Sunday, June 1, 2014

FLL - World Class: NXT or EV3...Update


To NXT, or to EV3, that is the question… Well, that still is the question as the new FLL (FIRST LEGO League) tournament season, World Class; starts with registration now open (May 5, 3014): 
EV3 Educational & EV3 Consumer Versions

The new LEGO® Mindstorms® EV3 has been out for almost a year, so any “bugs” in the software should have been resolved (although setting up Bluetooth on a Mac w/Snow Leopard can be very "sometimes", but the USB connection works fine); and the problem with the rechargeable battery has been fixed. So, teams with the LEGO Mindstorms NXT might be wondering should they shelve the NXT, switch, and buy the latest Mindstorms - the LEGO Mindstorms EV3? Well, consider the following (as Bill Nyes “the science guy” used to say)... at the NYC FLL Finals 2/3 of the teams used the NXT with some teams using the motors from an EV3 (and non-electrical parts) with their NXT which made for some rather interesting robots. However, the new EV3 does have some nice new features, some of which cannot be used in FLL competition, but the parts design and new programming platform with some interesting new blocks makes it a very attractive choice for FLL. So, just from my point of view, if you can (financially), definitely ADD the EV3 to your Mindstorms robotics kits collection and consider this…

     For robot design purposes,
          EV3 motors can be used with the NXT controller
          NXT motors and sensors can be used with the EV3 controller
         If you are new to FLL or Mindstorms robotics and do not have a kit yet, consider buying the EV3 kit and maybe add some NXT motors and sensors for design enhancement (NXT motors and sensors can be purchased separately).      
         Of course, all non-electrical parts work with ANYTHING LEGO.

And if your team can’t buy the EV3 right now, does that mean they will be at a disadvantage?  Not really, in the finally analysis it is not so much the type of Mindstorms kit that they use; it is how a team uses its building skills, programming skills, strategy, and creativeness to build a successful robot. 

So, be creative…

P.S. note: if you have students/team members who have some visual impairment, the EV3 display screen is a nightmare to read (it has a slightly larger screen, but smaller text); the NXT display screen, although slightly smaller, is a little bit better to see. Highlighting an item for selection is almost unreadable, so one will have to memorize the display menu. I actually have to use a magnifying glass/glasses to read the display!