A Robotic Elevator using Lego & Arduino – Part1

legoElevatorMechanicsRecently, we scavenged an old Lego Mindstorms 1.5 set. It’s fully functional, but the RCX 1.5 Lego software is obsolete and does not run on recent Operating Systems. Besides, the brick has only few in/out ports: 3 inputs and 3 outputs. So, we decided to forget it and reuse Lego parts with an Arduino board.

We have chosen to go for is a useful project, not a simple toy. It’s an elevator for smartphones. The goal is to provide a way to keep a smartphone level while using it to take pictures of something underneath. This solution is supposed to help taking pictures using a smartphone instead of scanning documents. It can also be used for recording videos of a demo of some app on a tablet or another smartphone. Actually, this was our original motivation, since we wanted to record a video showing our Android App Sensor Scanner in action.

In this post, we present the mechanics of our robotic elevator. A dedicated Flickr Album displays pictures of V3, our latest version of the mechanical structure of the elevator. We used almost all construction bricks we had in the box to make it as high as possible.

The platform where we plan to put a smartphone is moved by a single motor. For test purpose, we connected it to a 5V DC power supply. And it works as you can see in Video 1.

Video 1: The Lego elevator in action
We also attached two touch sensors to detect max and min heights. But, we’ll be using them once we’ll connect the elevator to the Arduino board. That’s it for this part. As a bonus material, we provide you with a Flickr Album that gathers some pictures of earlier mechanical designs of the elevator.

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