Lego Open Source

Back when I was working at ObjecTime, a real-time object oriented modeling tool vendor, we tried to convince our boss that we need to port our code generation tools to support the then new Lego Mindstorms. He thought it was a great idea but couldn’t come up with the business case for it. C’est la vie. That was almost ten years ago and I had almost forgotten about it.

If you’re a regular Slashdot reader you’d have seen the note about Lego open sourcing the firmware for their new Mindstorms NXT brick. Well that hooked my attention. Investigating further, I found out that this little box was a pretty powerful little unit with a 32-bit ARM7 processor with 256K Flash, 64K RAM, a second 8-bit microcontroller which I assume drives the sensors and motor controls. It has a USB for connecting the brick to a computer for downloading new firmware and programs. It also has a Bluetooth interface so you can hook up to other devices, or even cooler, have multiple bricks talking to each other.

So do you get the sense this is on my Christmas list? You betcha. Can I justify it. Well not really. But it would be very cool to have Eclipse support for this target: CDT to work on the firmware and programs in C and DSDP components for target management. Maybe I can convince Ian and Mike that they need a cool demo for next year’s Eclipse booth at ESC. hmmm.