May 18, 2007

NXT Building Instructions for sale

Mirik emailed me a link to his new website - he's selling PDF files containing building instructions for his robots. The designs look interesting and at $5US each, some readers might want to check them out.

After the RIF thing, I've been a little hesitant to write about these kinds of products. We may see how reactions go before posting any other services like this one. So, if anyone wants to take a look and write a review, please let us know (and keep comments polite, please).

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

personally Jim I'm not wanting to pay for building plans. Nothing personal against his website but there are plenty of building plans around for free. There is nothng wrong with sharing this type fo info with blog visitors but I hope you're not endorsing it.

Jim Kelly said...

Wow...that didn't take long to bring a comment!

Nope... not endorsing. Just providing as NXT news that you can use or ignore :)

We walk a fine line with our blog - yes, many of us (myself included) talk about our books, but these are personal projects.

As a rule, The NXT Step is a news and information source, so we do not put up banners and advertisements and such - I think some of us talked at one time about setting up an e-commerce link to possibly sell some of our personal projects, but in the end we decided not to do it.

Mirik's has every right to try and sell his stuff and we are only letting readers know about NXT sites out there... again, you can buy or not. Your call.

(And we occasionally get "sellers" wanting to join us as contributors so they can promote their stuff - happens a LOT! A polite "no thanks" is usually enough to send them on their way. This hasn't happened so much with NXT stuff, but with general robotics type companies and such.)

Anonymous said...

Why does this type of effort spawn a negative reaction while the announcement of a new book seems perfectly acceptable?

Anonymous said...

"there are plenty of building plans around for free."
Any links? Besides the few at the Lego site, all I can find are robots with 3 or 4 close-up pics.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to second the previous comment, regarding the first post.

"there are plenty of building plans around for free"

Where? I'd like for him to back up his statement.

Kind Regards,
Mike

Laurens Valk said...

Anonymous,
Of course there are many of building plans. You know that.
Matthias Paul Scholz has a nice amount of them. Philippe Hurbain has a few. Too much to mention.

I can also tell you that we (from the official Mindstorms message boards) are working on a website like this, which is free.

These models that we share can be built from the NXT retail set, and include step by step building instructions.

222Doc said...

There alot of places you can get an idea or inspiration. Maybe not pin by pin details. A few pictures is enough for most to build by. I feel that leaves the builder to make a version of there own not a copy. In the end its the program that brings the build to life. I think this is the more lacking information out there.

At nxtlog you see thousands of projects. Yet few with programs. So far Brians repository at brickshelf is the best place to view snippets of programming examples. In that case a picture is worth a thousand words.

Studdless building has made building require alot more parts, small parts. it also makes the builder have to think in a 3d way of construction if it is to be durable. this has made building instructions longer and more complex to render.

If Mirik can make a buck selling plans to those that need help and inspiration it is what the USA is made of, free enterprise. As for Nxtstep to blog it, well its a blog. It is for them to put what they feel on here. You will never please everyone, why try.

regards,

Doc

Anonymous said...

"Why does this type of effort spawn a negative reaction while the announcement of a new book seems perfectly acceptable?"

Easy. Because a book isn't just building plans. I have a few Mindstorms books and they have programs and discussions and stuff that I can't find in other places. As a teacher, a book gives me a more for my money than just building plans.

Anonymous said...

Laurens Valk said...

These models that we share can be built from the NXT retail set, and include step by step building instructions.


Do you have any links?

Thanks

Jim Kelly said...

Hey, look - I make a living as a writer. If I don't write, I don't eat :)

I have zero issue with promoting my book or any of the other contributor's books on our blog because the blog came first - the books were just secondary items that came along. I started the blog as a way for me to keep track of all the NXT stuff that I knew would be popping up... it kinda got out of control :)

Yes, we make some money selling our books and talking about them on the blog... them's the breaks. What we don't do is invite people as contributors who are looking to just sell their stuff and not provide for the community. I think most people would agree that nxtstep and nxtasy are about providing information, not selling stuff.

I have NO PROBLEM with people trying to sell what they want - as Doc222 said, "free enterprise" is great.

