The Lego Mindstorms NXT Idea Book

Nov. 16, 2007
By Martin Boogaarts, et. Al.
ISBN: 978-1-51327-150-3

Lego's Mindstorm products target the youthful roboticist, but the dynamic nature and modularity of the NXT system makes it a useful platform for engineers and programmers moving into the robotics realm. Unfortunately, many of the books that target this platform are designed as cookbooks that concentrate on the mechanical design with minimal support on the software side. This book is written by a large group of authors where each has most likely concentrated on one of the many robots presented within the book—and there are quite a few. There is a consistency in presentation and quality that is rare in this type of authoring approach—the result is a pleasant one. There is plenty of mechanical construction simply because the bots are complex and step-by-step instructions are necessary to replicate the platforms. Still, a significant amount of the book addresses architecture and software. It uses the standard NXT development tools versus something more complex like National Instrument’s LabView, but it moves some of the applications to a higher level than just getting a robot to move or play a game. The book is divided into two sections. Section one examines tools in greater detail than standard documentation and most books cover. It also addresses debugging and even NXT-to-NXT communication. Much of this will be needed when dealing with the more complex robot projects in section two. There are half a dozen robots covered in section two—ranging from RaSPy, a rock, paper, scissors game-playing robot—to the ScanBot. They are not something to start a company with but they are much more sophisticated than most robots I have seen in NXT-related books. If you have chosen NXT as your robotic platform and are not working on your PhD with plenty of robotic experience under your belt then this book will likely be an eye opener if not a valuable resource.

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