Author Archive

The Unofficial LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Inventor’s Guide

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

As of December 2010, the second edition of the Inventor’s Guide is available: The Unofficial LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Inventor’s Guide. The companion website for the book been updated for the new book and is now its own blog. For that reason, this will be the last post on this blog, but I plan to indefinitely keep this site here.

The Unofficial LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Inventor’s Guide

Is the NXT Inventor’s Guide Compatible with the NXT 2.0 Set?

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Since the NXT 2.0 set was released this year, many people have been asking whether many of the existing NXT books on the market are compatible with the 2.0 kit. Generally, the answer is no, and my book is no exception. The Unofficial LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Inventor’s Guide was written for the first version of the NXT set (#8527), and its projects are only compatible with the first version (what I call the NXT 1.0 set). In other words, because of piece differences between the NXT 1.0 and 2.0 sets, the projects in my book can only be built with an NXT 1.0 set. However, much of the other information is still helpful. Much of the building, mechanical, and programming information is still applicable.

So what if you’re the proud owner of an NXT 2.0 set and want to use the NXT Inventor’s Guide with it? I’m currently working with my book’s publisher, No Starch Press, to get out a second edition specifically for the NXT 2.0 set. I do not yet have a firm release date for the book. In the meantime, you will need to either purchase an NXT 1.0 set or hunt down the necessary pieces to build the robots if you own only an NXT 2.0 set. The second option can be difficult although this resource might help.

LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 (8547)

Now It’s Official: MINDSTORMS Site Announces NXT 2.0

Monday, June 29th, 2009

The official MINDSTORMS site has now announced the upcoming release of the NXT 2.0 set. The news release reports that “pre-selling will start on July 1” at the LEGO online shop,, and

 NXT 2.0 News Release

NXT 2.0 Set Now Shown on Online LEGO Store

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Right after I mentioned the absence of an official announcement of the NXT 2.0 set on the MINDSTORMS site, I received a LEGO catalog in the mail that featured the set and showed it shipping “August 1.” I quickly checked the official LEGO online store and, yup, found the NXT 2.0 set (thought not for pre-order yet). I’m sure many more details will come out in the next two months.


LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Pre-Order on Amazon

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

In just the past few days, put up a listing for the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 set in its catalog. Amazon says that the set is available for pre-order and will ship August 1, 2009. Not even the official MINDSTORMS site has put up the NXT 2.0 set yet, so I find it interesting that it’s available for pre-order on Amazon.

 NXT 2.0 on

Conclusion of NXT Summer Camp at Stanford University

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Last week I finished teaching the five-day “Hands-On Robotics for Teens” robotics course at Stanford University. As I thought would be the case, the planned robotic sumo event was the highlight of the week. The winning sumo-bot, “Kill-Dozer,” was a treaded vehicle with a slope that had TECHNIC teeth at the end. The design proved to be very effective, enabling it to win even a “king of the hill” round (i.e., pile all the sumo-bots onto the arena and see who lasts the longest).

The students, each of which had a computer with Internet access, also enjoyed creating robots from Dave Parker’s excellent website. We built the Catapult, Modular Test Vehicle, Machine Gun, Rattlesnake, and more. Below are some random pictures I took during the week. Besides enjoying the robots, I also enjoyed the nice weather there: a high of 70s during most of the week!

Robo1     Robo2     Robo3

Robo5      Robo4

Idea for Summer Olympics Contest: Gymnastic Robot (Movie Monday)

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Still struggling to get an idea for a robot to compete in the MINDSTORMS Summer Olympics Building Challenge? Here’s a video of an NXT “Gymnastic Robot” that could inspire you. This robot can really move!

LEGO Rubik Utopy (Movie Monday)

Monday, July 14th, 2008

The following video was posted in February of 2008 and shows an NXT robot that can always solve the Rubik’s cube—within a minute or less! The robot’s creator is Daniele Benedettelli, who has experimented with a number of robot designs to solve the Rubik’s cube in the fastest possible way.

LPub 4 for Windows and Mac OS X

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Kevin Clague has released version 4 of his popular LPub program, which is an “LDraw Building Instruction Publishing Tool.” You can download LPub 4 from his website; the program is now compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X. You can see a screen-shot below of the new LPub (the LDraw model shown is made by Allen Smith and included with Bricksmith). I used an earlier version of LPub to generate the building instructions for The Inventor’s Guide and am excited to see this latest version. Creating building instructions is a much easier task with tools like LPub!

LPub 4

MINDSTORMS Summer Olympics Building Challenge

Friday, July 11th, 2008

The official MINDSTORMS website has posted yet another building challenge. This time, the contest has a “Summer Olympics” theme. The website mentions the following:

The 2008 Summer Olympic Games will be held from August 8 – 24, 2008 in Beijing, China! We are challenging all you to create a robot that can compete in one of the summer sports on the Olympic program.

There’s no limit on amount of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT sensors, motors, HiTechnic sensors, or Bluetooth communication you can use on your MINDSTORMS NXT Summer Olympics Robot.

The website also has a long list of summer sports that you can use for inspiration of your Olympic robot, and the sports range from swimming to wrestling. (Note: Do NOT get your NXT wet! Water is its natural enemy.)

What might you create?

LEGO Olympics