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Lego + Linux HOWTO 82

luge writes "In more than a few Lego articles posted here, I've seen the question asked "But can I use the Mindstorms under Linux?" Well, the new Lego + Linux mini-HOWTO provides the answer. There are (currently) 7 different software options in 7 different languages (including C, Perl, and Java) for the Linux-based Mindstorms owner."
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Lego + Linux HOWTO

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  • Anyone have any ideas on how I can build a little mindstorms thing that will sit on my kitchen counter and spray my cats with water when they jump up there? I know when I'm at work they jump up on the counter and dance around until they get tired and then fall asleep next to the coffee maker until they hear my car pull up, then they run to the other room and pretend they've been there all day.

    Motion sensing might not work very well because people who walk by would get sprayed. Image recognition would be best, but I'm not quite sure how to go about it.

  • Yes, that'd be great. Do it!


  • There's a COM object you can drop into your favorite COM compatible app and go nuts with. I did this when I web enabled the mindstorms set I got for my birthday a year or two ago [tangozone.com].
  • Pacal: you can only put the bricks together in certain, restricted ways.

    FORTRAN: the bricks simulate bricks.

    Forth: while you put the bricks together backwards, you can make bigger, more useful bricks.

    Assembly: you have many, many very simple bricks, but there is no limit to what you can build.

    Bill - aka taniwha

  • Getting off-topic, but you raise a very interesting point. I'm approaching 30 (shudder), and I think I saw the transition of legos from wholly generic to specialized. The space sets came out when I was a kid, as well as the first motor (big, black brick), and then the technics, and there compact motor. Generally, though, even with space sets and such, you got mostly generic bricks, with a few special types, but even those could be used for many things.

    I think the first motors were in the mid 60's, so unless you're approaching 30 like Merlin does, they predated you.

    Over the years, it seems the specialization continued to where legos are hyper-specialized. A set comes with a few normal bricks and many specialty items that don't have many uses.

    Now, maybe it's reversing, with the greater amounts of generic pieces in the mindstorms and such sets, despite highly-specified star-wars, castle, and rock war sets.

    Yes, this whole process is decried as the juniorization of Lego, and apparently even mentioned in Coupland's Microserfs.

    Don't lump Star Wars in with the castle or Rock Raiders sets, though. The Star Wars sets are an excellent value for the money, and don't have many overspecialized parts, unlike Rock Raiders.

    The X-wing for example, had R2D2, a canopy and a few printed parts for specialized parts, everything else was stock. Lots of grey slopes and plates, very tasty.

  • Yup, seven different projects for Lego Mindstorms, but no window manager that works.
    how many real life bazaars have ever actually built anything larger than a hep of camel shit?

    It appears that the cathedral builders haven't done much better in these regards. Take CDE (Please!), there was much rejoicing at the possibility that it might be replaced by GNOME etc. Microsoft don't seem to have done any better, Windows might be a bit more useable if I could run WindowMaker and GNOME on it. In short, regarding window managers, Apple seem to have built the only cathedral any bigger than your heap of camel shit. (Ignoring NeXT etc.)
  • by nellardo ( 68657 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @07:17AM (#854564) Homepage Journal
    A cool HOWTO. Clearly it could use some fleshing out, but that's more a "You're going in the right direction" rather than "You didn't do enough". Writing doc is one of those thankless tasks, but I'm glad someone is doing it.

    Now if only there was an environment that provided something outside the Algol family. Oh wait, of course, I can use Forth. I RPN like not. :-) A nice functional language (Haskell [haskell.org] being my current fave) would be well-suited to the MindStorms system. Pure functional PLs handle data flow so cleanly, and the flow from sensors to actuators is exactly that. Six built-in primitives for the three sensors and the three actuators.

    A simple Braitenberg-style [amazon.com] mouse:

    main = union (connect sensor1 actuator2) (connect sensor2 actuator1)
    Simple, clear, understandable. I like it.

  • Put a touch sensor with a big bumper pad, so if the cat jumps up, it hits the button, and then the lego thing hits something.
  • In college I built a maze traversing Mindstorms Robot. It would actually find its way through a 6 foot by 6 foot cardboard maze. I used NQC (Not Quite C) as the programming language because it was impossible to program the "follow the right wall" algorithm in Bricks (the programming language that comes with the set.)

