9781893115095 / 1893115097

Dave Baum's Definitive Guide to LEGO Mindstorms (Technology In Action)





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About the book:

LEGO blocks, originally mere children's toys, have everything to do with expressing creativity within a structured system. There are rules about how pieces fit together, but almost anything can be created within those restrictions. Building with LEGO blocks is a lot like writing software (a similarity Douglas Coupland emphasizes in Microserfs). Small wonder, then, that LEGO Mindstorms have been such a huge hit. In Dave Baum's Definitive Guide to LEGO Mindstorms, the reader gets an introduction to what Mindstorms robots can do, particularly in terms of sensing their environment and reacting to it.

Baum invented Not Quite C (NQC), a language that's closer to standard C than LEGO's standard RCX Code programming language. He uses both NQC and RCX code in this book to show how to build and program a series of increasingly capable Mindstorms robots. He starts with Tankbot, a single-minded critter that navigates its programmed route without regard for obstacles. Later chapters detail Bugbot (which uses insect-like feelers to sense obstacles and employs code to navigate around them), Linebot (which follows a dark line using optical sensors), and Scanbot (which heads toward the brightest light its swiveling head can find). A very cool Vending Machine robot dispenses small candies in response to infrared signals or a pattern of bumps on a card. Several other equally nifty robots (there are 14 in total) get the same attention, which includes information on their mechanical construction and their operating software.

Rather than rely on photographs, Baum uses computer-generated drawings of the various mechanical components. These show how the parts fit together with as much clarity as you can expect from a two-dimensional model, though exploded views might make certain assemblies even easier to understand.

Dave Baum's Definitive Guide to LEGO Mindstorms will prime your creative thought processes as you begin to design your own Mindstorms robots. It's a great introduction to Mindstorms for kids and grownups alike. --David Wall

Topics covered: Building and programming LEGO Mindstorms robots, including the functions of the various mechanical pieces, the operation of motors, and the capabilities of sensors. On the logical side, there are introductions to both LEGO's RCX Code language and Baum's own Not Quite C (NQC). The rest takes the form of a Mindstorms laboratory, in which Baum guides the reader through the creation of increasingly "smart" robots. Baum's code works with Mindstorms 1.0 and 1.5.

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