What is the LEGO Mindstorms NXT?
The LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 is a robotics kit that allows you to envision, build and program your own robot. But that’s not all.
With the same kit, you can go on to build more advanced models, and program your robots to be more and more sophisticated. You probably won’t go on to build the next Terminator or Robocop, but the endless programming possibilities can keep you enraptured for a lifetime.
It’s a hefty price tag for a Christmas toy, but as a lifetime investment, the LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 is definitely worth your attention. Let me explain.
The price tag is justified by a special unique benefit.
If you get this for your child, it won’t be just another Christmas toy that they grow out of. Sure, as with anything you buy there’ll be times when the Mindflex set is cast aside during exams or other phases of their lives.
But it will always be ready to be picked off their shelf to be used in different, more advanced ways – whether your child has gone into their twenties, thirties, forties or older.
There’s no upper age limit, and there’s no getting bored.
Who Is The Mindstorms Set For?
Mindstorms NXT caters for all users above the age of 10. The instructions for building and programming your first few robots are really quite easy to follow.
Sure, the word ‘programming’ sounds complicated, but it can be as easy as just a few mouse-clicks on your computer.
Younger children can find lots of fun things to do with their little robots, whereas the die-hard robotics fan can indulge himself in complex programs that can play noughts and crosses and even solve a Rubik’s cube.
LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Rubik’s Cube Robot
What’s Inside The Box?
The LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 comes with a total of 619 pieces. These include an assortment of rods, beams, sensors, connectors, and wheels.
The Basic Building Block
You’ll notice that the basic Mindstorms unit is a beam rather than the classic LEGO block, giving it a Meccano feel. But unlike Meccano, you can simply snap the pieces together without having to use any tools.
Owing to a large number of similar-looking pieces, you’ll probably be rummaging around at lot at first looking for the right unit. But after a little experience, you’ll almost intuitively know what you’re looking for.
Three Servo Motors
These servo motors will be responsible for making your robot move.
The sensors will allow your robot to receive information about its surroundings. The Mindstorms NXT 2.0 comes with…
1. A light sensor, which measures levels of light and can even distinguish between different colors, giving your robot the ability to react according to any colors that you might present to it or it may chance upon during its movements around the house.
2. A touch sensor, so you can command your robot to change direction for example when it touches another object.
3. A sound sensor, which allows the robot to respond to different volumes of sound, although you can’t get it to obey exact voice commands.
4. An ultrasonic sensor, which uses sound-beams to determine how far away your robot is a solid object – so it doesn’t have to bump into the wall before it turns away.
The NXT Intelligent Brick
This is your robot’s brain, a mini computer that processes information from the four different sensors and according to your programming, directs the servo motors to respond by carrying out a movement, whether it be by walking, driving, changing direction, sorting balls, attacking an intruder… the list goes on.
The instruction manual is great to get you started, with step-by-step instructions to build a shooter bot, robogator, color sorter and alpha rex.
Beyond that, you’re left to use your own imagination to create whatever you want. You can also purchase separate guides (yes, whole guides written just on the LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0) that show you how to build more complex robots with far superior programming.
The frustration in building your own designs is you’ll probably run out of parts to use. If you have this problem, you can always extend the Mindstorms set with pieces from the Lego Technique range, which uses the same basic unit.
What Are The Possibilities? What Can I Do With It?
The sky’s the limit. Experienced programmers have created some phenomenal robots using only what’s provided in one box of the LEGO Mindstorms NXT. What are some examples?
Robots that can feed pets, deal cards, write on eggs, play noughts and crosses and even solve a Rubik’s cube!
Your Mindstorms robot also comes fully equipped with Bluetooth support, so you can get it to respond to commands from your phone or Bluetooth remote. If you want to take things further, you can add extra sensors, which include an accelerometer, compass, clock and a high-tech temperature sensor.
Where Can I Get It Cheapest?
Nobody’s doing any huge discounts, simply because the Mindstorms kit is selling fast as it is and Lego aren’t able to keep up with the demands. I expect they’ll run out very soon and the price will increase toward Christmas.
Keep checking back at this site, as I’ll be letting you know if any of the stores decide to drop the price.