Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lego Mindstorms NXT

Building robots is fun, but only for those with scrap metal and breadboards and soldering irons. People who don't have those are usually left out, and I guess Lego knew it was the perfect company to change the stereotype of robots and robotics.

Although I've never tried any other simple robotics kit, I can say that the Lego Mindstorms NXT kit is a masterpiece. The amount of effort and quality that was placed into the making of the kit is incredible.

The combination of Lego pieces, with four sensors and three motors, all attached to a programmable block named the NXT is what makes this kit work well. Firstly you build the robot, attaching parts together in any design that comes to your head, including the sensors in places you choose.

Next, you build a suitable program on your computer, by moving blocks that initiate commands in a sequence. The program is transferred to the NXT by a USB cable, or Bluetooth. The robot performs your commands accordingly, and you then get the chance to improve on your design and program.

Of course there are a few design schematics that come with the kit so you can build your own without having to think up of a design by yourself. Generally, robots designs are divided into vehicles - robots that move using wheels like cars, machines - robots that don't move like cranes and humanoids - robots that walk in a human like motion.

I made a crane machine, the one pictured above, using the schematics that Lego provided with the kit. Of course I modified the program a bit, but what it basically does is move a ball from one pod to the other. It uses a touch sensor mounted on the claws to sense the presence of the ball. The great thing is, I can easily break it apart and build something else!

It picks up the ball

It moves to the right

It drops the ball


  1. Interesting!
    Building your own robot seems fun though such an idea never crossed my mind.

  2. I enjoy reading your blog :), very interesting.

  3. If my 9 year old nephew sees this he will go crazy, he is addicted on Lego and Lego city