Asee peer logo

Lego Plus

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Mobile Robotics in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.888.1 - 10.888.5



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

John Tester

author page

Jerry Hatfield

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1420

LEGO Plus Jerry M. Hatfield, Electrical Engineering John T. Tester, Mechanical Engineering College of Engineering and Natural Sciences Northern Arizona University


The LEGO Mindstorms construction systems have found their way into a wide range of applications in engineering education such as robotic devices, electro-mechanical control systems, process control, and data acquisition. The LEGO system provides a low cost opportunity for easy and rapid construction and programming of systems containing various types of sensors and actuators; these systems can be programmed in a number of different languages, including Robolab (based on the industry standard LabView data acquisition and control software) and an adaptation of C, called Not Quite C or NQC [1]. The microprocessor based LEGO RCX provides three multipurpose output ports, three multipurpose input ports, and a two-way infrared communications port [2]. The RCX is also known as the “Brick” because of its shape and for its ability to be integrated into the physical structure of the system being built. The LEGO system is quite robust and allows students with wide ranging skill levels to build even complex systems and have them operational in a very short time and with a minimal amount of trouble-shooting.

The LEGO Mindstorms system has been incorporated into a sophomore level, multi-discipline (electrical, mechanical, civil, and environmental engineering) design course that is part of Northern Arizona University’s award winning Design4Practice four-course sequence. We are very pleased with the students’ response to our redesigned course. But, as we look forward to additional course development and more complex design projects, we would like to go beyond the limitations of the three LEGO RCX inputs and three outputs. We had previously used the PONTECH SV203C servo motor controller board for robotics projects; this board provides multiplexed analog-to-digital inputs, servo control outputs, an infrared communications port, and a programmable microprocessor [3]. Integration of the SV203C with the LEGO RCX controller promised to be an excellent way to provide an expanded, dual processor controller with a much wider range of input/output capabilities. Experience with the LEGO system clearly demonstrated the benefits of its robust packaging and plug-and-play interconnections; this same philosophy would guide the design and packaging of our expanded controller.

This paper describes the development of the LegoPlus dual processor controller, its capabilities and design features, and its planned incorporation into our design course.

Motivation for Change

The structure of our LEGO based design course provides a rich technical environment for active student learning [4,5]. However, the standard LEGO® System interface, sensor, and actuator capabilities limit the scope of projects that can be developed for a multidisciplinary course. [6]

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Tester, J., & Hatfield, J. (2005, June), Lego Plus Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14412

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015