Monday, February 9, 2015

EVShield - an Arduino Shield for EV3 Motors and Sensors

Today I bring you another Kickstarter project which may become of your interest, although it is more oriented to MINDOSTORMS enthusiasts in a certain way. And I say this because it focus on LMS motors and sensors but proposes to use them connected to and controlled by an Arduino shield - EV3Shield.

This is a project from a team behind two brands, one of which should be well know from all of us -
In the Kickstarter campaign the project appears associated with brand, but in reality the project itself is being advertised also at website.
It happens these are two brands of the same robotics development  team. One more oriented to a younger audience and schools ( which you should know better, and another best suited to address the hackers and makers developing for Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms.

Hence this projects targets the Arduino developers, but that's enough for an introduction and let's see the video that presents the project at KS.

This is an easy to use Arduino Shield for smart Robotics projects with LEGO EV3/NXT sensors and motors. It can be programed in Arduino IDE with C++.

If you find the MINDSTORMS official or 3rd party programing environment too restrictive, this may become the robotics solution/kit that fits your needs and expectations.

It features:
  • 4 motor ports (compatible with all EV3 and NXT motors)
  • 4 sensor ports (supports all EV3 sensors, most of NXT and third party sensors)

    Two of each, on each side.

  • 4 UI buttons

  • 3 Multicolor LEDs

  • And it includes 6 RC servo ports

It works with Arduino Uno, Duemilanove and Leonardo boards.

One interesting aspect is this project is already funded at this moment, because the more than 100 backers so far, already pledged almost $7.500, well above the $1.600 defined by

It looks more like an advertising strateg, than really a funding need for the development/production.
But at least you have several pledge options and most likely to get this at a more convenient price, than ordering the final product when it becomes commercially available.

Go and see the full details at EVShield Kickstarter page!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The 42040 Fire Plane, as seen in Nuremberg and new video

You might have seen these already, but I did not want failing to present them also here at TBs .

Some days ago PromoBricks shown us some extra material about the 2H 2015 LEGO Technic sets, namely the 42040 Fire Plane for which we was missing some quality images still.

All the images are apparently different zooms made on the same original photo, hence always seen from the same POV. Although we can see from them enough details about this set, mostly forgotten until these images.

These confirm a few things we already knew or have heard about, like:
- The propeller is driven from the landing gears under the floats, as one plays with the model on a surface.
- There are 5 to 7 of those new trapezoid panels in white color.
- There is a 2 cylinder engine in the front.
- There is a compartment that opens and releases several trans-light blue 2x2 round bricks included, to simulate the water flush during a firefighting scenario.

We get also confirmation some other suspected features, like:
- There are working ailerons in each wing.
- There are working elevators.
- And working rudder behind the vertical stabilizer.

These elements that control roll, pitch and yaw on real planes, can be operated from a lever that we can see at the top of the fuselage between the cabin and the vertical stabilizer.
There is also a LBG axle with towball which function some claim to be related with the water compartment doors opening, but which I'm not convinced about. Can't see how these can be opened and closed from here, unless these are supposed to be closed by hand.

The model looks really nice and with a good set of functions for its size. The color scheme is also very pleasant.

Meanwhile PromoBricks released today another video featuring the 2H 2015 LEGO Technic sets displayed at Nuremberg Toy Fair. It is basically a a new montage featuring the same previous existing material, which intends to put all relevant info and functions in sequence and the same video. Although it also adds some details and tidy bits through new scenes and images.

From this we get at least the confirmation the engine below the Arocs cabin is indeed an L6 and not an L4 as some suspected.
The new clamshell bucket made with two identical new elements, can also be seen with better detail


Saturday, January 31, 2015

More info about the 2H15 LEGO Technic sets

There is a new video from the Nuremberg ToyFair which brings new info and some confirmations about the 2H 2015 LEGO Technic sets.

If any there was any doubt still, we can now see there is in fact one large Linear Actuator lifting the tipper, from the chassis.

And we got to see the steering is indeed controlled from one of the beacons (the right one, if not both).

Then the big news are the glimpses of the rear side from each box, showing what the B-models are.

I don't know what to call B-model for 42042... Crawler Crane!?

And 42043 brings an Arocs tractor and a flatbed trailer with guess what? A pneumatic crane!

Both of them look fantastic, ant the 2H 2015 sets are just amazing! Kudos for the LEGO Technic team.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Still on the Nuremberg Fair and the Arocs

Not really fresh news, but still on the 2H 2015 LEGO Technic sets shown at Nuremberg Toy Fair...

There is a second video which I also shared a couple days ago at TBs social media channels, and which is now also here below.

Taking some further snapshots from this and the previous video, there are still a few extra bits which I didn't cover in the initial post.