  • I tried, but I kept falling off. I think I need to build the matress larger next time.
  • by codemonkey_uk ( 105775 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @07:25AM (#854568) Homepage
    Come on, someone who actually knows what they're talking about continue/correct me...
    • RCX
      You try to make a car, but end up with a speed boat. But you don't care. its a really cool speadboat!
    • LegOS (C/C++)
      After months of development your lego car starts quickly, but then grows so big it crushes you. And crashes.
    • Lego::RCX.pm (Perl)
      After half an hours hacking you have a dune buggy that works. Unfortunatly further development is impossable.
    • Not Quite C
      After months of development you realise its not quite feasable.
    • pbForth
      you lego build
    • TinyVM & leJOS (java)
      Your lego car works everywhere, but its quicker to walk.
    • TCL RCX
      Your car doesn't work, but if it did you could control it remotly with a pretty GUI
    Wow I suck.


  • It's official; they have finally combined the world's two greatest playthings: Legos and Linux Figure out a way to get sex and beer into the mix, then you'll really have something!
  • If you have any particular suggestions as to what should be "fleshed out," please let me know...
  • I have one lying around from my 6.270 robot...

    The HandyBoard is damned cool though...
  • Tom Selleck in Runaway [go.com]. Besides, spiders are cooler than dogs 8^)

    Extra Credit: Write the person tracking software for the missle/bullets in CobolScript [cobolscript.com]

  • ::SIGH:: Do you even pretend to know what you're talking about? There are Window Managers that work, and work quite well. IceWM is one that springs to mind. There are several others out there as well.

    Either you were trying for a bit of irony (and failing I might add :>) or you are simply misinformed.
  • Well, they weren't mindstorms (I forget what it actually was), but we used computer controlled legos in an engineering class at school one years. Very cool stuff, our project was a 'vehicle' that could navigate a maze with no user input. (Ours was a tank with a pretty cool worm drive, that thing could drive over anything, pretty impressive for something you can fit in a shoebox...)
    I've been meaning to check out the mindstorms, I grew up on legos, so this is obviously the perfect toy :-)
  • no...actually...it goes to http://www.flipse.com/legos.html you can copy and paste if you don't trust me.....or just rightclick and look where it goes.....

  • I bought one for myself (no kids, we'd be fighting over the toys anyway). I find it easy to work with and I did similar things (sans motors or computer interfaces) with LEGO technics when I was about 10 and with Meccano when I was around 8. I'd have loved these around that age or even a bit earlier.

    I've not used the software that comes with it since I don't run Windows, but it looks like its simple to use, sort of a simplified version of ProGraph (A visual language which may or may not still exist)

  • I would go with the light sensor: you can tweak it to only work at close range.
    Alternatively, get two mindstorm units and have them send a laser beam back and forth to each other, if the beam get's broken (i.e. the cat walks between them) spray the water.
  • If I write a Logo interpreter in one of the seven languages, and then display the output on the screen as well as send the commands to the Mindstorm, then I can re-create a classic kid's learning environment from 1985 ! Except now my turtle can bite.

  • by nicky_d ( 92174 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:42AM (#854579) Homepage
    Could you build a PC case using Mindsorms components and have your machine look after itself physically? Like, you come back from work and it's taken a few bricks out of itself to reduce temperature? Or added a west wing on the side to house a couple of new hard drives? Or built itself some wheels and... uh, I've got to stop thinking about this now.
  • I'm not trying to be inflammatory [all honesty] but what exactly is the deal with "woman have a genetic problem with math and spatial analysis"? That's...umm...not true.
  • Just electrify the counter surface with a nice conducting mesh. Cheap and Easy. No robotics necessary. Keep the juice fairly low or you might kill the cats :)
  • Cobol Bricks: It allows you to get many bricks to the same place at the same time, but only runs backwards and is documented in Greek.

  • I agree, I'm 27 (yesterday...), and also stopped playing with Lego when I saw it going from generic building blocks, to highly specialized parts that can be used for very few things. I tend to think it destroys some of the creativity in the kids. Everything is prebuilt and there is just building it, and that's it.

