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LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Thinking Robots: Build a Rubik's Cube Solver and a Tic-Tac-Toe Playing Robot! Paperback – December 25, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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About the Author

Daniele Benedettelli is known worldwide for his original LEGO robots, including the LEGO Rubik Utopy (a Rubik's Cube Solver) and JohnNXT 5 (based on the robot in Short Circuit). Benedettelli is a member of the MINDSTORMS Developer Program (MDP) and a MINDSTORMS Community Partner (MCP), groups that help to test and develop new NXT products. He holds a masters degree in Robotics and Automation from the University of Siena, Italy and is the author of Creating Cool MINDSTORMS NXT Robots (Apress). In his spare time, Benedettelli enjoys composing music.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (December 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593272162
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593272166
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,452,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Daniele Benedettelli lives and works in beautiful Tuscany, Italy. While he was attending high school, his main passion was writing music and playing the piano. When he wasn't playing the piano, you could find him playing with LEGO.

In 2002, Danny scraped together enough money to purchase the LEGO MINDSTORMS Robotics Invention System. From that moment on, he began to think about building a career out of his love for LEGO!

In 2006, he was selected by The LEGO Company as a member of the MINDSTORMS Developer Program, and in 2007 he became a MINDSTORMS Community Partner (MCP). His EL3CTRIC GUITAR model is one of LEGO's twelve official bonus models that you can build with the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Retail set 31313.

Danny's other well-known robots include the Rubik's Cube solver, which can independently solve any 3x3 Rubik's cube in less than a minute; LEGONARDO, a humanoid robot which can draw anything; and Cyclops, a mecha that can walk, talk, gesticulate, and can be even controlled with a suit worn by its human operator.

He is the author of several books: The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Laboratory (No Starch Press), LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Thinking Robots (No Starch Press), and Creating Cool MINDSTORMS NXT Robots (Apress). Danny holds an MSc degree in Robotics and Automation from the University of Siena.

Danny is currently working as a free-lance LEGO designer and as high school teacher. In his spare time, he enjoys composing songs and music for spots and short films.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
We are all used to LEGO robots that roll and crawl, but this book focuses on robots that perform complex tasks instead of following lines and avoiding obstacles. The two robots, a Rubik's Cube solver and a tic-tac-toe opponent, are well designed and the building instructions are clear and contain some great building techniques.

One thing I like about the book is the novice level introduction to BricxCC/NXC and the NeXT tools. The book doesn't try to teach this language and there are other books available on these topics, but to use these robots you need a bit of understanding on how they work, how to save them, etc... a good jumping off point.

Some of the reviews have critiqued the book for not supporting the Mac operating system. The author DOES support these and the book does provide what it can for Mac users... the reader is given a complete website for contacting the author with questions as well as to download the required programs.

The building instructions for No Starch books continues to improve every time... these instructions are easy to follow and are not cluttered on the page. The author deserves a lot of credit for also providing building instructions for both robots using both retails kits - 1.0 and 2.0.

My only concern (not complaint) about the book is a possibly limited audience - with only 2 robots in the book, I believe the book may only appeal to intermediate and advanced NXT users. Beginners are probably looking for more robots to build, more sample programs (especially in NXT-G), and more hand-holding. Fortunately there are other books that cater to the beginner... but I feel a warning should be given here that this book is not about teaching newcomers about building and programming.

All in all, a good book to have on the shelf if you're an NXT fan.
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Format: Paperback
This book is simple in concept. Take either the original NXT or the NXT 2.0 Mindstorm Robot from Lego. Set up your computer to use the NXC programs that are used to program the robot. Download the code to accomplish one of two tasks, a tic-tac-toe playing robot, or one that will solve Rubik's Cube. Then use the instructions to build the Lego model to accomplish these tasks. Most of the book is devoted to the instructions for building the robot from Lego blocks, there is little information on programming. The books has instructions for using either Windows or Mac operating systems, Linux is not currently supported. There is a brief listing of books and online articles that deal with artificial intelligence, which may be helpful to those with more interesting in creating these types of projects.

The book is not about interfacing with computers, it is not about robots, it is about building two specific projects with the Mindstorm NXT kit. In that way it is similar to buying a Lego model, and using the exploded graphical instructions to complete the model. For someone with interest only in building these two projects, and with no desire to delve into the code required to made the computer function, this is a great kit. For those who would like to do a programming project that builds on the work done by the book's author, there is no access to the source code, so that option is not available. There are other books that deal with programming the Mindstorm robot.

The book's strength is the quality of the graphics that instruct in building the model, its weakness is the lack of accessibility to and explanation of the source code. But if your only interest is building the admittedly clever robots that will play tic-tac-toe and solve Rubik's Cube, this is the book for you.
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Format: Paperback
As a creative builder of advanced Lego Mindstorms NXT Robots Mr. Benettelli provides clear and exquisitely illustrated
instructions to construct two fascinating robots which employ artificial intelligence-based techniques for physically
solving a Rubik's cube puzzle and playing tic-tac-toe at advanced level. An advanced beginner with the Lego Mindstorms
system will spend many hours enjoyably constructing these robots with capabilities that go well beyond what one
might think they could accomplish with a child-oriented robotics system. The step-by-step plans and copious
illustrations will enable anyone to achieve success in constructing these exciting examples of intelligent robotics.
One caveat for the curious hobbyist is that those looking for extensive instruction in the algorithms employed and the
theory of operation behind these enthralling robots will find the explanation of how they work somewhat light. There
is approximately two pages of explanation of the theory behind the tic-tac-toe playing robot, and some more pages on
where to go for further instruction in AI techniques. But for the advanced hobbyist who is looking for explanation of
how one could accomplish these techniques themselves the explanation of theory is somewhat limited.

Still this book provides excellent cookbook explanations of the construction of these fascinating robots and
the book will provide a great deal of fun for the hobbyist on just how far one can go with the Lego NXT system.

--Ira Laefsky
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