Author Archive

Robot Power Video

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

I’ve mentioned a particularly funny NXT movie to more than one person over the past couple of months. While this movie has been around for a little while, it’s worth bringing up again. So here’s the link:


Book Signing in Austin, Texas Next Week!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

As mentioned in a previous posting, I’m having a book signing at a Barnes & Noble in Austin, Texas on Saturday April 19th. The signing starts at 2PM.

Although previously I mentioned bringing two robots from The Inventor’s Guide with me, I’m now planning on bringing one robot from the book—Tag-Bot—and one from the NXT set: Spike the walking scorpion. The robots will be sitting on a table for the duration of the event, and Spike plays that role quite well. Tag-Bot, on the other hand, is supposed to run around like crazy. In any case, the two bots should give people who are unfamiliar with MINDSTORMS an idea of what they can create with the NXT set.

Hope to see you there!

Barnes & Noble

Results of Biped Building Challenge

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Earlier I blogged about the official Biped Building Challenge, and just recently the winners were announced here on the MINDSTORMS website. The winners are as follows:

Champion’s Award: “Bipedal Dragon Prototype” by billy259.

Robot Design Award: “NeXTBIRD (or MODEL 05)” by NeXTSTORM

Robot Performance Award: “Little Bigfoot” (shown below) by Mister.Tux

Creative Use of NXTLOG Award: “The helpi’vefallenandican’tgetup! biped” by jayko543

Congratulations to the winners and all the robots that received an honorable mention!

Little Bigfoot

NXTLOG 2.0 Upgrade—now with Video!

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

The official MINDSTORMS website has upgraded NXTLOG to version 2.0. You can read the announcement here. One of the main improvements is that users can now upload video of their robots. Previously, there was no way to include video, and I’m glad to see that this has been resolved. Check out the new NXTLOG here and start uploading some of your creations!


Using the Educational NXT Base set with “The Inventor’s Guide”

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

The ULMN Inventor’s Guide uses the retail version of the NXT set, known officially as LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT. However, there is also an educational version of the NXT set, known officially as the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education NXT Base Set (see below). Unfortunately, while the robots in my book can be built from the pieces in one retail NXT set, the educational NXT Base Set does not contain all the pieces necessary to build those same robots.

The NXT Base Set

If you own the NXT Base Set and would still like to build the robots in The Inventor’s Guide, there is a solution. The Education Resource Set (shown below) is a $69.00 “expansion pack” of sorts for the NXT Base Set. This resource set includes nearly 700 pieces. By combining the pieces from the NXT Base Set and the Education Resource Set, you can successfully build all the robots in The Inventor’s Guide. To ensure this, I have checked the bill of materials for the robots in my book—Zippy-Bot through Golf-Bot—and compared it with the combined contents of the Resource Set and NXT Base Set.

Education Resource Set

I must mention that while you will have the correct type and sufficient quantity of pieces using the NXT Base Set and Resource Set, you will not have all the same colors of pieces as found in the retail version of the NXT set. But that definitely won’t stop the robots from working!


Updated Tutorial for Creating Virtual NXT Robots

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

Through some helpful reader feedback and advice from Philo, I’ve updated my tutorial for setting up the LDraw system to create virtual NXT robots. Click here to check out the revised post. Comments welcome! Let me know how to make this even easier or if you’d like to see instructions for setting up additional features.


Biped Building Challenge: Ideas, Anyone?

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

The official MINDSTORMS NXT Biped Building challenge, which was launched earlier this month, is asking NXT fans to create two-legged walkers—among the most difficult robots to build. Fortunately, the MINDSTORMS website lists some sample bipeds on NXTLOG to give inspiration to the community.


However, a simple video can be very effective when it comes to giving inspiration. Following is a video made by YouTube user Laurens200: it demonstrates one of his NXT biped creations. This robot implements one of several possible methods for creating an NXT biped–and it’s quite amusing to watch!

Winners Announced for NXT Camera Bot Building Challenge

Monday, March 10th, 2008

The results are in for the official Camera Bot challenge that I mentioned earlier. The Champion’s Award went to creator NeXTSTORM for OPTICKS (see below). The MINDSTORMS website reports on this amazing invention:

OPTICKS is capable of rotating an embedded camera on both a vertical and horizontal axis, making it possible to take detailed panoramic 360 photos, including a sky-view. OPTICKS can be triggered automatically (motion, sound, light) or manually (touch). This robot is equipped with three motors (A, B, C), four sensors (Light , Sound, Touch, and Ultrasonic), a single NXT brick and one digital photo camera. For an innovative concept, design, construction, and programming we award the OPTICKS the Champion’s Award.

Click here to find out the rest of the results for the contest!


NXTLOG 5000 Winners Announced!

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

On the MINDSTORMS website, the NXTLOG team “froze” submissions of robots at 4999 and then proceeded to determine a robot “that best demonstrates the true LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT creative spirit.” That 5000th robot is now chosen: Mars Explorer Mk1 by user mezzauk (see below). Click here to see the robot, and click here for a full list of winners: second place, third place, and honorable mention.


New NXT Article in “Computing Unplugged” Magazine

Monday, February 25th, 2008

I’ve written an NXT article for the online Computing Unplugged magazine. The article, which is titled “LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT: Robotics Beyond Building,” surveys the world of NXT and leaves you with one main thought: you can do so much more than simply build with the NXT set! Check it out here.

Computing Unplugged