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Mindstorms Speculation

It has now been 6.5 years since the EV3 sets came out. The time between NXT and EV3 was 7 years and the time between RCX and NXT was 8 years. However, the previous cycles were broken up by releases of RCX 2.0 and NXT 2.0, so if you include those the historical refresh cycle is closer to 3-4 years.  So looking at historical data, we are either overdue for an EV3 2.0 or nearing the release of the 4th generation Mindstorms.

I was thinking that 2020 might be the year for a new Mindstorms release, based on the historical release cycle and the fact that the EV3 brick is starting to show its age. However, I came across the following link.
https://education.lego.com/en-us/support/mindstorms-ev3

It describes the new "LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Classroom" app.  Considering EV3 is in the name of the app, it now appears as though EV3 is not going away anytime soon. Granted, they could rename the app, but that may cause confusion.

Does anyone have thought or evidence that might point towards a sooner refresh?




Comments

  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,760
    edited December 2019
    Spike Prime will be out in January, and while it is not said to be a Mindstorms replacement, it does pretty much everything that EV3 does, but using the new Powered Up infrastructure.
    I guess the two will live side-by-side until the next official Mindstorms replacement, whenever that is!
    I think there's a lot of life left in EV3 still but I wouldn't buy into it now.: the kit of parts is now very dated.
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 516
    Huw said:
    Spike Prime will be out in January, and while it is not said to be a Mindstorms replacement, it does pretty much everything that EV3 does, but using the new Powered Up infrastructure.
    I guess the two will live side-by-side until the next official Mindstorms replacement, whenever that is!
    I think there's a lot of life left in EV3 still but I wouldn't buy into it now.: the kit of parts is now very dated.
    I think EV3 is still a good investment (even NXT if you find it cheap). Powered Up is ok for messing around with basic stuff but is absolute junk for the serious mek builders (like GBCs and other big technic contraptions), it's motors are weak and can't even reverse. I'm not sure if Spike will suffer from the same issues but I would hold off untill solid reviews start coming in. If they do come out with a new mindstorms I hope it will be a serious robotics kit like the others and not just a glorified Boost.

    Of course, I'm a vintage electronics guy, so I'm more critical of modern machines, even just toys, given that I've worked on stuff that was made when Lego was making wooden toys in Denmark. I remember seeing the RCX sets in Lego catalogs as a kid and would still get one if I found it at a decent price.
  • PicopiratePicopirate Member Posts: 318
    I am thinking of getting a kit because I started coaching FLL this year. I have access to  to a couple sets during the season but I am lucky to have one complete set due to the missing pieces. My two main reasons to get a set are (1) so I can build and test things out in the off-season so I am more familiar with what I will teach the kids and (2) so my kid can play with the set without risk of screwing up his teams robot.  A nice benefit is that I can lend out piece that the existing kits may be missing.

    That said, Spike Prime does look very interesting (if you can look past the eye bleeding colors). It looks like will be allowed for use in FLL next year too. Though that would require our organization to get some sets too. I do really like some of the parts.  I will hold off and check the reviews, but getting one of those seems like a good compromise. Even if we stick with Mindstorms for FLL, I could lend out some of the cool new pieces (biscuits, wheels, etc.).  Ideally a new Minstorms set will come out this summer and include some of these new pieces as well and I can have the best of both worlds.
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 516
    I agree that as just a Lego set in general it looks pretty decent. The colors are understandable given the younger age range similar to Boost. It is therefore purely the functionality that is in question given you say it is based on PU which has a reputation of being mediocre. I would not want to get a set purely for the standard parts and have a heap of useless expensive electronics.
  • PicopiratePicopirate Member Posts: 318
    I broke down and ordered Spike Prime. My kid saw some of the videos in my watch history and he really wants it for his birthday (which is shortly after launch). I warned him that the PU motors probably will not be as good as Mindstorms motors but he had no problem with that.  He thinks for tinkering around at home they will be fine, and I tend to agree. We will need to evaluate if they are worth using for FLL. Fortunately his grandparents are chipping in to make it possible... and if Mindstorms is refreshed this year then I will still be able to afford to pick that up to use it to teach my FLL kids.

    My only concern is that the kit ships with two medium motors and one large motor.  That most certainly means that we will be picking up a second large motor. Additionally, I taught the kids how to use one color sensor for line following and then use the other to detect crossing lines, so he will likely want a second color sensor as well. I will hold off on those until we work through all the lessons. I will only pick up the accessories if the quality is sufficient.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,325
    ^ Depending on the age of your kid, if he really wants to get into messing about with programming and basic electronics, I suggest buying some cheap motors and sensors and going down the route of use an arduino at first or a raspberry pi. You get a lot more flexibility for minimal cost. It will be interesting to see what the new sensors cost, as you can pick up essentially the same basic sensors for $1-2 or so.

    LEGO's gyro sensor, $30 or so.
    This 3-axis gyro, $3.

    One adapted from an old wii controller, next to nothing.

    Ultrasonic distance sensors can be had for $1-2, the same with line following colour ones, colour sensors are $3-4, and so on. Of course, they don't come with a lego casing and you need to program the pi/arduino.

    If / when they are at the stage they want to go from being a toy to a hobby, then it is worth going down this route.

    I find, especially with motors for my kid at the moment, that there is a significant cost saving by buying generic motors and gluing a LEGO gear onto the axle, and attaching to a plate for connection purposes or boxing them in if necessary to hide them.

    omnium
  • OllieOllie PennsylvaniaMember Posts: 2
    Today, I got my Spike Prime with two extension sets and built the "competition robot" with actuators in front and back.  I was not pleased with the movement accuracy and the fact that you have to install an IDE on a laptop.

