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Lots of Lego Mindstorms programming questions!

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by BrianUK, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. BrianUK

    BrianUK New commenter

    What language do these beasties use out of the box - is it a derivative of LOGO or something more advanced as I can't find this info anywhere?
    There is a mention of Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio in the support section of the website - has anyone actually used this? and how does it "connect" to Mindstorms?
    Final question (sorry) - Has anyone developed an Android App on here? As it seems that these too will work with Mindstorms. Cool.
     
  2. Hi there,
    In answer to your first question there is a lego IDE, which is a graphical flowchart type of development. Also there is support for many other coding languages, but I prefer to use lejos which is very similar to Java. http://www.lejos.sourceforge.net.
    Also there are many other options, outlined in the table below.
    http://www.teamhassenplug.org/NXT/NXTSoftware.html

    I personally haven't used the Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio, although there are some nice tutorials on Microsoft's website.
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb870550.aspx

    The following is a link to some source code for a Mindstorms Android app. This code is unsupported and will require small changes, such as the IP addresses, but it is quite powerful.
    http://code.google.com/p/bishopsarm/

    Hope this helped, Daniel.
     
  3. Sorry about the formatting of the post, as it didn't come out too well.
     
  4. BrianUK

    BrianUK New commenter

    Hey - thanks a LOT for that information. Can I ask how you deliver the course, how long it takes, and to what years?
    Thanks
     
  5. Sorry to add a negative note but then I am a bit of a misery guts / troll / curmudgeon but I think Lego Mindstorms is a complete waste of time. Coding wise, it is immensely limited, there is a real problem with theft of the bits and everything takes forever.
    I have seen people in other schools boasting of their achievements with this but i see the same old models, doing the same old things wherever i go. Impresses the hell out of senior management who don't know any better, though.
     
  6. BrianUK

    BrianUK New commenter

    You know I often have to remind myself of why I got into IT in the first place. There is only one reason, and that is because it was fun. Call me an idealist/fantasist if you like, but to me, building and programming robots is fun. I'm going to enjoy teaching this topic - maybe start off as a club and go from there. From the little research I have done so far I would disagree that it is a waste of time. I love the IDE's that I have seen - they stretch from basic block building, through Java to building Android apps and controlling the robots from your phone. How cool is that. I ran a club a few years back where the year 9 pupils wrote mobile phone apps using Netbeans - one of the pupils is now a senior developer of the Hawkeye product line. It is inspiring stuff and the inspiration pervades the class and is truly infectious. I love it and can't wait to get started.
     
  7. You are an idealist/fantasist
     
  8. BrianUK

    BrianUK New commenter

    Well I did ask for it :)
     
  9. Indeed he is, and perhaps because of that, his club/course may inspire more pupils to do what some who have worked with him have already done. Every time a pupil takes our subject further and/or becomes successful, because of the things they learnt (not just did), I'd say fun, idealists/fantasists are proven to be the way forward.


    We run lego/mindstorms in a robotics club and use it on whole day projects that we tend to get to do at the end of the year with KS3 pupils, simply put, it is an awesome thing to work with kids who construct virtually anything their minds can imagine and then make those constructions do what they would like.
     
  10. I'm with the idealist/fantasists. Kids tell me they like my lessons and I know they are learning, GCSE uptake has increased year on year and parents tell me that students talk positively about what they have done in lessons. Plus, I enjoy teaching the subject.
    Maybe there should be a GRUMPY filter on here!!
     
  11. You might find it awesome to work with them. But how awesome are the constructions. Not very, I would venture.
     
  12. As long as they implement the gullible idiot filter at the same time.
     
  13. Last year lego league example the team in our evening club have used most of those techniques, line sensors, ultrasonic sensors, actuators to collect items, mapping position through the number of wheel rotations etc. As relates to their own construction they have a firm grasp of the terms sequencing, iteration, efficiency, conditional(decision), operators, sub procedures, debugging and are working well towards recursion and object orientation, they are all in Year 8. The odd thing is John, in my estimation it turns out that given something that isn't VB6,a method to construct a valued an end product, enthusiasm not cynicism from elders (students and teachers) and some time, many of our year 8 pupils are likely to achieve similar levels of creating/using algorithms and possibly even get to a higher level of doing that collaboratively, than many an "old school" cynic.

    As I've mentioned before the tag mindstorms (that the lego kit goes under) is related to MIT's (logo inventor) Seymore Paperts thoughts on constructionism and have some pretty sound pedagogy behind them, if you believe this approach is flawed or not valuable fair enough, what route do you suggest is used to teach/learn the above?

    Are the ideas and results from this approach in need of being filtered due to being gullible, in what way are those that are suggesting it has been effective, gullible?
     
  14. You know what they say - an idealist is just a cynic in the making.
     
  15. I use Robolab rather than mindstorms. imho it is very powerful and keeps kids engaged.They can achieve success at their own level which in many cases would beafter they gave up with a text based language.
    Kids are not small adults and the current crop have, after all, grown up in an iconised world.
    Robolab does stuff like multi tasking very effectively, it can hide subroutines and numerous other things
    I find myself agreeing with JB on one note. I use it in clubs rather than class, too much time needed and too many bits to lose. I have never seen a VB coded Lego robot.
     
  16. BrianUK

    BrianUK New commenter

    According to the rumours Lego are no longer supporting Robolab:
    http://www.teamhassenplug.org/NXT/NXTSoftware.html
    Which seems to be a shame - I assume you are using it with the younger KS3 pupils?
    I was thinking of making up the robots in a club and super glueing the parts together to make a series of different robots which I could then use in the class as a programming activity.
    Hey JB you old grump. Fun is a KEY element in any lesson and it takes a special type of teacher to deliver it. Rather than purely focusing on what I want them to learn or the skills I want them to develop I want them to feel good too. I want them to experience new things (or old things a new way), a sense of suspense, curiosity, reward and learning how to cope when things don't quite work out the way one intended. Research proves that this makes for better learners and I constantly strive to achieve this in all my lessons.
     
  17. I am a curmudgeonly old grump and I wish you very well with this.
    Just try it in an inner city hell-hole.
    The suspense in my school comes from wondering whether you will reach the end without being shanked. The reward is walking out alive.
     
  18. BrianUK

    BrianUK New commenter

    PMSL. Why don't you get the heck out there? You're right though - I'm lucky that I work with good kids but I've taught in rough schools too and wild horses wouldn't drag me back into any one of them.
     
  19. Well Robolab was a derivative of some American University programme for robotics. Even if they stop upgrading, it will see me out for Lego in school. It is amazingly well featured and reliable.

    The thing that does bug me is that (I think) NXT has made all the old RCX stuffs obsolete. I know the new motors are steppers but there seems to be no reason why the old stuff shouldn't remain useful. Maybe there are adaptors. I haven't looked.

    If you were going to glue stuff together, maybe you should think of non-lego stuff.
     
  20. BrianUK

    BrianUK New commenter

    Yep. Onto that one. I'm going to BETT to check out some of the other robot/AI providers as well as LEGO. Maybe I will go another route but I'm such a noob at this time. Any suggestions?
     

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