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2006 CES Report: First Look at the Mindstorms NXT (Part 3)

 Vegas slots via Mindstorms NXT.

In this final look at the Mindstorms NXT unveiling at CES we’ll take a gander at a few of the models that were on display at the show, as well as offer up a few samples of the prototype product packaging. There were a few new NXT-created gadgets on hand, including a robotic scorpion using the new ultrasonic sensor as a head and a good deal of the new LEGO Technic elements included with the set. I didn’t get to see this model in operation, but I did see two others: a ball-grabbing robot arm, and — my personal favorite — a functional slot machine with spinning tumblers and a hard candy payout.

The robot arm was able to pick up either a red of white plastic ball, then drop the chosen object on one of a variety of containers. The actual code used to make the claw arm do the grabbing, moving and dropping bit looked very straightforward and intuitive, which should help make mastering the more powerful features of the NXT less time-consuming than it was in the old software.

Since we were in Vegas, the NXT slot machine seemed to be a crowd favorite. This contraption used a new NXT touch sensor to replicate the coin-drop and the arm pull, which activated motors that spun three tumblers — with blue, white and red bricks on each face — to simulate the spinning wheels on a traditional slot machine. A winning combination would drop the gate holding a payout of candy, along with some suitable sound effects from the NXT brick. My historical gambling luck held true, as repeated attempts at trying to win the blasted jackpot failed miserably. Naturally, the person who tried after me won the goods.

Next to all the NXT demonstration models there was a prototype of the NXT retail packaging on display, which will likely be changed somewhat before the NXT ships this August. See below for a few snaps of the front, back and inside flaps of the packaging.


40 Responses to 2006 CES Report: First Look at the Mindstorms NXT (Part 3)

  1. Avatar January 17, 2006 at 11:24 pm #

    Wonderful!!! I can´t wait until August to get mine! Greetings from Spain!

  2. Yann Vernier January 18, 2006 at 6:03 am #

    Any chance of seeing those pictures in higher resolution?

  3. Tim Leach January 19, 2006 at 12:03 pm #

    God, I wish I could buy this NOW !! I know that “good things come to he who waits” but August seems like an eternity away ! I’ve put my name down for the developer program, but with only 100 places available, I don’t fancy my chances very much.

    Oh well, roll on August !!

  4. xernobyl January 19, 2006 at 4:40 pm #

    I’ve seen the video of the scorpion, and I thoght it’s pretty cool. The slot machine also looks nice… I belive it uses the new rotation sensors on the motors to see where the motor stoped, right?

  5. tempusmaster January 20, 2006 at 2:26 am #

    NXT gets better and better the more we learn about it. I’m really looking forward to being able to put NXT to use.

    You wrote, “See below for a few snaps of the front, back and inside flaps of the packaging.” but there is only one package photo at the end of the post. Am I missing something, or is there a link I overlooked?

  6. norsehill January 20, 2006 at 3:29 pm #

    Are all the pieces in the NXT kit the “studless” variety? Or are there a mix with the Technic beam pieces? It will certainly be more of a challenge to break away from the stud-world and go studless!

  7. steve January 21, 2006 at 12:00 am #

    they are all studless, and I agree, it will be quite a challenge to adjust, but I am looking forward to it.

  8. raytracer January 21, 2006 at 11:41 am #

    The link to view back and inside flaps of the box seems to be broken -or perhaps never there? Good to see the nxt is on track :)

  9. Edwin January 21, 2006 at 4:46 pm #

    NXT looks interesting. But only tree motor outputs? I was hoping they could add more of them by now.

    And i havent seen the new motor yet, does someone have a picture?

  10. Stephanie January 21, 2006 at 5:33 pm #

    I’m very excited about the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT. I read the system requirements for Windows:

    Intel® Pentium® processor or compatible, 800 MHz minimum
    Windows XP Professional or Home Edition with Service Pack 2

    Will the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT system be compatible with Microsofts next operating system, Microsoft Vista?


  11. greg January 22, 2006 at 4:28 am #

    Stephanie, you can bet Microsoft will go to great lengths to make most software backwards compatible on the next Windows. The only major issue I imagine is the USB2 driver. But Lego can presumably turn one out quickly.

    Of course, just because it has minimal backwards compatability, that doesn’t mean it will be a great environment anymore. In Part One, I left a LONG rant about how RCX bugged me that way. Sumarizing: RCX was designed with Win98 ‘securtity’… to run it in XP, you neeed to make undocumented modifications, or run XP in the most vulnerable mode possible.

    Also remember,NXT software based on LabView. LabView is maintained by a company who’s larger user base presumably makes it feasable for them to put more resources into things like OS ports than Lego can. I should hope that as LabView develops, backports to NXT will appear.

    And hey, you can bet some interesting open-source projects (ala BrickOS) will appear for NXT long before Vista rears it’s head.


  12. Miktor January 22, 2006 at 10:55 am #

    I love the package. but how big is it? it looks big but are it? and will there be the bricks to make the slot machine? well i hope so.

