Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week TechVideo, 2014 #30 - What does a castle here?

This is probably worth sharing!
Peer Kreuger (Mahjqa) after a long fasting published this week a video from a weird walking castle (Gradior) ha made, and later another video that shows what's going on inside...



I'm gonna have nightmares with walking castles!...



Disclaimer:

Please avoid sending requests to post specific models on this TBs section.

We understand some of you would enjoy to see your creations featured here, but please understand that because only one video gets highlighted per week, it is impossible to accommodate all the great MOCs continuously build by the Technic builders out there. They simply won't fit all and that's also not the purpose of this blog (see the header statement).

Many of your MOCs are scanned anyway and listed for later publication when they do not fit immediately. However some remain in the backlog queue just for too long and eventually loose the relevance or the publication opportunity window. As a rule of thumb, we also avoid publishing MOCs that have been featured by their authors or other fans at some other great web places dedicated to the Technic community out there. It doesn't mean that occasionally some won't get published here anyway.


Thanks for your understanding!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

TBs TechPoll 42 - Your SBrick preferences



You all should have heard about SBrick by now, and I remembered it could be interesting to know something about your preferences and the uses you'll make of this.
Please realize this is a unofficial poll of TBs own responsibility and it doesn't bound the SBrick team to the results that will be found here.



First and since SBrick is planned at the moment to be produced in four colors (Black, LBG, Red and Yellow) I thought it would be interesting to know which are the preferences of the community. Eventually this could help the SBrick team to decide on the production amount of each color or even decide for another ones.
Although and because this is a BLE remote controlled device, SBrick can be buried inside your models causing the color to be a less important aspect, this is not necessarily the case regardless you use it in a Technic model or Trains layout. Hence the color could become important for you if you need or decide to leave the SBrick visible in your models. When the SBrick is left visible there are colors more neutral than others that better fit with a wide range of models, or you may want it to fit exactly with a specific model color scheme.
So the poll is:


Which color do I want my SBrick to be? 
  • Black
  • Light Bluish Gray
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Other (please specify)

This is a multiple option poll because you may plan to acquire several production SBricks. Please realize that most pledge options at Kickstarter will not allow you to choose the color to receive. In these cases it is supposed you to receive a random color from the first production batch (hence the community preferences profiling could be a good idea).
If you select 'Other' it would be nice if you could write down a comment to this post, specifying which color would you like to see.

What about a Trans-clear option? It might also work well as a neutral color.



Then I'm also curious to know how it splits among specific LEGO Fan communities or themes preference if you prefer. Which means the question to answer is:

What will be the main use I will give to my SBricks?
  • Technic models
  • Trains and train layouts automation
  • Other

This is a single choice poll as I'm looking here for the main application you will give to SBrick, or the theme where you're most in?
Naturally you could also specify in the comments, other uses you're planning for this regardless it is your main intended use or not.
And of course this is a Technic driven blog, so the results might get biased. It would be interesting to see similar poll in a LEGO Trains fan blog.


These polls will run for one week. Looking forward for your inputs!

Have you made your pledge already? No? What are you waiting for
SBrick is expected to reach today the 50% mark of its funding goal. But we have still half way to go and further stretch goals to run for!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

LEGO Batmobile might also please Technic fans

Today it was revealed 'Dark Knight' The Tumbler set 76023 [1]. It goes on sale at LEGO stores in September and it will be on display already  this week at SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) beginning Wednesday.

The Tumbler includes 1.869 pieces and will sell for $199. It measures 15 inches length and 9 inches wide.
While the details are still unknown it looks fair to say it might have some kind of Technic structure to sustains its complex forms and details.


At least and even if it is not the case, this set might include enough to pleasure the most demanding Technic fans. We get some new pearl gold Technic wheel hubs (see at front wheels) and a couple of a new bulging tire type (81R x 44) with a racing car like tread design.
At the rear axis it includes four of the so called Unimog huge tires.

And now the presentation video.



Looking forward to see the new tires at some 2015 LEGO Technic race car...

Friday, July 18, 2014

SBrick makes it easier to push your models into the next level


Watch what SBrick team did today with his 42030 VOLVO Wheel Loader!



The 42030 app profile skin looks even better now that we can see the controls moving and indicators flashing!
The lights and turn signals are the icing on the cake, just to highlight the extreme SBrick potential. And let's not forget the benefits this might represent for LEGO Trains and events!


There is no such thing as "too much fundraising" that we can contribute to this project, to get back the full blown feature set.

Did you make your Kickstarter pledge already? What are you waiting for?
And do not forget to follow the SBrick fundraising status at Kickstarter, from the widget at right.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Classrooms with LEGO WeDo at ISS

WeDo and NXT at International Space Station!

