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LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Thinking Robots [Paperback]

Daniele Benedettelli
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: £19.50
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Book Description

25 Dec 2009

It may look like one, but the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT set is not a toy.

Whether you've been building with the original LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT set for years or you just picked up a 2.0 set, you'll love this book.

LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Thinking Robots will show you how to build and program two robots that think. You'll be awestruck when the TTT Tickler ties you at tic-tac-toe and amazed when the One-Armed Wonder solves a Rubik's Cube® in just a few minutes.

These robots aren't child's play. The models are challenging, and you'll have to do a bit of thinking yourself to get them to work. But once you get the hang of it, your efforts will be amply rewarded.

In addition to providing detailed instructions for building each model with either the original or the NXT 2.0 set, author Daniele Benedettelli takes you inside the robots to show you how they're designed, what makes them think, and how to use them. You'll learn how to:

  • Control and calibrate your robots for best performance
  • Dig into tic-tac-toe strategy to see how the TTT Tickler always plays to win
  • Use the CubeSolver program to solve a Rubik's Cube with the One-Armed Wonder
  • Better understand artificial intelligence as it relates to robotics, problem solving, and gaming

And for you serious MINDSTORMS builders, all of the source code for programming the robots is available online. Not only will you get to see how the robots are programmed, but you can hack the code to make them act differently, too. You can find all of the source code at https://robotics.benedettelli.com/​TRbook.htm.

So go ahead, put on your thinking cap and get building!

Requirements: A computer running Microsoft Windows 2000 or higher, one complete LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT or NXT 2.0 set, a webcam, some marbles, a couple of rubber bands, and an Internet connection (to download the programs).


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LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Thinking Robots + The LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Discovery Book + The Unofficial LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Inventor's Guide
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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (25 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593272162
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593272166
  • Product Dimensions: 25.2 x 20.3 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 725,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Daniele Benedettelli is known worldwide for his original LEGO robots, including the LEGO Rubik Utopy (a Rubik's Cube Solver) and JohnNXT 5 (based on the robot in Short Circuit). Benedettelli is a member of the MINDSTORMS Developer Program (MDP) and a MINDSTORMS Community Partner (MCP), groups that help to test and develop new NXT products. He holds a masters degree in Robotics and Automation from the University of Siena, Italy and is the author of Creating Cool MINDSTORMS NXT Robots (Apress). In his spare time, Benedettelli enjoys composing music.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book but not perfect! 1 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback
Hello all!

I have not reviewed a book before so please bear with me!

Right, I got my copy of this book a few days ago and have spent these days actually making the robots.

The biggest issue I had with the book is that the pages are all in black and white and quite low printing quality which can make it a bit tricky at times to tell what piece is what.

However, once the bots are up and running they are very good although my rubiks cude bot does struggle as I think my (official) cube seems a little too big for the rotation pad so beware you will possibly need to buy another cube if you dont have the exact right one.

All in all I very much enjoyed the book (more a manual than a book as such) and am certianly looking forward to some more of the NXT 2 books to get onto the market!

Thanks for an interesting few days!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Make sure you can write NXC before you start ! 22 July 2011
By DaveW
Format:Paperback
The book and robots seem great. The instructions to construct are pretty good and relatively clear. The software summary is informative. But ...
I consider myself a reasonably technical person but unless you can read and write the NXC code associated with the programs for these robots I would be wary. I spent many hours attempting to get the supplied code to work and encountered pretty well every error that the support forum references. I waded through installing many variants of the Lego NXT Firmware and creating config files from scratch - every time overcoming another issue. In the end I could not get the TTT Robot to get past the human player's first move. That was after messing with the supplied source code for the calibration routine and re-compiling having had to remove code that simply got rejected by the compiler.
There seem to be quite a number of other frustrated people on Daniele's forum. That's my warning. My problems may be as much to do with the complilation engine as with the source code but my patience has been exhausted and my son remains disappointed that the robot does not work beyond its preliminary steps.
The robots are a great idea and clearly can be made to work (see YouTube videos) but despite my technical abilities, it was beyond me, I'm afraid.
I hope others are more successful. Good luck.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lego 18 July 2012
By wendy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought as a gift for someone, who thought it was brilliant. No complaints it kept him amused for a period of time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful robot building techniques here 24 Dec 2009
By J. Kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
We are all used to LEGO robots that roll and crawl, but this book focuses on robots that perform complex tasks instead of following lines and avoiding obstacles. The two robots, a Rubik's Cube solver and a tic-tac-toe opponent, are well designed and the building instructions are clear and contain some great building techniques.

One thing I like about the book is the novice level introduction to BricxCC/NXC and the NeXT tools. The book doesn't try to teach this language and there are other books available on these topics, but to use these robots you need a bit of understanding on how they work, how to save them, etc... a good jumping off point.

Some of the reviews have critiqued the book for not supporting the Mac operating system. The author DOES support these and the book does provide what it can for Mac users... the reader is given a complete website for contacting the author with questions as well as to download the required programs.