  13. Found it January 22, 2006 at 5:46 pm #

    There’s also image from the back of the box altough it’s not linked to the text:
    I didn’t found image of the inside flap of the box.

  14. Scott January 23, 2006 at 4:58 am #

    I saw the packaging photos while they were available. I was somewhat surprised, but mostly dissapointed in the limited quantity and variety of parts slated to come with the ntx kit. A lot of pins as expected. Some studless beams, but fewer than I expected. Four wheels. Zero gears.

  15. Found more January 23, 2006 at 4:26 pm #


  16. Henry January 25, 2006 at 6:53 am #

    Does anyone know if the motors will be able to act soley as rotation sensors? I mean, if you wanted to know how many degrees a robotic compass would go, (i know, bad example) would you be able to shut off the motors. With the current RCX, when the RCX is on, the motors lock.

  17. Kevin January 30, 2006 at 3:10 am #

    The motors look pretty big and bulky. like the motor from the technic set. I hate those studless beams. I cant make good connections with them. I was hoping they would’nt change the wiring design. But they did. Well no more putting two motors or sensor combinations anymore.

  18. Dane January 30, 2006 at 6:41 am #

    Looks like they improved Mindstorms alot now. Only problem with it is no rechargable battery system. I’d thought they have done something with the battery prob. Old RCX uses a lot of power so they should have rechargable battery system or something.

  19. Scott February 2, 2006 at 6:37 pm #

    I’ve heard of plan for some form of rechargable battery system. I believe it was reported on one of the Lugnet threads. If memory serves, it was about a discussion between a LEGO representative and a FIRST representative. Part of a larger discussion on impacts to FIRST LEGO League. Details were not available.

  20. Jim K. February 2, 2006 at 6:59 pm #

    The rechargeable is supposed to be ONLY for the Education version.

    Read about it here: http://legoeducation.typepad.com/blog/2006/01/getting_started.html


  21. Mikolai February 3, 2006 at 5:01 am #

    Converter Cables!
    From the link Jim put up it says the educational version will include converter cables, allowing the add on of additional motors and most greatly the use of hundreds of dollars worth of accumulated sensors plus communication with “old yellow”. I really hope they did not over simplify this new “roboLAB”. It was excellent to be able to alter the underlying labview code and create very specific code in RoboLAB. One of the great features I hope they did not leave out is the SubVI. This is good news to both Kevin and Henry. Also, just use your old accumulated technic bars with studs, they’ll still work, allowing you to make all the traditional (although not foolproof) connections you want. Because of this I feel sorry for those who don’t own any original tchnic pieces with which to make the connections. I think it is rediculous for them not to include gears! To Henry: you should be able to set the motors to neutral as with the “old yellow” allowing you to use them as just rotation sensors, but why would you? My mom just applied to be a developer for the set, a computer scientest and interface designer with a Phd and a lot of time on her hand (plus me) should have a fairly good chance? Does anyone know the number of applicants?

    (I have worked with Mindstorms every fall since third grade. Until they kicked me out for getting too old, saying I should pay thousands of dollars to compete in a real FIRST tournament. If anyone has contact in FIRST they should pressure them allow Minnesota to continue its High School tournaments.)

  22. Mikolai February 3, 2006 at 5:18 am #

    I must post a correction,
    We still had a highs chool tournament this year, however the name had to be changed because it cannot be affiliated with first. Perhaps I spoke too harshly, they did not kick ME out, they just stopped the high school tournament from being affiliated with first. On the FLL website they say that using “old yellow” or NXT won’t give anyone an advantage or disadvantage. I don’t understand how they can say that truthfully. Using the new system (educational package) gives you access to all old and new sensors the new being far mor accurate. Far mor accurate sensors mean an advantage, end of story.

  23. John February 3, 2006 at 10:38 pm #

    I noticed the question about whether NXT would work on Vista, and I saw that it would work on Macs. Do you think it will be universal or will run at all on intel macs?

  24. Mikolai February 5, 2006 at 8:49 pm #

    The intel macs are backwards compatable on all but the most proccessor heavy programs, so I’m fairly certain that whether of not it is a rosetta application it will run on the intel macs.

  25. Scott February 7, 2006 at 10:54 pm #

    While I think the NTX kit is a great move for LEGO and will get more kids interested in robotics, I believe it is a huge step backwords for FIRST LEGO League. On the Engineering side, many of the skills needed to get an RCX robot properly geared and instrumented will now be replaced by the new NTX motors. On the Programming side, I suspect that there will be LABView Icons that will replace the more complex loops and conditional programming structures of RoboLab. The Teams using NTX kits will likely have an advantage in the performance areas due to the integrated and more accurate sensors. The Teams using RCX kits should score better in programming and design areas because it will force them to think. If they do not have some form of split divisions for NTX and RCX the FLL judges may have a disaster in the making. The 2006 season will definately be interesting. Going forward, 2007 and beyond, FLL will need to add complexity to the missions and possibly extend the electronics allowed just to return to the level of 2005. This will have the greatly undesired effect of driving up the costs to FLL teams.

