Microsoft Robotics

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Simulated Tribot Robot

LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT (NXT), refers to the 32-bit robotics kit supplied by LEGO®. The LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT provides Bluetooth and USB communication between the PC and the NXT. This section describes how to get the NXT and Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio (RDS) to talk to each other.

Once the setup has been completed you can try out the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT tutorials (see LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Tutorials Overview).

The NXT can be built in a variety of configurations. RDS supports the Tribot both in hardware and in simulation. Instructions on how to build the Tribot are included with the NXT V1.0 kit. The LEGO NXT V2.0 kits have some different components and the default robot is the Shooterbot. The Shooterbot can be used with RDS, but there is no simulation model of the Shooterbot and you will need to change the parameters for the wheels. Because the Shooterbot uses treads instead of wheels, it does not rotate on the spot as well as the Tribot.

The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Services have been designed for ease of use in Microsoft Visual Programming Language.


These services are easy to configure and provide an extensible architecture so that third party sensors can be added at any time. The services provided include motors and sensors for the standard NXT devices as well as a few examples of sensors available from HiTechnic and MindSensors. Additional services for HiTechnic sensors and controllers are available on CodePlex.

Installing the Latest Firmware

To prepare your NXT for use with the tutorials make certain the latest NXT firmware is installed. (At the time of this RDS release the latest firmware is version 1.29). In order to accomplish this, run the LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT software which came with NXT.

From the menu, select Tools, then Update NXT Firmware… , click Online Update: Check button. This will open a Web page to LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Software Updates. Download the latest firmware from that Web site and continue updating the firmware following the instructions provided by LEGO®.

Configuring Bluetooth

The current samples and tutorials provided in RDS only support Bluetooth® communication. This means the PC being used must have a Bluetooth® adapter to execute the tutorials. To configure the PC's Bluetooth adapter to communicate with the NXT typically requires the use of a Bluetooth® manager. This is usually provided with the Bluetooth® adapter and creates a secure partnership connection between your PC and the device. Follow the instructions provided by the computer,if already configured with Bluetooth®, or those with the Bluetooth® adapter.

When initiating a Bluetooth® connection make sure to initiate it from the PC to the NXT. If the Bluetooth® connection doesn't work, try performing the following steps:

  1. Open the Bluetooth® configuration applet. Bring up this page by double-clicking the Bluetooth icon in the taskbar.
  2. Select Add a new connection to instruct the PC to search for Bluetooth® devices which are in range.
  3. Once the device is paired, view the properties or details to find out which COM port has been assigned to the NXT. Sometimes two ports are assigned. In this case, the outbound connection is required.
  4. If the Bluetooth® manager does not list the COM port, open the Device Manager on your PC and view Ports (COM & LPT) to help discover the COM port assigned to your NXT connection.


The Bluetooth connection from the PC to the NXT will not set up

  1. Try to disable then re-enable the Bluetooth® antenna.
  2. Try restarting the PC.
  3. Try clearing the Bluetooth® contacts on the NXT.
  4. If using a Bluetooth® dongle it is highly recommended that use the drivers that came on the CD be used. Note that if drivers are switched, uninstall the previous drivers first. This process will also require clearing the Bluetooth® contacts in the NXT.

There is other bad behavior.

  1. Examine the output from the Console Output system service against a running Decentralized Software Services node, typically http://localhost:50000/console/output, where errors and warnings identifying potential problems can be seen.
  2. Post any question to the Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio Hardware Configuration and Troubleshooting forum.




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