The rear bogie with pendular suspension has indeed four shock absorbers (two in the front and two in the rear) which can be seen at certain moments from the first and second videos.
There seems to be also a small turntable between the two rear axles, that allows them to twist relative to each other (both seen from side and rear views).
It is not much clear but it looks we have also a differential for each axle. Although not visible we can admit these may be linked through the turn table and then driving the engine (still unclear if it is an L4 or L6). If not, at least one of the axles might have a shaft towards the engine.

Another interesting point is some evidence of a new design for the large turntable.
Looking carefully to the images it seems to have a similar design to its smaller companion. It looks that both the top and bottom parts attach to each other from the outer perimeter, like the smaller turntable, instead of the inner circle as in the current large turntable.
This should make it run smoother, probably with less friction and less prone to bend under heavy load, like we have seen in some models, as the 8043 Motorized Excavator and 42009 Mobile Crane MK II - Very useful for instance to the new 42042 Crawler Crane which should cause a large momentum on the turntable below the superstructure.
Furthermore and looking at how this turntable is driven, from the images available, we can conclude it also has a double bevel type teeth all around, like the more recent and smaller turntable version.
Just hope the designers managed to keep the inner teeth from the previous design. Likely a spur gear type in this case, as before.

And this is at least the sixth new element that we can see introduced with the 2H Technic sets!

This is just another small detail, but if we look at different parts in the video from previous post, namely to the first and second Arocs in exhibition, we can realize the connectors in the tip of the new pneumatic cylinders are black in the first and yellow in the second.
This is obviously a result from them having early "production" models at display, probably getting there directly from Markus' desk... Hence it is natural these to include some prototype elements.
Just hope they keep them black for coherence with the previous cylinders.

On a side note it is quite weird why this is advertised as "Pneumatic System V2", when we had already 2nd generation pneumatic system since 89, being the first generation available between 84 and 87. That was really the leap change in the way the LEGO Technic pneumatic elements operate.
Better said the current change should be called V3 or even V2.1, if it makes any sense to make a distinction...
I see nothing other than different length/width cylinders or a new design of the inlet end, which had also happen in 2002 when the cylinders got a modern studless update (such reasoning would make it V4 instead). A new PF pneumatic valve, yes... That would be another leap change!

Finally something I didn't mention before, but the Arocs includes a mechanism that prevent the tipper rear door to open if needed. There is a lock in the center which is controlled by the lever seen on the side, bellow the sticker indication. See it in both locked and unlocked positions from the pictures above.
So someone learned from the mistake made with the 42029 Customised Pick-Up Truck.

Looking forward for more pictures! This time about the upcoming 42040 Fire Plane...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2H 2015 Technic sets in Nuremberg

Nuremberg Toy Fair 2015 is already running and yesterday it was open exclusively to the the press.

Hence we started to see the first images in the afternoon and there was a bunch of news about LEGO future products. Although and since everyone here is all about Technic, let's focus on the LEGO Technic sets news.

The first image we saw was from the 42042 Crawler Crane.

From this we clearly see it confirms a standard blue crawler crane with a long boom. In the photo presented it has applied the boom extension section, which is applied with some pins with stop bush. But this is basically what we already knew.
The news are on the details that we can see now from this detailed image. There is a four functions switch box, which looking into the details we can narrow down to be:
  • Boom raising/lowering (via cable)
  • Grabber claw up/down (via cable)
  • Superstructure rotation
  • Drive (forward/reverse)
These are the motorized functions which is a nice surprise, has most of us were probably expecting no more than two of them. The relative large scale of the model, has definitely contributed to make this possible.

There is also a manual function which allows to open/close the claws  in the grabber, from a knob in its upper side.

Biggest surprise here was to see the drive gets motorized first, and second it doesn't steer (see the axle in the front connecting the left and right track drive wheels. Although this is understandable if we realize this is not an RC model which make the steering function a bit less important (the presence of motorized drive is aleady a bonus). There was only one fourth function available and this cranes are necessarily slow, so it is natural the choice was made for the drive and to sacrifice steering.
There is a certain level of greebling in the superstructure which is also a nice aspect.

Some complain about the lack of realism in the boom, but is looks perfectly aligned to what we can expect from an official LEGO Technic model. Truss has never been easy to build out of Technic beams.

Overall this looks to be a very nice model and a must have!

Then in the evening we saw the first video for the LEGO Technic booth which made everyone to explode in joy!

This as been a valuable resource to take some quality snapshots where we can see all kinds of details.

Let me start with the first known image of 42040 Fire Plane. The details are not much visible from such small section in this video still, but together with the descriptions we have seen earlier, already enough to see the smaller set in the 2H looks to be very promising also

This is a single propeller seaplane which main noticeable fact in this image is that we can find several of the new trapezoid panels (Design ID: 18945) in white color. Further images should reveal also some additional details.

