Mar 31, 2006

Before NXT is released...

31 DAYS... and counting...

If you are considering documenting your builds and are not familiar with LDraw, you might want to get familiar with it before NXT is released. I've downloaded and installed it and have begun playing around with it... I wouldn't say it's easy, but it's not exactly difficult either. There are also a LOT of tutorials available (as I'm finding).

One caveat is that there are a LOT of add-ons as well. And many of these add-ons are almost required, not suggested, in order to make some really detailed instructions and/or images.

The easiest way to get started is to download the complete LDraw Installer with all the suggested add-ons built into the Installer. You can download that here.

There's also an Unofficial Parts List you can download here. This list is updated every now and then, so bookmark it.

Finally, there are some tutorial for getting started. Click on the "Tutorials" link on the LDraw.org page (left side, under the References category).

World Map of MDP members


Steve Hassenplug created a public map of the MDPers locations (and the MUP and MUP2 members). Only about 1/2 have checked in, but it give an idea of how spread out the team is... you can view the map here.

NEW PHOTOS: 6-Legged NXT WalkerBot

32 DAYS... and counting...

Reader M. E. emailed me with a link to a few new NXT photos. It looks like a 6-legged walker to me... I might be wrong. NXT photos are at the bottom of the page, so scroll down.

Robot is designed by Carter Payne - 13 years old! Nice job, Carter!

My thoughts: Definitely a mixture of Technic and Brick parts. No idea what 'MP' means (on top of Ultrasonic Sensor) - maybe owner's initials?

Thanks to M for the URL.

Jim

Mar 30, 2006

New Information on the FLL version of NXT


The Education NXT blog has posted some good information regarding the NXT Education version and the FLL version that will be for sale. Check it out here.

Mar 29, 2006

RUMOR has it...

34 DAYS... and counting...

I've heard a rumor...

HiTechnic has SEVERAL new sensors that may be announced on May 1... HiTechnic may also have some pre-ordering opportunities for selected sensors... also on May 1. This would be nice as it would allow the NXT kit and 3rd party sensors to arrive at roughly the same time... WOO HOO!

I'm keeping an eye on the website for any notices... you should do the same.

Mar 28, 2006

Lego Education NXT Pre-Order begins April 1


35 DAYS... and counting...

The Education NXT blog has announced pre-orders for the Education version of NXT will begin on April 1. They are still holding to the August 1 ship date.

Read the official announcement here.

It's quiet... again...

My apologies to all of you who keep checking in... there just doesn't seem to be much public news in regards to Mindstorms NXT. Image and video resources seem to be non-existent at this time. I check all my regular reference sites daily (and frequently throughout the day) and you can almost hear the proverbial pin drop.

It's still over a month away before the MDP team will be allowed to begin sharing, and believe me... I'm just as anxious to start sharing as you are ready to listen.

One small bit of news that I can share is that I've had a book proposal accepted. I can't provide any more details right now other than to say it will be geared to the 10-16 age range. I'll try to share more info later as the book progresses.

Jim

Mar 25, 2006

A few items

Brian Davis (MDP) is also putting together a 'shopping list' on LUGNET and LEGOfan.org for you to submit questions about NXT. If you frequent those sites and have any questions, feel free to post them there as well. Brian and I will be submitting our questions to the MDP for response in time for the May 1st lift on communication.

---------

Phil at KidTechnic (in Australia) emailed me with a small request. On the topic of the First Lego League (FLL), Phil wrote,

"... it is not LEGO centric but can you also mention Robocup Junior (www.robocupjunior.org and www.robocup.org) on your blog as well. We are always looking for volunteers..."

Phil's doing some great things over at Kid Technic, so give it a visit.

Mar 24, 2006

Mindstorms and younger designers

39 DAYS... and counting...

A visit to Kid Technic has me thinking. Mindstorms has definitely had a positive impact on the younger designers (kids), and if you visit Lego's official discussion forums you'll see the excitement over the upcoming release is high. Organizations like Kid Technic and FLL need to be congratulated for offering this type of hands-on activity that encourages our youth to investigate the math & science subjects.

Kid Technic has a nice little summary for how they use robot building to teach some great concepts to kids here.

Once again, I'm encouraging any of you who have the time or interest to get in touch with the First Lego League and volunteer. I'm looking forward to late-April when the International FLL Championship will take place here in Atlanta, Georgia (USA).

Also be sure to check out the NXT summary on the Kid Technic site.

Mar 23, 2006

"Shopping List" for MDP members

Given that the MDP won't be kept quiet forever, I wanted to give you the opportunity to list some of the things you would like to know regarding the NXT. I cannot promise that all of your requests will be answered, but I'll do my best to present a list around May 1st to the MDP group.

