Next for RaSPy...

Now that we have a working bot, I'm going to take it apart and photograph it being disassembled. I'll provide these photos to Matthias who has volunteered to create the LDRAW file(s) for it. Stay tuned...



Anonymous said…
Hi, Jim, Brian, Chris, and Matthias.

First I want to thank you all for the blog. I'm new to TNS but I really enjoy the news and pictures.

I don't mean to be negative (don't you hate when someone starts out with that), but I do have some complaints that I hope you will take as constructive criticism and ways to improve the blog.

First, it seems like the past week has been mainly about this new robot you have designed. I like the photos of the software and the commentary, but isn't there anything else going on in the Mindstorms world?

Second, successful blogs tend to have constant updates. TNS seems to be more active than the other Mindstorms sites, but I've noticed sometimes only 1 post on a certain day and somedays no posts. For people to keep coming to your site, all of you need to be posting new material daily. I don't even check the other NXT blogs anymore because I'm tired of no new content. hasn't posted anything new since April 23!

And finally, there's a lot of other robot content out there. There is the Robo1 and VEX and others. I would certainly like to hear about these products and maybe see comparisons on how they measure up to each other.

Please don't flame me for my opinions. The best blogs are those that allow readers to comment without fear of attack. I've been lurking for a bit and felt it was time to give you some feedback. Please take it and use or discard as you see fit.

Hi, B.D.

I promise, no flames from me, okay? But I do want to address some of your comments... and I invite my blog-team to also chime in if they would like...

So, I'm going to go straight down your letter... here goes:

1. Yes, I hate when someone starts out with "I don't mean to be negative" :) A better opening (the English major in me) is this:

"I would like to offer some constructive criticism to an otherwise EXCELLENT blog that, quite honestly, I find difficult to find any way to improve upon..."

:) he he he, just teasing you.

2. Yes, over the past 2 days (not a week), we have focused the block on the RaSPy. There are a number of reasons I had for doing this, and I'm sure my other bloggers will have their own reasons. I started out with just sharing a small project that developed when I was demo-ing the NXT. I posted some pictures and the code. Brian chose to improve the code and post it, which is one of the functions of The NXT STEP... to share with others what we're doing (as MDPers).
From there, the project just took on a life of its own... we began to work together to improve upon the bot... since that was our main focus for a few days, there really wasn't anything else I could post from personal experience with the NXT since this WAS my focus at the time.

Yes, plenty is going on in the Mindstorms NXT world (you didn't specify NXT, but I'm assuming that's what you meant). But some of it is still private (in terms of MDP work going on) and cannot be posted. Other stuff is already out there (such as posts on by Filip) and I see no need to duplicate posts at this point unless I have something truly unique to say. Early on, when NXT news was rare, Filip and I would reference each other quite a bit... but now that info is flowing faster, there's really no need for that... Filip posts things that I miss and vice-versa. And this is the case with other NXT blogs.

3. I'll disagree with you on the statement that successful blogs tend to have constant updates. Many blogs will have ONE, and only one, post per day... some of these are political blogs, others are summary-type blogs, but frequent postings does NOT a good blog make (in my best Yoda voice). People continue to come to The NXT STEP and I'm not concerned if I miss a day or 2. I have a 'real job' that allows me to work from my home-office... thus I can monitor comments and news and post when I get a free minute. If I were working in an office-environment for another employer, I simply would not be able to do this... and TNS might never have actually come into being. I'm sorry that you don't check other sites anymore... I do, even if they aren't blogging daily. I just check in once a day or so and move on if there's nothing new to see... I have the time, maybe you don't. But one thing I can't do and won't do is critique other blogs - I don't know the work or home situations these bloggers are in and don't hold it against them. (BimP blog had a family medical emergency a while back and that blog was stopped for a bit... simply something out of their control).

4. Yes, there are a LOT of other robot kits out there. This blog focuses on NXT. When TNS was started, the decision was made to focus on NXT and ONLY NXT. I don't have the time or finances to buy and play with and research every robot kit... trust me, I wish I did, but the reality is I enjoy the NXT and focus my time on it. (You might also notice that TNS doesn't go too deep into the hard technical stuff - the site was created for LEGO's intended audience - kids.)

