Packed with 949 pieces and new LEGO Powered UP components, the LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor will be available in Autumn 2020 from LEGO.com, LEGO Retail Stores and retailers globally. The LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor 5-in-1 set will be priced at £329.99/$359.99/€359.99 and includes digital building and coding instructions for these five unique robots:

  • Blast – this master robot is a stoic action hero. It can fire or hammer its way through obstacles and grab items. Builders can be the ultimate commanders, programming it to scan its environment and fire darts if it senses danger. Perfect for guarding your room!
  • Charlie – this quirky sidekick helper can give out high fives, dance, play the drums, deliver small gifts, and charm friends with its smile.
  • Tricky – the sporty bot is the ultimate athlete. Code it to complete the perfect slam dunk or master a plethora of robot sports: basketball, bowling or soccer – the list goes on and on.
  • Gelo – a real life four-legged robot. Its unique mechanism means it can walk, avoid obstacles, and even perform tricks.
  • M.V.P. – The Modular Vehicle Platform gets the job done. Create and code your own remote control and build the M.V.P. into a buggy, a crane, a shooter turret or even a brick-eating truck to pick up LEGO bricks left by the other robots.

Lena Dixen, Head of Product and Marketing Development at the LEGO Group, commented: “Since the launch of LEGO MINDSTORMS over 20 years ago, we’ve been committed to helping children and adults develop STEM skills through play. We are extremely excited to introduce a new MINDSTORMS product that offers even more creative opportunities for those of all ages, and we thank our fans for continuing to show us what is possible with LEGO MINDSTORMS. We are continually inspired by the creations the community share with us and hope that the LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor inspires many more children and playful adults to explore the exciting world of robotics and coding.”

LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robot Inventor (51515)

The LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robot Inventor Kit is intended for builders and coders ages 10+ to discover and expand on their STEM skills at home.

  • 949 pieces
  • 5 unique models to build and code
  • The largest robot Blast stands at over 14” (36 cm) tall
  • The free LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robot Inventor coding app for kids uses coding language based on Scratch and supports Python for more advanced coders.
  • The application works across PC Windows 10 + macOS, iOS and Android tablets and smartphones as well as specific Fire OS devices.

New elements:
The new Intelligent Hub is an advanced yet simple-to-use device featuring 6 input/output ports for connecting a variety of sensors and motors. The Hub can also be used with LEGO Technic and System elements to create fun robots, dynamic devices and other interactive models.

  • LED 5×5 matrix
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 6 axis gyro/accelerometer
  • Includes a micro USB port for connectivity with compatible devices
  • Speaker
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery included

Colour sensor – able to distinguish between eight colors and measures reflected and ambient light from darkness to bright sunlight

Distance sensor – detects obstacles, programmable LED ‘eyes’ and an integrated 6-pin adaptor for third-party sensors, boards and DIY hardware.

4 x medium-angular motors feature low-profile design, integrated rotation sensor with absolute positioning

New 7 x 11 teal baseplate

New black wheels

New frames