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Lego Mindstorms beginning questions - Books and Suggestions

Posted on 2009-07-04
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I was recently given a Lego Mindstorms set by a co-worker. He knew I had an 8 y/o son and that I was looking to get him started with Mindstorms. The set that I was given is an older set of Mindstorms. It is the "Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System" (RIS) and comes with what I believe is the first microcomputer used by Mindstorms, the RCX.

  Here are my questions ...

1. Should I start with the older (RIS) system or would it better to go get the newest Mindstorm system NXT? I do not mind spending the money as I see this as an excellent investment in my children's education. Can the older RIS system be used with the newer systems such as the NXT?

2. Can anyone recommend some good books on starting with Lego Mindstorms? Something that would help me to understand the system.

3. Any advice on starting with Mindstorms?

 Thank you.
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Question by:thecodingflea
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nickg5 earned 400 total points
ID: 24778260
http://mindstorms.lego.com/Overview/NXT_Software.aspx
not sure of the cost of that software, may be cheap on Ebay.

http://www.ni.com/academic/mindstorms/works.htm
this one gives you an overview of how NXT works.

http://books.shop.ebay.com/items/Books__lego-mindstorms?_trkparms=65%253A12%257C66%253A2%257C39%253A1%257C72%253A1205&_dmpt=US_Nonfiction_Book&_npmv=3&_sacat=267&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_sop=15&_sc=1
here are 67 book on Lego Mindstorms on Ebay and some of the guides are under $5.00.
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by:cotj73
cotj73 earned 100 total points
ID: 24852479
I used the NXT system in a class.  in this we used a program called Robot C
http://www.robotc.net/

This system uses its own software to program the NXT from a language based on C.

Good system that can be used to teach programming or just play.

at 8, i think it is kind of early to be learning C, but i guess you can never start to young.
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by:cotj73
cotj73 earned 100 total points
ID: 24852496
if you would like to see some code from this language i have some at home on a hard dive that i could send later to show the syntax.
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Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 25262602
Hi codingflea, there are some 130,000 middle-school-age children  learning to program their NXT robots in an academic competition known as FIRST LEGO LEague http://usfirst.org.  At eight, your child would be steered toward a Junior league team, which is educational without the competition.  The teams have about 12 weeks to design a soluton to a global issue, this year being "Smart Move" or ways to solve transporation issues.  They will compete in 150 second heats, trying to solve some ten separate missions on a 4 foot by 8 foot preprinted mat.  
Feel free to contact me if you have any followup interest in this.  I am a 2nd year coach, and had judged at the U.S. Open.
dvz

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by:thecodingflea
ID: 25262670
Thank you dvz. That looks very interesting. Though I am not interested in joining any leagues, it does give me some ideas on way to challenge him with the MindStorms set. Thank you for taking the time to respond. :)
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