Diggin' the NXT

A month or two ago, I got a LEGO Mindstorms NXT kit. Since then, I've
learned how to use the NXC programming environment (a free multitasking
language based on C). Also in the last few months, I've learned the
basics of programming Atmel chips, including the cool Orangutan board.
But I've got to say, the more I use the NXT, the more I like it. LEGO
really makes it easy and fast to try out new mechanical designs (good
thing, too -- my last design was junk; it couldn't turn worth a darn).
The NXT controller does the same for programming, especially with the
NXC environment. Full multithreading, a nice big LCD display that's easy
to use, a digitized sound player, buttons, nice tools for managing
memory on the thing -- it's all here. I know you can do similar things
on other controllers, using FreeRTOS for example, but the NXT actually
makes it easy.
At first it seems a bit short on I/O, with just three motor outputs
(which also double as encoder inputs) and four other sensor inputs. But
it supports I2C, which suggests that you could chain all sorts of
third-party I2C devices onto it. I haven't explored this much yet,
except for using the LEGO sonar sensor, which is an I2C device (and was
a snap to use). I don't have any other I2C devices yet. But if so, it's
going to be hard to justify mucking about with any other controller, for
a long while at least.
The main drawback of course is that it's not cheap; an NXT by itself
runs a bit under $100. So I still have an interest in sub-$50 robots,
and generally sprinkling Atmel chips around like popcorn in larger bots.
(Hmm, I wonder if I could get them to speak I2C, to make them slave
units to the NXT?) But for daily robot hacking, the NXT is likely to be
my controller of choice now.
Just wanted to share my excitement with you all.
- Joe
Reply to
Joe Strout
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