Oct 30, 2009

QR-codes on the NXT

Like to have hidden information on your NXT?

QR-codes, are Quick Response codes they link printed media to on-line media, like web pages. So if you see a code scan it with your mobile, and on-line you go, much faster then typing in the full URL.


Oct 28, 2009

LDD 3.0 is out

The LEGO Group™ has released the new major version 3.0 of the LEGO Digital Designer®, the official software to create LEGO® models virtually on the computer.

The new version includes
  • an online panel
  • an improved user interface
  • a new building guide
  • grouping of elements
  • an improved hinge tool and a hinge align tool
  • a hide tool
  • improved performance
  • a buyability tool
Try it out (you can download it from here for free), inspect the Get Started guide and tell us about your experiences.

Confusion with NXT kits

I wanted to bring a discussion out in the open that we (the blog contribs and various other NXT book authors) have been having today. It started with an email I received from a father who's son was disappointed to find that his One Kit Wonders book wasn't compatible with his new NXT 2.0 kit.

I'm opening this up for comments from our readers because I think it has potential to grow into a larger, more widespread problem for those who are new to the NXT world.

Let's state the obvious first - in 2006 the NXT was released in two versions: a Retail version 1.0 and an Education version 1.0. Both versions were different in the parts included in the box. In August 2009, LEGO released a new version of the Retail kit we'll call Retail 2.0. Retail 1.0 is no longer being produced and kits are probably slowly selling off from toy store shelves as collectors grab them up.

Okay, so we have Retail 1.0, Retail 2.0 and Education 1.0.

Now the confusing part - books. When a book was written for NXT between 2006 and 2009, most likely it was being written for the Retail 1.0 kit. A few books were done that required additional parts, either from other LEGO kits (non-robotic in nature) or what's known as the Resource Set (a LEGO Education product). There is no Retail Resource Set... the Education Resource Set simply provides more parts, gears, wheels, etc for builders to tinker with. That said, many books written for the Retail 1.0 kit contained robots that COULD be built with the Education 1.0 plus Resource Set. With me so far?

Now we have the Retail 2.0 kit. As far as I know, there are no books currently available yet for the 2.0 kit - but they're coming. So buyers who are purchasing the 2.0 kit from stores are purchasing a kit for which there are really no additional printed resources (books) available yet. Unfortunately, Amazon.com (and maybe some other online retailers) have a habit of recommending products to buyers - so when someone buys a Retail 2.0 kit, Amazon.com says "Hey, you might like this great NXT book called XXXXXXXX" and the buyer gets it thinking they'll have more robots to build... but in fact, the book is for Retail 1.0. Sad and unfortunate.

And now, with new books for 2.0 coming out, those Retail 1.0 owners are going to begin to find books with robots that they, too, cannot build (short of purchasing a Retail 2.0 kit).

(And let's not forget that Education 1.0 owners are completely out in the cold here - few books written just for Education 1.0 kit and no 2.0 kit on the horizon - as far as I know.)

So, this raises a few questions:

1. Will LEGO release a "parts pack" that will provide Retail 2.0 owners with the parts found in Retail 1.0 but not in Retail 2.0?

2. Will LEGO release a "parts pack" that will provide Retail 1.0 owners with the parts found in Retail 2.0 but not in Retail 1.0?

3. How can buyers of Retail 2.0 know if a book is written for their kit or not?

Well, I don't have answers for 1 and 2, but we (book authors) are trying to work with our respective publishers to see if we can get the kit numbers (and version numbers) possibly listed with the books to avoid future bad purchases. This probably won't completely solve the problem, though... suggestions are welcome!

So, what do you think?

Oct 23, 2009

Project Teaser Video

Here is a video teaser for my new project... This was the first time I have tried taking a video of the NXT screen, and the dinky video camera I have was barely up to the task, but I'm sure you will get the idea.

Oct 22, 2009


Today LEGOWORLD in Zwolle (the Netherlands) starts.

We will be showing an automated highbay warehouse with over 25 NXT's. build and designed after the real version that LEGO has to store all their bricks.

Hope to see you there, come visit us in the main LEGO hall.


Project Teaser...

In my spare time here and and there, I have been working on an NXT project that includes a lot more programming than your typical NXT project. Here is a teaser screenshot. Anybody want to guess what it does?

LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0: The King's Treasure update

Apologies to all for my absence on the blog - I've been working very hard to get this book completed (along with two other books being written simultaneously - don't EVER do that, trust me).

The book is scheduled for a mid to end November release... 5 robots, 5 new challenges, and my good friend Chris Smith (fellow blogger and MCPer) is responsible for the CAD building instructions you'll see in side - no photos in this book! A big thank you to Chris for agreeing to take my photos and turn them into some real artwork.

Thanks to all of you for your patience AND for your kind words about The Mayan Adventure - the sequel would never have been done without you as Apress was happy with sales of the book and feedback from its readers.