    Hm, I remember writing Lego in, well, I think it must have been shortly after the first Space Shuttle launch, suggesting more specialized parts, like curved things and such, to be able to make more smoothly looking spaceships... Maybe I am to blame....? :-)

  • Children playing with Legos? Interesting concept! Does this mean I have to share?
  • I'm still waiting for the Mindstorm-Wife-Permission.HOWTO...

    `` [drizzle.com]

  • We already have a couple my son loves them he is 51/2
  • It's great that we've got all these "real" programming languages to use, but doesn't the average kid need something a little simpler?

    IIRC, the official development environment that you get with a Mindstorms set is built around an ActiveX component that you use with a drag-and-drop Windows interface. Seems pretty easy.

  • Has anyone looked into extending the hardware? With all the Linux/Lego code out there this would be a great way to control the physical world, or would it? I have an old direct drive Pan/Tilt for a camera I'd love to Net-enable cheaply and with as little custom coding (read.. ahh thats not hardware)as possible.
  • You should get the O'Reilly Mindstorm book it has some very very cool ideas.
  • Hard, plastic sharp thingys (Legos) & Electronics normally aren't good to mix with sex...I know...:P
  • I need to figure out how to get them to quit clawing the sofa all to hell too. Too bad Aibo isn't faster and smarter.

    Someone told me to make a great big sheet of duct tape and lay it sticky side up on the counter top, but I don't think I wanna pull that off an irate cat along with all of his fur. I gave one of 'em a bath last night and he almost killed me.
  • I have a set of the old Lego Dacta system with the computer interface. It used a language called LEGO TC LOGO under DOS. It uses a proprietary LEGO 8 bit ISA Interface card. Is there any information on making this beast work in Linux? LOGO/DOS only has so much extensibility! John
  • Hey I know you! You're one of those guys on the old Frosted Flakes commercials. Yea, the ones where the person is sitting in shadow because they're ashamed of liking a "kids" cereal. I knew I recognized you!


    Won $50 worth of Lego's in a "creative building" contest when he was seven with a cool skateboarding robot design built out of the little Lego sets that came with McDonalds Happy Meals(all I had at the time). Used the money to buy three Lego Technic sets, the pneumatic ones, and never looked back.
    Is teaching his 4 year old how to program Mindstorms, and dug out the old pneumatic sets too.
  • arghhhhh, stop the juices... *gasp* ok, ok, I give in. Warning, incredibly useless creative stuff follows.

    For some reason I looked back through the archive of Lego topics on /. and saw the post about bulk ordering. There was a comment about a Lego machine gun which fired 2*4 bricks. I looked at it and saw that it used rubber bands and a hammer mechanism and some kind of hand crank. Suddenly the inspiration hit me. I'll redesign the thing! I'll motorize it and use a pneumatic plunger as a hammer to fire the bricks!

    Basic idea. Put a motor on the plunger which charges a compressed air tank so it charges continually. Have two lines running from the tank to the firing plunger controlled through a SPDT switch, when air is put in at the bottom of the firing plunger, it shoots out and knocks the brick down the barrel, when I throw it the other direction, it will allow the compressed air to flow into the upper input on the firing plunger and retract it, allowing another brick to fall into the firing chamber from the clip. And I can even build the switch into the housing so it looks like a trigger.

    The only real problem I see is getting the air chamber compressed to the point where there is a decent velocity imparted to the brick when the plunger strikes it. Those motors don't have near the amount of power the old Robotix building set motors did. I'll have to build gear ratios to allow the mechanism to push the compressing plunger down once there is a fair amount of compressed air in the tank already. Of course my upper limit is the working pressure in the rubber lines, I can make the gear ratio something ungodly and put tons and tons of pressure into the chamber, it may take forever to re-pressurize after firing, but that's the only way I can see to get decent velocity out of the firing plunger.

    Now I'm going home and build this stupid thing, my kids will love it. I'll post the design when I get it completed.

  • started their children on mindstorms?


  • Has anybody actually purchased one of these Lego Mindstorm kits? Was it easy to work with? For what age group would it make a good gift?
  • huge lego killer-robots controlled by a linux run beowulf cluster. all we need is a mindstorms laser gun.
  • started their children on mindstorms?

    Not yet, but my daughter is only 4, and is still learning how to use regular sized Lego.

    Plus, I don't have a mindstorms yet, perhaps in six months.

