Think of the best pairing you know, be it chocolate and peanut butter, rainy days and good books, or the purr of an engine and the open road. Then, imagine pairing one of the best toys of your childhood, Legos, and the hobbyist toy of your adulthood, the Arduino microcontroller. Combined, these two tools are poised for creativity, ingenuity, and a rockin’ good time.
To prime yourself, check out The Cult of LEGO, a fascinating and wonderfully illustrated look into the depths of the LEGO community. The book gives a brief glance into the history and manufacture (did you know they’re based in Denmark?) of the bricks, as well as some amazing photos and stories of LEGO Makers themselves. It’s enough to inspire you to dig your bag of bricks out of the closet and start building.
Of course, being Makers, we have to go beyond just the simple tinkering of our childhood. Lego has provided a stellar platform, the Lego Mindstorms set, that gives Makers the tools to create and control their own functional robots. Though the bots are superb on their own, taking it a step further and integrating the ease and functionality of Arduino was the next logical step. Thus, the Bricktronic line was born.
Developed by Wayne and Layne, Bricktronics connect your Arduino (Uno, Duemilanove, or Mega) to the sensors and motors that accompany the MINDSTORM NXT kit. Instead of including simple build instructions or minor guidance on the Bricktronics Shield, the three fused brains and wrote the comprehensive and immensely educational Make: Lego and Arduino Projects. The book details the mechanics of the Bricktronics modules and lays out projects with step-by-step tutorials.
The book has some pretty neat projects, including a keytar and a bot that makes you a delicious glass of chocolate milk. Though some of the projects are more advanced and can include some part sourcing, the book eases you into the world of Arduino and Mindstorms with some simpler projects as well. With bonuses like a chapter that gives an overview of beginner electronics, Make: Lego and Arduino Projects will ultimately give you a well-rounded knowledge of the niche, as well as some seriously cool bots.