Archive for the ‘Building’ Category

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)

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

Summer Camp + LEGO + DMA = An NXT Robotics Course at Stanford University

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Starting July 28th, I’ll be teaching a week-long robotics course for teenagers at Stanford University using LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT. The course, “Hands-On Robotics for Teens,” is one of many technology courses being offered this summer by DMA (Digital Media Academy), a nationally-recognized organization that runs summer computer camps at campuses across the nation. I’ve written a course description and put together a five-day course outline, and DMA has posted the information to their website.

The entire course will be “NXT-based.” We’ll be using the educational version of the NXT set and also the Education Resource Set.  And what’s the highlight of the course? I think it will be the robotic sumo competition!

The course is for teenagers (ages 13-19), and if you’re interested in signing up for the course (or have a teen who may be interested), you can find out more about registration at the DMA website.

I’m definitely excited. After all, what’s a summer without a robotic sumo competition?


LEGO MINDSTORMS “NXT NXT” Building Challenge

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Looking for a contest that demands more complexity? Then the official MINDSTORMS NXT NXT Building Challenge is for you. In this contest, inventors are required to create an NXT robot that uses two NXTs that communicate with each other. That’s why this is called the “NXT NXT” building challenge. You have until Monday, June 30 2008, to submit your creation to NXTLOG, where you will find the complete rules.


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!


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!

Great NXT Projects at

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Dave Parker’s website,, is an absolutely outstanding resource. On his website, you’ll find a multitude of projects with building and programming instructions. The pictures for the building instructions are very clear and well done. He has several categories of creations:

  • Fun and Games
  • Music and Sound
  • Cars and Vehicles
  • Weapons
  • Machines
  • Sensor systems
  • Animals

The “Rattlesnake” creation under the “Animals” category is one of my favorites. Sometimes when I’m showing kids my robots, I’ll say, “Don’t worry–it doesn’t bite.” I couldn’t say that with this robot!


MINDSTORMS NXT Camera Bot Building Challenge

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

The official MINDSTORMS website is hosting yet another “challenge” or contest: the Camera Bot challenge. Can you guess what this challenge is about? I thought so. The website has this to say about the contest:

Lights, camera, action!

The MINDSTORMS NXT Camera Bot Building Challenge is asking you to create the NXT spy bot, paparazzi bot, photojournalist bot, or even a robotic fashion photographer.

We are looking for robots that can take still photos (not video), and we want you to also share the pictures taken from your robot’s point of view.

Get building! The deadline is February 29th. You can read the complete rule set here.


Chapter 4 Available on MINDSTORMS Website

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Previously, I made an excerpt from Chapter 4, “Understanding the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Pieces,” available on my website, but now I’ve made the entire chapter available on the MINDSTORMS website. If you’d like to read this sample chapter, visit the link below and look for my book’s section:


LEGO Celebrates the 50th Birthday of the LEGO Brick

Monday, January 28th, 2008

If Google’s response to an event measures the event’s significance, this month is incredibly important. As the LEGO Company celebrates the 50th anniversary of the LEGO Brick (the LEGO homepage reads, “Happy Birthday LEGO Brick!”), the Google homepage features the image below. Wouldn’t it be great if Google featured LEGO every day?