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LEGO CNC Machine

LEGO CNC Machine from Tufts CEEO

Build a LEGO CNC machine that can write your name and then use LabVIEW to copy your moves in Etch-A-Sketch mode.

Author: The Center for Engineering Education Outreach (CEEO) at Tufts University.

INTRODUCTION

CNC or computer numerically controlled machines are used in industry to make specialized parts and tools. CNCs are also called Cartesian robots because they have two or more axis of movement x, y etc. like the Cartesian coordinate planes. They can be used to perform a variety of functions such as milling away material to create a mold or plotting out your name on a Post-It. 

Our CNC allows you to draw your name on the computer  in a front panel x, y  plot and then the CNC will draw it for you or it it can also precisely copy your moves in Etch-A-Sketch mode. We have included the code for both modes. The detailed explanation is for the  Etch-A-Sketch mode. If you really want to challenge yourself you try to create the front panel x, y plot program on your own.

MATERIALS

LabVIEW for LEGO MINDSTORMS
LEGO MINDSTORMS kit

TEACHING STANDARDS

In this lab students have the opportunity to understand the following: 

 

  • How to create a system that controls movement to accomplish a goal
  • Event structures/flags
  • Front panel interface
  • Statics and rigid structures 
  • Tolerance 
  • Computer programming 
  • Electronics and motors 
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Double gear reductions  
  • Rack and pinions 
  • Proportional controllers