Design, Invent, and Build
by the Contributors to The NXT Step Blog

September 2007, 368 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-59327-150-3

This book is currently out of stock, but the ebook is still available

From the foreword:
"The contributors to The NXT STEP blog have done a superb job of bringing their enthusiasm and ideas together to create this very exciting book...I recommend this book to you, and I hope that you'll enjoy reading it as much as I have."
Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Wired Magazine

Click here to view excerpts from Chapter 2: The Grammar of NXT-G and
Chapter 15: ScanBot

If you're serious about having fun with LEGO® robotics, you've come to the right place. The team behind The NXT STEP blog—the authoritative online source for MINDSTORMS® NXT information and advice—has packaged its considerable skills and experience in this book. Inside, you'll find some of the team's best ideas for creating cool and sophisticated models, including instructions for eight robots you can build yourself.

Follow along with the MINDSTORMS NXT experts as they explain the fundamentals of programming and design, accompanied by CAD-style drawings and an abundance of screenshots that make it easy for you to master the MINDSTORMS NXT system. You'll get an overview of the NXT parts (beams, sensors, axles, gears, and so on) and clear instructions for combining them to build and program working robots. The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Idea Book delves into the complexities of the NXT programming language (NXT-G) and offers tips for designing and programming robots, using Bluetooth, creating an NXT remote control, troubleshooting, and much more.

Here are just a few of the robots you'll learn to build in The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Idea Book:

  • RaSPy, a robot that plays Rock, Scissors, Paper
  • 3D PhotoBot, a robot that will help you take photographs that can be converted into 3D images
  • Slot Machine, complete with flashing lights and a lever
  • ScanBot, a robot that scans black-and-white pictures and displays the images on the NXT's LCD
  • Beach Buggy Chair, a roving, rambling robot
  • CraneBot, a crane-like grabbing robot

LEGO fans of all ages will find this book to be an ideal jumping-off point for doing more with MINDSTORMS NXT. The only ingredient you need to add is your imagination!

About the Author

Martijn Boogaarts is a freelance technical trainer on integration technology. In 1986 he started a LEGO "robotica”"club at his school and has since built many robots. Martyn was one of the initial organizers of LEGO WORLD, and he built several large demonstration models, including the Road-Plate-Laying-Machine, a working car factory (27 RCXs), and a Pinball machine. In April 2005 he contributed to the AFOL-MINDSTORMS tournament in Billund, and later that year he was asked to join the MINDSTORMS Users Panel (MUP2). Martyn contributes to The NXT STEP blog and shares knowledge about the NXT to show that you can build it, too.

Jonathan Daudelin has been building LEGO MINDSTORMS robots as a hobby for six years. He enjoys using CAD software to render his robots on the computer. He also helped start and was a member of a FIRST LEGO League team, Built On The Rock. In their second year of competing, he and his team won first place in the Robot Performance and Innovative Robot categories at the World Festival in the 2007 Nanoquest challenge. His team's robot achieved perfect scores in all three of its rounds, which had occurred only once before in World Festival history.

Dr. Brian Davis has been building LEGO robots for about five years, competing in conventional events such as sumo, line following, and maze solving, as well as working out other more advanced robots, such as automated forklifts. He has also worked on community projects such as the Great Ball Contraption (a LEGO cooperative kinetic sculpture) and coordinated at various fan events such as BrickFest, Brickworld, and House of Bricks. In 2005 Brian was invited to be a member of the MINDSTORMS User Panel expansion, and since then he has immersed himself in the NXT, especially the NXT-G language, developing novel robots and solutions. He received a PhD in physics from the University of Michigan and currently divides his non-LEGO time between being a stay-at-home father of three and teaching college-level physics, biophysics, and astronomy.

Jim Kelly is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He received an English degree and an Industrial Engineering degree—an unusual combination, but very helpful in his career. Jim was accepted into the LEGO MINDSTORMS Developer Program (MDP) in early 2006 and helped to beta test the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT kit and software. He is now a member of the MINDSTORMS Community Partners, a group that continues to assist LEGO with testing and growing the NXT product.

David Levy is the Founder of, a network that enables students, parents, and teachers to collaborate on robotics projects. He is also actively involved with outreach as an Education Director with the Virginia FIRST LEGO League. He became a contributor to The NXT STEP blog in early 2006 and since then has revamped the site to offer forums, videos, and book discussions. David resides in Northern Virginia with his wife and three children. He is currently employed as a software architect for a local startup. David is responsible for the book’s official website, as well as video content and tutorials that will be provided by the contributors to support robots in the book.

