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on December 30, 2003
I am not ashamed to admit that I am 28-going-on-29 and I absolutely love this book. It is very well written and highly detailed. As a Mehanical Engineer with 6+ years work experience I was certain that this book wouldn't live up to the expectations that the first few pages that I read in the book store led me to develop. Was I wrong!! This book's simplified expanation of engineering concepts is unmatched. From Lego block geometry to gearing setup and programming. This book has it all if you'd like to go beyond the few missions that the mindstorm kit comes with. Don't be mistaken this book has no step-by-step instructions for building robots. It only introduces "snippet" to get your creative "juices" flowing. My understanding of Legos and their use has been greatly enhanced. To make things even better, the authors includes useful information on other Lego parts that are not included with mindstorm that are very important, i.e. light sensors, hydraulics, etc. If you are looking for a reference book to help you build better Lego creations, this book is it!!
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on December 27, 2001
This is the most comprehensive book on building robots with Mindstorms yet published. It is mammoth (600+ pages) and has three sections. The first part deals with the basics, including chapters on such topics as walking, grabbing, and even a chapter on mathematics. The second section deals with specific projects. The final section discusses contests. The book is well written and even the math section is easy to understand.
Here are the pros and cons as I see them. Really, the cons exist by choice, as the authors chose to cover every imaginable design topic in detail and not use up space with programs or step-by-step diagrams.
Pros:
- Outstanding coverage of design principals, allowing the builder to learn concepts for building ANY robot.
- Lots of cool demonstration projects and plenty of building projects to work on, including a 2 legged walker!
- Open ended instruction lets you learn a design principal, then build and observe it.
Cons:
- No step-by-step building instructions and pictures. (Enough detail is provided by the photos that the models can be readily recreated.)
- Very little programming. (The authors' intent was to focus on the mechanical aspects of robot design. If you really want to learn programming, Dave Baum's book is a great resource for NQC).
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on January 14, 2002
This is a great book, since it not so much treats the basics of programming (as do many other Mindstorms books) but pays equally balanced attention to the principles behind making good mechanical constructions. I especially like the places where behaviorial issues that are seemingly 'obviously programming' are obtained by clever mechanical solutions, since it matches my own way of looking at Mindstorms. Often, these solutions free up motor and sensor ports, and therefore permit to add more behavior onto the basic behavior of the original design.
You really learn many things from this book which you do not find in other Mindstorms books, because the authors take a pleasantly fundamental approach. There are chapters on Lego geometry, and a chapter on walking robots starts with an experimental explanation of the center-of-gravity, which is of course the fundamental problem behind the designs that follow. There are also some basics of signal processing which should help solve sensory issues structurally, without hacking, another commendable improvement over comparable books that ignore such problems.
The playfulness of the authors shines throughout, and this is what makes this serious book such inspirational fun - who would think of using Mindstorms to build a pinball machine or flight simulator? It is brimming with non-traditional ideas like these. The many illustrations are excellent, and there is enjoyment at every level: the design issues at large (such as what to relegate to the hardware, and what to the software), but also the design details; for instance there is an incredibly compact and simple turtle foot that needs to be built to be believed.
Beyond the fun, the book really serves as a good introduction to the principles of robotics, with Lego as the tangible and affordable illustration of those principles. Useful tables in appendices convey the new flavor: Mindstorms is now being elevated from a toy to a specific technical design platform, and thus professionalized (to the extent that the tool allows, of course). In my mind, this enhances rather than reduces the enjoyment of the kits, since the structural approach should eliminate many minor frustrations in designing working robots.
Highly recommended!
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on December 13, 2001
I've been a LEGO hobbyist for years, and I'm very excited that my teenage son is now more into it than even I am. I bought this book for him as a Christmas gift, but I had to give it to him early after I saw the incredibly cool robots on the front. We've now both read the book cover to cover (not a small task considering the book is almost 600 pages) and the ideas and information we got from the book could keep us busy for years. The great thing about this book is that it does not just give you step by step instructions on how to build a handful of robots, it teaches you how to build ANY robot that YOU can dream up. A big thanks to the authors for such a great gift!
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on May 14, 2002
Definetely not for the faint hearted, this book has incredible math equations, teaches just about every building technique, goes briefely into math, GPS tracking robotics systems, and programming. Not a book to miss if entering an contest. Don't Miss it, but don' be expecting a step one, step two, step three, easy book. This is a toughie.
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on March 18, 2002
This is a great book on building Lego Mindstorms robots. The chapter topics are well chosen and Mario's enthusiasm for the topic is infectious. There are chapters on everything from the basics (geometry, gears, pneumatic theory, etc..) to different types of projects (mobile robots, grabber arms, walkers, vehicles, and games). Literally hundreds of hours worth of Lego Mindstorms projects are packed inside. Each project has a lot going for it.
The photographs are of a surprising quality and it's evident the authors spared no effort in constructing them. For example, the pneumatics chapter shows a cutaway section of a piston with airflow conveniently labeled. This sort of attention to detail really helps with understanding.
The book is ideal for everyone from the child who wants to make robots from popular movies, to the serious builder who wants to make a robot arm for playing chess, to the hardcore engineer who wants to make vehicles worthy of Mars exploration. I highly recommend this book, even if you just want to flip through the pages and marvel at the robots.
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on March 13, 2006
MindStorms is an absolutely fascinating robot building system for children, adults, and those who don't fit well into either category. This book helps you delve more deeply into the principles behind making really cool robots with MindStorms. The opportunities for learning are just never-ending, and at the same time, the limitless fun anyone can have, from pre-teen to geezer, makes the learning very rewarding. This book helps open this potential.

This book takes you beyond the step-by-step instructions in the Constructopedia, and doesn't shy away from the physical principles behind robots, so it is suited for the more experienced and mentally mature builder. I use it to get ideas for things I can build with my 9-year-old son. It won't be long until he's ready to have a go at the book himself, though.
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on February 27, 2002
I have read this cover to cover and even though I have built many lego models, I learned something new on each page. This book is also appropriate for any creative Lego projects - not just Mindstorms. It teaches you the way to approach projects, how to build them soundly, and encourages your creativity. The writing style is vey fluid.
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on February 3, 2002
This book strikes me as an ideal text for an advanced course in robotics Lego style. I am impressed with the depth the authors explored each segment of the MindStorms experience. The reader will find a variety of explanations for each segment ranging from simple to rather complex. This allows the reader to choose the level of complexity that is most comfortable.
The early chapters deal with several rudimentary characteristics of the MindStorms system. Many of these are part of the joy of discovery that plays a huge roll in the experience of this set. I believe that this book should be used after one has experienced all that the Constructopedia has to offer. The thrill of learning through experience is too great to give in to reading the solutions beforehand.
I have always envied the individual who is about to open their first MindStorms Robot Invention System. They are about to experience a trip into the future. This trip will last as long as imagination will allow. The efforts of Mario and Giulio Ferrari will continue to ignite curiosity and inspire the reader to venture further armed with the ideas and information contained in the chapters of this book.
I am pleased to have this fact filled book at my side to continue to learn more about this system. Mario and Giulio have done an outstanding job assembling 575 pages packed with new ideas to build, program and enjoy your MindStorms creations.

Bob Fay
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on October 20, 2014
I am using it as a review of mature Lego products. For this , it is an interesting and informative read. Be aware that most of the internet contacts are no longer active but I have found that there still exist some that can be found if you know where to look. It has inspired many hours of interesting tinkering and exploration. I purchased a used edition at a very reasonable price. I love the ability to have a real book in my hands. Really loved it !
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