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March 5, 2008

The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT ZOO!--New from No Starch Press: Heed the LEGO call of the wild

When Fay Rhodes, co-author of The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Idea Book (No Starch Press) and contributor to The NXT STEP blog, found that most NXT enthusiasts were interested in creating big, bad robots, she decided to change things.

"Everything seemed oriented toward adult techno-geeks and competition," she said. "It seemed that little was being offered for parents and children who just wanted to have fun building robots. I saw the NXT as a great way to educate children about machines."

Her answer came in the form of her new book, The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Zoo! (No Starch Press, March 2008, 336 pp., ISBN 9781593271701, US $24.95), which shows fans how to build animal-like robots. In preparing the models for the book, Rhodes observed animal movements and experimented with ways to recreate them with the NXT. The results are impressive: Ribbit the frog and Bunny the rabbit, both featured in the book, are the first hopping NXT robots ever created!

"Many of the models included in the NXT kit can be difficult for beginners to build," said Rhodes. "The instructions for the Zoo models are simple and clear; they assume no previous experience."

The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Zoo! offers a simple introduction to the NXT kit, teaches readers how to program with the NXT-G language (including how to make miniprograms called My Blocks), and shows how to build and program nine robots that act like their real animal cousins, including:

  • Ribbit, a jumping frog
  • Bunny, a hopping rabbit
  • Sandy, a walking camel
  • Spiderbot, an eight-legged spider that avoids objects and walks forward and backward
  • Snout, a walking alligator that opens and closes its jaws
  • LEGOsaurus, a four-legged, plodding dinosaur
  • Pygmy, a walking elephant that raises and lowers its head
  • Polecat, a skunk on wheels that lifts its tail and shoots "darts"
  • Strutter, a peacock on wheels that turns and flutters its tail feathers

Troubleshooting tips help with problems like misarranged gears and incorrect programming, and a list of Internet resources helps guide readers' further exploration with the NXT. Teachers and home educators will appreciate an appendix with helpful suggestions for using the models in the classroom. The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Zoo! continues the No Starch Press line of high-quality LEGO-oriented titles, and is sure to please young and old builders alike.

For a review copy or more information please email nostarchpr@oreilly.com. Please include your delivery address and contact information.

book spread

About the Author
Fay Rhodes is a co-author of The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Idea Book (No Starch Press), a member of LEGO's MINDSTORMS Community Partners (MCP), and a contributor to The NXT STEP blog.

Additional Resources
Table of contents overview
Detailed table of contents (PDF)
Samples from the book (PDF)
Large cover image
Book website
The NXT STEP blog

The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Zoo!
Fay Rhodes
ISBN 9781593271701, 336 pages, $24.95 USD
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938
1-707-827-7000

Available in fine bookstores everywhere, from www.oreilly.com/nostarch, or directly from No Starch Press (www.nostarch.com, orders@nostarch.com, 1-800-420-7240).

About No Starch Press
Founded in 1994, No Starch Press is one of the few remaining independent computer book publishers. We publish the finest in geek entertainment—unique books on technology, with a focus on Open Source, security, hacking, programming, alternative operating systems, and LEGO. Our titles have personality, our authors are passionate, and our books tackle topics that people care about. See www.nostarch.com for more information and our complete online catalog. (And most No Starch Press books use RepKover, a lay-flat binding that won’t snap shut.)

About O'Reilly

O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

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