Similar to this question but I'd like to know about 3rd Party/aftermarket options instead please.

I've heard about motor multiplexers and the like but are there others, i.e. more sensitive colour detectors etc.?

up vote 13 down vote accepted

There are MANY companies that offer third party stuff for NXT:

  • Mindsensors, already mentionned in pcantin's answer
    • Vision Subsystem - Capable of tracking up to 8 coloured objects
    • Touch Panel
    • Numeric Pad
    • IR Obstacle Detector
    • Sony PS2 Controller Interface
    • Line Sensor Array
    • Accelerometer
    • Realtime Clock
    • Power Meter
    • IR Distance Sensors (Long/mid/short range)
    • Multiplexers for motors and sensors
    • Linear Actuators
  • HiTechnic
  • Dexter Industries
    • Wifi Sensor - a wifi connection for the NXT
    • Inertial Motion Sensor - Acceleration, tilt and angular velocity
    • Thermal IR Sensor - Reads surface temperatures
    • Digi XBee Radio - Long distance radio communications
    • GPS
    • Solar panels
  • Actuonix Motion Devices Inc.
    • Linear Actuators
  • Rotacaster
    • Omni Directional Wheels
  • Microinfinity
    • Inertial Motion Sensor - Acceleration, tilt, angular velocity and tracks relative position
  • Codatex
    • RFID Sensor and transponders
  • Nullspace
    • IO Expansion
  • Vernier
    • Sensor Adapter - Allows access to over 30 Vernier sensors
  • Generation Robots
    • POB-Bridge - Allows access to the POB sensors and accessories
    • Reseller of other sensors mentioned above
  • Trossen Robotics
    • Reseller of other sensors mentioned above

... and I'm pretty sure I forget several!

  • Firgelli Technologies as mentioned above, no longer exists. They have changed their name to Actuonix Motion Devices. They still sell the linear actuators for lego. – Mike G Mar 16 '17 at 22:17

There's lots of third party SENSORS to attach (see very helpful list from Philo), but I found it hard to find any info on third party MOTORS to connect to EV3. Pretty much only the mindsensors.com extensions to connect RC servos and position encoding adapters to slap on power function lego motors. So I took to the LEGO hardware documentation and put together a small info page on how to connect a small third-party DC motor (sensored) to control it from the EV3 brick. It's all here: http://www.biasedlogic.com/index.php/running-third-party-motor-with-your-mindstorms-ev3-nxt/ comments and feedback welcome

In short: the EV3 can power a dc motor up to about 500mA (full load) directly, provided the motor is equipped with a 5V-compatible encoder (many cheap motors are available with magnetic/Hall effect encoder wheels). It does not have to be an optical encoder like the original LEGO motors have, a simple magnetic wheel with hall sensors can do just as good a job.

Marek

In addition to these helpful answers, I'd like to add that the reason there are so many 3rd party devices and options is because the NXT supports an incredibly wide variety of electronic and data protocols. The NXT can directly interact with sensors over:
- Bluetooth SPP
- RS-485 (only on Port 4)
- I2C
- Analog

So pretty much any robotics/hobbyist device that uses one of these methods can be interfaced with the NXT. See the NXT Hardware Developer Kit for technical details and specifications. Note that in order to use many of these devices you'll have to use a 3rd-party firmware solution as well, such as NXC or LeJOS.

  • The thing is, both nxt and ev3 have bus connections on sensor ports only. So all motor interfaces that need these, occupy at least one sensor port, of which there are not so many... – Marek Lewandowski Dec 6 at 13:29
  • 1
    @MarekLewandowski That may be true, but the most common interface is I2C, which natively supports addressing. You can attach MANY I2C devices on a single sensor port just by assigning them each different addresses. – MindS1 Dec 6 at 14:25
  • True! On the other hand it's important to remember, that both ev3 and nxt see a motor as a rotary sensor too, which might seem not so important until you realize, that in that configuration the actual motor part of the'motor' is not necessary and may even not exist. So you have a native support for up to four (ev3) or three (nxt) incremental encoders (rotary or linear, as position sensors or just user interface knobs). It's expanding on i2c option, not competing with it – Marek Lewandowski Dec 6 at 16:32

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