Specifically, I'll be asking the MDP'ers to provide me with URLs for any websites or blogs where they will be posting information, pictures, videos, and other items.

So... here's your chance. Feel free to post questions, requests for photos, and anything else on your mind. Again, I cannot promise the MDPers will be able to respond to all requests (there are some rules we must still follow after May 1), but I will do my best to get you what I can...

UPDATE: Please post your questions here, as comments. I'll be able to keep them all in one place. Please do not email them to me as I will most likely end up misplacing them - sorry, I'm notorious for keeping my Inbox clean and go 'delete crazy' at times.

Jim

Mar 22, 2006

HiTechnic Official News Release


40 DAYS... and counting...

HiTechnic has posted its official news release regarding its new HiTechnic Bridge. I posted a picture of it on on March 19. The release date has not been confirmed yet but is supposed to coincide with the Mindstorms NXT release.

Be sure to email HiTechnic if you have any ideas for future sensors or add-ons.

NEW VIDEO!

41 DAYS... and counting...

These have been cleared by Lego for release (according to Steve H.)... enjoy.

Streaming video... both are identical, but resolution is slightly better on the first one.

http://www.ffni.com/~kerby/LafLRC/SteveTVInterview.wmv (22MB - be patient)

http://www.ffni.com/~kerby/LafLRC/SteveTVInterviewSmall.wmv (5MB)

Jim

Mar 21, 2006

Post # 100


42 DAYS... and counting...


It's hard to believe I've reached post # 100 with this one. With the extremely limited information early on (and even now...), I wasn't sure a blog on NXT would have enough to make it worthwhile.

I want to thank all my readers for checking in and providing feedback. Believe me, I wish I could comment on the NXT kit, but all of the MDP is under the same constraints... for now.

Rest assured, when the "communication embargo" is lifted, you're probably going to be overwhelmed with information. I'll do my best to point you to the various sources when the time comes... and, of course, I'll have plenty to say (and show) myself.

For those who have provided comments and feedback to me, I've got something special planned for you...

Jim

Mar 20, 2006

HiTechnic release image of NXT-to-RCX Bridge


43 DAYS... and counting...

Steve over at HiTechnic sent this picture of the new HiTechnic Bridge that will allow communication between the NXT and RCX bricks. If you want more information on it, click here and then click on "Development Lab" to read details (and see some info on HiTechnic's other upcoming projects).



Thanks, Steve, for the image.

Mar 17, 2006

Pictures explained...

45 DAYS... and counting...

A reader (Tomas G.) was nice enough to direct me to Eirik R. for information on these pictures. Here are some of his comments:

"The event was the Scandinavian FIRST LEGO League project leader meeting in Aarhus, Denmark. On the second day of the meeting we were gathered at The Steno Museum (The Danish Museum for the History of Science and Medicine), and Søren Lund from LEGO came to talk about the NXT. He demonstrated the new ROBOLAB software, talked about the new sensors, showed them in action, showed us how to control the NXT using a mobilephone and Bluetooth, talked a bit about the new motors, answered questions from the audience ...

The first picture in the set is the entire group of project leaders (plus the administration from the Scandinavian FIRST branch), the next six pictures show Søren talking and demonstrating, the next seven pictures show different FLL project managers playing around with the NXT, and the last pictures are just pictures of Aarhus and the Steno Museum."

Thanks, Eirik, for the information. And if you have time, please add some more comments for my readers - maybe some of your personal comments about what you saw and your first impressions on NXT.

The Famous Sign...

Mentioned in the Feb 2006 Wired magazine article, here's an image I found with that famous SIGN in the background - just over Soren Lund's right shoulder. (My eyes are too tired to try and make out any of the other background material...)

Photos of NXT on display

I need some help from my readers - not sure where these photos are being taken, but there's some nice ones in there. I believe this is Soren Lund doing most of the demo.

Bunch of items to get to today...

46 DAYS... and counting...

A week away (on vacation) and it seems a lot of new items popped up... in no particular order:

1. Coverage of the ultrasonic sensor by Education NXT blog here...
2. ... and coverage of the converter cable here.

3. The Bricks-in-my-Pocket podcast #23 is up - nice interview with Allan Bedford who wrote this GREAT book.

4. And a bunch of announcements on the official Mindstorms site to include:

MDP Announcement
Mindstorms NXT at CeBIT in Hannover
Pre-Order Info

Mar 16, 2006

Back from Vacation and MDP announcement

I would like to announce that I have been accepted to the MDP. Unfortunately, that is all I can say at this time. If anything changes, I will post here.

Thank you for your comments and compliments on my blog.

Stay tuned... May 1st is six weeks away and it's an important date... Jim

[My apologies for not being able to post anything new recently. When I got back from vacation, I found my blog had been 'spam-blocked' by Blogger. What was supposed to take 24 hours for them to review and whitelist my site has taken over 4 days.]

