Getting ready for Fox50 Family Fest

This weekend I will have my amusement park on display at Fox50’s Family Fest. It hasn’t been set up in quite a while so this will be interesting. I know the Ferris Wheel needs some attention, not sure about the other three rides.

I think the last time I had it set up was at 2009 LEGOPalooza but it might have been 2008.  For that event I had the rides running off of the power picked up from the 9v train track.

The Amusement Park is actually designed to run off an RCX (I built it long before the NXT was available).  The RCX program is really quite simple – it starts and stops the rides at random intervals changing direction periodically.  The change of direction helps make sure the LEGO gears don’t bind up from running the same direction for hours on end (which is what happened to my Ferris Wheel).

The code for the amusement park is written in NQC.  I much prefer C-like code to the visual programming environment.  But in order to get the code up and running again, I needed a development area.

I’ve changed computers several times since I last worked on the amusement park and no longer have MindStorms RIS or BricxCC environments loaded.  I do have my old laptop that I’ve loaded Windows 7 on and am using for NXT programming with my daughter.  I tried to install the old MindStorms software and BricxCC on it and the software installed ok but I was unable to get the IR tower to work.  I searched the Internet for a solution and the best I came up with was a recommendation to run it under XP in a virtual environment.

Since I am already running ML-CAD, LPub, and some other L-Draw utilities under a Windows XP virtual machine (btw – I love VMware), adding the RCX development environment to it appeared to be the quickest solution.

After installing the RIS software and BricxCC, I connected the USB tower and it was recognized!  I dug up the amusement park code, found my RCX and some 9v motors and tested it.  Everything is working as expected so now I have (a) a working development environment and (b) a working program.  Tonight I hope to get the Amusement Park out of its box and get it set up.  Assuming all is well, I hope to fix the Ferris Wheel tonight as well.

If you are in the Raleigh-Durham area, NCLUG will have an exhibit at Fox 50’s Family Fest on Saturday October 2, 2010 from 12:00 to 5:00.  My Amusement Park will be part of the exhibit.

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One Response to Getting ready for Fox50 Family Fest

  1. Wish I could be in NC to see it!

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