HighTechScience.org's    "Mindstorms NXT" Robot

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   The Lego Mindstorms NXT is a programmable robotics kit released by Lego in 2006. The main component in the kit is a brick-shaped computer called the NXT brick. It can take input from up to four sensors and control up to three motors. The brick has a 100x64 pixel LCD display and four buttons that can be used to navigate a user interface using menus. It also has a speaker and can play sound files at sampling rates up to 8 kHz. 

   Power for the unit is supplied by 6 AA  (1.5 V each) batteries in the consumer version of the kit and by Li-Ion rechargeable batteries in the educational version.  The later also comes with a recharger so you never need to purchase batteries again.  

   Very simple programs can be written using the menu on the NXT. More complicated programs and sound files can be downloaded using a USB port or wirelessly using Bluetooth. Files can also be copied between two NXT bricks wirelessly, and some mobile phones can be used as a remote control. Up to four NXT bricks can communicate simultaneously via Bluetooth when user created programs are run.

   NXT-G v1.0 is the programming software that comes bundled with the NXT. There are 2 different programming interfaces. One is included with the retail and educational kits and the other can be purchased separately. The software is adequate for basic programming, such as driving motors, incorporating sensor inputs, doing calculations, and learning simplified programming structures and flow control.
 The retail version of the kit includes software for writing programs that run on PC and Mac computers. The software is based on National Instruments LabVIEW and provides a visual programming language for writing simple programs and downloading them to the NXT Brick.

Technical Specifications of the Mindstorms NXT

  • 32-bit AT91SAM7S256 (ARM7TDMI) main microprocessor @ 48 MHz (256 KB flash memory, 64 KB RAM).
  • 8-bit ATmega48 microcontroller @ 4 MHz (4 KB flash memory, 512 Bytes RAM).
  • CSR Blue Core 4 Bluetooth controller @ 26 MHz (8 MBit external flash memory, 47 KB RAM)
  • 100×64 pixel LCD matrix display
  • Can be programmed using Windows or Mac OS.
  • Users create a program with new software, powered by LabVIEW from National Instruments.
  • A single USB 1.1 port full speed (12 Mbit/s).
  • Bluetooth (Class II) wireless connectivity, to transfer programs to the NXT wirelessly or offer ways to control robots remotely (through mobile phones and possibly by PDA's).
  • 4 input ports, 6-wire cable digital platform (One port includes a IEC 61158 Field bus Type 4/EN 50 170 (P-NET) compliant expansion port for future use).
  • 3 output ports, 6-wire cable digital platform.
  • Digital Wire Interface allows for development of external devices.

Mindstorms is made by the Lego Company.

Here is a YouTube video of the Mindstorms NXT in action

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