Operating Lego Mindstorms over multiple days?

Hello,
I'm a long time insomniac, influenced mostly by how much light I have in my room. Lots of light -- little sleep.
I have devised a Lego Mindstorms robot that will open my bedroom blinds in the morning, allowing me to simulate a fake "sunrise" at the time I want to wake up. That's all well and good!
How can I get the Lego NXT brick to operate in this role? It needs to remain powered on for about 8 hours while I sleep, waiting.
Here are some questions I have been unable to answer with Google. Hopefully some Lego experts can help me out:
- Is it possible to do that this the Lego firmware (leave it on for hours, waiting)?
- Assuming it is possible, is it relatively power-consuming? Most electronic devices use very little power with just an LCD screen. I would hope NXT would also.
- If I plug the device into USB, will it power itself via USB also? It would be easy and worth it to leave a laptop powered on for this purpose.
- Will I need one of the custom Java-like firmwares? Do those firmwares burn the batteries if they stay on for hours?
- Any other general advice on how I could accomplish this?
If I can do this, I will probably also add a temperature sensor. If the temp rises above X degrees inside the room, open the window to cool it down! In fact, I could probably just leave the window open most of the night, and only shut it once the light sensor detects sunrise! (Then later open it again at the time of my fake sunrise) So many possibilities :o)
Thanks in advance for your answers and help.
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You might look for this in the local bookstores: "LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Hacker's Guide" found here using Google: http://www.mhprofessional.com/product.php?isbn=0071481478
Also found this using Google: http://www.bnxt.com/blog/2006/02/more-on-nxt-software.html
Bottom line: try some more Google searches. The last one I used was "Lego NXT runtime"
Good luck ! JCD
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Justin Crites wrote:

With the standard firmware, go to Settings, then Sleep, and select Never.

Yes, see above comment.

I have the Educational NXT which has a rechargeable battery with an external adaptor, so for stationary operations it can stay on forever. You might be able the buy the rechargeable pack. It can simply be swapped in place of the 6-AA battery holder.

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Thanks for pointing this out -- I wasn't aware there were two versions, and I'm about to buy one. But which? The LEGO Education base set:
http://www.legoeducation.com/store/detail.aspx?ID 63
includes the rechargable lithium battery and charger, which is $55 to buy separately. But it doesn't include the software.
The standard LEGO NXT kit:
http://shop.lego.com/ByCategory/Product.aspx?p 27&cn89&d)2
doesn't include the battery and charger, but does include software.
Both kits include three "servo" motors, a sound sensor, an ultrasonic sensor, and a light sensor (though the standard kit is an "improved" light sensor that detects color as well; it's unclear but the Education kit probably has the older one). The Education kit contains two touch sensors; the standard kit contains just one (though it's an "improved" touch sensor that reports both press and release).
The standard kit contains 519 TECHNIC elements; the Education kit contains unspecified "hundreds" of them. Not a huge deal though since I already have hundreds of technic parts in my LEGO collection.
Note that I will need the software -- for myself, I'd be happy just using NQC, but I want to get my 6-year-old started with this kit, and start grooming him for FLL, so the visual environment is a must-have. This would add $50 to the Education kit.
So it's a pretty close choice -- I could get a standard kit now, and probably end up adding the battery/charger and an extra touch sensor later; or I could get the Education kit now, and have to add the software right away.
Any other considerations or recommendations?
Thanks, - Joe
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Joe Strout wrote:

I bought the software and two kits, the Educational Mindstorms NXT (9797 with 431 pieces) and an expansion (9648 with 672 pieces). (You can never have too many Lego pieces!) I believe the touch (9843) and light (9844) sensors are the same in both kits. The 'color' sensing is merely measuring the grayscale intensity of different colors. (The blue ball is much darker than the red ball.) After struggling on two different XP machines with a Belkin F8T012 Bluetooth dongle, I gave up and ordered the ABE dongle from Lego. It works flawlessly with BrixCC/NQC, but rarely with Lego's visual software. (The solutions posted by others did not work for me.)
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