EV3-IB_cover-front_newYoshihito Isogawa is well known for his excellent Technic Idea book series, and now he is back with an idea book targeted for the EV3. The ideas are as imaginative as ever, captured in Isogawa-san’s signature style of close-up images. Read on for my review of The Lego Mindstorms EV3 Idea Book from NoStarch Press…

The first thing to note about this book, unlike many other Mindstorms EV3 publications, is that it is not about building robots. In a way this makes Yoshihito’s book unique in that it focuses on techniques you can incorporate into your own creations instead of presenting you with amazing fully realised robots. The book is also not about EV3 programming, in fact most of the designs in the book require nothing more than a motor and an on-off switch!

Who is this book for?

It’s for anyone who wants to move beyond the models in the EV3 Home set and try to build their own robots. You may be frustrated at how complex it is to build using studless Lego beams. Or you may wonder how some of the advanced robots you see on other websites work. Those builders have mastered the art of taking simple building techniques and using them at scale. Once you learn the same basic building techniques you can apply them over and over again in your creations. This book will start you on the road to learning those building techniques.


So what is in the book? Well you are in for a treat; 181 different builds ranging from simple gear ratios to walking robots using only the parts in the retail Lego Mindstorms EV3 31313 set.

The book is broken into 6 broad topic areas:

  1. Basic mechanisms: gets you up and running with gear ratios, worm drives, changing the angle of rotation, reciprocating mechanisms and other techniques.
  2. Vehicles: now we start to move with various ways of building wheeled and tracked vehicles.
  3. Moving without wheels: ditch the wheel and walk using legs!
  4. Arms, Wing and other Movements: if you want to adorn your robot with droppers, flapping wings or interesting movements this section presents some ideas. I particularly like the ‘lifting things’ section that presents designs for simple forklift and scissor jack lifting mechanisms that could be built into any robot.
  5. Using sensors: this section is specific to the EV3 sensors and shows how to trigger them using different mechanisms. If you ever had the original Constructopedia from the first Mindstorms RIS set then this will bring back memories!
  6. Something extra: this section shows how to join beams at an angle using the Pythagorean theorem, and how to build a stand for an iPad.

Some sample images

These images give you a sense for the quality of the artwork in the book. Each of these models is constructed in multiple steps, but the book does not give traditional Lego step-by-step building instructions. You will need to do a little detective work to figure out how to build each model from the parts in the EV3 kit, but don’t worry, each model is shown from multiple angles and tricky steps are explained clearly.


The production quality of the book is very high. I really like the new wide-format and glossy colours that NoStarch are using for this book, and the previous two books from Sariel.

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This is a must-have book for any aspiring robot-builder to have on their bookshelf. You will find yourself returning to it over and again to look up building techniques. I have only had my copy for a week and it’s already very well thumbed!