Today LEGO Education published a couple of videos from ISS on-orbit classrooms, where students on earth are invited follow the same experiments to check how do they behave equally or differently in these two environments.
They are also challenged to explain why the differences they observe occur, or given some hints about the sensors work and why they behave differently in spae when it is the case.

Just take a look in the two videos below and lets wait more of these become available.




Then we just got two additional videos where one demonstrates a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Gyrorobot and does it behave in the microgravity environment. Students are also challenged to compare with their observations and explain the differences.




In the end there is a message to look for other "LEGO Bricks in Space" videos and classroom activities at www.LEGOspace.com. Although it looks the domain is not yet running at the present time.
Funny! This astronaut's spacesuit doesn't have gloves... It shouldn't have been difficult to find a pair in Billund...



It is certainly a matter of time until we can see more of these.

SBrick - The next big thing for the LEGO Technic fans is now at Kickstarter



I'm with quite a lot of posts and reviews going on, but today it happened something that must go in front of everything else. We are needing this for too long!

Probably you remember the UPCORE G1 prospect [1, 2] from about two years ago which ended in nothing.

Now there is a new hope for a legion of Technic fans who have been eagerly waiting for a solution that allows them to control their Power Functions models via Bluetooth. Now with a smartphone in the pocket of virtually anyone, this would open a new dimension of possibilities.
A team of Hungarian LEGO fans has created a Kickstarter project where they propose exactly what we have been waiting for years - SBrick (Smart Brick to control all your LEGO creations).

The good news is that as you can verify they have prototypes in very advance stage, which have already proved to work, but need now what is needed to help them with mass production and turning this into a commercial product.
In short, it is Ready! But needs you little support to make it run the extra mile.

And guess what! You can Back This Project and become one of the first to receive the perfect kit to unleash your LEGO imagination!



There is plenty of functions and possibilities as well as details about how the project developed so far, what has been achieved and what's still in the works for future enhancements. Better to read all this from SBrick Kickstarter page then copying everything here. You may also find other useful information at www.sbrick.com.


Nevertheless I'd summarize here some of the most important features:
  • PF Bluetooth receiver - wireless control up to 100 meters, without sunlight interference.

  • Form factor compatible with LEGO IR Receiver, so it is easy to take it out and replace with SBrick.
    Because you don't need a light sight anymore you can even bury it somewhere into your model.

  • Control up to 64 ports with one remote (16 SBricks, each with 4 ports).

  • Program SBrick so it even works without the remote control app (reminds me the old Control Center in a modern and much more advance version).

  • You can control with an app provided and compatible with iOS, Android and WP8 devices (both phone and tablet devices).

  • Fully customizable profiles to control all your models the right way you want it.
    The app can also download more remote control profiles from the cloud.

  • Profile Designer Service (if SBrick reaches the Kickstarter stretch goal of 140.00 GBP).

  • Chip tuning to juice more power where it matters (if SBrick reaches the Kickstarter stretch goal of 160.00 GBP).

  • And many more...

Extensively tested, it is compatible with virtually any LEGO motor and PF lights, and we never know what come next.



Below also some pictures that give an idea about the app functionality and some screenshots with examples of possible remote profiles.




IMO this project looks far more thought, developed and tested than the previous UPCORE attempt.
Vengit team who developed this SBrick prototype even found a subtle way to overcome the biggest drawback with the previous proposal, that may have raised some panic into the Technology Innovation team at LEGO. Unlike UPCORE solution that required a PF cable which would allow to short circuit two batteries, SBrick uses a negative plug socket to connect to a battery box with a regular PF extension cable - One clever design workaround to prevent something of huge concern in terms of safety specially considering this is also a children toy.
This way they have also avoided another alternative that would mean the need and cost to add the PF cord like in the LEGO PF IR Receiver. Either they would reuse LEGO cables or they need another mold and tools to reproduce the PF plug. Not to mention eventual license or IP problems arising from that.

Another aspect that amazes me is the very clever design solutions developed, from the date this project started till the point where it is now, taking into consideration all the feedback received along the way. From a simple enclosure with the electrical connectors sprouting from two sides of the brick, to the stair type configuration with all the connectors sprouting in the same direction, for an easier build experience.
The option for a similar format and same size of the PF IR Receiver is another positive aspect that should ease the integration with existing LEGO Technic official models to come.
It is also nicely done the knob design configuration that allows the SBrick to interconnect with LEGO bricks and pins without looking "too much" LEGO and again eventually infringing some IP.