Lou Morris got his first taste of computers, programming, and automation in the early 1980s. Recently, Lou has headed several software development projects for various technologies, including a treasure-hunting underwater ROV robot, a medical device used to treat cerebral palsy patients, and the roboDNA PC Dashboard Application for the LEGO NXT, iRobot, and PIC microcontroller. As a contributor to The NXT STEP blog, he helps to cultivate the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT community.

Fay Rhodes is a freelance designer who provides desktop publishing and web design services to nonprofit organizations in the Boston area. She designs NXT robots for publication and is experienced in the use of CAD software for LEGO. Fay is tech editor of The Lego MINDSTORMS NXT-G Programming Guide.

Rick Rhodes is a frequent contributor to The NXT STEP blog from Framingham, Massachusetts. He develops robots that appeal to young teens because he has a teenage son who enjoys the NXT.

Matthias Paul Scholz (from Freiburg, Germany) has a degree in mathematics and has held IT-related positions in various companies in Germany over the past 12 years. He has been an active member of the LEGO MINDSTORMS community since 2000, was one of the developers of the open source leJOS platform for the RCX, took part in the LEGO MINDSTORMS Developer Program, and is presently one of the 20 members of the LEGO MINDSTORMS Community Partners Program. Furthermore, he wrote Advanced NXT: The Da Vinci Inventions Book, contributes to the popular The NXT STEP blog, and maintains the German-speaking sister blog Die NXTe Ebene.

Christopher R. Smith (a.k.a. Littlehorn) is a Senior Quality Assurance Inspector in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He invented an inspection tool recognized by NASA, which honored him with the prestigious Space Act Award. He has been designing LEGO MINDSTORMS robots since rediscovering the LEGO product in 1997. As one of the pioneering moderators asked to host the Official LEGO MINDSTORMS Website Community Forums, Chris has volunteered there for the last nine years to cultivate one of the safest online communities. He was again honored when LEGO asked him to become a member of the LEGO MINDSTORMS Developer Program for the NXT system. He is a member of the LEGO MINDSTORMS Community Partners and is a contributor to The NXT STEP blog.

Rob Torok is a teacher of mathematics, information systems, and robotics at Claremont College, a senior secondary school in Tasmania, Australia. In addition, he has an online robotics class of more than 70 students in about 20 schools across the state. Rob is also the Chair of Robotics Tasmania, the organization that conducts the annual RoboCup Junior Tasmania competition for school students. Prior to the official release of the NXT, he was a member of the MINDSTORMS Developer Program.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Why LEGO Matters, by Chris Anderson
Part I: Beyond the Basics
2. The Grammar of NXT-G
3. NXT-G Problems and Solutions
4. Debugging—When the Unexpected Occurs
5. Making Sense of Sensors
6. Design
7. Bluetooth on the NXT
8. NXT to NXT Remote Control

Part II: The Robots
9. RaSPy: A Rock, Scissors, Paper-Playing Robot
10. Beach Buggy Chair: A Ramblin' Robot
11. 3D PhotoBot: A 3D Photo Assistant Robot
12. CraneBot: A Grabber Robot
13. Slot Machine: A One-Armed Robot
14. BenderBot: An Anti-Theory Music Robot
15. ScanBot: An Image-Scanning Robot
16. Marty: A Performance Art Robot

App A: Differences Between Sets
App B: Trouble-Free CAD Installation Guide

View the detailed Table of Contents(PDF).

View the Index (PDF).



"While there's no shortage of awesome robots out there that can serve as inspiration—think of Chris Anderson's Lego Autopilot or JP Brown's Rubik's Cube Solver—not all of them have decent instructions or NXT-G assistance. That, and the writers' obvious excitement, make this book a must-have for Mindstorms fanatics."
Geek Dad (Wired) (Read More)

From the foreword:
"The contributors to The NXT STEP blog have done a superb job of bringing their enthusiasm and ideas together to create this very exciting book...I recommend this book to you, and I hope that you'll enjoy reading it as much as I have."
Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Wired Magazine

"I really enjoyed this book. The layout is well done with a good number of projects. There are a huge number of pages dedicated to showing how the pieces go together. Instead of just padding their page count tough, they did a good job of reducing the number of these pages far below the typical one-step-per-page Lego uses in their booklets. The write-ups were good, the instructions were clear, and most importantly, the models were fun."
Arian Kulp, independent software developer (Read More)

"All in all this is a great little source of ideas and information. The sample projects are packed with suggestions for further enhancements and improvements to try out. This isn't just a collection of fixed recipes to follow. There's room for experimentation built-in, which is exactly what you want from an ideas book."
—TechBookReport (Read More)



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