A few weeks at Maker Faire I met Eun Jung (EJ) Park and I was asked to review her latest book Exploring LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Tools and Techniques for Building and Programming Robots. I spent the past few weeks (between trips) reading the book and thought I might share my review.
Exploring LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Tools and Techniques for Building and Programming Robots is a fun book. I love the various bots. Animals have always been popular in the MINDSTORMS community and this books introduces a bunny (as seen on the cover), a turtle, and a couple others. Each has their own special attribute and it is certainly fun to bring them to life!
As I said, Park does an excellent job of creating fun robots, but these are more complex to build. There are two things that make these bots more difficult. The first is lack of color images, but I will touch on that later. The second is that use new building techniques and more parts than many other models. I see this as a good and a bad. If you make it though building each bot in the EV3 software, then it is certainly something you would enjoy. You will learn some new ways to construct bots. Best of all, you will create a robot that is just cool to play with. If you are picking up this book before building an EV3 bot, then you might have some trouble.
Where Park really shines is in the programming. This book is more technical: how to use motors and sensors. Park goes into great detail on programming walks you through creating some very cool code. Aside from the black and white images, the programming and explanation is pretty easy to follow. Park does a good job of creating a bot that is exciting and fun to program, but still leaves it open ended to add more. The detail given to how the various motors and sensors function, make this an excellent reference for anyone new to MINDSTORMS.
Exploring LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Tools and Techniques for Building and Programming Robots is a bit strange in that I loved the content, but hated the physical book. To put it simply, the physical book is in black and white. This makes following along (especially building instructions) extremely difficult. The lack of color images probably has less of an effect on the programming images, but it would still make the programming a bit easier to follow. A color version of this book would go a long way and enable the author to do so much more. Hopefully Wiley will release one in the future as it is the most glaring handicap on an otherwise great book.
Overall I would recommend this book for the programming guidance, but until Wiley releases a color version (maybe in an ebook?) I wouldn’t suggest this for first time builders. If you have been around MINDSTORMS a bit and looking to expand knowledge in programming, then this might be a good book for you.
You can find the book on amazon here.