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MindStorms

Lejos for Lego Mindstorms at lejos.sourceforge.net

Tutorial on installing Lejos for Mindstorms by Christoph Bartneck at bartneck.de

Installation instructions for Mac at sjefdesign.nl

Minstorms updates from mindstorms.lego.com

Economist article: State of robotics 2010

RDS and Lego NXT.

Rumour has it that Microsoft's Robotics Toolkit works nicely with Mindstorms. Let's see. www.microsoft.com/robotics/

First, the RDS (Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio) only runs on PC environments and requires the .NET framework. I didn't have a copy of Visual Studio but Visual C# Express is sufficient and can be downloaded for free.

  • However the Silverlight runtime is needed to be installed first, but before that the MS Web Platform Installer needs to be installed...

After installing Silverlight runtime (was tempted to get dev version), & WPI & VC# Express, I now need to register to get a registration key for C#. Opps, tempted again to register and get full access to everything MS make through the Dreamspark programme, perhaps another time.

Now that VC# Express is registered I think I can move on. Perhaps I should run through some of the tutorials on VC# Express learning centre first? Ok, VC# works well (btw some very nice introductory tutorials)

Next Installed Lego Mindstorms NXT programming environment for PC, because I'm pretty sure the MS RDS install will look for the NXT firmware libraries.

Sooo after two or three restarts and updates I'm ready to download the RDS (Robotics Developer Studio). RDS takes a while to install, a few long pauses (for DirectX 9 etc), patience required. Last message on screen was to get RDS to build all from the start menu on first start up. Ok, will do. Safety restart the machine so that all installs finish nicely.

Hmmm, build failed. Error running the build all script. Quick search reveals Depending on which version of Visual Studio you have, there might be two or three warnings or errors when you run "Build All Samples". All of the errors and warnings are display at the end of the build script so you do not have to read them as the scroll past. These errors are harmless and all samples should build normally if you open the samples in Visual Studio. (from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd146032.aspx). So it should be ok to assume everything worked perfectly.

From the start menu go to Visual Simulation Environment 2008 R3 and run one of the simulations. Each simulation starts from a dos box, rebuilds for your machine and starts caching the simulation environment. Only one simulation can run at a time. The simple apartment looks like this.

Room_and_chair.png

Use the usual arrow keys options to navigate around (w:s = forward:back, q:e = up:down, a:d = left:right, shift accelerates camera movement, left-click mouse free rotation). Use a combination of left-click + mouse movement + shift w to fly through the simulation.

misty_log_cabin.png

And finally the Lego NXT simulation. This one highlights the problem of scale, little toy robots in the world at large. Difficult to move the camera around up close to the robot.

nxt_simulation.png

The next thing to do is to visit msdn's Lego Mindstorms NXT page and Brian Peek's Coding4Fun page at blogs.msdn.com

Download the MRDS Samples from the RDS CodePlex web site