Customer Reviews: Winning Design!: LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Design Patterns for Fun and Competition (Technology in Action)
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on October 27, 2011
Unfortunately, the book preview is completely wrong for this book. The actual book uses very cheap B&W printing. As a result, the pictures of robots and the instructions for building models are completely illegible. As an adult, I was able to piece together the models with some guesswork. However, the target audience for the book is late elementary/middle school kids. My kids found it extremely frustrating to use the book. I ended up purchasing the PDF version of the book. The illustrations in the PDF are in color and are much higher quality than the printed book! I would recommend the PDF version for anyone considering this book.

There are some good ideas and some basic designs to get started with. However, the material is very disorganized and wordy/repetitive. In addition, I think there is too much emphasis on "winning" rather than learning.

So... 1 star for the printing and 2 stars for the content.
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on March 23, 2013
This book delivers what it promises: winning design. It's especially useful for teams or coaches for First Lego League (FLL). If read thoroughly, it covers just about every detail you'd need to know to get a novice team up and running. If this is your first FLL team, I'd suggest going through before the season starts, or as soon as you get started. It also will even help an experienced team to think in the way that judges are most impressed by when designing your robot. Does it cover every aspect and every possibility for robot design? No. Should it? No. If there were typos, they didn't distract me. I'd consider it high on my list of my reference books for FLL.

Part of the process for FLL IS figuring out how to look at a situation and take an iterative approach to process improvement. This book more than gets you there, if you use the information as a sound jumping off point.

FYI-- Here would be my list of other reference books, in order my frequency of use:
The LEGO Technic Idea Books: Simple Machines, Fantastic Contraptions, and Wheeled Wonders all by Yoshihito Isogawa
First Lego League, The Unofficial Guide by James Floyd Kelly and Jonathan Daudelin
The Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Discovery Book by Laurens Valk
Building Robots with Lego Mindstorms NXT by Astolfo, Ferrari and Ferrari
Forbidden Lego by Pilegaard and Dooley
Lego Mindstorms NXT-G Programming Guide by James Floyd Kelly
Benchmarks for Science Literacy, Project 2061, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science
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on December 22, 2010
I've participated in many FLL tournaments as a technical judge, and I've seen many good robot designs hampered by a lack of understanding of some basic design principles. I've now completed reading the book and I'm quite impressed with the author's decision to break the book into four sections, each focusing on a particular skill (or skills) and providing plenty of real world examples of HOW and WHY things are done... or should be done.

The book is HEAVY on figures... and that's a good thing. Many of the concepts that the author writes about simply cannot be understood well without some hands-on explanations. That's why teams will be pleased to see diagrams and examples using real NXT parts to explain concepts such as turning, squaring up along a wall, and line following. And he didn't leave out some great discussion on attachments - one of the most important concepts for teams who wish to successfully accomplish multiple game table elements.

Finally, the author provides some tips and suggestions for managing your programs as well as presenting them (and the robot) to the technical judging team. And you'll also find complete building instructions for the DemoBot... a real robot that the author uses to demonstrate techniques throughout the book... build it and THEN read the book!

All in all, I'm very pleased with the book - I think new/rookie FLL teams will receive the most benefit from the book, but experienced teams are sure to find some stuff in here that will improve their scores and successes.
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on August 29, 2015
I want so much to write a good review for this book, especially since I found the information useful enough to purchase two more copies for my favorite FLL teams. But I have to vent my extreme disappointment in the demobot graphics. The print pictures are so terrible as to be almost useless. APRESS has an ebook version with decent graphics but you are required to purchase that for an additional cost. The graphics in the electronic version are color and very nice but in all honesty, Apress should be ashamed at making people have to make an additional purchase for this version even at $5.00. Not the whole book, but IMHO the color building illustrations should be free to those who can prove they have the print version.
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on December 20, 2010
This book provides extremely useful information for preparing and getting ahead in the robotics competition. As a rookie coach, I wish I had access to this book prior to this year's FLL tournament. It can be very helpful to both rookie and experienced teams/coaches as it discusses many design and programming topics that teams will encounter so that teams can achieve consistent results with their robots. There are lots of typos but a small distraction for what this book has to offer. I highly recommend.
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on June 17, 2012
I am very impressed with the content of this book, I call it a "must-read" for every FIRST Lego League team. It has chapters on line following (including light sensor calibration), passive attachments, powered attachments, master program programming, etc.. All very useful to a new, or even experienced, FLL team.

it is a shame that the book is printed in black and white (as are most after-market lego books, unfortunately). The line drawings use horrible jpeg compression with very visible artifacts (jpeg is for photos and not appropriate for line drawings). It appears that ebook versions use color illustrations, which would make everything that much easier to understand. If you have an ereader or tablet or phone, you might want to get the ebook version.

I rated the book 5 stars based on the content. The print edition really should have a star or two removed for poor printing.
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on December 16, 2012
Our daughter's team, The Hippie Pandas, FLL Team 5878 (4655), went all the way to the FIRST 2012 World Championships in St. Louis, this last year, competing against over 18,000 other teams worldwide. This book's strategies and techniques were invaluable. They used the book again this year, taking second for highest mission score, missing first place by only 5 points, at the recent Finger Lakes FLL Championship Tournament. The girls and coaches were able to apply many lessons in the book to their own robot. The book was certainly one of the many keys to their success!

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on June 11, 2013
OK lemme start with the good. There is some good information in the book. If you're a tinkerer or someone who works with electromechanical things, none of this is earth shattering. (ie It's better to support the axle of a wheel on both sides vs a single side.) If you don't have a mechanical background, I'm sure it would be very helpful.

However the book is maddening to read. On the superficial but still annoying side, misspelling, typos and grammar problems abound and the illustrations are lacking.

The bigger issue is that the author spends waaay too much time on stuff he himself says you'll never need. It's like: "Here's something that you'll never need in your FLL life and let me spend 8 pages on it." -- I can't help but wonder how much more good stuff he could have put in the book if he had chopped the stuff he himself says you'll never use.

Lastly if you're looking for programming tips, this is not the book for you. I found the programming section to be rather sparse.
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on September 9, 2013
The text looked interesting, but if the title of your book says "Winning Design!", you should include legible lego designs with detailed instructions. The illustrations were black and white (and maybe light black as the third "color") and low resolution. I couldn't follow them. I'll admit that once I saw the poor quality illustrations, I returned it. Perhaps this is a different edition of the book? Unfortunate, because it looks like it has the potential to be excellent.
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on November 1, 2013
Very detailed, very informative book for a First Lego League coach. My team even decided to use the DemoBot described in this book as their robot for the season (it's this group's first season). Unless you are a Lego Robot Master, you will learn something from this book.
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