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Yesterday I unboxed the new Lego Mindstorms EV3 set, and even before powering on the microcontroller brick, I’d noticed a number of interesting changes, both great and unfortunate, as compared with the previous set, called Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0. Up to that point, I’d assumed the mix of Technic beams and pegs were more or less the same, and that it was the microcontroller brick and programming environment had been upgraded.

In the next week or so I’ll check out other aspects of the new set like programming the EV3 brick and details of the models you can design with the set. In the meantime, let’s check out what has changed.

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal



  1. Lach says:

    Actually those gray elements aren’t new. They were used for steering contraptions. I have some, there were two of them in the old Robotics Invention System with the RCX.

    1. adcurtin says:

      I haven’t done much with my lego in at least 10 years, but I know I have some of those gray pieces.

  2. Dan Levy says:

    It would be really useful if you could make a comparison between the commercial and education EV3 sets. Perhaps Lego Education would provide you a set for the comparison.

    1. Yes, what is in the education vs. the commercial kit would be a good comparison.

      The commercial kit seems very limited to me right now but the education kits looks like it maybe a lot better? But it is also more expensive!

    2. bill bourn says:

      The Education set is really split into the core and the extension boxes. Comparing detailed components to the retail offering how ever interesting, needs to make the distinction about what is included in each of the three boxes.

      1. That is interesting information, so what is the price for education kit?

        1. for each education kit?

        2. bill bourn says:

          Three basic offerings of LegoED kits – EV3 core = $340, core w. software = $434, extension parts set = $100

  3. Good information!

    I am interested in programming of the brick and how many robots types you can build with it.

    1. bill bourn says:

      The commercial set #31313 will have instructions included for four robot models I think. In addition there will be instructions online for 12 other models released on Sept 1st. They had a design contest for them I think.

      1. Becky says:

        Hi. I just purchased the Ev3 kit for my kids I understand the kit includes parts for 5 robots but are they able to operate more than 1 at a time? I had hoped they could share a kit but after further reading I think only 1 robot at a time will be operational??? Thank you for your help-

        1. John Baichtal says:

          Hi Becky —

          Yes, only one robot can be built at a time.



  4. Which kits include the EV3 software and what software is in the EV3 core kit? Those are my next questions.

  5. Like EV3? Check out the new kits by VEX Robotics. The VEX IQ line –

  6. very good overview of the newest Lego Mindstorms EV3. For more informations could be visited this link

  7. Coach Mike says:

    Actually, the original NXT (’1.0′) had only one “touch sensor” (aka momentary push-button switch). The NXT 2.0 dropped the sound sensor and replaced it with a second touch sensor. EV3 seems to have gone back to just one touch sensor without adding a replacement sensor.

    The touch sensor was really useful with the servo motors because the position encoding from them is relative, rather than absolute, so to “zero” them in a positioning application you needed to use the touch sensor.

    The NXTs had the ultrasonic range sensor, which has been dropped in favor of the IR remote reciever. No more touchless maze navigation.

    Is that really only a DC motor? The marketing materials call it a ‘small servo’. The diference is important.

  8. Andish says:

    Hi Mike,
    you can look at the descriptions of the servos in the educational webshop, where you can compare the motors in force / Nm and rotational speed.
    torque: 0,15 Nm stall // 0,08 Nm drive
    RPM unloaded? ~ 250 RPM
    0,4 Nm stall / 0,2 drive torque
    rpm without load: ~ 170 RPM
    Both have ecoders built-in, and are by this true servos.
    The new EV3 servos report what they are (medium or large?) by some ID mechanism.

    My interest would be whether they overcome some of the limitations the older ones had:
    - are they still dust sensitive due to optical encoder wheels? Or did they change to magnetic dye encoding as all cheap ink jets do?
    - is the backlash better than with the old ones
    - where is the position encoded, still at the motor end of the gear train or with high-res directly at the output, the driven axis? (Making backlash electronically compensable)
    - do they work with the old NXT? Yes, I will use them still…

    When everything is open source and so, where are the documents?

    Starting with a
    parts overview pdf of the retail version ( – PLEASE post a link ;)
    , would help me a lot to decide between retail and educational set, both have some nice aspects. In the end (probably before next X-mas) I will buy the missing parts to enable me and my sons to build of both worlds ;)

    Has anyone found a flat Li-Ion-Mg Battery pack consisting of AA sized cells (littly shorter or with included protection) to have 2 cells parallel and 3 of the Pairs serial, called 2p3s, and a flat foil cable to link them and attach a charger connection jack or something to attach to the NXT?
    That would fit inside the standard bay of e.g. the EV3 ;=) ?

    I am a little fed up with the expensive batteries and overprized charger AC plugs. 1/3 of the prize and I’d be happy.

    I have found AA sized LiIon-Batteries (searched e.g. for: 3,6V 0,9Ah 14500 lithium or Li-Ion ) with included protection at ebay, for a start, to be charged outside.
    But I don’t know if they behave well enough to be used in parallel pairs, which is no problem for industrial LiIonMg cells nowadays…

    (Side notes: Please _don’t_ give kids packs of self configured cells for usage on their own when they are not used to build their own electronics and can handle powerfull energy sources!!! These thoughts are way off normal toy usage and more something for adults with electronic background or good knowledge of batteries. You will get in conflict with product liability if you spread such packs and have note let them tested and certified AS A TOY.)

    1. HL says:

      Have you found any good solution?
      I consider trying NIZN batteries? e.g.

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