Immediately after knowing about this I engaged into a nice conversation with Lénárd Pasztor (SBrick Project Lead) the whole afternoon and got some further details for you, if you have similar questions to mine.
  • It is likely to support any device that can be connected with a PF plug and which does not draw more current than 1,6amps per channel (The overcurrent trip value from the chip used to drive the motors goes from 1,6 to 3,5amps) - So it goes up to 1,5amps to be on the safe side.

  • Like with the LEGO IR receiver, you can also stack motors into one single port as long as you do not exceed the port current limits.
    Alternatively you can also cascade ports on multiple SBricks and assign them to a single control in your remote app.

  • Each port supports PWM with 256 including zero and full throttle in each direction.

  • Coast and Break functions are also supported as well.

  • A control can be a simple slider or a simple switch, but it can be a gyro control or a camera based color sensor or an index lamp controller which depends for example on the gyro or other slider (for steering) status.

  • Expect the following colors to be available to match your LEGO creations, if this Kickstarter succeeds: LBG, Black, Yellow and Red.

  • If the Kickstarter goal gets reached we can expect to see the SBrick Bluetooth protocol released, to allow for 3rd party apps and control electronics.

  • The Profile Designer is a planned web service (it will need a desktop web browser). With this web service user can create new remote control profiles by setting the pictures and controls on it, and even do some low level programing. The control profile is a simple JSON and the pictures.

  • Currently there is no timeout implementation but it is something already identified and in the to-do list.

  • Currently the hardware interface only implements absolute speed settings. But it is not out of question create a control knob that works like and incremental control (like wheels on the LEGO speed remote IR controller). 

Time to watch another video showing how to use the Smart Brick.




And that's it! Feel free to put your questions and someone will answer them.

Kickstarter opened an whole new range of business models and partnership possibilities for good, and just hope this one succeeds.
If you like me to think loud, I wouldn't be surprised if I get to know that LEGO is somehow backing or consulting this idea for sometime (some small details in the design don't let me stop thinking about this possibility...).
What would be the best way to make something happen, they eventually don't want to take at their own risk at the moment? This looks perfect for a greenfield market test.

Can't wait to get the SBrick in my hands and check for the endless possibilities it promises to deliver!



There are plenty of pledge options to choose from!
Just check them and do your pledge before August 13th, to help SBrick reaching its Kickstarter goals (60.000GBP minimum) and quickly becoming a reality.

Keep checking the SBrick Kickstarter widget here in the column at the right side, to follow the baking status and do not forget to share with your LEGO friends.


More to come, when the time arrives.



Worms flying away

Some weeks ago people noticed that the sets that use the new worm gear started shipping with the old one, and their online instructions were changed to match. These are the affected sets:

42023 Construction Crew
42026 Black Champion Racer
42027 Desert Racer

You can see below an example of the change in the online instructions, for the 42023. On the left is a version not available any longer from the LEGO site, and on the right is the current version.


Some days ago an explanation came from the CEE Team:

The element has been pulled back since it didn't fully live up to the expectations.
Durability is not as the LEGO Technic team would like it to be, it can get overloaded/overworked too easily for their liking


This could explain why the 42028 Bulldozer uses an old worm where a new one would be expected: it probably was a change late in the production process, but early enough to occur before the set entered the market. I can see the reason for the pull back, as the worm’s driving axle can’t fully go through it, there’s the possibility of torsion forces breaking the new element apart in case of a stalled gear.

Still, the new worm has at least one big advantage over the old one: as it measures exactly 3 modules long (instead of the old one’s almost 2 modules), it produces a lot less backlash. Therefore I hope we will still get a renovated version of this new worm (like we did with the large linear actuators), and that this isn’t the last we see of it... but for the moment this is still known only in Billund.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Building Instructions for 2H2014 LEGO Technic sets, available at technic.LEGO.com

The upcoming 2H2014 LEGO Technic sets and respective PDF documents with the building instructions were added today at technic.LEGO.com website.
This time everything seems to have went fine at first. The instructions are available for both the main and alternate models, and everything seems complete with no files mixed-up.
Even one of the errors reported was meanwhile fixed in these digital versions of the building instructions!

You can download the documents from the official website, or from the links below.














  • 42024 (Main Model - Customized Pick up Truck)
    Book 1/2 (10,1MB)
    Book 2/2 (14,9MB)










  • 42030 (Main Model - Remote-Controlled VOLVO L350F Wheel Loader)
    Book 1/1 (49,0MB)





  • 42030 (B-Model - Remote-Controlled VOLVE A25F Articulated Hauler)
    Book 1/3 (47,3MB)
    Book 2/3 (46,6MB)
    Book 3/3 (69,4MB)




Now it shouldn't take too long to get these selling in the market.

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