  • This sort of thing scares me...I might be only 16, but I remember when lego's were just put together and played with.....now we have programmable bricks of plastic......it just doesn't seem right...I thought the Disco r2d2 was bad enough...

  • It's official; they have finally combined the world's two greatest playthings: Legos and Linux
  • If you ever do get that set up, be careful. Don't mention your URL here. If you did, the plotting arm of your robot would overextend and snap off. The motor would overheat and catch flame.

    It'd be the first time a Lego construction ever got Slashdotted.

  • Now I can create a turtle using Java and a hare using C. Things get more realistic every day!

    Now if only I could use my ultimate VB and AOL skills somehow...
  • by hardaker ( 32597 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:24AM (#854603) Homepage
    Wouldn't it be cool to use mindstorm to construct a physical bar graph of the traffic to my webserver?
  • It's great that we've got all these "real" programming languages to use, but doesn't the average kid need something a little simpler?
  • Check out the Mindstorms-powered Magic 8-ball linked to from http://slashdot.org/articles/99/0 7/19/2152257.shtml [slashdot.org].


  • Having grown up on legos, I thought the Mindstorms looked really cool when I heard about them, but I didn't get to play with them until this past Easter. I spent the day with friends in town from church, and their H.S. son had a set. We spent about 2 hrs after dinner fixing code and getting his project working. Way cool stuff. Makes me want to get married and have kids so I can buy them some :)

    "I figured it'd be a lot safer than heroin... :)"
    Legos may be safer, but heroin is cheaper. :)
  • by talesout ( 179672 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @08:15AM (#854607) Homepage
    I went through a stage called growing up.

    It doesn't sound like you grew up so much as grew older. Your post sounds like a typical bitter old-timer, "Damn kids, when are ye gonna learn ye gots to grow up!"

    I'm 26, happily married, have good financial investments and am a systems/network administrator for a small company with a good salary and bonus. However, I still play with toys (and the old Transformers and Legos are my favorites) and I still watch cartoons (Cartoon Network is only second to the sci-fi channel in my book, and those two occassionally trade places during certain months). Does that make me a child? Hardly. I work my butt off, I pay my bills, and I treat my wife with respect (or she wouldn't be my wife). Yet I'm still able to enjoy a good 'childish' thing like cartoons and toys.

    You knock Legos as childish. The funny thing is that Legos are designed with the basic premise of helping you develop your mind and your imagination. You are never too old to give up on those sorts of ideals. You need to constantly exercise your brain to keep it growing. And just because it is targetted at kids doesn't mean you can't use it as an adult. If you feel that way, you've already lost part of your humanity. Hopefully you'll get it back.

    Oh yeah, and if you think my wife has a problem with my 'childish' endeavors, why the hell did she pull me through Valley Fair, running from ride to ride, screaming her head off and in general acting like a big kid? Simple, she (like myself) hasn't grown old.

    You can grow up without growing old. We choose to seperate those two things. It looks like you choose to combine them into one process. In a way I feel for you, but it's your choice. However, don't knock it just cause you don't like it. It's a lot more fun than you might think.

    (Now, my hypothesis is you are either a troll, or the following applies: You have avoided using Legos and other 'toys' because you know deep down inside that if you went anywhere near them you would play with them and have a great time. This fear of looking 'childish' has kept you from exploring something you may enjoy. It's too bad, but it happens.)
  • There are (currently) 7 different software options in 7 different languages (including C, Perl, and Java) for the Linux-based Mindstorms owner."

    Yup, seven different projects for Lego Mindstorms, but no window manager that works. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, in a nutshell, the reason why Eric Raymond's "Cathedral and Bazaar" is wrong. Although we could actually have worked this out ourselves with a bit of thought -- how many real life bazaars have ever actually built anything larger than a hep of camel shit?

  • What it needs is a self-contained grit-petrification unit coupled to a high velocity grit cannon cluster.

    Petrified grits would do more damage than some puny miliwatt-level laser. This is coming from someone who used to have hardened oatmeal fights as a child.

  • A couple of things; what's so special about the counter and the coffee maker that attracts cats? Reproduce that for them in their own play environment to keep them away from your living environment.

    Don't spray based solely on motion; you'd need two light sensors to do it; a person will simultaneously be on the floor as well as on the counter, due to height, where a cat will only be on one or the other. Use that discriminant to spray your cats!

