Jun 8, 2007

"Building Robots with LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT": A Review

This book is out this week. What follows are some first impressions. Readers, including the book's authors, are encouraged to add more detail:

One of the book's strong suits is its non-intimidating style. The book is easy to understand and follow, with clear explanations throughout.

Beginners will appreciate the primer on NXT's basic elements: sensors, motors and Technic parts. Beginners will also appreciate the book's overview of building techniques, including an in-depth examination of NXT gearing.

Advanced users will enjoy the chapter on pneumatics, and the brief but fun chapter on building Sumo robots. Both beginners and advanced users will appreciate the chapter on building animals, as well as the chapter on building robots that walk.

There are no complete building instructions in the book, which is probably deliberate. The book focuses on construction principles and design theory, leaving it to the reader to design their own creations. That said, there are a few design ideas offered to get the reader started.

The chapter on programming is only an overview, without detailed instructions. A more in-depth look at NXT-G would have been helpful for the beginner. However, there are brief overviews of RobotC, NBC, pbLUA and LeJOS NXJ for the advanced user.

All in all, the book is a great reference work, especially for those new to the NXT. Teachers will be able to adapt the material for classroom use as well.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments on the book. A comment to the note about building instructions:

A: Yes, one of the goals for the update to Mario / Guilio's original (MINDSTORS RCX) work was to keep with a similar approach - which included not adding specific building instructions. This was done because we wanted to focus in everything NXT, and not on just instructions.

That said, some chapters do include building instructions for a few robots to get the ideas flowing. Most others are in-depth expantions on various subjects related to the NXT - and with many pictures.

Dave Astolfo (Tech Editor / Lead Author)

Dean Hystad said...

Dave,

What is our opinion of how the book turned out? This project made me nervous because of how it shirttails on one of the best LEGO books ever.

Is it worthy of the name?

Dean Hystad

Maniac of Mayhem said...

If it's anything like the RCX edition, I'm sure it will be superb. Now I just have to decide, this book... or theNXTstep Idea book?

Anonymous said...

Manic - get this one.

Rick Rhodes said...

Maniac,

Actually, I see the two books as complimentary. (How's THAT for straddling a fence!) :-)

The NXT Step Idea book coming out this summer has an introduction to the NXT, along with several theory chapters. It has detailed, step-by-step building instructions for nine robots. It also has detailed programming instructions for these nine robots, using NXT-G.

So, buy ONE book yourself; then ask your friends/family to get you the OTHER book for a gift. :-)

Anonymous said...

okay so I got this book and I'm not sure what to say. I like some of the ideas in the book but I can't build the ones I want cause there are no instructions! The title says building robots but I can't build them!!!!!

okay I'll calm down now :P I do like some of the book but I would of preferred more robot plans and programs to experment with.

Darren said...

Do you have an ebook version of it??

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