  26. chris February 8, 2006 at 4:52 am #

    i want one. Can i test it? I already have 2 RIS is it compatible with the
    RIS 2.0? Is it programable with nqc, pbforth or legos?RESPOND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PLZ

  27. Olli February 11, 2006 at 7:06 pm #

    I want one, too .august is too late.

  28. Lindsey February 11, 2006 at 10:29 pm #

    Help please. I have a 13 year old who has just seen a Lego Mindstorms System, unused, for sale on an auction site. I have never heard of them before. Is it suitable for a 13 year old? It has 718 pieces, hwich might give someone an idea of what it is, as I have NO idea. We are trying to get my son interested in this kind of thing – he loves Lego – is this too advanced?

  29. csana February 12, 2006 at 1:06 am #

    i want i for my birthday (feb 14th) but i have to wait till august

  30. Mikolai February 13, 2006 at 10:39 pm #

    To Linsey:
    I started lego robotics when I was nine. My only concern is that your son might actually be getting too old for this (not that it is a toy for little kids). I’m 15 and have started to drift away from Mindstorms because I have much more stuff to do now.
    Your best bet would be to buy an “educational” set which comes with RoboLab. The out-of-the-box sodtware for Mindstorms is called RIS (Robotics invention system) it is terrible. If you plan to get Mindstorms, it is imperative to get an alternative program to use. If you own a macintosh computer you are forced to use Robolab but even if you don’t I still highly suggest it over Robolab, because it helps build real programming skills. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you post a link to the the set that is for auction I can look at it and see if it is worthwhile.

  31. David vun Kannon February 14, 2006 at 9:01 pm #


    Given that this blog is discussing a much better system being available in August for US$ 250, I would say that what you are seeing on the auction site should be steeply discounted from the current US$200 list price for Mindstorms before you should consider puchasing it. If it was between 100-70, I might consider buying it for the parts, but all the high cost pieces, the RCX brick, the sensors, the motors, the software, are soon to be obsolete.


  32. sam February 15, 2006 at 1:14 am #

    Mikolai is right, there is no way RIS 2.0 can stand up to NXT! There are better sensors. One thing is is that 2.0 has nice small motors and has locking capability with bricks. Chris is right to,can it be programmed in NQC and PBForth? Lindsey I am 13 years old and I love my mindstorms! I saved up $200 and got it. Let your son get one. there a lot of fun.

  33. Jim K. February 15, 2006 at 8:41 pm #

    The old Mindstorms might be obsolete in terms of retail sales, but not in terms of use. The old sensors and motors will still be usable by the new NXT Intelligent Brick if the HiTechnic multiplexor works as described.

    I have the RIS 1.5 system and will not consider selling it – I agree that if you can get it for US$70-100, it would be a good price. But if you don’t think you want to spend $250 on the new NXT system, then paying less than $100 for the old system will still give a kid a great experience.

    Jim K.

  34. Ultrasonic February 16, 2006 at 7:08 pm #

    Can I subscribe to this blogs feed? Jorge in Austin

  35. natalia March 18, 2006 at 12:52 am #

    I’m interested to buy your robot “Lego mind storms RCX” but I don’t know if you have delivers in to Mexico City
    Please tell me if it is possible.

  36. Brant Sears March 22, 2006 at 3:14 pm #

    I just read the Macintosh system requirements. It looks like the Intel based Macintosh systems won’t be supported. What’s up with that?

    I was planning to buy this for my daughter, but it looks like it won’t work with her Core Duo system.

  37. Stefan Sczekalla April 7, 2006 at 8:59 pm #

    well I’m very interested in the new robot-kit but I’m somwhat dissapointed about only Three Motor Outputs – Is there something known If one will be able to extend to more motors for more complex movements ?

  38. julian Fernandez April 13, 2006 at 2:45 am #

    Anybody knows is NTX will have the capability of being controled by software in a PC, instead of just that uploaded into the stamp? I would like to write more sophisticated and large programs in C++ running in the PC. Will that be possible, thanks!

  39. diman April 15, 2006 at 10:20 pm #

    Hey ”Found it” thank you for the picture!

  40. Steve June 16, 2006 at 4:48 am #

    We heard LOTS about the first 100 people to get these NXT’s. Well, where are all the GREAT creations they were supposed to be building? I applied for this program and I know that if I had one of these, we’d have posted at least 3 or 4 creations by now along with full programs/etc. All we see is the same, tired, old models that have been posted since the beginning. The only new models I’ve seen were done by some students at Tufts and they weren’t really that exciting – mostly the same old stuff…

    The point is that the NXT has a lot of “WOW” appeal to it, but, deep down, it’s not really a quantum leap over the old RCX. In fact, the size of the motors is really going to be a hindrance to making small robots and small is where it’s at these days.


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