Jul 30, 2006

Unpacking the NXT Education kit

A week on and I have still barely done anything beyond opening all the bags and making sure no parts are missing.

My inventory has been on www.peeron.com for a few days, and bought a grey baseplate today so I should be submitting photos of new parts soon.

There are quite a few differences from the shop NXT kit, amongst the most striking is the absence of the corner pieces the MUP (esp. Steve Hassenplug) fought for. (Ref the Wired article from February.) This has some impact on what can be built!

The instruction book (& software) only has one model - the Multibot (aka Tribot), in a base version and 7 alternate add-on assemblies; sensors in various positions, a light and the golf/hockey arm. (But not the grabber.)

[Note the light uses a converter cable to the older Technic/Mindstorms NXT connectors, and must be connected to one of the three motor ports.]

At this point I have not seen the retail kit, but I believe there are also instructions for the Alpha Rex, Spike and a Robo Arm. One reason is doubtless so that the Multibot can be re-used by classes without a lot of initial assembly time. Perhaps also these models use pieces not in the Educational kit?

The NXT Education software is not supplied in the kit, but as two parts (1) a set of 2 CD-ROMs, (software & some documentation) and (2) a site/class licence to allow use with any number of NXT kits. Similar to the arrangement for the RoboLab educational software used with the RCX.

The software requires Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Mac OS X, as with retail version of the NXT. Somewhat dissappointing as I only have one XP machine, and the only related functionality that the software appears able to use is the Windows XP Bluetooth stack.

My JVC mini-notebook (MP XP3210) has a screen too small to meet the software's requirement, and a small & full 20Gb hard drive. So I connected up an external monitor and an external hard drive to install on to. Software installed okay, but put up a message about untested Bluetooth drivers being present.

Not that helpful as I did not have Bluetooth dongle installed but I have previously installed drivers for at least three different Bluetooth dongles! Which one was it complaining about?


- Ttfn, Tony

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some guy did a quick review and short video of his NXT kit here:
Lego Mindstorms NXT review with video . I saw it on slashdot and the video is funny.

Jim Kelly said...

Hey, Tony.

I can NOT believe you didn't get the corner pieces (also called the Hassenpins). These are, by far, one of my most used connecting pieces... I run out of them constantly.

I agree that the Multibot's purpose is most likely to allow quicker build times and to provide a base for curriculum designers to use as a common point to start.

Is the one sensor that uses the converter cable a legacy RCX sensor? Double-edged sword - proves a legacy can work with NXT, but... it's a legacy - older hardware.

Jim

Tony Naggs said...

Hi Jim

First I have a favour to ask, could you add a link on the NXT Step front page to Jürgen Stuber's Lego NXT pages please?
http://www.jstuber.net/lego/nxt-programming/index.html

Amazing huh? Certainly they will be one factor for FLL teams deciding to go for Education kit when they register, rather than going to Target or equivalent to get a store kit.

The inventory I put on Peeron has an option to view pictures:
http://www.peeron.com/cgi-bin/invcgis/inv/sets/9797-1?withpics=yes

The only parts supplied with the NXT that you use the converter cable for are the Lego lamps.
http://www.peeron.com/inv/parts/6035

I have old RCX rotation and temperature sensors which I tried with converter cable and the Try Me view on the NXT brick. The old sensors are still on sale through Lego Education distribution channels.

(Probably still in Lego stores too, but the only Lego store I have used closed in June.)

Ttfn, Tony

Tony Naggs said...

I hope my previous post was not too garbled - I was rushing to go out.

The NXT Education kit does have some attractions; more pieces with studs make assembly easier for younger users, some small baseplates and a choice of wheel sizes.

Tony

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