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"Building Robots with LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT": A Review

This book is out this week. What follows are some first impressions. Readers, including the book's authors, are encouraged to add more detail:

One of the book's strong suits is its non-intimidating style. The book is easy to understand and follow, with clear explanations throughout.

Beginners will appreciate the primer on NXT's basic elements: sensors, motors and Technic parts. Beginners will also appreciate the book's overview of building techniques, including an in-depth examination of NXT gearing.

Advanced users will enjoy the chapter on pneumatics, and the brief but fun chapter on building Sumo robots. Both beginners and advanced users will appreciate the chapter on building animals, as well as the chapter on building robots that walk.

There are no complete building instructions in the book, which is probably deliberate. The book focuses on construction principles and design theory, leaving it to the reader to design their own creations. That said, there are a few design ideas offered to get the reader started.

The chapter on programming is only an overview, without detailed instructions. A more in-depth look at NXT-G would have been helpful for the beginner. However, there are brief overviews of RobotC, NBC, pbLUA and LeJOS NXJ for the advanced user.

All in all, the book is a great reference work, especially for those new to the NXT. Teachers will be able to adapt the material for classroom use as well.

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