The building instructions for No Starch books continues to improve every time... these instructions are easy to follow and are not cluttered on the page. The author deserves a lot of credit for also providing building instructions for both robots using both retails kits - 1.0 and 2.0.

My only concern (not complaint) about the book is a possibly limited audience - with only 2 robots in the book, I believe the book may only appeal to intermediate and advanced NXT users. Beginners are probably looking for more robots to build, more sample programs (especially in NXT-G), and more hand-holding. Fortunately there are other books that cater to the beginner... but I feel a warning should be given here that this book is not about teaching newcomers about building and programming.

All in all, a good book to have on the shelf if you're an NXT fan.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Building a Thinking Robot 8 Feb 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is simple in concept. Take either the original NXT or the NXT 2.0 Mindstorm Robot from Lego. Set up your computer to use the NXC programs that are used to program the robot. Download the code to accomplish one of two tasks, a tic-tac-toe playing robot, or one that will solve Rubik's Cube. Then use the instructions to build the Lego model to accomplish these tasks. Most of the book is devoted to the instructions for building the robot from Lego blocks, there is little information on programming. The books has instructions for using either Windows or Mac operating systems, Linux is not currently supported. There is a brief listing of books and online articles that deal with artificial intelligence, which may be helpful to those with more interesting in creating these types of projects.

The book is not about interfacing with computers, it is not about robots, it is about building two specific projects with the Mindstorm NXT kit. In that way it is similar to buying a Lego model, and using the exploded graphical instructions to complete the model. For someone with interest only in building these two projects, and with no desire to delve into the code required to made the computer function, this is a great kit. For those who would like to do a programming project that builds on the work done by the book's author, there is no access to the source code, so that option is not available. There are other books that deal with programming the Mindstorm robot.

The book's strength is the quality of the graphics that instruct in building the model, its weakness is the lack of accessibility to and explanation of the source code. But if your only interest is building the admittedly clever robots that will play tic-tac-toe and solve Rubik's Cube, this is the book for you.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice Lego built, but no support 15 Dec 2011
By Elad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book shows you how to build two Lego Mindstorms projects: One for solving Rubic's cube and the other for playing tic-tac-toe.

The idea is great. The instructions are more or less clear. The problems start when things don't work out first time: The author doesn't provide any debugging information, and no interactive support (there is a discussion board on his site, but it's useless for debugging this build).

So, if your build works well first time, it's great! If, as in our case, it doesn't, it's extremely frustrating.

Therefore, I'd recommend this book to an adult who wishes to spend time on making this work, but definitely not for a teenager.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two very well presented robots 4 Jan 2011
By Rob Torok - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's always great to see designs for clever robots, and it's especially refreshing to have the full building instructions laid out so clearly. The two robots in this book are very elegant, and the instructions are very easy to follow. For each robot, there is a full set of instructions for both versions of the retail kit.

I think the background on each robot, and particularly their history, is quite relevant. I like that Benedettelli pays respect to others who have built similar robots.

My only criticism of the book (and the reason I'm giving it 4 stars rather than 5) is that I would've liked more detail about the programming, especially given that the book's title includes the phrase "thinking robots". Despite a brief, but interesting, section at the end of the book that explicitly addresses the topic of "thinking robots", the focus was clearly on making a book that would enable the reader to replicate the two robots as easily as possible. For this reason, the decision to gloss over the programming is understandable. I am, however, pleased that the NXC source code is available online for anyone who wishes to modify the program or use it as a starting point to create their own program.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Cookbook for Rubik's Cube Solver & Tic-Tac-Toe NXT Robots 4 Feb 2010
By Ira Laefsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a creative builder of advanced Lego Mindstorms NXT Robots Mr. Benettelli provides clear and exquisitely illustrated
instructions to construct two fascinating robots which employ artificial intelligence-based techniques for physically
solving a Rubik's cube puzzle and playing tic-tac-toe at advanced level. An advanced beginner with the Lego Mindstorms
system will spend many hours enjoyably constructing these robots with capabilities that go well beyond what one
might think they could accomplish with a child-oriented robotics system. The step-by-step plans and copious
illustrations will enable anyone to achieve success in constructing these exciting examples of intelligent robotics.
One caveat for the curious hobbyist is that those looking for extensive instruction in the algorithms employed and the
theory of operation behind these enthralling robots will find the explanation of how they work somewhat light. There
is approximately two pages of explanation of the theory behind the tic-tac-toe playing robot, and some more pages on
where to go for further instruction in AI techniques. But for the advanced hobbyist who is looking for explanation of
how one could accomplish these techniques themselves the explanation of theory is somewhat limited.

Still this book provides excellent cookbook explanations of the construction of these fascinating robots and
the book will provide a great deal of fun for the hobbyist on just how far one can go with the Lego NXT system.

--Ira Laefsky
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