I'm not taking sides on this particular website because it's not important. Mirik contacted me, I looked his stuff over and decided that it was worth sharing with the community. I'm not saying buy from him... I'm not saying boycott him. He's selling a product and the market will decide whether it works or not.

Anonymous said...

"Easy. Because a book isn't just building plans. I have a few Mindstorms books and they have programs and discussions and stuff that I can't find in other places. As a teacher, a book gives me a more for my money than just building plans."

I'm sorry but I can't accept that explanation. I'm sure if someone produced something (to your satisification) , published it on the web and charged for it... there would be plenty of people complaining.

I think there is a double standard applied to the web when it comes to charging money.

Fay Rhodes said...

There is a "double standard" because people seem to feel free to steal anything that is on the Web---photos, movies, term papers... As much as I like the Web, I also prefer a book in hand---and am willing to pay for a good one.

Revi said...

I don´t see any problem what so ever about the post about Mirik´s site, or the site itself.. The post it self is basically just a piece of information.

The site is, I believe, as Mirik want it to be. His site, his choice.

If somebody wants to pay for building instructions instead of spending time searching for them, fine by me.
If somebody pays for building instructions and afterwards find some that´s free and feel bad about they used money for some, I hope they THINK about it and learned a lesson instead of complaining; You´ll get a good start by Googling "mindstorms instructions"..!

I don´t understand why it´s a problem that some people is charging for something they publish on the net.
If you dosn´t want to pay for it, then don´t. Why complain..?

The instructions that I´ve made so far is for free, like all I make in the future will be.
I´m extremely glad many others have the same opinion about the instructions they spend time making, that they shall bee free for all to use and in that way share ideas, knoweledge and inspiration, but if someone wnat to try and get a few bucks for it.. Fine by me. I will niether pay or complain.

Dean Hystad said...

Jim,

You made money on a book? Well I suppose I was paid for my little literary foray too. But given the time it took me to master the CAD software, get LPUB to work (this was back in its buggy youth, it's a great piece of software now), and several rewrites (my editor kept trying to push down the page count) I may have made about 2 cents an hour. In the end I decided that writing C is a much easier way to make a living than writing English.

I too am interested in a forum for distributing instructions. I've built up a significant collection of them over the years to teach FLL coaches how to build LEGO. I'm willing to share, but not interested in establishing and maintaining a web presence. I'm such a Luddite that this blog thing is almost beyond my comfort zone.

Jim Kelly said...

Dean,

I didn't say I made a *LOT* of money...

When you write for a living, you learn to either WRITE FASTER or WRITE LESS (or both!) - tech books usually won't make you rich :)

Brian Davis said...

Wow... huh, a few comments ;-).

Personally, I've no problem with people charging for a product, even if that product happens to be just a specific patterning of electrons. I do think a double-standard exists as well: people seem to think that "the internet is free", and get upset when they have to pay for something they already believe they "should have for free". Do I think they're wrong? Yep... but that doesn't change their perception. Personally (see below), for me this is something I *like* sharing...

As to plans on the web, well, you just have to look. For instance, LegoEdwest has some nice stuff up for instructors:

http://www.legoedwest.com/page.php?19

Then there are folks like me who can't seem to grasp LCAD tools, but can handle a camera:

DAZLR: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=203386

LNE: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=229082

Remote control: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=203384

And some NXT-G code snippets that 222Doc mentioned: http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=191310

Understand, these are just the ones I already know about off the top of my head - since I really don't look for plans very often, I'm sure there's a *LOT* more out there. I'll be trying to put up some stuff at LEGO Engineering soon I hope as well, and I've seen plans published in things like BrickJournal and Servo magazine. Others? There *are* some semi-detailed plans on NXTlog, but I'll admit they tend to be hard to find right now.

--
Brian Davis

Christopher R. Smith (Littlehorn) said...

I can't tell you how many times I had this same discussion before...

Yep, we have the choice to buy or not, sale or not, look or look away...

If anyone wants to pay a buck to learn, I say go for it. If anyone wants to try to make a buck, I say go for it. If people choose to ignore or voice an opinion, I say go for it. But, in the end we need to understand something...we have choices which are our own and no one else's. If we could only walk a mile in each other’s shoes we would have a greater understanding of our community as a whole.