Mar 3, 2006

Vacation

"The NXT Step" blog will be 'on vacation' from March 3rd to March 12th. Please note that I have turned on the "Moderate Comments" feature to prevent any abuses. I'll review any emails and comments received on March 13th.

I do not know if I will have email/Internet access while gone, and to be honest, I'm looking forward to a week without the cell phone and email.

Rest assured, "The NXT Step" will return. I'm certain there will be more information and news released on NXT - your best bet is to monitor Filip's blog for any updates.

The plan was to leave for vacation tomorrow (4th), but my wife wants to leave early. So I'm signing off (for now). Thank you to all my readers for your interest and comments.

Jim

I never noticed the BIRD!

Something else was pointed out to me by anonymous... take a look at the picture below. It's definitely a clock, as others have commented here and on other sites.

Anonymous told me to look closely at the Engadget video again... there is one point where the camera moves slowly back to the clock - that is a BIRD above the clock face.

It's a cuckoo clock. Maybe someone else has commented on this elsewhere, but it's the first time I've taken notice of it...

Strange NXT device - identified??

In an earlier post, I included an image of a strange device (image below) created from the NXT components. I had forgotten all about it, but I was contacted today by someone (who will remain anonymous) and told it is a 'music system' or DJ-style device. I cannot verify this, obviously... but the source is a good one and was able to provide a few other details to me to verify 'hands-on' experience with the system.

Interesting... the Brick comes with a single speaker (I believe), and as far as I know, the LabView software doesn't have a built-in mp3 player... but who knows... there are stranger things built with RCX than could have ever been predicted. We'll wait and see...


The "Built in Under 30 Minutes" NXT bot

I was looking at this image from the back of the NXT demo box, and I noticed something. In the upper right corner you can see the text "QuickStart Guide - in just 30 minutes, your first robot is in action."

I may be wrong, but I think that the robot shown there IS the robot that can be built in less than 30 minutes. This bot appears to be the equivalent to the RIS "Pathfinder" bot from the Constructopedia (version 1.5 is what I have). Both are wheeled bots and (from what I can see) neither has any sensors configured.

All NXT robot images (with wheels) I've seen so far appear to be variations of this bot. Other bots may be built in 30 minutes or less, but I think this is the one that LEGO may be using to demonstrate the quick build.

For this reason, I also think the QuickStart Guide has only 1 design (with maybe some suggestions for modifying it). The other information is probably in the 2nd book (with the CD on top of it in the image).

I bring this information up only because I think the other bots may be more time consuming - I don't think we can assume that all 18 Challenges with the kit can be built in such a short time.

Lego Mindstorms Education NXT - pricing set

Lego Mindstorms Education NXT has posted on its blog its current pricing schedule (US$). You can get an idea of what the individual components will cost... and you'll see the rechargeable battery has been included in the list.

Some new images - Netherlands site

This forum posting is in Dutch, but you'll see some new images of the sensors and Intelligent Brick from various angles. There are also some new images of the software, but they're not very large and it's hard to see details. (Thank you to the person who emailed to correct me on the location/language of the site.)

Mar 2, 2006

New NXT Blog - it's in Spanish!

Koldo posted a comment about his NXT blog.

It's in Spanish, but again, I hope we all see that there is an INTERNATIONAL interest in NXT.

Mi Espanol no es bueno. He estado aprendiendo Espanol por ocho meses y estoy disfrutando el blog de Koldo. Vive en Texas por nueve anos y aprendo un poco.

New NXT Blog - it's in Portuguese!

I received an email from João Campos, from Cascais, Portugal. He has created a new blog dedicated to NXT. It's in Portuguese, but I wanted to mention it because I think it's awesome that so many people, in so many countries, are excited about the new NXT system. I'm certain we'll start seeing many more blogs on NXT, in many languages, very soon.

I'd like to know where all my readers are from... please comment and tell me where you are. I've received emails and comments from India, Belgium, and Portugal. Who else is out there?

Jim

Mar 1, 2006

Some new images from HiTechnic - Compass



Steve at HiTechnic emailed over some new images for the HiTechnic Compass. One is the inner circuitry and the other is with the outer shell. This compass will be for use with the NXT system and an August 2006 release date is expected (to coincide with the NXT release).

Steve indicated that this may not be the 'final' look of the production shell, but it'll most likely be close - it's a good match for the style and look of the LEGO sensors, don't you think?

Filip has a good discussion on the workings of the compass over on his site... be sure to check it out.

And if you like what you're seeing from HiTechnic, be sure to email them a short note and tell them... they're also interested in any sensor/add-on ideas you may have.

Thank you, Steve and crew at HiTechnic, for the pictures and news.
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