Thoughts on NXT vs. RCX in competition...

Read Filip's comment (about power) for the earlier post on weight, and you may be wondering how in the world can an RCX bot compete with an NXT bot?

From a power and weight perspective, one of the 'balancing factors' I can imagine (for now) is the number of extra sensors and more powerful motors that can be made/purchased for the RCX. If you are talking about an 'anything goes' competition, the NXT is at a disadvantage due to lack of additional sensors and motors. But we can't expect this to last too long...

Another 'balancing factor' could be the experience factor. There's a lot more trial-and-error testing with the RCX, and it could be argued that inexperience with the NXT system could help the RCX designer(s). If LEGO Education NXT releases its version in August 2006, the experience factor will last only as long as the time needed for the NXT developers to catch up - could be months... or a year or more.

If you examine the last set of challenges for the FLL, it may or may not be difficult to imagine performing the tasks with the NXT. Lack of 'hands-on' with the NXT is what keeps me from writing 'no problem' - who knows, some of the tasks for RCX may truly be difficult or impossible (?) for the NXT - and by that, I mean the basic retail kit and/or Education version.

I have no doubts the NXT is going to be a powerful robotic construction system... my question is simply whether we should even be comparing the NXT with the RCX? I still tend to think of the two as apples and oranges and, therefore, comparisons cannot be fair to either product.


Anonymous said…
I agree, but with robots competing for the same FLL challenges, isn't the comparison going be there anyway?

I obviously haven't worked with the set yet, but from what I learned, and given the Lego motto of "building your first robot in 30 minutes", I really can't come up with issues the would hurt the NXT, except for available sensors. The NXT Education kit will have two touch sensors, which will be really useful.

You are right that one could combine the motors from the Lego Racers with the RCX, but you still wouldn't have a robot driving straight.

For now, nobody has the NXT for the FLL, so it is only an issue next year. After that, the change-over period may be short, making the problem go away by itself.

Anonymous said…
Hope this doesn't sound too negative. I am off course very much in favor of the FIRST Lego League. I just wanted to point at potential issues, before they occur. I haven't been to one of these contests, but in general kids speak their mind and thinking about the answers in advance often helps.

Anonymous said…
> You are right that one could combine the
> motors from the Lego Racers with the RCX...

I'm not sure what you mean here. The little Racers cars have very very low power motors (almost certainly powered by a capacitor), while the RC racers use the "studless" black motors. But those things draw about 5 *amps* when stalled, and even under "normal" loads pull far more current than the RCX delivers.

As to how the NXT will fair compared to the RCX in FLL issues, it remains to be seen. I'm not worried about the power, and the number and mix of sensors is set by the kit form, so both RCX-competitors as well as NXT-based teams wil have limits.

Brian Davis
Anonymous said…
it seems that the worry is not so much about the programming as the sensors and external componanats. With out much epierence i cant definatly say which would be better, but i think that the drag and drop programming may be easyer, but less adaptable and acurate.

The Hawken School Robitcs Club

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