Lego Mindstorms Are Very Cool

I got some cash for Christmas, bought a Lego Mindstorms robotics kit and It arrived yesterday via UPS truck. Ooo boy, this thing is cool. So far I’ve built the starter robot (see the photos; click to get larger view) and gone through the tutorials. The RCX ‘language’ and the development environment is very well done, if a bit too 4GL for my tastes. I will say that this environment is going to be great for my wonderful Thomas, who is five years old, and terribly excited about the robot. To program the robot you drag program blocks around that look like Lego blocks and connect them together. You can do quite a bit without any reading, which is good for a youngster.

For me, though, I want more. So I’ve already installed a bunch of stuff that should give me more. I’ve installed and played a bit with NQC (Not Quite C) which is a C-like language. I’ve installed two IDEs for NQC; one called NQCEdit, and the other called Bricx Command Center. Both are fairly nice if a bit crude. And of course VIm groks NQC source code, so I can always use it and the command line compiler. I’ve installed a Java API called RCXJava and Shashank Date’s API written in Ruby. (His powerpoint slides from RubyConf2003 are available here.) Needless to say, I’m set for a while now with stuff to do…