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From a friend I got some Lego, including an old Mindstorms package (RCX 2.0 as I already found out). It's my first time with the Mindstorms "eco system".

I already found out that I need some kind of IR sender for the connection to a computer -- sadly, the original one is missing. Now I'm trying to find out what I actually need to be able to do something with the whole stuff and if it's worth at all to put a lot of effort into it (or if it'd be easier/cheaper to just buy an up-to-date Mindstorms package).

  • what IR sender should I buy (I saw that the original ones are available for cheap, but if possible I'd like to buy up-to-date or more generic hardware that I can also use with newer Lego systems or ideally also non-Lego "endpoints")
  • What software do I need in general?
  • Are drivers (if needed at all) still compatible with up-to-date computer systems?
  • Do I need some kind of firmware updates for anything?
  • are the downloads on lego.com (https://www.lego.com/mindstorms/downloads) compatible with RCX?

I'm having access to computers running Windows 10 and Ubuntu (both 64 Bit) if that matters.

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Modern hardware/driver support for the RIS is limited, but it's definitely possible to get it working again.

The main obstacle is transmitting programs to the Lego RCX brick. The RIS 2.0 came with a USB IR Tower, but the driver does not work on 64-bit Windows. There is also a Serial-port IR Tower available, which works perfectly if you have a 9-pin serial-to-USB adapter.

Here's what you need to buy (they're all very cheap):

With the (included) driver installed, the USB-to-Serial will create a virtual COM port in Windows. If it's relevant to you, you can check the number of the COM port in windows Device Manager.

On the software side of things, you can code for the RCX using Java, NQC (C-like syntax, but much simpler), or the original Lego graphical programming language. You don't need to install any Lego software if you plan on going with one of the 3rd-party Java or NQC options.

If you do want the Lego programming software but you don't have the disk, you can download an ISO disk image from this guy's share. The Lego software and its installer ran fine on my machine (64-bit Windows 10), with a small caveat: At the end of the installation process, it attempts to install the USB tower driver. When this happens, you need to go to task manager and KILL the installer process, because when the driver (inevitably) fails the whole installation rolls back. If you're having trouble it might also help to right click on the Setup.exe -> Properties -> Compatibility and run it in compatibility mode for Windows 98.

Inside the Lego software, you should select the Serial IR Tower when prompted because you want it to use the virtual COM port the adapter provides. You can also set the COM port in the Settings from the main menu screen.

When you first install the software it will try to force you to do tutorials before you can actually do the "freestyle" programming. But you can double-click any greyed-out option to enable it.

And as always, if you need more help you can always post back here in Bricks SE. Good luck!

  • The USB Tower also works on Linux as does much of the 3rd party software, like NQC. – David Lechner Feb 18 at 21:11
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    @DavidLechner That is correct, but as of Ubuntu 18.04 NQC requires several layers of patches to get it to talk to the tower properly (and some of those patches don't work without manual modifications). Definitely an option, but IMO much less accessible. – MindS1 Feb 19 at 3:57

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