View Full Version : Mindstorms advice?

03-12-2013, 05:12 PM
So Mushroom and BalletBoy have been saving their money since Christmas to buy a Mindstorms set. As of today, they have enough. But now we're all wondering if it would be better for them to not get an NXT and wait until the EV3 is out.

The EV3 will be integrated with the iDevices and will have a lot more capabilities and just generally seems like it will be cooler... The price tag is higher, but if they put the money aside in an interest bearing account with the Bank of Farrar (I give good interest on savings at rates only available to my kids) then they'd have enough by fall to buy it without doing a thing.

But they really want the NXT now, you know? And this throws a wrench into some plans we had - I was going to let them spend a week doing programming projects with the Mindstorms and Scratch as a sort of home summer camp with some of their friends over the summer.


03-12-2013, 05:29 PM
DS1 just finished a Mindstorm class. His instructor advises waiting for the new one to come out, because it comes with more devices. He said that to make the current one do things that make programming it interesting, you have to shell out quite a bit more $$ on extra devices. He said kids get bored with what they can do with the basic NXT very quickly.

03-12-2013, 06:01 PM
Argh. Not what I want to hear! But yeah... it does seem like the new stuff will make the EV3 worth the wait.

03-12-2013, 09:58 PM
I agree with laundrycrisis. DH has done a couple of camps with the NXT set and refuses to do any more until the EV3 comes out. He says he knows what to do now and he is bored with it. Glad I didn't shell out the big bucks to get one of our own yet!

03-12-2013, 10:21 PM
Argh. I'm wondering now if I should talk them into getting spending the money on the WeDo instead. They were more psyched about getting the NXT, but they don't have any real experience with the Lego programming and the easier environment of the WeDo might be good... and you can use it with Scratch, which they can already use. I'm thinking that it might be a good stopgap to keep their interest up, give them spending money leftover now, and then, they could easily get the EV3 as their big Christmas gift and resell the WeDo set, which I'm thinking would retain its value pretty well while the NXT wouldn't once the EV3 is out. Does that seem to make sense?

03-12-2013, 11:23 PM
It does, but I don't know a danged thing about the WeDo stuff, so I won't be any help making that decision :)

03-13-2013, 12:50 AM
We're planning to wait for the new one.

03-13-2013, 07:32 AM
I wonder what the used market is like for NXT. Have you checked on bricklink to see? Okay, cheapest is $235 that I can see....maybe e-bay?
We were caught in the same conundrum when we were using RCX for our First Lego League team and then the brand new NXT came out. For the first season at least the RCX was still outperforming the NXT. The only real benefit to the new one seemed to be the built in odometer for which we still had to use an angle sensor to get. But otherwise the RCX had it all over NXT and people were disappointed with the new bot from the start. The building options around it are very limiting--comparatively and if I remember it right you can't download new languages onto the brick like you could with RCX. You could put any language onto that thing and program it. MIT students were still using the RCX for testing their robots because it's just such a versatile thing.

That was long winded to suggest that you could buy an NXT set used for a less money and then resell that on bricklink later when the new set comes out. We ended up finding that the kids had more fun playing a battlebots sort of game with a club of kids using the remote control pieces from the Power Functions kits instead of going through the whole FLL thing. I only coached for 3 years and another homeschool team in the area for 2 years before we all decided to start Battlebots locally and that went on for a long time. I think the power functions were a great way for the kids to figure out the building of bots and how they perform and that separated the building and robotics skills from the programming. Plus, live action RC events with 25 or more homeschoolers doing battles...priceless. Most of our "battles" were challenges like the steepest incline or drag races--head to head of course. Sumo bots, soccer bots, walking bots in a foot race. Who can toss a brick the farthest and my favorite, "mind the gap" where we had 2 tables with a 6 inch gap between them and the bot that started in a 1 foot by 1 foot base (but no height limit) had to make it across the gap. Then we kept making the gap wider. So, so, so much fun for a much cheaper investment.
If programming is the thing you are after I'd probably say wait for the next lego robot to come out anyhow. It's likely that the used market for NXT will only get better with a new one out there.

03-13-2013, 10:59 AM
Thanks, rktowne. That's interesting. I had heard that the first generation of the NXT was buggy... I guess there is a good chance that would be the case with the EV3 as well.

04-13-2013, 05:09 PM
I started a robotics club for my boys and the older members work with NXT, the younger members work with WeDo. We will continue working with NXT for as long as the First Lego League continues to build their challenges around them. However, Lego WeDo is much more simplistic and depending on the ages and levels of your children, significantly less challenging.

After one try, my 7 year old had pretty much mastered the programming language for WeDo, however, the fun will surface when the LITTLES group begins creating their own robots because the integration of the knowledge of simple machines and sensors will begin. Right now, they program based on the manuals' projects.

Because the club is child directed, and the adults provide only support and very limited guidance, we have attended a couple of robotics workshops and WeDo was mastered very quickly in comparison with the NXT. I suggest foregoing WeDo.

04-13-2013, 10:42 PM
So this is an old thread, but I'll tell you that the kids initially decided not to get the NXT and to just wait. And then they waited... for about a month before they decided they couldn't take it anymore. Ha. They got it in the mail the other day and immediately put together one of the simpler models and started playing around with the programming language. They were sooooo focused on it. Honestly, if they have anywhere near the level of love for it that they had in the last couple of days, then it will have been worth it. And then they can move into the EV3 later.

04-14-2013, 08:09 AM
I'm new around these parts and clearly neglected to check the date.:o

It's wonderful that they are enjoying the NXT, it's a cool way to learn about math and science without the formalities!