Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (May 13, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #137,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #58 in Books > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Crafts & Hobbies > Toys & Models > Models #82 in Books > Computers & Technology > Computer Science > Robotics #114 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Engineering > Industrial, Manufacturing & Operational Systems > Robotics & Automation
I (a hardware/software developer and radio ham for some 30 years) bought LEGO Mindstorms for my now eight-year-old son last Christmas. Being a LEGO nut since he was old enough not to swallow the pieces, he's had great fun with Mindstorms since then.But after you've built the models detailed in the Mindstorms kit, where do you go next? The Mindstorms online help is pretty good, but tiresome to read on the screen, and not the best medium for a youngster. The Alpha Rex etc. are impressive but it's hard for a child to try to make his own models of a similar complexity on the basis of the models in the Mindstorms kit. There is a huge gap between copying ready-made models and learning to create real robots from scratch, and Laurens Valk's book fills that gap perfectly.As "the missing manual", this book thoroughly explains the NXT hardware and NXT-G software, in enough technical detail to satisfy a seasoned programmer like me, but without overloading someone who is completely new to the technology. That is no mean feat!The building instructions are of a similar quality to those provided in the all-too-slim Mindstorms manual, and my son was able to follow them and the programming instructions with only minimal guidance from me (usually because we hadn't yet read the accompanying text! :-)Now, there are several ways to approach this book. To get started quickly, you or your child genius can simply follow the detailed building and programming instructions to create any of the eight robots detailed in the book. My son had almost no trouble doing this: in fact, he first went after the more complex models like the Strider featured on the cover, followed by the very impressive Chimney Climber.
I purchased this book to encourage my 9 year old son to explore the robot he and his sister had received as a gift. Although my 11 year old daughter was trained in basic building and programming of the robot through a semester-long middle school robotics class, my inexperienced son felt overwhelmed by the task and confused by the programming.This book has been helpful and encouraging for him. We started the book together so I could ensure he understood the format of the book and the types of terms used. Though I expected the book would need to be a mother/son project, he quickly was able to read the sections and complete the programming tasks on his own.Each section gave him a simple task to learn the basic programming, then a challenge or two to figure out on his own using the programming skills he was mastering. In this first part of the book, he is able to complete two or three challenges before getting tired of trial and error (for example, to determine the correct degrees of axle rotation to make the robot turn 180 degrees) or bored with the robot. This takes him 20 to 45 minutes (including the time it takes to demonstrate the robots new skills for me), depending on the challenges he is completing. By the end of the third chapter he was designing "tasks" for the robot to complete and planning his own simple programs.At 9, he is able to build the robots in this book by himself or with very minor assistance. He is also using his newly developed skills to plan small modifications to the basic robot designs in the book, but not creating robots alone.