    My FLL teams will continue with EV3.  The improvement will be to replace LabVIEW with MakeCode.  After that no IDE installation is required.  The browser based tool is fast and very flexible.  New pupils can start and stay in graphic block code and the more experienced pupils can be switching between block and JavaScript.  The simulator of the motors and sensors allow the pupils to do development even without a robot.
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 516
    edited January 2020
    Ollie said:
    Today, I got my Spike Prime with two extension sets and built the "competition robot" with actuators in front and back.  I was not pleased with the movement accuracy and the fact that you have to install an IDE on a laptop.

    My FLL teams will continue with EV3.  The improvement will be to replace LabVIEW with MakeCode.  After that no IDE installation is required.  The browser based tool is fast and very flexible.  New pupils can start and stay in graphic block code and the more experienced pupils can be switching between block and JavaScript.  The simulator of the motors and sensors allow the pupils to do development even without a robot.
    Figured the motors would be crap given it's based on PU. But having a real IDE IMO is an absolute plus for serious robotics (depending on the age group), the real world does not run on cute little connected tiles. Though I would definately also get into hardware hacks to improve the motors as well.
  • OllieOllie PennsylvaniaMember Posts: 2
    I do agree that the graphic programming with data flow as in LabVIEW or control flow as in Scratch/Blockly is not scalable and efficient for real world.  I really like the MakeCode as a stepping stone from block to JavaScript.  Actually it is not JavaScript but TypeScript that allows the usage of data types and other real world constructions for higher productivity and improved error detection.
     
    The Microsoft implementation allows the MakeCode usage either as a web application or as an installed application for off-line development.  The MakeCode editor is as good as in any typical IDE.  The integration with GitHub is an additional plus.

    I will continue the experimentations with Spike to find out if there are remedies for the discovered weaknesses.  It doesn't look good.  I like the fact that it is using a STMF4 processor. I have been working for many years with STM32/F1/F4/F7/H7 processors.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,325
    I guess the Spike sets are for 10+ so having a Scratch-type system helps the younger end of the age group make a start. A decent IDE for older kids as they start coding properly is also a good idea although I'm not sure Spike counts as serious robotics and it might be that they lose interest in the brightly coloured Spike in favour of more grown up sets like Mindstorms. Or better still go for their own self build systems later on.

    My kid (11) plays with my arduino kit, using Scratch tiles via mBlock. It is fairly basic, but they flash lights and control motors and so on. He also uses makecode on a microbit but I rarely use that board.
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 516
    Real engineers push things to the limit to see how far they go. Unfortunately even using a real IDE won't help with hardware limitations. As I said, you could use hardware hacks it to squeeze more out of the motors or drive bigger ones but that's just for kicks at that point, entirely up to the user.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,325
    Maybe Mindstorms sale volumes will now go up, like toilet paper and pasta sale volumes ...



  • omniumomnium Brickenham, UKMember Posts: 831
    I last programmed my Mindstorm in C. No, not C++, good old C. I put an SDcard with Linux on it into the brick, and sent commands over the serial ports.
    Bloody useless for large scale robotics, but it was fun :-)
    I'm thinking about starting a new spacey hangar build using my Mindstorms kit, and wondering how I'll program it. I hate LabView, but I know it'll do the simple operations I want (open door, move thing, close door, turn light on, move thing, ...)
    I'll have to look at MakeCode, see what that's like.
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 516
    omnium said:
    I last programmed my Mindstorm in C. No, not C++, good old C. I put an SDcard with Linux on it into the brick, and sent commands over the serial ports.
    Bloody useless for large scale robotics, but it was fun :-)
    Which type? (RCX, NXT, or EV3)

    Also, no, YOU are bloody useless at large scale robotics. XD


  • omniumomnium Brickenham, UKMember Posts: 831
    omnium said:
    I last programmed my Mindstorm in C. No, not C++, good old C. I put an SDcard with Linux on it into the brick, and sent commands over the serial ports.
    Bloody useless for large scale robotics, but it was fun :-)
    Which type? (RCX, NXT, or EV3)
    EV3.


    omnium said:
    I last programmed my Mindstorm in C. No, not C++, good old C. I put an SDcard with Linux on it into the brick, and sent commands over the serial ports.
    Bloody useless for large scale robotics, but it was fun :-)
    Which type? (RCX, NXT, or EV3)

    Also, no, YOU are bloody useless at large scale robotics. XD


    You programmed that in C? Wow, impressive!

    Anyway, that's a remote control arm, right? It's not autonomous. Cheating, that is ;-)




  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 516
    edited March 2020
    No, that's not actually me XD. But the description says it was programmed in C# (not original C, but likely just the builder's language choice). And no, it is not remote controlled, it is motion programmed, you move it around once on the remote and it will repeat itself (just like real industrial robot arms).

    Plus, there are tons of other extremely advanced Mindstorms machines, just have a look around on the internet.
  • PicopiratePicopirate Member Posts: 318
    I ended up getting my kid spike prime back in January. He loves it. Overall it is a great platform for learning robotics and scratch.  My kid is able to build functional robots in a fraction of the time as it takes him to make EV3 robots.  I too am a bit disappointed with the accuracy though. For tinkering is is great, for FLL competition... no way.  The wheels and components are fantastic.  Not too thrilled with the plastic castor, I would prefer metal.

    On a related note, EV3 is presently listed as retiring soon. I suspect a new version is just around the corner. 
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