Introduction to ROBOLAB Programming
Requirements to use this lesson document:
1. LEGO Robotics Invention System (The large box with the 700+ Lego parts – any version will work
2. One LEGO rotation sensor.
3. ROBOLAB 2.5 software (2.0 will also work.)
4. PC. Either a Windows PC or a MAC. (A notebook is best, but a desktop PC will do.)
5. White-topped table
The brain of the Robotics Invention System is the RCX, which stands for Robotics Command System. The
RCX is a microcomputer, built into a yellow LEGO brick. The RCX uses sensors (such as touch and light) to take input from its environment. It can then process the data to make motors turn on and off.
To perform the lessons in this class, you will build a simple robot using a minimum number of parts.
FLL allows participating teams to use one of two programming languages, RIS (Robotics Invention System)
and ROBOLAB. This class uses ROBOLAB.
For teams using MACs, ROBOLAB is the only choice. ROBOLAB is based on LabVIEW, which allows
programming capabilities well beyond those needed for success in FLL competitions. In contrast, many people think that RIS is easier to learn than ROBOLAB. Neither language seems to have an edge in the competition.
Your kids may use ROBOLAB 2.0. Version 2.5 adds some capabilities, including the ability to connect the
USB IR tower that became standard with the Mindstorm 2.0 kits.
When ROBOLAB or RIS programs are downloaded to the RCX, the programs are a type called “embedded code”. Embedded water in a rock means the water is “stuck” inside the rock. Embedded code means that the program is “stuck” inside the RCX – there is no way to change the code after it is downloaded. Programs can only be modified on the PC!
When kids program on the PC, they are entering commands in ROBOLAB or RIS. ROBOLAB or RIS use human readable commands. When downloading the program to the RCX, the PC converts the RIS or ROBOLAB commands to bytecode. Firmware, in the yellow brick, converts bytecode into machine code. which a microprocessor in the yellow brick understands. Machine code is easy for machines but does not make much sense to humans.