Lego Mindstorms EV3

Where to find it in South Africa

So much have been published on the fantastic Lego Mindstorms EV3 set produced and distributed globally by Lego Education.  In South Africa ‘Hands on Technologies‘ is the Lego Education partner. They are also supported by their non-profit sister company- ‘Care for Education‘ to reach schools and children in rural areas.  There is a great need in our country to upskill our youth.

“Currently our youth (18 -35 years old) unemployment is sitting at 60%”

Retail set vs Core Set

The Mindstorms EV3 retail set (product code 31313) and can be purchased in most Lego retail stores in South Africa.  This set comes with:

  • EV3 Brick with powerful ARM9 processor
  • 3 interactive servo motors
  • remote control
  • improved and redesigned color sensor
  • redesigned touch sensor
  • infrared sensor
  • and 550+ LEGO® Technic elements

The Mindstorms EV3 core set (product code 45544) can be purchased online from Hands on Technologies, as mentioned before.  This set comes with:

  • The EV3 Brick
  • Battery + battery charger
  • 3x servo motors
  • 1x ultrasonic sensor
  • 2x touch sensor
  • 1x color sensor
  • 1x gyro-sensor
  • 541 LEGO® Technic elements
  • A sturdy storage bin with a sorting tray

The core set is the set used for education purposes and provides the basic kit used in the WRO and FIRST robotics competitions world wide.  So you can see there is clear added value in buying the education core set.

As you can see from my series on educational toys, there are many options available to choose from when you start looking for something in the line of to help kids learn critical thinking and engineering skills.  The reason I like the Lego Robotics so much is that you can build just about anything your mind can dream up.

Here are links to the other posts in the series:

“The LEGO Foundation aims to build a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged and lifelong learners”

Lego Software packages

There are a number of software packages to support the Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits.  These include:

  • The Lego Mindstorms EV3 education package.  This is easy to use programming software which contains tutorials and building instructions for some pre-designed robots
  • Lego Digital Designer package (image strip below).  In this software package you can design and build your own robot or machine in a virtual environment.
  • Virtual Robotics Toolkit – with this software you can see what your program will make the robot do in a virtual simulation.  BE CAREFUL THOUGH – in real life the light intensity and reflection, the surface friction and a number of other factors will make your robot react slightly different than in a virtual environment.

Lego Digital Designer startup screens

The Expansion set

There is an expansion set (product code 45544 – also available from Hands on Tech and it just makes the possibilities so much more.  This kit retails for about R2000 and it contains over 800 pieces including wheels and gears.  To see the exact inventory go to Brickset.

Lego core expansion set 45560

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WRO and FIRST in South Africa

We are quite privileged in South Africa that these two competitions have decided to consciously put in the effort to work out their schedules in collaboration with each other.  In the rest of the world these two competition are in fierce competition with each other.

For more details about these programs, go to this previous post: Robotics in South Africa

Here are few photos that I took while adding some sensors to the kit:

Mindstorms collage

Expanding the brick

One of the coolest features about the Lego Mindstorms brick (controller) is that it can be ‘daisy chained’ together and it’s open source, so you could write your own program for it.  Here is an example of a Rubik’s cube solver with 8 Mindstorms bricks daisy chained together and a Samsung smart phone:

As you can see the possibilities are endless.

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