I'll delete any comments that appear that flame you... I appreciate your comments and thank you for checking in often. TNS has plenty more to say and that's one of the reasons for adding some additional members to the blog-team. I'm sure you'll be hearing from the others as time moves on (Chris is expecting a baby - SOON - and may not be contributing often... and I can certainly understand why!).

Thanks again, B.D. - don't ever fear to post your comments. I read them all.

Unknown said…
Hallo B.D.,

> Please don't flame me for my opinions.

Well, "there's nothing like the smell of Napalm in the morning" (which movie?), har har!
Seriously, I always liked commenters best who do not beat around the bush (as long as they aren't just spilling foolish bushwa around).

> but isn't there anything else going on in the Mindstorms world?

As Jim already pointed out, it decidedly is. Yet, no blog that has no full-time employees paid for blogging can afford to pound the streets of the whole world, can it? Anyone of us is to earn his living with things not related to NXT (sad to say!)...

> For people to keep coming to your site, all of you need to be posting new material daily.

Well, I have to say I don't agree. Should be eager to hear your reasons for thinking so.
As a matter of fact, compared with most other blogs I think worthwhile to visit, I consider The NXT Step pretty active - Jim is doing a great job in my opinion!
As for me, I decidely do find interesting things here any day.

> I don't even check the other NXT blogs anymore.

Sad business. What of the non-blog NXT related web sites Jim posted some days ago?

> There is the Robo1 and VEX and others. I would certainly like to hear about these products.

Now come, B.D., I'd like you to take one minute and reconsider. How were we to accomplish that without a noticeable amount of resources (money, time) for that? I strongly back Jim's decision to focus on NXT to prevent us from getting bogged down. As for me, I prefer quality and some depth over quantity and necessarily staying on a superficial level.

Thanks for your comments - I'm looking forward to your feedback to this.

Matthias Paul
Anonymous said…
The content timing and level is fine. There's generally something new every day, and I don't think you've missed a single day this month, or if you have it was after a GLUT of new information.

Sometimes information has to be created, and RaSPy is a GREAT example of thinking outside the box for the NXT. KIDS came up with the concept and we've seen a few refinements and how that process has occurred. That's better than finding out that Mike Myers is going to star in a movie based on a humor book about 'how to survive a robot uprising'!

Through the process of this collaboration, you've shown us that robotics is never right the first time and that unless you have others to help you think outside the box that you may be afraid to undo and redo what had been done. Different people have different focus. Some of us are software guys, some of us are hardware guys, others worry about asthetics... it's all part of a greater whole.

As to other robotic content, let someone else handle it. As far as I can tell, this is supposed to be a blog about MDPers getting to play with toys the rest of us can only dream about for another month or two, and that means LEGO NXT.

In short, keep up the GREAT work!
Anonymous said…
Jim and Matthias and Byron,

Thanks for the personal responses regarding my post. After rereading my original post I think it definitely came off as too critical. I apologize.

Your responses were logical and I am looking forward to more material on TNS. There is just so little information out there right now on NXT that when we, the readers, find a great site we just want more and more.

One suggestion for you if you don't mind. Why don't you petition Lego to make TNS the official NXT blog? Then you might get some inside information and early news. It never hurts to ask. When you go to the Mindstorms website your blog is listed with Your blog contains so much more information and regular updates; Lego is, in my opinion, missing an opportunity to use your blog as another form of advertising and marketing.

All of you are doing a great job and I'm sure you probably feel it's a thankless job after reading posts like my earlier one. It's not. Thank you thank you and thank you.

Anonymous said…
As you note, The NXT Step is on the official LEGO page. It wasn't there a few weeks ago, so I think that's as official as it gets.

As to them getting 'exclusive content', don't worry about it. Do what I've done, go pick up some of the current Technic sets and play with them, or break out your older books on RCX techniques, much of the PROCESS of designing robots will be the same, only the pieces will differ.

Or, pull down the LDRAW files that are out there and play virtually. Sort your unsorted technic pieces so your ready when your preorder shows up. Clean your workroom or table area or wherever you plan on playing with your NXT.

Plenty to do before that package arrives at the door. Anticipation is good for us.

Popular Posts