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Xander Soldaat's Profile

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Xander Soldaat RSS Feed (Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

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Das EV3 Roboter Universum: Ein umfassender Einstieg in LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 mit 8 spannenden Roboterprojekten. (mitp Professional) (German Edition)
Das EV3 Roboter Universum: Ein umfassender Einstieg in LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 mit 8 spannenden Roboterprojekten. (mitp Professional) (German Edition)

5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for German-speaking roboteers!, April 13, 2014
It should come as no surprise that this book is, in fact, written in German. That makes this book exceptionally useful for the younger German audience who may not have mastered the English language quite yet.

This book is quite unique in that it embraces both the retail and education core set. The building instructions in the book are for the retail version, but owners of the education set can easily download the alternative instructions for their set. I presume this was done to save pages for other items, like learning to actually program your robots!

A good part of the book is spent on getting the user acquainted with the ins and outs of the EV3 programming environment. It touches on subjects such as setting up Bluetooth, WiFi and controlling your robot using a mobile phone, data logging, programming pitfalls and gotchas.

Chapters 6 and up touch on a number of basic concepts of programming an EV3 robot, listed neatly at the start of the chapter. Using a difficultly index for both programming and building, you can easily see how much of a challenge you can expect. Naturally, the earlier chapters will be easier than the last ones. I was particularly charmed by the program flow diagrams that clearly show how the robot’s program does its thing; learning about these will greatly increase the understanding of software design, even for simply programs.

The colour building instructions are great, they make things so much clearer than simply black and white ones. You can easily tell the difference between a grey and black beam without having to squint or guess.

If you’re the owner of the retail version of the EV3, you might want to consider buying yourself the EV3 gyro sensor, so you can learn how to make very accurate turns and shapes with your robot. It’s a really fun sensor to own and the book covers very nicely how to use it effectively.

by Gary Garber
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.99
2 used & new from $17.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Compact and concise, could've done with a bit more attention to detail., December 30, 2013
It's a small (82 pages) e-book that is "A concise guide full of step-by-step recipes to teach you how to build and program an advanced robot." It aims to be usable for both an experienced engineer and adult tinkerers that are not familiar with MINDSTORMS. This set requires you to have the LEGO EDUCATION version of the MINDSTORMS EV3 set.

The book is split into four sections:
* Building a robot (Simple)
* Gyro sensor movement (Medium)
* Ultrasonic motion sensing (Advanced)
* Proportional line follower (Advanced)
Each section introduces a few new concepts and how you can use the robot's abilities to perform certain tasks. The same basic model is used throughout but extra parts are added as needed.

This is not one of the best books I have ever read and I must say that I am a little disappointed with the overall quality of it. While I understand it's a book to kickstart adults to be able to start dabbling with the EV3 platform, I can't help but think that the book was rushed out the door a little too quickly.

Things I didn't like about the book:
* There are issues with the consistency of the size of the icons in the screenshots, sometimes, on the same page, the icons can be of two different sizes, it's distracting. This also applies to screenshots that are almost, but not completely the same size on the same page.
* Some of the screenshots are grainy, I had trouble reading some of the letters in the blocks. I assume this is because JPEGs were used instead of PNG, which uses a loss-less compression algorithm.
* Some of the renders of the models are done with a different quality level of rendering or maybe even with a different program, I am not sure.
* Some of the code has comments, other bits that could really use it, don't.
* It would've been a lot better if the line follower had an auto-calibration sequence instead of a value that you need to tweak through a menu.

Some of the good things about this book:
* The model is nice and simple, it shouldn't take long to get you up and going.
* The content is concise and to the point, although I am not sure Building Instructions (BI) need comments on what piece to put where, the BI itself should be sufficient. This would've saved page space, which could've been used to explain complex concepts like arrays a little more in-depth.
The choice of using a line follower is a smart idea, they are very gratifying when they work.
* I like the "how it works", "there's more" and "getting ready" headers.

