Lego Power Functions Hacking – Intro


Hacking LEGOS! Seriously, who doesn’t like Legos?

One of my current problems is how to get more people interested in microcontroller programming and robotics. Microcontrollers are cheap through the likes of the Arduino but until you attach cool things to them they are quite boring left alone. But how do you start someone going when the things you attach are complicated and often expensive… LEGOS! Few are the households that don’t have access to standard Legos. Add to that a Lego Power Functions motor and gear kit which can be had for as cheap as $10 on ebay and you’re up and running!

I’ve started a project to hack Lego motors for easy attachment to an Arduino. The benefits of this are two fold:

  1. Ease and Low Cost of Lego robot platform building
  2. Massive Arduino code library and documentation availability from all over the internet

My goal is to create a project anyone with Legos and an Arduino could put together to use as a robotics platform. My plan is to start with simple motor control and move on to more advance control.

Here are a few of my possible plans:

  • Wire project with no destruction of Lego motors or attached cables. (Hacking extension cables for Arduino connection)
  • Basic Motor Speed Control using Arduino and cheap motor driver from
  • Remote control over Arduino serial terminal
  • Remote control over WiFi using CC3000 Wifi shield for Arduino from Adafruit
  • PC Interface for WiFi robot control using C#
  • Android Interface for Wifi Robot control (possibly using Basic4Android, we’ll see)
  • 3D Printed Lego Compatible mounting blocks for Arduino (entirely dependent on me getting a 3D Printer, hint: watch this blog)
  • Addition of webcam stream using Raspberry Pi or upcoming Arduino Tre

Some of these are stretch goals but you can never plan to big as long as you keep your priorities in order! So here we go! Hopefully I’ll have Part 1 up soon which deals with starting equipment and hacking the Lego Power Functions cables for connection to a motor driver.

Series Contents:

New Name – Scuttlebots!

So my wife had a brilliant naming idea today. Before my blog and upcoming website were called “Scuttlebutt Engineering”. It was cool but not exceptional. However, thanks to my wife, the new website and blog is now called “Scuttlebots”. How cool is that?! Fun, catchy, and easy to remember. Love it. I need a profile pic/mascot to go with it now. I’m taking ideas if anyone wants to throw some out there!

The start of something great … or different at least

Mwhahaha, the site lives! One thing I have always struggled with is documenting my various projects in a way that others could learn from or understand what it is I am doing. Also, in a way that would better allow myself to go back and remember all the steps I took to get somewhere. The problem with most personal storage methods is that files get over written and old steps are lost over time as updates are made. So here we are, taking the first step to correcting that and hopefully making it easier to share what I’ve made (or trying to make anyway)! Whats the fun of a cool project if you can’t share it with others? So here we go!