fredag 5 december 2008

Sample chapter from The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Zoo book now available!


Visitors to MINDSTORMS.com can now download a sample chapter from Fay Rhodes' book, The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Zoo, A Kid-Friendly Guide to Building Animals with the NXT Robotics System! The sample chapter includes building and programming instructions for a robotic LEGO dinosaur (a LEGOsaurus). We had a chance to interview Fay about her book, and you can download the sample chapter from the MINDSTORMS.com/books page.



What is your experience with LEGO MINDSTORMS?


My husband, Rick, purchased an NXT to use with his son when they first came out in the summer of 2006. I had never touched a robotics kit until he asked for my assistance on a project a few months later. In helping him, I discovered that I had a knack for it and saw a lot of interesting possibilities for teaching enhancement and creative expression.



What inspired you to write this book?


It started with simple curiosity. I was intrigued by what the NXT could do and really curious about how to make things happen. (Still am!) I'm not a scientist by training, so I had to begin with the basics of simple machines. I was particularly interested in how I could make a robot walk.



Then I noticed that visitors to NXTLOG were asking for models of animals---and that the models being posted didn't really look like the animals they were supposed to be. Sometimes they didn't act like those animals either. That inspired me to see if I could design robots that both looked and acted like specific animals.



When I started designing them, I had no intention of writing a book; I just shared them with a few other people and they seemed really enthused about my designs (enhanced by the funny videos my husband created for each model). Even then, when I began to think about a book, I thought in terms of co-authoring, rather than doing a whole book.



In fact, I think it was when my husband told me I couldn't create enough models on my own for a book that I decided to do it---just to prove to him that I could.



How long did it take you to write the book?


I'm not sure, but I think I designed the robots and created the building images in MLCAD and LPub over a period of about six months.



What is your favorite model in the book?


I'm most proud of designing a robot that hops, because so many of the experts told me no one had figured out how to do that. A friend who is an engineer told me that the design was so simple, he'd never have though of it.



The robot I enjoy watching the most is the peacock. It always brings a smile to my face and others seem to enjoy it even more than I do. The skunk would be a close second, except that I have to chase after that darn dart everywhere. Once, I lost it under my gas stove and it took me a l-o-n-g time to find and recover it.



Why are you sharing this chapter?


The first reason is that people may not realize they that these models require extra parts. I want them to understand that before they purchase the book. I also hope they will enjoy building the LEGOsaurus so much that they will want to build the other models.



Also, it's important to me that people get what they expect---models that work. So much we buy doesn't work as advertised. We worked really hard to make the instructions clear. In fact, I owe a lot to those who tested my instructions (my husband Rick and his son Connor), and to Megan and Riley at No Starch, who worked hard to clarify building images that just weren't clear enough. I'm hoping that this sample chapter will erase any doubts.



What advice do you have to MINDSTORMS NXT builders?


Observe and persevere. Even though you may not be a "rocket scientist", you can learn a lot by observing the different mechanisms in the models on NXTLOG and by observing things that move in the rest of the world. Don't hesitate to pose your questions to the NXTperts on this website or to the readers of the NXTstep Forum.



I owe my success in creating a hopping robot to a simple device (made with a few straws) that I saw on a Scientific American television program. It made me realize that sometimes moving forward requires that you prevent backward motion.



Anything else you would like to add?


Yes, I would like to encourage parents and grandparents to use the NXT kit as an opportunity to teach---or to learn along with---their children and grandchildren. You don't have to be a scientist to have fun with the NXT, and young children can become discouraged if left on their own with the kit.



Also, don't be afraid to think more broadly about the NXT. I consider my animals to be pieces of art that interact with their environment. The NXT offers so many creative possibilities for artists and other creative folk!



Finally, never say you are too old for learning how to build with the NXT. Instead of doing page after page of crosswords and Sudoku, get yourself an NXT kit and exercise those brain cells. And I'll tell you a secret, your grandchildren will think you are coolest grandparent ever when you pull out your kit and invite them to build with you. If your grandchildren have a technical bent, you'll find them teaching you things---which is a wonderful way for both of you to learn and to build on your relationship!
Visitors to MINDSTORMS.com can now download a sample chapter from Fay Rhodes' book, The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Zoo, A Kid-Friendly Guide to Building Animals with the NXT Robotics System! The sample chapter includes building and programming instructions for a robotic LEGO dinosaur (a LEGOsaurus). We had a chance to interview Fay about her book, and you can download the sample chapter from the MINDSTORMS.com/books page.



