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The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Zoo!: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Building Animals with the NXT Robotics System [Paperback]

Fay Rhodes

Price: £15.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Mar 2008

Whether you're just beginning with your LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT set or are already an expert, you'll have hours of fun with these animal-like models that walk, crawl, hop, and roll!

The first part of the book introduces you to the NXT kit and reviews the parts you'll need in order to begin building. Next, you'll learn how to program with the NXT-G programming language, including how to make miniprograms called My Blocks that you can use to build larger programs. Finally, you'll learn how to build each robot and program it to act like its real animal cousins.

Learn to build and program the following robots:

  • Ribbit, a jumping frog
  • Bunny, a hopping rabbit
  • Sandy, a walking camel
  • Spiderbot, an eight-legged spider that avoids objects and walks forward and backward
  • Snout, a walking alligator that opens and closes its jaws
  • LEGOsaurus, a four-legged, plodding dinosaur
  • Pygmy, a walking elephant that raises and lowers its head
  • Polecat, a skunk on wheels that lifts its tail and shoots "darts"
  • Strutter, a peacock on wheels that turns and flutters its tail feathers

Troubleshooting tips help you avoid problems like misarranged gears and incorrect programming, while a list of Internet resources is included to help guide you in further exploration with the NXT. Teachers and home educators will appreciate an appendix with helpful suggestions for using the models in the classroom.

The models in this book have been tested repeatedly - and built successfully - by novice builders, so all you have to do is follow the directions and watch them go. Now, let the building begin!

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The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Zoo!: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Building Animals with the NXT Robotics System + The LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Discovery Book + The Unofficial LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Inventor's Guide
Price For All Three: £53.40

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Product Description

About the Author

Fay Rhodes is co-author of The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Idea Book(No Starch), a 2007 member of LEGO's MINDSTORMS Community Partners (MCP), and the only female contributor to the NXT Step Blog.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Videos of Some of the Robots in the Book 21 Dec 2008
By Fay Rhodes - Published on Amazon.com
Here are some of my own models taken from the book. I hope you enjoy them.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal Lego Mindstorms NXT Zoo review 16 Mar 2008
By Bad_Wolf - Published on Amazon.com
Hi everyone,

I received this book last week Monday. When I bought this book, I was very sceptical about this book because a peacock on wheels on the cover was a little strange. But I also build a Giraffe with a fifth middle leg based on the book from Benjamin Erwin "Creative Projects with Lego Mindstorms (RIS kit)" which seems also unusual at that time. Also the book of Benjamin Erwin is also an excellent book. So this is of no surprise that I bought this book also.

My skepticism melted as snow for the sun when I saw the creatures and the building instructions inside the book. This book is clearly written with its audience in mind, ie Children. The building instructions are very clear and detailled. The explanations are also easy to follow.

What could be improved, is the explanation of the NXT-G programming language. In my opinion they go not deep enough. An in depth coverage of the NXT motors, touch, ultrasonic, light sensors is missing. Expecially the "Why" and "What for" questions are not answered. But that is already written in Jim Kelly's book "Lego Mindstorms NXT-G Programming Guide". Both books are complementary to each other. So if you buy the NXT Zoo, I think it is a good idea to by the NXT-G programming language also.

I build "Spiderbot" without any problem (I am an adult, I love robotics and bought my first RIS set in august 2005). I found it easy to build, despite the fact those images are not in color. Using color should have added an extra "touch" to this fine book but it would make it also much more expensive. Nevertheless all those images give a very clear and detailled view how to construct the animals.

Also the detailled inventory at the beginning of each design and the part substitution prevent of becoming frustrating when you need a piece of which you just ran out or do no have. You can clearly see what pieces you need and how much before you start building. When you have already bought other Lego Technic sets, you probably will have all the pieces you need. Only the canon seems to be a big problem because this piece seems very hard to find (I am living in Belgium and probably therefore I cannot find a place where I can buy the particular set). But when you live in the USA, there should be no problem at all. Also there are other types of Lego cannons (in the Excoforce sets) which can be substitution for this canon but I did not try it yet.

What I really regret about this book is that it is written in English only. So when your native language is English, your child can start building without problems. But when you like me living in a world with a different language (mine is Dutch), it makes it almost impossible for your child to follow the instructions on its own. I decided to translate the book into my Dutch language for my nephew and when it is allowed by the publisher of this book, I am more than willing to share the Dutch translation with others inside the Lego community. But I think because of copyright matters that this is not allowed. Nevertheless I can understand the reason why it is impossible to produce such books for other languages; English is a main language used in almost every part of the world. When this book should be written in Dutch for example, theya are only selling less than thousand copies because our language and many others are rarely used and only in very small parts of the world.

