LEGO Mindstorms NXT

Mindstorm NXT kindles the imagination, creates interest and occupies the intellectual senses as a toy of importance. Our future will be a robotic world and these robots need programming by humans to initiate them into work. Lego Mindstorm will be the stepping stone to those people programming the future robots.

Mind Storm NXT forms the core of the kit. It is slightly thicker than iPod and almost its size and has a loudspeaker for audio, monochrome LCD for video and keys for navigation placed in the front.  This is the brain of the Lego robot that serves as the controller if you intend to control. It has 7 ports and 3 ports placed at the top for servo motors connections and 4 ports to connect the 4 different sensors.

Mindstorm NXT is connected by the wires similar to Ethernet and is included in the set. The set also contains the necessary software and the USB cable to interface with the computer to download programs. The set also has hundreds of Lego Robot parts that are small in size.  A storage organizer would greatly benefit the construction effort and proper storage would help a long way to avoid loss of parts.

Instructions to build a Lego Mindstorm NXT are easy to understand with simple illustrations making the learning path of the new user smooth. The instructions feature a quick start guide to begin building the robot and programming within a time frame of 30 minutes. It begins with the confirmation of sensors working condition and explains the building of the first robot with no frills as step by step instructions with illustrations. Software installation needs specific system requirement for installation. Once the software is installed there are in-built video tutorials to write a simple program with guidance to download it to NXT.

Programming is easy with drag and drop facility and readily available functional objects that can be dragged on to fix with other objects. Configuration settings are available for each object to align them to your needs. A sound object provides an interface to configure it to its attributes of tones, volume, duration etc. Lego bricks present in between objects remind us that a Mind Storm NXT program is similar to Lego model construction. For the programming enthusiasts there is a software development kit to delve into programming intricacies deeper.

Success of the program is accomplished when the program drives the LEGO robot to life. As familiarity with the Mindstorm NXT increases, challenges are available to build complex robots to keep the interest surging. One of the challenges is to build a robotic arm for simple tasks with capability to react to change in colors. Though these tasks are for building Lego complex robot, the software has step by step instructions with programming guides with a comprehensive guide to test every challenge.

Once a program is downloaded to Mind storm NXT a startup procedure to execute is initiated through an orange button placed in the center. The orange button must be pressed 4 times consecutively for execution. Once downloaded, the need for a computer doesn’t exist and the programming can be done directly using the submenu of NXT.

Lego Mindstorm NXT is preloaded with Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth relieves the need to use USB cables that serves as a great help to avoid tangling of the robots in cables during a complex movement oriented task. Phones or PDAs with Bluetooth technology can control the robot. Three Lego Mindstorm NXT devices can be grouped with Bluetooth technology. More complex robots involve multiple Mindstorm NXTs, Blocks and sensors and Bluetooth technology has made it easier by supporting three NXT devices.

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