    The nick is a joke! Really!
  • I'm pretty good with Technic, but now with all this Mindstorms/C/Java stuff, that I am an antiquated Lego freak.

    Ahh, I miss the days when you didn't have to know programming to make Lego killer robots. Now I just have to find a way to make a Technic automatic transmission.
  • If anyone wants to run a Mindstorms competition (maze navigation works well), check out my example at http://www.bussetech.com/lego/mindstorms/ [bussetech.com]


  • I'am trying... My son is 10 he has much LEGO Technic stuff. I bought the mindstorms set short after he got the Cybermaster set.
    He's very good in building from the instructions that come with the sets.

    Sad, but his mindstorms set (RCX 1.0) has no real step by step instructions! He likes the Cybermaster more, cause of the detailed instructions and the cooler Winbloze-CD.

    I'try to get him closer to mindstorms with the PDF you can get at http://www.legomindstorms/ .

    It's a step by step instruction for a cool looking grabber arm..He builded it in very short time and I would like to install my Sony CCD cam on it and build a webcam you can control with RCX.pm.

    Perhaps I can get him closer to some programing, Maybe not, but it's fun anyways...:-)


  • Yes! Use Mindstorms to build your own Turtle
    and then drive it using Logo. Put Van Halen on the stereo and pretend it is 1985. Maybe even dig out an Apple ][ as I'm sure it has enough CPU for the job.

    to square
    repeat 4 [forward 50 right 90]

    pen up
    forward 100
    pen down

    I am having the most intense deja-vu...

  • I can see it now. The next movement in Open Source meets Mechanical Engineering:

    "Free" as in "Free your hand from the vise-grips."

  • As a cat owner, I have witnessed this behaviour, and usually a cat just clears the edge of the counter when it jumps up. You could rig a string about an inch above the lip of the counter attached to a sensor (pulley + rotation sensor?) which would prompt the robot to spray water.

    Or you could go lower-tech and just use a mechanical contrivance... After all, the cat might just chew up your Mindstorms device :-)

  • your 16?

    and that (the commercialization of a relatively simple system) "just doesn't seem right" to you!?

    now that scares me. i hope you have a plan for surviving technology saturated world your going to live in...
  • ... and about as expensive ...

  • lego mindstorm was used in my high schools andvanced physics classes, and were well received...
  • I personally use NQC under Linux (and I haven't used anything else, including the Windows software). Works just great. The docs are easy to use (although I bought the Baum book). The hardware worked flawlessly the first time. No problems whatsoever. It wasn't even complicated (like building a cross-compiler or some damn thing). Just install and use.
  • One of the first things I did when I got my mindstorms kit was to go out and buy the Unofficial Guide to Lego Mindstorms (O'Reilly, no less). It starts nicely with the system that the Lego people give you to program in, then talks about NQC and pbForth - along with instructions on how to get these for whatever operating system you want.
    Sure, it's nice to have an online resource, but I find a printed book easier to use. That, and the pictures in the book for assembly of lego monsters take no time to transfer over the wire!
  • by pigpogm ( 70382 ) <michael@pigpog.com> on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:30AM (#854622) Homepage
    C: The bricks fit together quickly, as long as you put them in place carefully, but push too hard in the wrong direction and the whole structure will spring apart.

    Perl: You have over 43,000 different bricks, though most of them seem to do the same thing. The model is built quickly, but seems to have used a lot more bricks than you expected.

    Java: The bricks can also be used with Duplo and Meccano. However, they operate so slowly that you go for a coffee instead.

    Come on, someone who actually knows what they're talking about continue/correct me...
  • ... I figured it'd be a lot safer than heroin... :)

  • One of my acquantinces from school makes lego mindstorm stuff...you can look at a bunch of his creations at flipse.com/legos.html [flipse.com] They seem sort of neat...but I am still a little worried that legos are now computer controlled.......what next? wooden blocks?

  • I'm using a window manager that works right now: FVWM2.
  • by Kickasso ( 210195 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:49AM (#854626)
    1. Yes it's limited. Some people like to push things to their limits, and Mindstorms provides plenty of opportunities.
    2. A lot of people make homebrew sensors for Mindstorms. If you also build a port expander, and use LegOS, the RCX brick suddenly becomes not so awfully limited compared to HandyBoard. (Disclaimer: I didn't try any of these things -- yet.)
    3. HandyBoard is ridiculously expensive. $200? Come on. If you can find one for less than $100 I'm willing to reconsider.