As my final conclusion. This book is a must have for children with in interest in animals and robotics. In a playfull way, they obtain technic insights and improve their skills. Also this book stimulates creativity because while building you get your own ideas on what could be added. On Spiderbot I would add a second "Ultrasonic" sensor pointed to the ground. So when Spiderbot is on a table, it should detect the end of the table and backup and start walking on another angle. Nevertheless when you add a second Ultrasonic sensor, you have to make sure you are using those Ultrasonic sensor in an intermitting frequency (the front off when your program is using the floor sensor and so fort) otherwise you do not get excact results. If an ultrasonic sensor is too difficult, you can use a light or Hi-Technic color sensor to scan the surface Spiderbot is walking. When the surface changes color, spiderbot backoff. For this kind of approach, your spiderbot can walk only on egally colored surfaces. And when you add a Compass sensor ... You see a lot of extra creativity can add a personal touch to these designs.

So lets start building and experimenting. This book is worth the price which is very reasonable in my opinion.

And about the author Fay Rhodes, very good work indeed! If we had an "intergalactic" Lego Hall of Fame you would have definatelly "First place". Hopefully we will see much more of your work in the future. Also a big "thank you" for your work inside the Lego Community.

Friendly greetings,

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-Have NXT Book for Kids 4 Mar 2008
By J. Kelly - Published on Amazon.com
In a nutshell: What a great book.

As the author states in the Preface, there are plenty of books for adults that are geared towards NXT, but this book is 100% focused on its primary audience: kids.

First, the subject matter - animals. You can't go wrong with giving kids building and programming plans to build their own skunk, alligator, and dinosaur (only 3 of 9 great little robots). And the designs don't just LOOK like their counterparts - the author has provided programming that makes them mimic the real-life animal. (And the book's website has instructions for adding realistic sounds.)

Second, the building instructions - easy to follow. The author not only provides some of the clearest NXT building instructions to date, but she also provides a complete checklist of the parts required (and the website has a useful chart for locating the needed parts). Also nice is the fact that the list of parts NOT included with the Education Base Kit is very small and the author tells you where the parts can be ordered.

Finally, some random musings:

1. Nice mini-tutorial on using Peeron to locate parts
2. Complete walkthroughs of the programs (with accurate screenshots) for each robot
3. The appendices are a nice addition, with materials for teachers and troubleshooting tips
4. Companion website has additional material for teachers and kids

All in all, the book is a worthy addition to the NXT bookshelf. Even adult fans will enjoy the designs and some of the very smart little design tricks that are shared. And kids are going to love it.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be prepared to buy lots of parts 17 April 2008
By H. Chavez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My son has been doing Lego robotics through a school program all year, and he finally saved enough money to buy his own Lego NXT Mindstorms kit. In the past week, he has spent hours tweaking ideas he learned in the program as well as the ones included in the instructions that came with the kit. I thought this book would be a natural fit, since it is one of the few that are made more for children than adults.

He was very excited to get it, too, and immediately started constucting the spider bot... and then he realized he didn't have half the needed parts. So he tried to make the frog bot...and again, same thing. He was very frustrated by this point and asked that we return the book.

I told him I would try to find the parts he was missing online, and, thanks to the companion Web site, starting making a list of what he would need... which ended up being over 200 pieces of dozens of different types!

My son would've rated this book a 1, but I'll give it a couple of extra stars for content, the Web site and the fact it is written for children. But after shelling out $250 for the kit and another $20 for the book, be warned: The spending won't stop there. (Not to mention the hours you'll spend tracking everything down.)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book. . . only if you have the parts 4 May 2009
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Even though this book is geared toward kids, I would not say it is completely "Kid friendly" especially if you just got the Lego NXT. If you want to build the frog, rabbit, or skunk you have to have the education resource kit in addition to the base kit. You will need even more parts to make the SIX other models; Fay Rhodes does tell you were to get the parts and sometimes shows you where you can substitute. In order to make the elephant, skunk, and peacock, you will need to use fishing line for the pulleys. I tried for over 30 minutes to attach the string on the skunk to get it to "spray" and I eventually gave up and tore it apart. The building instructions are not the best, the pins and other parts never fully attach.
It is hard to get the walking animals legs in alignment. I tried for 20 minutes to get the alligator to walk and it just would not work, but maybe that is because I built it wrong.

I admit, the animals are pretty cool. My favorites are the spider and the elephant.

Over all you should only get this book if you have the parts and you have some experience with the NXT.
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