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The VARIABLE Block
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Let s imagine for just a moment that you want to give SPOT some information to remember. This information consists of some words, a few numbers, and a couple of logical True/False values. SPOT has the ability to place each piece of information in a virtual folder that exists in his memory. That information, however, will disappear when the program ends or the brick is turned off. Here s the pseudo-code: Me: SPOT, will you please store the words pizza and cheesecake in your memory Me: SPOT, I also need you to store the numbers 50 and 200 in your memory. Me: SPOT, will you also please store one logical True and one logical False in your memory Now, before we convert this pseudo-code to an NXT-G program, I need to tell you a little bit about how an NXT-G program stores information, changes it, and retrieves it. All of this can be done using the VARIABLE block or the CONSTANT block. I m going to cover the VARIABLE block first because once you understand how it works, you ll also know how to use the CONSTANT block because it works in an almost identical manner (but with one big exception that I ll reveal later). A VARIABLE block can be used to do one of two things: Information can be written to a virtual folder that is stored in memory. Information can be read from a virtual folder that is stored in memory.
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These virtual folders are also known as variables. An NXT-G variable can be configured to hold only one of three types of data: Text, Number, or Logic (True or False). Text is easy enough; my pseudo-code tells SPOT to store pizza and cheesecake, but it could just as easily have told SPOT to store the letter A or the sentence My name is SPOT.
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Numbers are even easier: when an NXT-G 2.0 VARIABLE block is configured to hold a number, it can be only a positive or negative number. Examples include 5, -3.0, and 101.25. For NXT-G 1.0 software users, however, the VARIABLE block is limited to only positive and negative integer values, so numbers such as 4.5 or -10.2 will be rounded to the nearest integer (5 and -10 for my examples). Logic values have only two choices: True or False. An NXT-G VARIABLE block configured to hold a logical value can hold only True or False and nothing else.
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Exploring the VARIABLE Block
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OK, now it s time to take a look at the VARIABLE block. This block is found on the Complete Palette on the Data fly-out menu. Select the VARIABLE block, and drop it on the beam (see Figure 18-1).
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Figure 18-1. The VARIABLE block and its configuration panel I mentioned to you that information can be read from or written to a VARIABLE block. In Figure 18-1, you ll notice that, by default, the first time you drop a block on the beam it is configured to Read (in the Action section) a Logic Type value. The variable also has a Name assigned to it: Logic 1. This means that if True or False is stored in the variable, this value can be read from the variable. Notice that the Value section is grayed out; it isn t available for you to edit. Also notice that the default value selected in the Value section is False. Before I show you how to change this, select the variable named Number 1 in the VARIABLE block s configuration panel (see Figure 18-2).
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Figure 18-2. The VARIABLE block with Number 1 selected as the variable name If you choose Number 1 as the variable name, you ll see that the default value stored is zero (0). This number is the value that will be read from the variable named Number 1. Next, choose Text 1 in the VARIABLE block s configuration panel (see Figure 18-3).
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Figure 18-3. The VARIABLE block with Text 1 selected as the variable name If you choose Text 1 as the variable name, the default value stored is blank; there is no text stored in the Text 1 variable.
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