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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


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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: 9.9 x 8 x 0.8 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: #969,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.


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

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Kelly on December 24, 2009
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 7, 2010
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elad on December 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book shows you how to build two Lego Mindstorms projects: One for solving Rubic's cube and the other for playing tic-tac-toe.

The idea is great. The instructions are more or less clear. The problems start when things don't work out first time: The author doesn't provide any debugging information, and no interactive support (there is a discussion board on his site, but it's useless for debugging this build).

So, if your build works well first time, it's great! If, as in our case, it doesn't, it's extremely frustrating.

Therefore, I'd recommend this book to an adult who wishes to spend time on making this work, but definitely not for a teenager.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rob Torok on January 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
It's always great to see designs for clever robots, and it's especially refreshing to have the full building instructions laid out so clearly. The two robots in this book are very elegant, and the instructions are very easy to follow. For each robot, there is a full set of instructions for both versions of the retail kit.

I think the background on each robot, and particularly their history, is quite relevant. I like that Benedettelli pays respect to others who have built similar robots.

My only criticism of the book (and the reason I'm giving it 4 stars rather than 5) is that I would've liked more detail about the programming, especially given that the book's title includes the phrase "thinking robots". Despite a brief, but interesting, section at the end of the book that explicitly addresses the topic of "thinking robots", the focus was clearly on making a book that would enable the reader to replicate the two robots as easily as possible. For this reason, the decision to gloss over the programming is understandable. I am, however, pleased that the NXC source code is available online for anyone who wishes to modify the program or use it as a starting point to create their own program.
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