LEGO Mindstorms EV3 31313 Review
Beautiful Saturday mornings. That is exactly what playing with Legos reminds us of – siting there, on the floor, in the living room, playing with the newest set of Legos alongside my friends on Saturday mornings. We had our own Saturday morning routine and playing with Legos is one that never changed. Now, as an adult, we still find ourselves sitting there, on Saturday mornings, conquering the latest Lego set. Mind you, instead of sitting on the floor, we sit in a chair, at our workbench.
As time has moved forward, Lego products have evolved. There’s a Technic line, which is still striving, but Mindstorms is something that goes past Technic and includes sensors, programmable controllers and all of that pretty cool stuff. While there’s some pretty cool Lego sets, like Lego 42056, Lego 42039, Lego 10225 and Lego 10697, today, we’re going to introduce you to something that is a tad bit different – Lego 31313 sets, which just so happens to be one of the best Lego sets 2016.
The newest generation of Mindstorms sets us in front of EV3 – it has capabilities that would have had us puzzled in the 80’s. Back in January, the Lego 31313 set was first introduced at the CES – it features a new controller with an ARM9 CPU with 64MB of Ram, a USB 2.0 interface for expansion modules, Bluetooth and 16MB of NAND flash storage.
When it comes to putting the EV3 set together, you will have Lego instructions to follow and we must say, the instructions are well-written and easy to follow. Many of you may follow the same method you followed as a child, which consists of taking the set out of the box, dumping them on the floor and building it based on the instructions.
This set runs on ARM versions of Linux and it has the capabilities of driving a total of four separate motors and receiving input from four different sensors. If you like, you can link it to other Mindstorms bricks.
The particular EV3 set were reviewed had three different motors – 1 high-torque, one smaller and two large). It also had three sensors (one color and light, one touch, and one infrared) along with a control brick. It also contains a remote control (the annual refers to it as the “IR beacon.” As it has a couple of other functions). In total, there are 594 Technic-style pieces for buildings things. You don’t have a studded brick anymore, so if you were to mix the EV3 set into your pile of non-Technic Lego bricks, it’ll require a bit of ingenuity.
When you take the set out of the box, you’ll notice that it is all individually packaged. This is done in order to make it easier for you to put together.
Here’s a look at the packaging:
The Mindstorm Theme
For those of you that have no experience with the Mindstorms theme, let us take a minute to tell you what it’s all about. The key component of this set would be the programmable brick. This brick is actually a computer, it’s complete with memory, processor, inputs and outputs, just like any computer. Also, as with any computer, you can program this one in order to respond to various inputs.
Home Edition Set
The EV3 Home Edition set includes the following:
- Input Sensors: Color (7 colors + no color), Touch, Infrared Receiver + Transmitter
- Programmable Brick
- Printed Building Instructions for Track3r Robot
- 500+ various Technic Parts
- Mindstorms Ev3 Software
As for the infrared receiver/transmitter pair, you can use this in a variety of ways. From a remote control to a simple proximity detector. The received can also detect the direction the transmitter is coming from. For this reason, it’s a nice beacon when it comes to finding/following objects.
Sounds and Other Special Effects
With this programmable brick, you’ll also have sounds. It can show images or tect on the 178 x 128 pixel LCD display and display/flash its lights.
When it comes to the cables, they have connectors that when you first look at them, look like the traditional standard RJ12 telephone connectors, but they have a top clip that is responsible for holding it in place. These are Modified Modular Jacks, by the way.
Included with this set, you’ll have a variety of robots. The robots that are included in this set are as follows:
Spik3r – This is a pretty cool, scorpion like robot that features scurrying legs, a front gripper appendage and a moveable tail.
Track3r – This is an interesting tracked crawler robot that has a variety of swappable tools that can be utilized to shoot/slice/smash various obstacles. This is one of the simplest robots in the group and is a great one to start out with.
Gripp3r – This is a tracked crawler. It has a large gripper up front that has been designed to lift and carry objects.
R3ptar – This is a scary slithering serpent. It can shake, rattle and strike a close target. If you ask us, it is pretty evil, but on the same note, it’s a cool robot.
Ev3rstorm – This is the main bipedal robot. It is the most complex out of the five and incorporates all motors and sensors. The chicken hairstyle and everything about this robot is pretty cool.
As you see, this set comes with some pretty interesting robots that you can put together and play with.
Here’s a picture of the pieces for a robot:
Each Robot Has a Mission of Its Own
For each of the robots that are included, you will have between 4-6 missions that you can complete. These missions are requirements for programs that you will need to write. For example, the Tracker robot will require you to write a program in order to make it move forward a bit and swipe a tire off the mat with the Bi-blade Blender, then return back to the starting position. This is a simple task that will help you adjust to the development environment.
As you progress through the missions, they will get harder, but you will be building upon the things you learned during the earlier missions. Each mission will have a video that shows what the robot will need to do. It also included building instructions for the robot and step-by-step instructions for the coding system.
Here’s a look at the instruction book:
If you’re looking for a fun Lego set, then the Lego 31313 set is a must have – it takes building Legos to an entire new level. If you’re not used to the Mindstorms sets, it’s certainly going to be something new for you.