Oct 20, 2009

LEGOWORLD 2009 (2)

At this moment; Thursday, Friday and Saturday are completely booked out!
There are still tickets available for Sunday 25, Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 October.

visit your Intertoys LEGO shop or www.legoworld.nl to buy a ticket for LEGOWORLD.


Oct 19, 2009


LEGOWROLD 2009 the biggest LEGO event in the world, starts on Thursday, 22 October 2009, if you still want to visit you will have to purchase tickets on-line, or in the Intertoys (a dutch LEGO shop), you can not purchase them at the entrance!

look at http://legoworld.nl/english for more information.

During this show we will be present with a large MINDSTORMS stand, for all your questions.


Oct 18, 2009

Gearing tutorial

Not exactly NXT related, but Sariel has a fantastic tutorial on LEGO gears, what all the terminology means and how to use them.

Well worth the read.


Image from Sariel.pl

Damien Kee

Oct 15, 2009

NXT in South America

MCP Mauricio Pego from Uruquay has published some images and a video on the two-NXTs robot AriAna built by him and his team "PureLEGO" who won one of the categories of the Uruguay IEEE competition 2009:

We are always happy to blog about NXT activities in South America - however, there seem to be so few of them there (?).
Hence, if you are from Brasil, Uruquay, Argentina, Venzuela or the likes, and you are related with LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT: tell us about it.

Interactive Designs?

Currently there is a new forum topic in the Education section by "Bob", who is looking for robots that interact with people for an education event he is planning.

I think this is a topic a lot of us would be interested in. So, how about doing us all a favor by sharing your knowledge of interactive robotic designs---ones currently available somewhere (on the web, in a book,...) or ones you'd like to to share?

Oct 13, 2009


The video is a bit long, but be sure to wait for the behind-the-scenes look at the end.

If you've not seen NeXTSTORM's work before, you'll find many more impressive projects at the same address.

Oct 11, 2009

Images from BrickCon 2009

Steve Putz, editor of the Robotics Learning web site, has posted some photos from the BrickCon 2009 which took place lately in Seattle (Or., USA).
There's also a video showing his walking NXT shooter that made second place in the Walking Robot Competition there (as far as I know, the winner was Gus Jansson's NXT hexapod we reported about one week ago).

If anyone has other infos and pictures or videos from that event, please post the links in the comments.

Oct 10, 2009

HiTechnic New Releases

The folks over at HiTechnic have been busy... take a visit over at their redesigned website and you'll find a handful of new items, including:

1. HiTechnic Sensor Multiplexer - "...adds extra functionality by allowing up to 4 sensors to be connected to one NXT sensor port."

2. HiTechnic IRReceiver Sensor - "decodes commands from a Power Functions Remote Control and your NXT program can use the commands to directly control NXT motors or to control other functions in your program."

3. Building Instructions - HIGH quality, with sample program, too!

4. HiTechnic Experimenter's Kit - "contains everything you need to create your own sensors and electronic circuits that can be controlled with your NXT programs."

We'd love to hear your feedback on these items if you are using any of them!

Oct 7, 2009

Snapbot Building Challenge on NXTLOG

Running on NXTLOG (the LEGO® official online repository for community NXT models) already since September and ending on 31st of October, the Snapbot building challenge this time requests for sending in working NXT robots that can be reasonably built with as minimum parts as possible:
"In this challenge you must create a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot that uses the minimum amount of LEGO bricks possible. Can you create a simple robot that someone can build in a snap?

Snap Bots can be built in the following categories:

Do you feel inspired?
Then figure out such a minimalistic robot and send it in to NXTLOG.

Oct 5, 2009

NXT Hexapod

Nice NXT Based hexapod. If anyone has any more details, please let us know in the comments.

Damien Kee

Release 0.85 of leJOS NXJ

At beginning of September, the Open Source project leJOS has released version 0.85 of leJOS NXJ, the Java platform for the NXT.
0.85 is meant as a intermediary release on the road to the first major version 1.0; nevertheless, it features a lot of enhancements, amongst others
  • support for the new LEGO color sensor in the NXT 2.0 set
  • better support and documentation for MAC OS X, including the Fantom USB driver
  • a plug-in for the Netbeans IDE
  • improved JVM speed
  • support for the instanceof keyword
  • detection of rechargeable batteries and improved battery indicator
  • platform independent lejos.robotics packages
In addition, there are some previews included to upcoming technologies, such as
  • new navigation proposal (work in progress) that is platform independent, supports more vehicles, has better localization support, and new concepts of pose controllers and path finders
  • preliminary support for probabilistic robotics, including general purpose KalmanFilter class using matrix algebra
  • reworking of the Monte Carlo Localization classes
  • limited java.awt and java.awt.geom classes

Oct 2, 2009

RoboCup Junior Australia 2009

We recently had our RoboCup Junior championships in Australia. One of the categories is 'Dance' and this was one of the winning entries.

Thanks to Paulette for a quick writeup in the forums and link to a youtube video.

I love how they each have their own 'part' that synchronises to the changes in the music. I also love Beanie Boys head, and would love to see how it works under the hood.

Damien Kee
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