  • And the Lego Machine gun [slashdot.org].

  • Getting off-topic, but you raise a very interesting point. I'm approaching 30 (shudder), and I think I saw the transition of legos from wholly generic to specialized. The space sets came out when I was a kid, as well as the first motor (big, black brick), and then the technics, and there compact motor. Generally, though, even with space sets and such, you got mostly generic bricks, with a few special types, but even those could be used for many things.

    Over the years, it seems the specialization continued to where legos are hyper-specialized. A set comes with a few normal bricks and many specialty items that don't have many uses.

    Now, maybe it's reversing, with the greater amounts of generic pieces in the mindstorms and such sets, despite highly-specified star-wars, castle, and rock war sets.

  • Buy them now, and admit you;re an adult fan of Lego.

    Plus, it may help prevent carpal tunnel.

  • I saw a few comments that confused/disturbed me. Several folks seem to have issues with computer controlled Lego bots. My question is: Why? The way I see it, this is only a Good Thing(tm). The world is getting more technological by the day, isn't it an advantage if the children of the world get accustomed to and profficient with technology as soon as they are able to comprehend it? Also, since Leogs are wide spread and familiar, aren't they a natural bridge from the simple tech of block stacking to the more complex tech of computers? I just don't see the reason for resistence here.

  • I wasted quite a considerable amount of time trying to install LegOS : although there is a line in the Makefile.common to configure where you unpacked the glib Hitachi H8 tools to, it didn't work until I unziped it to the default dir (/usr/local/lib/gcc-lib/h8300-hitachi-hms), which I couldn't do because I lacked the rights. Maybe it was just me screwing things up, maybe I found a bug, fair warning anyway. Insight/advices/dromedary pretzels anybody ?
  • Simple - use a basic stamp.

    if you look at the web you'll find many examples on how to do this.. www.google.com is your friend.
  • I refuse to grow up -- but I will be an adult about it.
  • If you have a stainless steel counter, or can make it conductive, pick up a cheap electronic Studsensor. Wire the big trace on the back to a alligator clip, and attach to the lip of the counter. Wire the LED to a 3V relay, and use it to drive the motor on a battery powered squirtgun.

    Problem solved!
  • Kinda reminds me of the (Penguin Computing?) ad with a giant penguin about to crush Redmond WA...:-)
    "Good evening Mr. Gates, I'll be your server today"
    Guess it could really happen....
  • by AbbyNormal ( 216235 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:35AM (#854636) Homepage
    Calls to 911 that we're likely to hear: 911 operator: "911 what is your emergency?" Frantic Person: "ARgghhh! Somebody rooted my computer this morning and now my toy dogbot attacked and tried to kill me. I'm hiding in the bathroom right now, but the robot is building itself a lock pick"
  • The mindstorm kit is nice, but very limited. I'd recommend it for ages 6 to 14. For a kid over 14, I would recommend a HandyBoard [mit.edu]. Not only is the board much more powerful, but they also learn more by buliding their own sensors. I've never seen anything really cool done with the HandyBoard (thought I'm sure it's been done) but I've seen high school kids produce some pretty amazing projects with the HandyBoard.
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:36AM (#854638)
    "Has anybody actually purchased one of these Lego Mindstorm kits?"

    Yes. Me.

    "Was it easy to work with?"

    Hardware: Just like regular (technic) legos.
    Software: I use nqc--it's very very easy for a person who already knows C. Probably also quite easy for someone who knows programming. Probably a challenge for someone who doesn't know programming. OTOH, the nqc docs (and the book by Dave Baum) has A LOT of examples.

    "For what age group would it make a good gift?" Upper age limit: none. There is plenty here to keep anyone occupied--it's not a "toy" (it's like a Palm compared to a PC--it does less, but it is still a general computing device).

    Lower age limit: Depends on the child. Probably an 8 year old could handle it with help from someone who knows how to program. A 10 year old certainly could (with less help). The real controlling factor is the software. From the screenshots, the Lego-provided IDE is very easy to use.
  • Oops- should've previewed. I meant I've never seen anything cool built with the mindstorm kit.

In order to dial out, it is necessary to broaden one's dimension.