But that was not one of the stars in this video. It was the crawler crane which we already talked about and obviously  the 42043 Mercedes-Benz Arocs 3245. Fortunately the video seems to have been done by someone with interest in the subject because it focus many of the main interest topics and questions about this model.

Believe it or not, one of the first things that caught my attention in these images was the presence of truck shims under the tipper. Those yellow parts that might be removable to put behind the rear axles, which btw are both double wheeled. A nice touch of detail indeed!

Then we have a lot more to talk about and I'll try to be synthetic, although I'm not sure where I should start...
  • In the boxes behind we both the crane and the Arocs have one PF L-motor and one battery box.
    The Arocs also includes 4 pneumatic cylinders (2x 2/11, 1x 1/11, 1x 1/5) with at least 2 new designs (2/11, 1/11). Not sure about the smaller one but it is like the same as before.
    There is also 4 pneumatic valves (no, not yet the PF version...) and one pneumatic pump (likely the same 6L version we got with 8110 Unimog and 42008 Service Truck), as seen in the box front view (image below).
  • It is obvious there is a new type of gear rack in DBG and one sliding sleeve where it runs through.
    We get one in red at the crane extensible boom and likely (although not clearly visible) another two for the outriggers deployment (eventually also in DBG).
  • The outriggers vertical adjustment is manual through worm gears as already expected.
  • The tipper is quite large and deep and it is a motorized function. From the video we can be sure it uses at least one linear actuator (presumably the large version), although this is not seen directly.
  • There is a clam-shell bucket in the tip of the crane which looks a bit smaller to my eyes then in the preliminary images. It might be a matter of perspective.  
  • The crane has 3 sections and it uses the 3 larger cylinders. The smaller one goes inside the clam-shell bucket to make it open and close.
    With 4 cylinders deployed in the crane arm the is obviously many pneumatic tubes around.
    There is also several of the recent pneumatic hose connectors with axle connectors (DBG) to join different pneumatic hose sections.
As for the motorized functions we see two levers, one at each side of the truck. Hence we should be able to have up to two of them working simultaneously.
On the right side we have the tipper and the pneumatic pump for pneumatic functions via the respective valves control (manual). And on the left it looks we have the outriggers deployment and crane rotation.

    But the details about new pneumatic elements are not over. See the images below.

    Both type of the large cylinders are in fact 11L as you can easily measure using reference elements around these. They should extend about 5 to 6L which makes them 16-17L long when fully extended. :D
    And both have metallic rods. We are still to see how these perform or better said how the single motorized small pump can effectively supply these with enough air at convenient pace.
    The 1/11L cylinder looks specially interesting  to my eyes, obviously depending on the maximum stroke it can supply and the seals effectiveness to prevent air leaks. For specific applications and designs it looks really interesting and useful. Both of them in fact... We can already anticipate other amazing official pneumatic Technic models and MOCs off-course.

    From the image in the left we can also see the connection point in the base of the 2-wide cylinder got a new design and it has now 1L with. This makes it much easier to use the pneumatic cylinder with the Technic odd sized based building system.

    Unfortunately we wont get an updated design of the 2/7 old cylinders with this set.

    On the image at the right we can also clearly see the tipper uses curved 11x3 panels in the bottom, which is also a nice technique variation.

    As for the cabin design I'd say it really got the essence of the MB Arocs look, and the printed shield element with the Mercedes logo is a really nice detail.
    The whole model is not much dependent on stickers and those existing are quite small, which is also a good thing.

    Finally about this image, we can clearly see who is the designer of this magnificent model. Some were expecting it to be Uwe Wabra as he uses to build the large trucks, Markus Kossman got the job this time.

    From these images we get the confirmation about one of the most speculated topics around this Arocs model - "Will it have suspension or not?". Yes, definitely it has! Both of the front axles have suspension has the big distance between the wheels and the fenders made us to suspect from an early leaked image.
    The steering looks to be proportional and both alxes are connected through a linkage bar.
    It is also not totally clear but giving that we can see some gearing on an axle connected to one of the beacons, it looks reasonable to assume the steering control is done via HoG from one of these beacons, if not booth.

    As for the rear axles with double wheels and since the space available is quite smaller, it looks we get some kind of pendular boogie, but there are not much details we can see from the footage available so far.

    From this last snapshot of the video we can see the cabin can tilt, to reveal the L4 engine underneath.

    Now that we have most of the 2H sets mysteries solved it rests to wait for them in the shelves and make our wishes for 2016...
    I want a decent Forklift flagship as we never got one and also we don't see any Technic forklift for too long. It is also a great option to make an interesting B-model variant with some other kind of lift.  

    If I remember anything else worth to mention, I'll keep adding to this post.

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