Book Review - Maximum LEGO NXT
Well, I got a copy of Brian Bagnall's "Maximum LEGO NXT: Building Robots with Java Brains" and I've finished my first review of the material. In a sentence: The material looks awesome.
21 chapters and 3 appendices (in roughly 500 pages) - Brian starts out with a nice summarized history of Mindstorms and then quickly moves into a description of LeJOS. I've got a bit of experience with Java, and I actually read Chapter 3 (Java for Primates) and was reminded quickly of some standard programming rules that I had forgotten. He also provides a good but quick summary of the Java API. (I've skipped around a bit and also read Chapters 4, 7, 12, and 20, so I think I've got a fairly good grasp on the technical writing and the quality of the robots.)
Mixed into the book are chapters that cover a broad range of topics - one chapter covers the Technic components, another a little design theory, and he's got a really nice chapter on Bluetooth.
Around chapter 8, Brian gets into the heart of some serious robot building - the robots he includes are impressive, and he provides complete CAD step-by-steps (grayscale) for all of them. What's impressive is that he also provides plenty of mathematical discussions before getting into the actual Java code. I've forgotten a lot of basic geometry and I was surprised to see quite a bit of it included at various places in the book.
My absolute favorite design in the book has to be his version of the Mars explorer, Sojourner. His recreation is fairly true to the original - you really have to see it.
A lot of people have wondered why it took so long to get the book out. Once you see the work that went into this book, I think you'll understand and cut Brian some slack - the book is very well done.
Now I'm going to try and find some time to actually go through the remaining chapters and build his robots and try out the LeJOS code. It may take some time, not just because I'm busy and always have other projects, but also because the book is just very extensive.
Good job, Brian... definitely a quality NXT book... and I'll forgive you for not including The NXT Step as a reference in one of your appendices ;)