EV3 – Early Reflections – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

BuildingRileyRover9BuildingRileyRover2BuildingLEGOREM4

These pictures are from theEV3  training I did in Yakima last weekend (8/10-8/11) and don’t reflect the words in the post title!  🙂

The Good – People migrating from NXT saw a lot of good in the new robot:

Pieces – the middle hole of the sensors is an axle hole, the square pieces allowing for easy motor connectivity, the medium motor, the colored pieces

Brick – 4 ports for motors, auto id, no assigned port for sensors (e.g. NXT ultrasonic on port 4)

Software – projects and programs took a bit to get used to but were well liked, zoom ability, no data wire problems yet, loop interrupt, multiple switch conditions, the flow of work and not modifying every icon in the bottom left of the screen, the context help and help screens

These were all things that NXT users were head over heels about.  New users of EV3 were excited by the overall coolness, they marveled at The Wave and a basic line follower, but as with a lot of new technology you don’t know what an improvement something is unless you have used a previous version.

The Robot Educator, the Core Set and Expansion Set design files had everybody excited.

The Bad – I wouldn’t say anything was bad.  Mediocre might be a better term.  People were not enthralled with Content Editor, either as a display tool, a way to create assignments and instructions for students, or a way for students to document their work.  Perhaps this was my fault for not presenting it well.  I don’t know – I love it and think it’s the #1 reason to get EV3.  On the other hand one teacher said they won’t use it.

Personally, I am questioning the wisdom of the teacher and student sections of content editor.  The more I look at it, the less I feel like I want to create content that only teachers and not students can see.

The Ugly – Two things fit this category perfectly.

1. The gyro sensor.  It suffers from drift.  This means that you have to unplug it often or it will start to change numbers.  You can see this happen using port view; a perfectly stable gyro sensor will just start counting 1,2,3…  It gets quite frustrating.  We had a lot of problems getting it to work for left turns using negative numbers, but as you will see in my next post, this is not always the case.  Either way, people were quite frustrated with it.

2. The EV3 screen.  I had too small an example to say for sure (and I hope this doesn’t come off ageist) but the older students in my class had an incredibly difficult time reading the screen.  Some of the younger men and women too, but it seemed like those with poor eyesight really struggled.  This is a shame.  I have heard back-lighting would cost too much to add, perhaps someone will hack an simple/cheap solution.

I’m not sure where to include On-Brick programming.  Those migrating from NXT liked its flexibility but felt like it was not intuitive.  However the youngest teachers claimed it was a snap and that middle school students would pick it up right away.  So again an age thing, which I’m not comfortable making blanket statements about but it did seem to show differences within the small number of students I had.  Coupled with the hard to read screen though, some people really hated the on-brick programming.

So that’s my initial observations after training a group of people on EV3 for a weekend.

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2 thoughts on “EV3 – Early Reflections – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

  1. Have you had problems with the light sensor and it’s use for a precise linefollower? In our case it work really bad compared to NXT. It looks like short black outs of the brick or motor controll. Precise movements arn’t possible even at very low speed! Any idea?

    • Hi Frank. I haven’t written a line following program with EV3 since this Summer, but I didn’t have any problem with them when I did. I had a whole workshop do them pretty successfully. Can you include a screen shot of your program? That might help me figure out what is going on.
      Thanks and thanks for your comment!
      Ian

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