Saturday, August 14, 2010

TBs TechNuggets 11 - Inside the LEGO E-Meter

Have you ever seen inside...?

Xander Soldaat was lucky enough to receive the upcoming Renewable Energy Add-on Set from LEGO Education (still only available for pre-order) and shown at his blog a few days ago, some photos of the new LEGO Energy Meter (E-Meter), and its inside parts.

Read there to know a bit more about its internals, software interfaces and current expectations for support from the major NXT 3rd party programming software suites (NXC and ROBOTC). Meanwhile the respective NXT-G blocks can be downloaded from here.

LEGO E-Meter is an I2C controlled sensor that will allow you to measure the amount of voltage, current and powered feed in (it can be a solar panel, a windmill generator or any other power source) and can also do the same measures at is PF output connector, for any device there connected (lights, motor, etc...). Additionally can also measure the amount of energy stored in the included NiMH detachable battery.
The measures can be displayed in the LCD on-board or passed to an NXT.

Now the pictures...



"The green button switches the unit on.  The orange switch has three positions, 0, left and right.  It has a Technic axle hole in it, so you could connect something to it.  The idea is that you input energy via the bottom input and once you have more than 1 Joule of energy stored in this unit, you can use the orange button to control the output connector on the top. You could run a little light on it, a motor, whatever you’d like."

I find it somehow similar to the "Power Meter for NXT" from mindesensors.com in terms of concept and functions, but of course offering some extra possibilities because of its additional features that measure In and Out ports, included battery, etc...

Lets wait and see also about specs, to better compare the limits where both can operate.

5 comments:

James said...

Is the output voltage of the energy meter regulated? I've noticed in some of the Lego Education videos on youtube that the output voltage reads a little over 9 volts regardless of the input voltage.

Conchas said...

I can't say. I mean, don't know!
Sorry!

James said...

I was looking at some of the E-Meter's input/output blocks for the NXT programing software here is some of the ranges for input and output:
Voltage in: 0.0-10.0 (V)
Voltage out: 0.0-10.0 (V)
Current in: 0.0-0.3 (A)
Current out: 0.0-0.5 (A)
Wattage in: 0.0-3.0 (W)
Wattage out: 0.0-5.0 (W)
Joule: 0-100 (J)

It seems to have enough power to run any of the Lego motors (if only for a short time). I can't wait to see what happens when Philo gets one of these and updates his motor comparison. And I'm curious to know if you can charge and discharge at the same time. For example use this as a power meter between a PF battery box and a motor or creation doing real work. I know I want one bad.

Dr. Don said...

i'd like to use the energy meter as a general purpose instrument to measure/store energy production/usage in oher devices. any idea which wires do what in the input/output jacks?l

Fernando Correia said...

@Dr. Don

I've no idea. Sorry!

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