When I asked about the advantages of the eV3 over the NXT at the FLL coaches’ training, I had heard the NXT is fine at the lower level of tournament play. However, the instructor admitted that teams with eV3 and the knowledge to exploit all its features often come to dominate at higher levels of competition.
Given all the inexplicable behavior of the sensors that render our current NXT FlopBot blind and deaf on the mat, we’ll have to invest in an eV3 if we hope to advance (this is assuming we don’t see the same problems in the eV3). As we’ve seen in our tests, we cannot reliably solve missions on the far half of the field with only dead reckoning. The rules state that you must have one of the top scores on the Robot Challenge Table to advance, no matter how high your other scores are in Core Values, Project or Robot Design.
As a result, I’ve just ordered an eV3 Education Set which is described at the end of this post. In addition, I’ve ordered an extra medium and large motor since the Education Set only comes with 3 motors (2 Large/1 Medium) but has 4 ports. The main kit and medium motor should arrive by the end of the week and the large motor about mid-December.
Here are the main advantages of the eV3 over the NXT 2.0 collected from several FLL resources around the web:
(1) Rechargeable batteries provide a more uniform power output curve across all charge levels resulting in more accurate dead reckoning. Disposable Li Ion batteries also provide a better power curve than alkaline AA batteries, but are much more expensive.
(2) An extra motor port allows us to have 2 independent armatures to solve missions and save time on driving back to base and time retooling mission specific armatures.
(3) A new gyro sensor which gives accurate compass point readings so we don’t have to square up. This will make it easier to navigate the field by driving in straight lines and precisely aligning to missions that are sensitive to alignment issues like the robot arm. Precision 3 degrees with 1kHz sampling rate.
(4) Motors and sensors from the NXT are compatible with the eV3 so we can have a powerful main armature and a secondary weaker armature as well as extra sensors.
(5) Faster CPU and better sensors which means:
– Faster CPU 300MHz (vs 48MHz NXT)
– Faster Sensor Ports: 460.8Kbit/s (vs 98Kbit/s NXT)
– Much More Memory: 64MB (vs 0.256MB NXT)
– Larger Screen: 178×128 (vs 100×64 NXT)
– Ultrasonic Sensor: Precision 1cm (vs 3cm NXT), detects interference and indicator light
– Color Sensor: Sampling 1,000Hz (vs 330Hz NXT)
(6) eV3 auto-detects which sensors and motors are plugged into which ports. Makes cabling errors much less likely
(5) Software seems to be better for eV3 than NXT. More accurate Move steering (number not just estimated arrow), better revision control, more tutorials, advanced data collection & analysis, more reliable?
Here is the description of the Education eV3 Robot Set #5003463 we have on order:
This Robot Set is comprised of the latest LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education technology – EV3, introduced in 2013. Reusable year to year, this extensive offering includes all components needed to build and program a robot capable of completing challenge objectives. Complete with 1,000+ parts and special elements as well as programming software and storage, this is a great set for robotics competition use.
Each FLL EV3 Robot Set contains:
- LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Core Set Includes the EV3 Intelligent Brick, a rechargeable DC battery, a battery charger, two large servo motors, one medium servo motors, two touch sensors, one gyro sensor, one color/light sensor, one ultrasonic sensor, and a variety of building elements – especially the new ball wheel.
- LEGO MINDSTORMS Education Expansion Set Includes a wide range of LEGO Technic elements designed to take the robotics experience to the next level. Included are plenty of special elements such as different gears and tires and hubs, a large turntable, robot personalization parts, unique structural elements, and many extra standard elements.
- LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Programming Software The PC- and Mac-compatible graphical programming software has an intuitive, icon-based drag and drop environment for “building” programs need to control the robot. Includes nearly 50 interactive tutorials to help the novice programmer get started. Requires Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or 8, or Mac 10.6, 10.7., or 10.8.