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Lego Mindstorms is a hardware software platform produced by Lego for the development of programmable robots based on Lego building blocks. Each version of the system includes an intelligent brick computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and Lego parts from the Technic line to create the mechanical systems.
Since creation, there have been four generations of the Mindstorms platform: With each platform release, the motor and sensor capabilities expanded. A second prototype series was developed in the mids before the final device was released in Mindstorms is named after the book Mindstorms: It included 32K of RAM to store the firmware and user programs. The brick is programmed by uploading a program written in one of several available programming languages from a Windows or Mac computer to the brick's RAM via a special infrared IR interface.
After the user starts a program, an RCX-enabled Mindstorms creation can function independently on its own, acting on internal and external stimuli according to the programmed instructions. Also, two or several more RCX bricks can communicate with each other through the IR interface, enabling inter-brick cooperation or competition.
In addition to the IR port, the system includes three sensor input ports and three motor output ports which can also be used to drive other electrical devices such as lamps and so forth.
Power adapter equipped RCX bricks are popular for stationary robotics projects such as robot arms or for controlling Lego model trains. Both versions can transmit on either frequency. The carrier signal is generated by one of the RCX's internal timers. The tower is supported by Windows 98, Me, and XP bit. There is no formal support for Windows Vista bit , but there are reports of correct functionality.
The serial tower works normally under bit Windows 7 using a third-party USB-to-serial adapter. The first RCX produced is marked "" and was on display at the Mindstorms 10th Anniversary event. The Lego camera on its own is technically not a robotic toy; rather, it is a normal webcam a Logitech QuickCam Web packaged into a Lego shell.
Being a normal webcam, the Lego camera is, unlike most Mindstorms products, not programmable and is only usable connected to a PC or some other device that supports USB webcams. The Lego camera is meant to be used with the included Vision Command software which can also interface with an RCX and thus enables creating robots with "vision".
The software is capable of detecting different lightings, motion, and colors. It can also be used with any other software that uses a webcam. The webcam is capable of recording up to 30 frames per second. It also contains a microphone to record sound for videos. The first programmable Lego product was released in The control panel included six non-reversible 4. It also features a manual-override stop-button. Using programs running on the host computer, the user could create stationary programmable robotic Lego inventions using the older 4.
The control center was the first programmable standalone Lego product, in the sense of being able to store sequence-based programs and run them. It featured three output ports and manual control, and it was only capable of storing linear sequences of manual input plus timing information. It could store up to two programs at once. The manual controls could be used to independently control the three motors. To record a program; the controller had to be put in programming mode, and then any manual control would be recorded to the program.
Pauses could also be included in a program. When the recording was done, the controller could successfully recall and execute any manual action done during the recording. The executing program could be set to loop infinitely. Compared to the later programmable controllers, the Technic control center is extremely simple and can only barely be called programmable.
Released in , the Dacta Control Lab was the first Lego product to feature the sensors used in later 9V-based automated Lego products. The control lab was a datalogger, which featured four passive input ports, four active input ports, eight controllable 9V output ports, and one continuous output port. It also featured a manual-override stop-button.
The control panel connected to a computer using a serial-port with a specially designed adapter cable and a supplied computer-program allowed the user to conditionally program the outputs. This allowed for robotic operation of mostly stationary Lego inventions. The Control Lab superseded the old 4.
The connectors of the early sensors were color-coded according to their type. Active sensors had blue connectors and Passive sensors had yellow connectors. Later Pbricks kept the color-coding for the input ports, but the later sensors dropped the color-coding of the connectors using black connectors instead. The early touch-sensors were also of a different kind and shape compared to the later touch-sensors. Most notably, instead of featuring a removable cable, the cable was fixed just like the other sensors.
These early sensors also featured longer cables. The Control Lab was designed for schools and educational use and was as a result not available to the mass market. It was later replaced by the RCX and the educational release of the Robot Invention System which allowed for mobile inventions in addition to stationary inventions.
It was aimed at an older audience as an early attempt of merging with robotics and Lego. The brick shares many, especially software, features with the RCX but differs in appearance and technical specifications: It talks the same protocol as the RCX but cannot communicate directly to it due to IR vs RF but with a repeater a computer with 2 serial ports and a simple program they can communicate indirectly.
Sold as part of the Barcode Truck kit. This unit was the first programmable brick or Pbrick. It features a single motor, a single touch sensor and a light sensor.
It is programmed by setting it to 'learn' and using the light sensor to feed barcoded commands. The command set is very limited. Since barcode is just a series of variances in light, this form of command entry was dubbed VLL Visual Light Link and has been used in several later Lego models. Lego also released a blue computer called the Scout , which has 2 sensor ports, 2 motor ports plus one extra if linked with a Micro Scout using a fiber optic cable , and a built in light sensor, but no PC interface.
It comes with the Robotics Discovery Set. The Scout can be programmed from a collection of built-in program combinations. In order to program the Scout, a user must enable "power mode" on it. The Scout can store one program. The Scout only supports passive external sensors, which means that only touch, temperature and other unpowered sensors can be used. The analog-to-digital converters used in the Scout only have a resolution of 8 bits in contrast to the bit converters of the RCX.
There was a plan for Lego to create a booster set that allows you to program the Scout from a computer with a software such as RCX code. However, due to the complexity of this project, it was abandoned. The Scout brick must have all of its options set to "off".
The Micro Scout was added as an entry level to Lego robotics. It is a very limited Pbrick with a single built-in light sensor and a single built-in motor. Like the Scout, the Micro Scout is also based on a microcontroller from Toshiba. Spybotics is a robotics package. It consists of four colour-coded robots called Spybots, a programming language with which to control the Spybots, and ten simulated missions.
The Intelligent Brick is the "brain" of a Mindstorms machine. It lets the robot autonomously perform different operations. Software is sold separately, and the Education Resource Set for the best use.
It includes a light sensor, an ultrasonic sensor, a sound sensor, three lamps and a pair of touch sensors. The first set consists of about pieces, and the extra set consists of about pieces. The Education Version is most suited for those who have older versions of Mindstorms sets around, mostly thanks to its three converter cables.
It contains pieces includes sensors and motors , two Touch Sensors, an Ultrasonic Sensor, and introduced a new Color Sensor. EV3 is a further development of the NXT. The EV3 can be controlled by smart-devices. It can boot an alternative operating system from a microSD card, which makes it possible to run ev3dev , a Debian -based operating system.
Mindstorms kits are also sold and used as an educational tool, originally through a partnership between Lego and the MIT Media Laboratory. One of the differences between the educational series, known as the "Challenge Set", and the consumer series, known as the "Inventor Set", is that it includes another touch sensor and several more gearing options.
However, there are several other standouts between the two versions that one may not recognize unless doing a side by side analysis of what each offers. The version sold through LEGO Education is designed for a deeper level of learning or teaching that often happens in a classroom or school setting.
This includes 48 tutorials to walk the learner through the basics of coding to more sophisticated and complex concepts such as data logging. It's always a good idea to reach out to a LEGO Education consultant to inquire of other differences as there are several more. There is a strong community of professionals and hobbyists of all ages involved in the sharing of designs, programming techniques, creating third-party software and hardware , and contributing of other ideas associated with Lego Mindstorms.
Lego also encourages sharing and peering by making software code available for downloading and by holding various contests and events.
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