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In the summer of 2011, John Baichtal approached Wayne and Layne, LLC about an exciting new project: combining the beginner-friendly physical computing Arduino platform with rapid mechanical prototyping using LEGO products, like bricks and Mindstorms NXT. Over the next 18 months, we reverse engineered protocols, had custom parts injection molded overseas, prototyped some circuits, and developed a bunch of projects. We took a handful of those projects with varying costs and complexities, to show the simplicity and the power, mashed them up with discussion of the Arduino ecosystem, the LEGO ecosystem, electronics, and frankly, a smattering of interesting things we discovered along the way, and published them in a book by O’Reilly titled “Make: Lego and Arduino Projects.”

Wayne and Layne supports education–STEM, STEAM, whatever you want to call it.

We’re here to help kids and adults learn how the technological artifacts around them work–and help them make some of their own! We’ve noticed there are now legions of kids who can do amazing things with a LEGO Mindstorms NXT set.

Where do they go from there?

Bricktronics lets these kids combine their motors and sensors from their Mindstorms sets with an Arduino. The Arduino is argubly the most popular hobbyist microcontroller platform, with more than 300,000 sold. It’s easy for beginners, has a huge community for support, and has many inexpensive add-ons. Many of the new gadgets on Kickstarter are either based on an Arduino or prototyped on one–Arduino skills are job skills.

What do you need to get started with Bricktronics?

Bricktronics combines Arduino with LEGO Mindstorms NXT motors and sensors. At the bare minimum, you’ll need a LEGO Mindstorms NXT set and an Arduino. There are many Arduinos, but Unos and other 328 based ones work best with Bricktronics right now. The Bricktronics Shield plugs into the Arduino and lets you plug in 4 sensors and 2 motors. The first project of “Make: Lego and Arduino Projects” is a random drawbot, and O’Reilly has made it available for free as a sample. We’ve collected the extras you need for that, like some wooden mounting plates, a battery pack, a clothes pin, a marker, and all the LEGO pieces that aren’t in the Mindstorms 2.0 set, in a collection we call the Bricktronics Drawbot v1.0 Kit.

Where do I get help?

We have a community forum where anyone can post questions, ideas, and issues they’re having. We keep a close eye on them! If you have a concern you’d rather keep private, you can email us. Also, ask around! You may find out that your area has a bunch of Arduino experts glad to help out.


Bricktronics resources


There are so many Arduino resources, even thinking about making a list of them is enough to make your head spin. There are books, blogs, videos, and probably helpful people in your community who are willing to share their expertise! We’ve listed a few websites below.


  • The NXT Step collects news and project on the LEGO Mindstorms NXT.
  • The Brothers Brick, a more generic LEGO site, talks about new sets, people’s creations, and other LEGO news.
  • Extreme NXT: The best book we’ve found for connecting your own circuits to the NXT.
  • The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide: A relatively advanced guide to mechanisms and linkages using LEGO Technic.
  • FIRST LEGO League is a international “robotics program for 9 to 14 year olds, which is designed to get children excited about science and technology — and teach them valuable employment and life skills.” It’s probably in your community, and if it isn’t, it isn’t hard to get a team started!
  • If you have suggestions for more resources, let us know and we’ll check them out!

    Note: Wayne and Layne, LLC and our products are not connected to or endorsed by the LEGO Group. LEGO, Mindstorms, and NXT are trademarks of the LEGO Group.