This may be quite a negative review but I feel that not enough time was spent to give this book the polished look and feel that it could've had. I understand that, given the number of pages, you cannot cover everything in depth, but that should not impact many of the points I have made above. Since it's an e-book, it should be quite feasible to address these issues. Right now it looks more like a tutorial someone would put on their website, rather than something that would be sold for money.

The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 2: Spaceships, Pirates, Dragons & More!
The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 2: Spaceships, Pirates, Dragons & More!
by Megan Rothrock
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.50
72 used & new from $13.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly an adventure, November 29, 2013
I’m a Technic man to the core but this book softened my studless heart. The book makes an impeccable first impression with its hard cover and colourful photos. This book is so cheerful that you cannot help but smile as you read the comic stories that have been beautifully photographed and edited.
The book is filled with more than a 100 models, as well as almost 40 building instructions in the form of brick-by-brick breakdowns. The instructions are easy to follow because of the crisp colour photos they have used, as well as the added arrows, where required. As well as Megan’s own models, it features 10 other builders and their creations. I thought the Steam Punk-inspired models were super cool (or should that be steamy?). The Fire Tragon (a dragon/train model) looks amazing and makes me wish I had LEGO Train parts to build it.
There are models in this book that will appeal to kids as well as more adult fans of LEGO. There’s enough inspiration in this book to cover almost everyone’s taste. The book ends with a promise of more adventures, I can’t wait!

Beautiful LEGO
Beautiful LEGO
by Mike Doyle
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.43
85 used & new from $11.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply stunning, November 29, 2013
This review is from: Beautiful LEGO (Paperback)
Two words: simply stunning. When I first saw this book being announced, I knew I had to have it. It's filled with breathtakingly sharp colour images of models that will blow you away. Think of this book as a catalogue of some of the world's most amazingly creative models and dioramas. The complexity ranges from entire mountain-side models of a Sci-Fi world to stunning mech models to super minimalistic caricatures. My favourites from this book are the derelict houses, the almost photo realistic bird models and the space ship models. There are so many models in this book by so many different creators, that there is bound to be something in here for everyone. I'm actually running out of adjectives and superlatives to adequately describe this book.
This book would make a great gift for anyone who likes LEGO or simply appreciates art and creativity.

The BrickGun Book: Build the World's Most Realistic LEGO Handguns
The BrickGun Book: Build the World's Most Realistic LEGO Handguns
by Jeff Boen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.34
88 used & new from $10.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great models and clear building instructions, May 29, 2013
This is a book that is a must-have if you're either a LEGO fan, a gun aficionado or a combination of the two. The models in this book are simply stunning. There are building instructions (BIs) for 5 very detailed models with various moving parts. At the start of each model's chapter, there are two parts lists. One is in table format, with official part numbers, names, colours and quantities, so you can easily order missing parts from sites like Bricklink. However, if you already have a pretty extensive bricks collection, you can simply refer to the visual parts list, with nicely rendered images of all the parts and their respective required quantities. Despite the fact that the models are mostly black or brown, the BI images come out very crisp and that's not an easy feat! I am very glad they chose to make this book in colour.
I especially liked the history of how the author started his gun model building hobby and the stories behind the models.

The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Discovery Book: A Beginner's Guide to Building and Programming Robots
The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Discovery Book: A Beginner's Guide to Building and Programming Robots
by Laurens Valk
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.66
122 used & new from $2.71

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you ready for a journey of discovery?, May 10, 2010
This book is the culmination of more than a year's work and it shows. It's broken up into 4 parts and will guide you through a journey of discovery. On your route to becoming a robotics master you will build no less than 8 different robots and learn about every aspect of NXT-G programming with the help of 50 sample programs. If that's not enough, you can test just how good you've become with any one of the 85 building and programming challenges.

The building and programming instructions are really nice, clear and clean; it's not hard to tell the author has done this before. Learning to program and build with your new NXT 2.0 kit will be so much more fun with this book by your side. It will knock your socks off (don't worry, there's a robot in the book that can help you pick them up again).

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