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LEGO Mindstorms NXT
|Price:||$499.99 + $7.49 shipping|
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- Intelligent brick with 32-bit microprocessor; more memory and flash
- Three interactive servo motors features built-in rotation sensors that aligns speed for precise control and new sound patterns and tones
- 577 specially selected LEGO TECHNIC elements for sturdy and durable building and improved functionality and movement
- Icon-based drag-and-drop program building environment
- 6 AA batteries required which is not included
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CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
- LEGO's newest robot-building kit, with greatly improved functionality
- 32-bit command center with large LCD, USB 2.0 and Bluetooth interfaces that allow robots to walk, talk and interact with their environment
- Technic blocks ("studless legos") create a more human, less boxy look
- Intuitive GUI and drag-and-drop icons are PC- and Mac-friendly
- Redesigned touch and light sensors, new sound sensor and ultrasonic sensor
- Now with three motors - redesigned for smoother, more reliable operation
- 6-wire digital cables for more precise connections
- 5 main themes (8 different models) - Vehicle: Roverbot, Animal, Scorpio; Machine: Robotic Arm; Human: Humanoid; Gadgets: Clock, Music, Game and Movers
- Models are all built within the LEGO Technic System
- 577 pieces
- Quickstart Guide helps you build a robot ready for action within 30 minutes
- Model-specific building instructions, tips and tricks, testing methods and programming options
- Easy-to-use software
- Test panel
Safety warning: This product contains small parts that may present a choking hazard for young children.
Out of the Box
The main part of the kit is the NXT itself. It's about the size of an iPod (though a bit thicker) with a a loudspeaker, a monochrome LCD, and navigation keys on the front. This is the controller for the robot--it's brain, if you will. It has three ports on top for connecting to the servo motors and four ports on the bottom for connecting to four different sensors: Touch, Light, Sound, and Ultrasonic (see detail below).
The set includes Ethernet-like wires for connecting all of these to the NXT, as well as software and a basic USB cable for downloading programs from your computer. Then there are all the Lego parts, hundreds of them, and most are very small. It would be a good idea to get a plastic organizer for the different parts--it would not only make construction and storage easier but also part loss less likely.
Hitting the Bricks
The instructions for MNXT are simple, illustrated, and they gently take the new user on an introductory path through the system. The quick start guide promises a 30-minute robot building and programing intro, though for me it was closer to 50 (I'm a little old and slow). It starts with a simple diagnostic routine which shows you how to test the function of all sensors, then proceeds to step-by-step picture instructions for building a basic first robot. It's about as complex as building a piece of Ikea furniture.
Programming is the real gem in this system. It has a drag-and-drop interface using pre-programmed objects that you pull from a palette and snap to other objects.
Next, I installed the software. Be sure to check the system requirements (below). The software is well-designed and very intuitive. It comes with built-in video instructions on how to create your first simple program and download it to your NXT.
Bringing It To Life
Programming is the real gem in this system. It has a drag-and-drop interface using pre-programmed objects that you pull from a palette and snap to other objects. Each object is configurable. For example, the Sound object brings up a sub-window that allows you to choose between a tone and a list of sound files, set the volume, set duration, and so on. Little Lego bricks between the objects reinforce the idea that building a NXT program is like building a Lego model. Programming this way is much easier than, say, creating a web page from scratch. Lego even offers a software development kit for getting deeper into the programming.
|Mindstorms NXT "challenges" from top: Tribot, RoboArm, and Spike.|
There comes a genuine thrill from seeing something you've created--even something simple and silly as my first program--come to life in a robot. It's akin to seeing yourself on TV for the first time. I played that program a dozen times.
The software contains "challenges," which are similar step-by-step instructions for creating and programming more complex models, such as a robotic arm that can "perform simple tasks and react to different colors." Each challenge is divided into smaller tasks with step-by-step building, programming, and testing guides for each task.
Accessing your latest program once it's downloaded to the NXT is pretty easy. Lego has set it up so that you can execute it by pressing the big orange center button four times in a row after start-up. I was surprised to find out that you don't need a computer to program the NXT. You can program directly into the NXT Program submenu.
The NXT also has built-in Bluetooth wireless technology. If your computer has Bluetooth, you can test and download programs to the NXT without connecting the USB cable--a really handy feature if you're programming a complicated dance routine and you don't want your robot getting tripped up in cables. If your phone or PDA has Bluetooth, you might be able to use your device to control the robot. Best of all, Bluetooth allows you to create a network of up to three NXT devices. Think of the possibilities: three NXTs plus three sets of blocks and sensors equals bigger, more complex robots.
