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The Evolution of Mindstorms

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« on: June 28, 2011, 11:31:50 pm »

LEGO made a splash back in 1998 when it released the first version of its LEGO Mindstorms Robotics Inventions System (RIS). RCX brought a whole new dimension of building to fans.

Despite being released in 1998, the original Mindstorms RIS set was fairly adaptable and allowed users to replicate a range of real-world mechanics. The Mindstorms NXT continues the achievements of its forerunner, but it brings with it a host of add-ons that allow it to do even more cool things. New in the set is a sound sensor, a color-differentiating light sensor, and a redesigned NXT "Intelligent Brick", which serves as the "brains" of the entire system.
The NXT "Intelligent Brick" has several improvements over the older version, the RCX, the most notable of which is built-in Bluetooth technology. Wireless control was possible with the RCX, but it was limited to infrared.
The NXT's move from infrared to Bluetooth meat that not only does the connection not have to depend on line of sight to work, but it can function anywhere within Bluetooth's tested 30-foot range. Programming for the Brick is also speedier thanks to a quick-start program that can get  commands up and running in as little as 30 minutes, a marked improvement over the nearly two-hour wait for the RIS.
ile the soul of the Mindstorm system truly is the aptly-titled Intelligent Brick, what gives form to the system's functions is its gang of sensors. The NXT set comes with four: a touch sensor, a light sensor, an ultrasonic sensor, and a light sensor. The touch sensor mechanism is essentially made up of a basic sensor pad that detects pressure. The sound sensor takes audio pressure readings and can also hear voice commands.

In regard to vision, both the unit's light and ultrasonic sensors give robots the ability to "see" based on the different types of visual readings they get. The light sensor is capable of telling the difference between colors via a grayscale gradient comparison, which means that if the program you're working on requires the system to react to an object of a certain color, this sensor will allow you to do that. The ultrasonic sensor, on the other end of the field, reads distance. After calculating the time it takes for a sound wave to return to its point of origin (similar to how bats can move around in the dark), the robot will be able to deal with obstacles or pick up objects.

Now there is NXT2.0.. which I have not seen in person or used, but I know others here have.
Think Geek has a good article about it herehttp://www.thinkgeek.com/geek-kids/7-13-years/c192/

Who knows what will be next.

Which versions have you had?? How do you think the versions compare?

Discuss the evolution of Mindstorms here!
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 12:09:45 am by MsRowdyRedhead » Report Spam   Logged



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« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2011, 11:40:02 pm »

Many people think that they're planning on coming out with a NXT 3.0 (which would be awesome), and it is obvious that they're doing some sort of research for the NXT (as this post shows). They're gather kids for some sort of testing... *seriously wishing I lived in North Carolina*.  Cheesy
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2011, 12:09:08 am »

Which versions have you had?? How do you think the versions compare?
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2011, 08:33:31 am »

Ah, good ol' RIS. Good memories from that, involving the web. =P

I haven't had much time to test out stuff involving Mindstorms creations; but from what I have seen(Mind you it wasn't the NXT, might've been the RCX or RIS... But I doubt it was the latter); it is extremely cool.

I like how you can actually program it to do stuff; if I had any Mindstorms stuff, I'd likely be using that half the time. =P
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2011, 01:16:27 pm »

Yes, Blade, I think a lot of people would make good use of Mindstorms. It's a bummer they're so expensive. However, you can get your hands on one if you join/mentor/host an FLL team. Sure, you wouldn't get to keep the set, but you'd get to check it out. ;-) Have you heard of FLL?

I bought the Mindstorms Education set, which I'm still not sure how it is different for NXT 2.0. I know Education is missing the color sensor, but comes with a rechargeable battery. NXT 2.0 has treads and that awesome ball shooter thing, while Education doesn't. I don't have the NXT 2.0 part list, so I can't compare.
 I also bought a NXT 1 from a neighbor when they were moving. Their kid wasn't interested anymore. It is missing two sensors but has nearly all the other parts, with a couple dozen other parts thrown in. It was worth it for the price I paid. The NXT 1 is awesome because it contains eleven of the 15 long Technic Beams. I'm still not sure what the Mindstorms team was thinking only including 4 of them in the Education set (and only 2 in NXT 2.0?). If I were to have a choice to buy either an NXT 1 or Mindstorms Education, I would buy NXT 1, assuming they are the same price. Actually, I think I would pay extra for NXT 1, but I don't think it is sold anymore (besides on ebay). I have found that the rechargeable battery was worth it, so I would perhaps have to buy that is I bought NXT 1. Owning NXT Education and part of NXT 1, all I am disappointed about is that I don't have the color sensor or treads.
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2011, 02:05:39 pm »

I've heard of it, but a) I'm not sure if they have any in Canada, and b) I'm not sure if I could do it, since I'm nearly 19. =P(... That... Feels weird to say. It's true, but it just goes to show how quickly time is passing. xP)

I have checked out one form of it, I'm just not sure which. =P I know it's not NXT, although the place had NXT, we didn't get to use it. =P

I do get why it's so expensive; though; likely the main brick is the main cause there. =P
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2011, 03:06:31 pm »

I've heard of it, but a) I'm not sure if they have any in Canada, and b) I'm not sure if I could do it, since I'm nearly 19. =P(... That... Feels weird to say. It's true, but it just goes to show how quickly time is passing. xP)

I have checked out one form of it, I'm just not sure which. =P I know it's not NXT, although the place had NXT, we didn't get to use it. =P

I do get why it's so expensive; though; likely the main brick is the main cause there. =P

There is FLL in Canada, a Canadian team actually won 1st place at the world championships! (I was there). But unfortunately, the age limit in the US and Canada is up to 14 . . . And I aged out this year Sad .

The reason its so expensive is because its from LEGO. I cant think of any other reason. I can get an iPod Touch, which has 10 times the processing power, 100 times better display, and other stuff, for the same price.
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2011, 03:14:31 pm »

1. That's pretty cool then. =)

And yeah, I figured that. =/ Though, that means I've been out of the running for nearly five years now. =P

2. Well, there's that too, but you also have to consider it also comes with multiple bricks, and every Lego set is more expensive nowadays.
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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2011, 01:03:28 pm »

Yep. I think it's because of the sensors and Intelligent brick. They sell the sensors for at least $20 each. Also, the bricks add up. If you go to LEGO's "Pick a Brick" website, almost all the bricks are at least 10 cents each.

If you're still in highschool, you can join one of the two higher FIRST groups known as FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) and FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition). FTC uses a building system known as TETRIX (which uses the NXT Intelligent brick to control the robot, even though it is made of metal), while in FRC you build real robots (5 feet in height) using real motors (not just servos). Each has its own advantage. In one, you already familiar with the programming method, while the other allows you create a professional robot. They are both team competitions.
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