Rokenstorms - The Rokenbok/Mindstorms Project
This page is meant to describe my initial attempt at integrating the radio control capabilities of Rokenbok with Lego Mindstorms robotics. Please note,
think carefully before you attempt to duplicate this with your own Rokenbok set. The actions I describe here will definitely void the Rokenbok warranty and I imagine if you aren't careful you could destroy your Rokenbok vehicle. Follow these instructions at your own risk! Don't blame me if you break something.
With many different radio control options available, you might wonder why one would use a Rokenbok system. There are a couple of reasons. First, the Rokenbok vehicles have 3 motor outputs (coincidentally the same number at the Lego Mindstorms RCX). Most low-cost radio control vehicles only give 2 outputs. Secondly, the Rokenbok base station has the capibility of controlling 8 vehicles on one radio channel, so if my friends want to build their own radio control Lego robots and do battle with me, we won't have to worry about radio frequency conflicts. Thirdly, the Rokenbok radio control module can run off the same power provided by a Lego power pack or even the power from a motor output on the RCX, so it will integrate nicely. Other radio control options would require specialized battery packs that would need to somehow be Lego-fied. With the Rokenbok system, I just have to build a Lego wrapper for the circuit board normally found inside a Rokenbok vehicle. And finally, the Rokenbok circuit board is relatively small - in Lego dimensions it is 7 x 11, coincidentally the same dimensions as to fit inside the battery box of the RCX brick.
How to do it
First, ensure you have everything needed: a philips screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, heat-shrink tubing, 9 pairs of crimp-style pin and socket connectors (a pack of unassembled male and female DB-9 connectors from Radio Shack is what I used. I just discarded the DB-9 casings, all you'll need are the pins and sockets), and one Rokenbok vehicle you don't mind possibly destroying. For my project, I chose the white Rokenbok RC Skip Track "bobcat" style vehicle.
Next, unassemble the vehicle. Note, you will want to disassemble the vehicle enough to free up the socket you normally plug the Rokenbok radio key into. If you plan on eventually using the vehicle again, take note of how you disassembled the vehicle so you can put it back together again.
Now that you have the vehicle apart, you'll have to CUT several of the wires so you can remove the circuit board. NOTE: you will NOT be cutting ALL the wires - you'll only be cutting those connecting the the circuit board to the battery, the 3 motors, and the antenna. Do NOT cut the wires leading to the socket for the radio key.
Once you cut all the wires, you should have just the circuit board, with the radio socket still connected.
Now you will need to take some lego electrical connectors and cut the wires in half:
Once you verify the Rokenbok module powers up properly, test all 3 motor outputs by attaching a lego motor to them using the newly created lego connectors.
Once you verify it all works, you can add small pieces of heat shrink tubing to the connectors to ensure there is no exposed metal when the connectors are joined together. Here's what a connector looks like once the heat shrink tubing is added:
Now that you've added all the heat shrink tubing, you should now be able to build a lego frame to hold the circuit board and electrical connectors. Below are some pictures showing the module I built.
If you want to see some pictures of my first vehicle created using this Rokenstorms module, click here.
A friend and I are going to have a competition to build some soccer playing Rokenstorms vehicles. The vehicle shown is my first pass attempt. I'll post the results when we finish.