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As some of you know, Brian Bagnall has been hard at work on a Lego Mindstorms book for Java programmers. The book is titled 

Core Lego Mindstorms Programming  

and is part of Cay Horstmanns Core series. The official release date is March 15, 2002. This book was edited by Jose Solorzano, who also contributed an interesting section on porting leJOS to other platforms. [info]
NOTE: The leJOS project is using the Amazon Associates program to raise money to obtain their own domain name.

Here a more detailed comment to the book!


Obviously Brian Bagnall is a programming mastermind! His book gives essential and clear instructions how to install and use the RCX Java-platform called leJOS. After an introduction to Lego Mindstorms with unexpected information even for Mindstorms-veterans (Brian solves the greatest mystery of the Mindstorms kit!), the book leads you through the concepts of Behaviour Control programming and robot-navigation, which are essential for advanced mobile robotics. Then you learn about RCX communications and advanced leJOS topics like Monitoring memory use and Hacking leJOS to save memory! Finally you find a list of part-providers, utilities and internet-resources. Every page of this book contains some new and useful infomation around the Mindstorms-project, which has seen so many books and internet-sites,  that people might think, from now on you only produce repetitions. For the Core Lego Mindstorms Programming-book this is not the case, for sure.

The author illustrates his explanations through images, LEGO-robot building instructions and step-by-step first-class photos on how to realize a distance sensor and a compass sensor. He knows the art of clarifying complex things without becoming neither too scientific nor simply trivial. He respects the assertion that every mathematical equation will divide the audience by two. But all the reflections are profound enough for both scholars and non-scholars.

Some words about the compass, which is the one we developped on this site. Brian honestly reveals the power and the limitations of an electronic compass. Doing so, he demonstrates well the force of the leJOS mathematical kernel, which he mostly wrote as contribution to the leJOS open source project. He shows how the normal mobile robot builder must deal by software means with reality, unprecision, error-sources, calibration.

This book is a worthy follow-up to the high-level book-series around extreme Mindstorming and beyond.

Brian, well done !


Building Robots with Lego Mindstorms

by Giulio Ferrari, Mario Ferrari and Ralph Hempel

editor Syngress


This brand-new book is a real encyclopedia of LEGO robot design. The book concentrates on building more or less complex mobile robot-bases and grabbers. You'll find detailled descriptions, tips, tricks and constructing strategies with numerous didactical pictures and photos that may help you design your own solid robots.

The sub-titles are very suggestive :

Discover the undocumented secrets behind the design of Mindstorms System

The ULTIMATE tool for Mindstorms maniacs

Get inspired by the techniques of world-class Mindstorms Masters

The authors lead you in an explicit way through the mathematical and physical problems around robot-positioning, gearing, sensoring and Lego-geometry without getting lost in dry formulas. They rapidly come to the point ! As a didactical subtility you find a summary of every chapter and a chosen collection of the best internet sites related to the theme. The authors permanently refer to other well-known members of the growing Mindstorms masters community.

Mario and Giulio Ferrari - the name obliges - are Lego purists, but still open to expanding the system by original extra-parts from other sets or service packs, to using unconventional mechanical tricks, finally to mobilizing creative custom sensors. Ralph Hempel should be known through PBForth and the book 'Extreme Mindstorms' - which we recommend too -, where he was the co-author together with Dave Baum, Mike Gasperi and Luis Villa.

While studying this new book you learn about so various themes than :

Classic projects like light-follower, walking robots, robotic animals, good pneumatics, solving a maze, playing chess or pinball, realizing a simulator of flight, drawing with LOGO, building useful things like a floor sweeper, participating in robot contests with a Sumo-robot or playing robot-soccer. You also find the Ferrari SHRIMP.

From our point of view we recognize in this book many of our own ideas which we developped for over two years now. The authors never hide the origin where they got their inspiration. What makes this book so interesting is the fact that it does not represent a passively gathered mix of what others have done, but an unending collection of improvements, optimizing and clarifying. So the book becomes a new source of  inspiration for all those who contributed in any way. It surely will support the incredible dynamic of the Mindstorms-project.

We strongly recommend the book not only to all advanced Mindstormers but also to newbies who want to learn from masters.

Extreme Mindstorms by

Dave Baum, Michael Gasperi, Ralph Hempel and Luis Villa

editor APRESS

This should be the standard lecture for all advanced Mindstormers. Four authors, four book-parts. First Dave Baum gives a solid introduction to the RCX 2.0 firmware and his famous nqc. He shows the new features of this second firmware, for example, how to deal with events and ressource-access, how to use arrays, and so on. Ralph Hempel then presents an amazing introduction to his replacement operating system pbForth and the way how to program with it. So does Luis Villa with legOS. The fourth part is reserved to Michael Gasperi and some of his homebrew RCX-compatible sensors.

The book is highly recommendable for all those who wish to know more about Mindstorming.

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