As for Sharing... I think it is the absolute most fantastic thing that could happen to improve and build our community. You know, learn from other’s mistakes or achievements. However, creating precise building instructions is very difficult, time consuming, and something that should be respected! I have seen too many times that something is recreated verbatim only to be given a different name and called one's own without giving any credit to the original creator. This hurts us all. How? People begin to become closed to sharing. Learning drops off and we head into an awful downward spiral.

I started the download section in the old Official LEGO MindStorms Forums called the "CAD Depot" which contained about a 100 wonderful LEGO Robotic inventions gratefully donated by many different people for others to learn from. To curate this depository was almost a fulltime job! However, in the end it provided visitors with a wealth of building knowledge unparalleled on the internet through the 1990's. I still have all of the contributions, some of which were never posted for download since the prep queue was quite long. Those CAD files were created with MLCad and of the RCX era...but, the collection was fun to present even if hardly anyone said "thanks".

I believe it was Abraham Lincoln that said… “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

I twisted this years ago in a fine way to nail this example towards communities…You can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

Yep...Them's the breaks. No sir! I don’t like it either…but it’s the world we live in.

Love'em or leave'em. But, try not to bring everyone down in the process.

Chris

PS – See me if you would like a Shuttle ride off the planet Earth.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate any links to NXT info. Cuts Down on time searching the internet. This blog is my basis for finding many sites that I would never have found otherwise.
It's for the individual to choose whether they want to purchase or not, but it's good for all of us to know what's out there.
Thanks.

Brian Davis said...

Chris - a nice relaxing 3ish G smooth ascent for ten minutes or so sounds very nice. I accept your invitation :-).

--
Brian "NXT... in... Spaaaaaccceee..." Davis

Jonathan Daudelin said...

Totally agree with you Chris. It's nice when someone decides to release their work for free, but people are certainly entitled to try to get something for their work.

I also like your idea about walking a mile in each other's shoes. I always do say: Before criticizing someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes. :-)

Ok, that was a joke... :)

-Jonathan

Guy Ziv said...

NXTasy.org has a well established repository, and there is a category for fully-documented projects with building instructions. If anyone want to post his contributions, I will host them on our server and get them listed in the categorized searchable database.

Guy Ziv
NXTasy.org

Guy Ziv said...

NXTasy.org has a well established repository, and there is a category for fully-documented projects with building instructions. If anyone want to post his contributions, I will host them on our server and get them listed in the categorized searchable database.

Guy Ziv
NXTasy.org

Anonymous said...

I never quite understand why people get all up in arms because someone makes something available for sale - especially for a few bucks. Its quite simple - if you want it, and see value what is being offered / price, then buy it. If you are all about open source, dont visit the guys site.

Most of you know my site (www.plastibots.com) - everything there is free. However I have put hundreds of hours into it (yes, I love building LEGO, but I also want others to learn from my ideas) If I decide to spend countless hours creating building instructions and throw them up there for $5 a pop, you may or may not be interested - that is your decision.

I used to work in retail - when I had customers who were so intent on beating me down to the point of wasting my time AND not making a product - I had one question for them "Since when was it illegal to make a profit?"

..and for the record, I have free building instructions for DominoBot on my site. However, I have pondered the idea of selling others.

..and for the record #2 - I would gladly pay a small fee for John Hansens work on NXC /BricxCC (already donated once) as well as the work that Ralph Hempel is doing on PBLua... However, the choose (for now) to offer their work for free.

Dave Astolfo

Anonymous said...

I say go for it,Jim! After all, thinking up an original idea of what to build from scartch is difficult enough,(trust me, I know). Let alone creating some building instruction which everyone can understand and having to spend countless hours in front of the computer building, trying out and modifying the programs neccessary. This kind of things takes a lot time,exprience with the nxt kit and a lot a lot of brain juice.It can't be done by your everyday kid who got nxt lego mindstorm for a present a few days ago. ONLY the more experienced ones with nxt mindstorm can do it ,only with a lot and a lot of work. Sure, there is a lot of bulding plans for free, but no one is stopping you from selling your own! With all the work ones has to through, selling those instruction at US$5 is very reasonable. Go for it Jim! I support your idea!

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