What is your experience with LEGO MINDSTORMS?


My husband, Rick, purchased an NXT to use with his son when they first came out in the summer of 2006. I had never touched a robotics kit until he asked for my assistance on a project a few months later. In helping him, I discovered that I had a knack for it and saw a lot of interesting possibilities for teaching enhancement and creative expression.



What inspired you to write this book?


It started with simple curiosity. I was intrigued by what the NXT could do and really curious about how to make things happen. (Still am!) I'm not a scientist by training, so I had to begin with the basics of simple machines. I was particularly interested in how I could make a robot walk.



Then I noticed that visitors to NXTLOG were asking for models of animals---and that the models being posted didn't really look like the animals they were supposed to be. Sometimes they didn't act like those animals either. That inspired me to see if I could design robots that both looked and acted like specific animals.



When I started designing them, I had no intention of writing a book; I just shared them with a few other people and they seemed really enthused about my designs (enhanced by the funny videos my husband created for each model). Even then, when I began to think about a book, I thought in terms of co-authoring, rather than doing a whole book.



In fact, I think it was when my husband told me I couldn't create enough models on my own for a book that I decided to do it---just to prove to him that I could.



How long did it take you to write the book?


I'm not sure, but I think I designed the robots and created the building images in MLCAD and LPub over a period of about six months.



What is your favorite model in the book?


I'm most proud of designing a robot that hops, because so many of the experts told me no one had figured out how to do that. A friend who is an engineer told me that the design was so simple, he'd never have though of it.



The robot I enjoy watching the most is the peacock. It always brings a smile to my face and others seem to enjoy it even more than I do. The skunk would be a close second, except that I have to chase after that darn dart everywhere. Once, I lost it under my gas stove and it took me a l-o-n-g time to find and recover it.



Why are you sharing this chapter?


The first reason is that people may not realize they that these models require extra parts. I want them to understand that before they purchase the book. I also hope they will enjoy building the LEGOsaurus so much that they will want to build the other models.



Also, it's important to me that people get what they expect---models that work. So much we buy doesn't work as advertised. We worked really hard to make the instructions clear. In fact, I owe a lot to those who tested my instructions (my husband Rick and his son Connor), and to Megan and Riley at No Starch, who worked hard to clarify building images that just weren't clear enough. I'm hoping that this sample chapter will erase any doubts.



What advice do you have to MINDSTORMS NXT builders?


Observe and persevere. Even though you may not be a "rocket scientist", you can learn a lot by observing the different mechanisms in the models on NXTLOG and by observing things that move in the rest of the world. Don't hesitate to pose your questions to the NXTperts on this website or to the readers of the NXTstep Forum.



I owe my success in creating a hopping robot to a simple device (made with a few straws) that I saw on a Scientific American television program. It made me realize that sometimes moving forward requires that you prevent backward motion.



Anything else you would like to add?


Yes, I would like to encourage parents and grandparents to use the NXT kit as an opportunity to teach---or to learn along with---their children and grandchildren. You don't have to be a scientist to have fun with the NXT, and young children can become discouraged if left on their own with the kit.



Also, don't be afraid to think more broadly about the NXT. I consider my animals to be pieces of art that interact with their environment. The NXT offers so many creative possibilities for artists and other creative folk!



Finally, never say you are too old for learning how to build with the NXT. Instead of doing page after page of crosswords and Sudoku, get yourself an NXT kit and exercise those brain cells. And I'll tell you a secret, your grandchildren will think you are coolest grandparent ever when you pull out your kit and invite them to build with you. If your grandchildren have a technical bent, you'll find them teaching you things---which is a wonderful way for both of you to learn and to build on your relationship!




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Published by xFruits
Original source : http://mindstorms.lego.com/news/#66912...

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