Remotely control your LEGO NXT with your Android phone.There’s no shortage of apps for smartphone users that help makers and hobbyists pursue their passions more fully. Here are a few applications that every maker should consider putting in their virtual toolkit.

Lego MINDroid
Remotely control your Lego Mindstorm.

Lego Mindstorms have been hugely popular with the Make community for years. Mindstorm NXT is a configurable and programmable robotics toy. If you’ve ever dreamed of building and controlling your very own robot, this is a great way to get started. The Lego MINDroid app (available for Android phones) allows users to remotely control their Mindstorms.

The MINDdroid app allows users to wirelessly connect directly with the NXT, and tilt and turn the phone to make the robot move forward and turn to the side.

This is a free download available for Android 2.1 or higher and available in the Android Marketplace.

ConnectBot
Connect to remote servers, exchange files on your Android phone

This app is indispensable for hardcore IT nerds that want to stay on top of managing their computers remotely. ConnectBot is a powerful open-source secure shell (SSH) client that can manage simultaneous SSH sessions, create secure tunnels and copy and paste between other applications.

ConnectBot is available for all versions of Android and is available for free in the Android Marketplace. iOS users, check out iSSH for similar functionality.

Electronics Toolkit
Perfect for the occasional mad scientist

The Electronics Toolkit includes a 555 timer and allows users to calculate LED resistor values and more. If this strikes your fancy, the Electrical Toolkit, written by the same author, provides a host of resources and calculators to ensure your electronics project works like a charm.

Both apps are free for iOS and are available in the App Store. Android users can check out ElectroDroid for similar functionality to these two apps.

Amateur Radio Exam Prep
Listen for ET and make new friends around the world

Ever since seeing “Contact” and watching Jodie Foster’s character speaking into her radio, I’ve been a sucker for amateur radio. This is a fantastic app to help you prepare to get your license and start surfing the airwaves. The creator of this app has created apps for each of the licensing levels (Technician, General and Extra) so you can pick whichever is right for you. Morse code is no longer required to become an amateur radio operator, so this is a great time to pick up a new hobby.

Each iOS app is available in the App Store for $4.99. Android users can download Ham Radio Study in the Android Marketplace.

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Smartphone Apps for Makers, Engineers and Explorers 25 January,2011Laura Khalil

Author

Laura Khalil

Laura is a marketer by day and nerd by night. She's the Chief Nerd Herder for Dorkbyte, a blog devoted to art, technology and science. She's been named one of the most engaging women to speak about technology and has been featured on The Setup. A member of Noisebridge, she is working on two robotics challenges, leading a puzzle team that competes in a variety of puzzle challenges throughout the US and monkeys around on ham amateur radio. She loves astronomy, Making and hardware hacking. She was most recently involved in teaching hardware circuitry at Maker Faire.Laura has executed marketing strategies and campaigns for tech startups in the Bay Area. Her work with social media has been inducted into the Viral Marketing Hall of Fame.

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