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Yoshihito Isogawa - Red, Blue, and Green Books

I just received 3 books - one copy each of Yoshihito Isogawa from Japan. Un. Be. Lievable. I'll refer to the books as Red Book (RB), Blue Book (BB), and Green Book (GB) in this review.

English Table of Contents for all 3 books here:

Red Book - This is the one to start with - over 150 pages of full-color mechanisms, all using a mixture of Technic and system parts - including motors, gears, beams, and more. All the books are written in Japanese, so unless you can read it, you're going to have to use the icon system that Isogawa has created, but it's not difficult. Along the right edge of each right-side page, you'll find small icons that give you a hint of the sections' designs. For example, in one of my photos here you can see a small image of a pneumatic plunger and piston. Easy to flip to and find all kinds of mechanisms that use pneumatics. Other icons (sections) include springs, magnets, and axles. And those are only 4 icons out of maybe 12+ icons in the book. A few icons still have me puzzled, but it didn't stop me from looking at EVERY page... these small designs are incredible. There is a WEALTH of design ideas here - you won't believe it. And this is just the Red Book.

Blue Book - Almost every design in this full-color book uses tires or some sort of gear/wheel system for movement. Over 160 pages, with RCX/NXT/PF motors represented plus a few more that I don't own. Icons here look like they break the designs down into turning, rotating pieces, motors, springs, gears, pushing, pulling, and multiple-choice type behaviors. Again, some of the mechanisms are so simple but you can see where the few parts will provide major options to robots (especially in competitions like FLL). There are some gearing mechanisms in there that I just cannot figure out, but they sure do look impressive. I think what has impressed me the most is that you can see in the pictures the work the mechanism will produce as well as the small number of parts required to perform the work.

Green Book - This book, 150+ pages in full-color, appears to be dedicated to "walking" and non-wheel devices (a few exist, but not many). The pneumatics and spring sections are surprising, and I've got all kinds of ideas in my head right now. Mechanisms that use or react to sound, light, and weight (force) are also included. The first 30 pages alone are worth the book's price, as it provides dozens of walking mechanisms that could be easily incorporated with an NXT robot... some of them will make you laugh and others you won't believe will work using the small number of parts.

These 3 books are incredible. The sheer number of ideas presented in them will blow you away. While many of these mechanisms can be found in Isogawa's earlier PDF (he sells it for $10 on his website), there's plenty of original content - and the way the author has divided it up among the 3 books and then structured each book makes them easy to "read."

It's difficult to compare these 3 newcomers with the Orange, Black, and Gray books (see links below). They serve a different purpose I believe and the format is much different (very little text in RB, GB, and BB as compared to the Orange, Black, and Gray. That said, I'm much more likely to get actual usage out of these 3 new books as the building instructions are easy to follow and the mechanisms inside are more likely to offer up something I can use (although the Orange Book remains one of my favorites)

Get them here:

The author's Orange Book - more details here and here and here.

Black Book writeup - different author

Gray Book writeup - different author

UPDATE: I wanted to add that for an FLL team, these books could be indispensable. You're not going to find full solutions for any missions, but you will find so many potential mechanisms that can be made to perform actions such as pushing, pulling, lifting, lowering, spinning... the list goes on. Until a way is found to either have them translated and sold in the USA (or elsewhere), they are fairly pricey (most of that is the cost of shipping from Japan but does do a great job of delivery and providing tracking). It would be great to find a publisher willing to have these translated into English, but don' t count on that... instead, just know that the images are easy to follow and 80-90% of the designs show you exactly how to build them - the rest you can just examine the photos and reverse-engineer.

If you are an FLL team that obtains one or more of these books and you find any mechanisms that you implement in your robot, please let me know! At the end of the season I'd love to give one or more teams the ability to dissect their robot and provide a guest post or 2 covering their design, including any mechanisms found useful here.

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