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ARM Powered® MindCuber solves Void Cube

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Published on Mar 22, 2012

Build your own Rubik's Cube® solver from just a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT 2.0 set.

ARM has previously demonstrated a variety of ARM Powered® robots constructed from smartphones and LEGO MINDSTORMS solving a variety of Rubik's Cube style puzzles including the world-famous CubeStormer II created by Mike Dobson and David Gilday.

These robots show the range of performance and presence of energy-efficient ARM processors from small, embedded microcontrollers to high performance application and graphics processors which are present in consumer products.

ARM fully endorses STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and adoption. David Gilday, the creator of these robots, decided to try to use his robot activities to inspire young (and "not so young"!) minds to take an interest and develop skills in these areas, while having fun at the same time.

David's latest robot, "MindCuber" was designed specifically with the aim of sharing its design freely for others to try out, enjoy and hopefully increase their passion for mechanics, engineering, math and problem-solving skills along the way.

MindCuber is carefully designed so that it can be constructed from only the pieces available in a standard LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 kit to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Unlike David's previous designs. MindCuber can solve a standard 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube without the aid of a smartphone, camera or other external device.

David is thrilled that recently the LEGO Group published instructions for MindCuber on their LEGO MINDSTORMS website so now anybody can build their own! ☺

This video shows MindCuber solving a Void Cube which is slightly more complex than a standard 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube since the missing center pieces allow some combinations of positions to be reached that would apparently not be reachable on a regular cube.

The software for the solver runs on the ARM7™ microprocessor in the NXT "Intelligent Brick" using the LEGO color light sensor to scan the cube. The ultrasonic sensor is used to detect when the cube is inserted to start the solve automatically. MindCuber uses a table-driven solving algorithm that was developed to fit in the limited memory of the NXT while generating reasonably short solutions of around 30 to 40 moves.

The total solve time, including the scan, averages around 1 min 55 sec's, making it probably the fastest robot Rubik's Cube solver ever built entirely from LEGO bricks.

MindCuber's unique mechanical design allows the cube to be manipulated quickly and reliably using only two motors allowing the third motor to be used to move the color sensor during the scan.

See http://mindcuber.com for links to instructions and other useful resources if you would like to build your own!

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