My one and only complaint is that I wish the sensors had more "studs," those little round parts that allows Lego bricks to interlock. --Porter B. Hall
Top Customer Reviews
- the new motors are Wonderful -- they work as motors or servos (you tell them which angle to go to). They look futuristic and robot-y
- it comes with an ultrasound distance sensor -- whoa that's neat!
- All of the sensors are "slick-looking", and seem to work very well.
- the brick display is quite nice, but the interface is a bit niggly. Lots of nested menus. My 3 year-old managed to delete the built in demo program by button twiddling. It was easy to restore, though.
- the box itself (the "out of box experience") is disappointing. You have to punch out some quarter-circles to allow it to hinge, but they're poorly serrated, so the tears come out ugly. The inner boxes are hard to open so you end up messing those up. In short, the previous mindstorms box was a great long-term storage solution. This one is going in the trash. As a first impression, it's pretty poor.
- back to the good: there's a "quick-start guide" that gets you building a simple robot that is run by a built in demo program. It's perfect: not difficult, but not trivial -- it makes noises and moves around. The kids were enchanted.
- the "powered by LabView" programming environment seems halfway between the nerd-y LabView system that you could buy from Dacta and the totally bozo thing bundled with the old Mindstorms.Read more ›
My entry point to the NXT robotic platform was in search of a faster, easier way of implementing remote sensing and data accumulation. I had been working with Crossbow motes, but found their "programming" tedious and non-intuitive. I checked out LabView first ($1,000 for the base level) and figured that for a quarter of that price I would get a taste of the software plus ready-to-use sensors and servomotors. I was pleased beyond my most optimistic expectations!
I won't repeat the other reviews other than to say that the first "rover" was done in less than 30 minutes (once I figured out that its parts were in the smaller box labeled "open me first") and I am a long way from being a Lego wizard.
What I want to do is clear up some of the confusion that might result from reading other reviewers' remarks about the software: for its intended purpose, the LabView "lite" is perfect. And what is that purpose, you might wonder: to enable kids ages 8+ to actually write robotics code, take measurements and control motion.
In contrast to "left-brained" logic with typed instructions (e.g. C/C++, BASIC, etc.) this is "right-brained" symbolic, intuitive programming. You don't have to write code for a "do loop", just drag a "loop block" and it will "do" what is needed. Variables? Just drag a "wire" from block to block and the data will be where you need it. Interrupts? You can have multiple threads and each can be waiting for specific data and react when it appears. Debug? Okay, it's trial and error, but the trials are short and the errors easy to fix.Read more ›
Everything talks to the central computer, which is called a "brick". It is maybe 1/4th the size of a "real brick". It has ports to connect to the four sensors and three servo motors. Additionally, the brick can connect to a computer using USB or bluetooth.
The three motors are controlled using your own programs. You have a great deal of control, you can specify the exact angle a motor should move. Also programming is easy, using a visual block-dragging software application. It works great on both Mac and Windows.
The four sensors are very cool.
Ultrasonic sensor: Can detect distance and movement. The distance sensor is very cool and can make for some cool programs.
Light sensor: Can detect brightness and color. The robot can be programmed to pickup only the blue or red ball, which is included.
Push sensor: Detects when something bumps against it. This is basically just a toggle switch.
Sound sensor: Detects the volume and tone of sound.
Lego gives you a number of plans to follow, as well as some basic plans to build off of. For example, the crawler and driver platforms allow you to start with either an "insect" or "car" type robot.
The brick takes 6 double A batteries. Rechargables work well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mindstorms is the most amazing toy for kids and adults alike. I have build all the robots in the included handbook and several others. Read morePublished 7 months ago by P. Fitzjarrell
Excellent. Our high school students are getting good results on national robotic competition with this product.They got to the finals.Published on April 8, 2014 by Gustavo
Absolutely no reason to buy it at this price. Well, unless maybe you are a collector or something. The latest LEGO release (EV3) is less than half this price. Read morePublished on December 11, 2013 by Lucas Keyes
I like the original NXT best of all. Simple, functional. Starts up quickly! Not all 3rd Evolutions of products are better than what went before. Read morePublished on November 15, 2013 by UK Expat
Super fun, and a great way to build what you imagin makes you think outside the box when you are creatingPublished on November 4, 2013 by Denise Brooks
I bought this kit for my 10 yo son. The kit itself is a lot of fun and he's having a blast with it. The software on the other hand, is simply terrible. Read morePublished on September 29, 2013 by C