The sensor detects magnetic fields that are present around the front of the sensor in a vertical orientation as shown by the image below.
This NXT magnetic sensor for Lego Mindstorms NXT performs about 300 measurements per second
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Programming the NXT magnetic sensor using NXT-G
The NXT magnetic sensor for Lego Mindstorms NXT is programmable using NXT-G, the graphical programming language included into the Lego Mindstorms NXT kit. To download the code of the NXT-G block, click on the following image:
Programming the NXT magnetic sensor using RobotC
The NXT magnetic sensor for Lego Mindstorms NXT is programmable using RobotC. You'll need to get the third party drivers to program the NXT Magnetic sensor. This driver is available by cliking on the following link: