Monday, February 1, 2016

LDraw All-In-One-Installer 2015-02

Willy Tschager  (LDraw.org Content Manager) has just sent us the following message:


An updated version of the LDraw[1] All-In-One-Installer, in short AIOI, has been released. 

The AIOI supports Windows XP (Home and Pro), Windows Vista or higher (all versions). On 64-Bit Operating Systems it will install in the "Program files (x86)" folder. The Installer will NOT run on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT Ver 4, 2000, or XP below SP2. 
It contains the following changes:

Upgraded to LDraw Parts Library 2015-02
Upgraded to LPub3D 1.3.4.591.2
Upgraded to LDCad 1.5
Added LSulpt 0.5.0
Added tons of OMR-Models
Lets you decide the location of the LDraw parts library
You can download the AIOI from: 

Home > Help > Get Started > LDraw All-In-One-Installer 

Many thanks to all the programmers who contributed to this release. 

Willy Tschager 
(LDraw.org Content Manager)


[1] LDraw is an open standard for LEGO CAD programs that allow the user to create virtual LEGO models and scenes. You can use it to document models you have physically built, create building instructions just like LEGO, render 3D photo realistic images of your virtual models and even make animations.


I have been building quite a lot with LDCad and using LPub3D to create instructions and a lot of improvements have been made to the programs over the last fe months. If you don't already have these programs installed be sure to update them, either using the AIOI or doing so manually one by one!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

2H2016 Technic Sets - Part II

As I mentioned in my first post on the 2H2016 Technic sets, each new toy fair reveals more details of the upcoming sets, and the Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse has been particularly generous in the amount of information that was revealed.

So let's have another look at the list of new sets.


  • 42051 - Airport Rescue Vehicle


Technic Factory has the following to say about the set:

Lego Technic 42051 Airport Rescue Vehicle (cancelled)
This set was planned for mid-2016, but it has been cancelled and will never be produced. It was a big airport fire truck, with red color, modern style, arm with water canon which could be lift up and oriented. 6 wheels with 4 wheels steering and lots of details also: lights, mirrors, few stickers… Seats were designed with new white panel parts, like wing of set 42045 Hydroplane Racer.

Parts : approx 1100, without Power Functions or Pneumatic
Initially Estimated Price : USA: $74.99, Europe: 64.99€, but it will not be sold.

I always find it curious when this level of detail is presented for a set that apparently has been cancelled. We'll probably never know why, but from the description of the set, the set wasn't quite as exciting as the remaining sets for the second half of this year.


  • 42053 - Volvo EW160E
The set description was sufficiently specific not to leave much doubt about the look of the model, but a picture is worth a thousand words:


 Additional information that has been published so far includes:
  • Pneumatics System V2 - We appear to get a new part in this series: the pump has a wide plastic collar and no spring is visible - it appear to be encased inside the wider plastic collar.
  • Power Functions Upgradable - this makes me think there will indeed be a small pump included in the set so you can build a small compressor to power the pneumatic functions.
  • Lifting Cab - a very nice detail. The cab is lifted with a worm gear that is operated with the 12T double bevel gear you can see right behind the cab (with the red 2L axle in the centre) so it will stay at any hight you adjust it to.
  • Extendible Outriggers - and they will actually support the model! All four wheels off the ground for increased stability when operating the pneumatic functions.
  • Piece Count: 1166
  • Alternate model: Volvo L30G
And if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video of the actual set is pure gold:



Do you still want more? This is a picture of the back of the box that shows the secondary model:




  • 42054 Claas Xerion 5000 tractor
Let's get right to it. Front box art:



  • Piece Count: 1977
  • WHEELS and RIMS!! The large heavy threads are fantastic (wheel size indicated is 107.4)and the closed rims are perfect for the model
  • Includes an LPF "M" motor and battery box. 
  • Mini LA for the arm and outriggers/stabilisers under the arm
  • The panels at the front simulate the counterweight that can be adjusted in height
  • I don't remember seeing ribbed 2x2 round bricks in brown before. They look much more realistic than the smooth ones.
Rear box art:


  • The "second model" is built only from the parts of the manipulator on the back of the tractor. While it does make sense (and has been done before, e.g. in the Unimog)
  • The graphics in the lower left corner give some interesting details about the steering capability of the model: it has crab steering and parallel steering.

Also for this model there is a video showing all its capabilities. I particularly like how the cab rotates 180 degrees, and the 3 steering modes are an indication of the fantastic engineering that has gone into this model:





  • 42055 Bucket Wheel Excavator
The largest of the Technic sets for 2H2016 isn't just "over 3000 pieces", it has a whopping 3927!


  • From this and other pictures it would appear the set includes a pack of small round bricks for the BWE to pick up/move to the included white truck.

  • A single PF "XL" motor to power te entire set
  • An exciting new curved rack (90º) that is the base for the ring of buckets at the front. There appear to be 36 teeth on each segment making for 144 teeth in a full ring.

The same part is also used to set the angle for the second transporter belt and for the turntable so there are a bunch of these new parts in this set!

  • The above image also shows the battery box used as a counterweight in the top arm, followed by three function selectors. There is also a red function selector further down (right behind the curved rack that guides the secondary transporter belt) 
  • Beautiful dark panels!
  • LAs allow the arm to go up and down. They are controlled with the black 12T gear you can see just below the base of the LA in the above picture
  • Even so there are no less than 3 additional functions going from the top of the model to the bottom:

But wait, there's more. We also have an image of the back of the box:


As the pictures at the top show, this model is capable of separating out 1x1 round bricks and 2x2 round bricks (obviously included in the set). This model can also

  • move forwards and backwards on the tracks it has underneath. 
  • The inclination of the left conveyor belt can be adjusted and 
  • the right belt can be moved from side to side horizontally.

Here's a video of the BWE in action:



To be continued...


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vrromm!...

So it seems the secret project was not so secret after all!...

Jim just posted a couple of pictures at EB from an IP car, Porsche branded which seem take from some Toy Fair as we see the typical TLG exhibition turntables and the elements with the correspondent set number (42056 in the present case).

As we can see it is a 1:10 scale model and it looks gorgeous except the anticipated price... If correct one can say that licenses may hurt your wallet!




New fender panels and and rims look very appropriate.

For the size and rumored price tag, I still dream with the possibility of seeing PF 2.0 elements coming live into LEGO Technic sets sooner than expected, with some XL motors that can remotely drive this beast from my smartphone via BLE...

Monday, January 25, 2016

2H2016 Technic Sets

It is Toy Fair season and all the big toy companies are showing off their new offerings for this year. The New York Toy Fair is held from February 13-16, the Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg will take place from 27 January to 1 February and the first reports about the 2016H2 technic sets are coming in from the London Toy Fair 2016.

Huw Millingtone visited the fair and paid has posted his observation in several blog entries on Brickset. These are his observations on the Technic sets he has seen:


  • 42051 Airport rescue vehicle was not being displayed


It’s very little information to go on, but a google search returns mainly this kind of vehicle:


The set number is a little odd as is comes before the 42052 Heavy Lift Helicopter. Even so, that doesn’t really provide us with much information, because the Helicopter is a +1000 piece set and the two following sets that have been shown on the London Toy Fair are clearly smaller than the helicopter. LEGO has done a similar vehicle before. In 2003 it launched the 8454 Rescue Truck with 693 pieces and a retail price of around €70 it looks like this new model will be somewhat smaller and/or possible less technically complex.




  • 42053 Volvo EW160E, Looks much like these, primarily yellow and black but with orange accents which looked very smart. It features pneumatics controlled with a pump but no reservoir. I'm not sure how many cylinders. £70





It looks like we will get a wheeled excavator instead of the (for LEGO) more traditional tracked base. I am particularly curious to know is this set will take advantage of the new longer pneumatic cylinders. In addition, while Hew indicates the model includes a (hand) pump, it is not entirely unlikely the model may come prepared to be motorized as was the 8049. You can check out the 2-part review of the model here and here. The second part reveals the possibility to motorize the set with a compressor built with the small pump included in the set.

As for the cylinder count, that again will depend on the size of the model. On the past LEGO has mechanically linked the movement of the second stage of the arm with the closing/opening of the bucket in smaller models, but I sincerely hope the model will feature 3 independent controls, with a single cylinder for each of them.


  • 42054 Claas Xerion 5000 tractor. £120. A pretty faithful representation of the real thing. It's lime green, as you'd expect. It's fitted with a red log grabbing attachment and is motorised. It comes with new wheels which are massive. The cab rotates 90 degrees to enable the driver to get a better view at the back.


Lime green appears to be a favourite LEGO tractor colour. Lime green was also used in the Tractor with Log Loader referenced above, the small 8281 and the even smaller 8260.

The Claas Xerion 5000 was also proposed as a LEGO Ideas model, but only gathered 183 supporters. This version is not likely to anywhere as complex as the model proposed there and given the price I don’t think it likely it contains any motorized functions.



The images of that model do give us an idea of what that rotating cab might look like. The massive wheels are also something to look forward to!




  • 42055 Bucket Wheel Excavator. £180 Oh. My. God. What a fantastic thing! It's absolutely huge! It's the largest Technic model in physical size, by some margin, and also piece count, over 3000. It looks something like the bottom vehicle shown on this page, in that there are two conveyer belts, one lifting material up from the buckets, the other taking it to a nearby truck, which is included. It's hard to estimate the size but it's probably 50cm high and slightly longer. The colour scheme is mostly grey but with a good smattering of yellow beams and dark blue panels. Definitely best in show for me!


The largest Technic set ever, both in piece count and size, by the sound of it. I remember seeing one of these monsters operating in Germany and they are absolutely massive. A single bucket on the bucket wheel can excavate more material than a large dumper truck can hold!



The dark blue panels are again something to look forward to. I’m surprised by the price though. With this kind of piece count I would have expected this to be the most expensive set in the 2H2016 range, but according to all the information I have seen so far, it isn’t…


  • 42056 'confidential super car'. Exactly what this is was not revealed, and won't be for some months we were told. It's about the size of 8880 and we think it'll be black although, like when prototypes of real cars are test driven, it was covered in 'camouflage' stickers to make it difficult to determine what it is. I can tell you however that it comes with a lot of new curved panels, including mudguards, and weighs in at a massive £250! Chris has fallen in love with the set and thinks it could be a Porsche 911 GT, which is certainly possible.


According to another source, the name for the set is 42056 Confidential Technic Ultramotive, which basically means the same thing: one heck of an expensive supercar. Personally I hope this is not another collaboration for an existing model (Porche, MacLaren, or other). It would drive the price up unnecessarily (or maybe that explains the price tag) for a car which in my opinion is the perfect opportunity to take LEGO supercars to the next level, including all sorts of innovative solutions to include technical detail.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

WeDo 2.0 - the new parts

Yesterday I posted the announcement of the new WeDo 2.0 set, including some images of models that clearly show there are not only new electronics in the set, but also a new connection system.

Today I bring you some high resolution images of those new elements to whet your appetite and as an incentive to further speculation on where this may take us. Just in case you didn't read my earlier post on WeDo, what really sparked our imagination is the fact that this new set is marketed as using the Power Functions system, but it is not compatible with the previous WeDo set which uses PF as we all know it. As a matter of fact, the WeDo 2.0 FAQ says these new components belong to the LPF 2.0 system!! So what's in store for us?

Let's start off with the hub. The new WeDo 2.0 hub (part number 45301) consists of two parts. On the one hand there is a space for batteries (2x AA or a rechargeable Li-Po pack - more on this later), the bottom grey part. The white top contains the BLE module which enables the hub to communicate to a computer or tablet (Mac, PC, iPad or Android - Chrome Book will be added to this list in the second half of the year. The green spot appears to be the on/off switch, but the transparent area next to it is an RGB led that can be programmed from the software to display 10 different colours: none, pink, purple, blue, sky blue, teal, green, yellow, orange, red, and white.



The bottom part comes of to insert the batteries. Off the shelf the hub will be powered with batteries, but LEGO will sell a Lithium Ion Polymer battery back rated 3.7V/900mAh (part number 45302). Compared to the power provided by 2 AA batteries, it sounds like the battery pack will be the more powerful option.



The battery pack also gives a first hint of how the elements are connected internally. You can see a couple of pins on the inside. The top part with the BLE element and the RGB led connects to those pins as you can see below:



It becomes even clearer when you look at this image of the hub as it appears in the WeDo 2.0 Core Set in which you can also clearly see how the 2 AA batteries fit inside the container:



Moving to the other side of the hub things get exciting! This is where the cables connect! As you cn see the new system is a radical departure from the click-on connectors LEGO have used for decades in 9V and PF1. However, the connection system used in the hub is also different from the RJ type connectors used in MINDSTORMS. The plugs enter laterally, but the footprint is significantly smaller, while at the same time using 6 wires for the connections.


The following image is even clearer:


Shallow sockets with six pins and a very specific form factor!

Let's move on to the next element: the motor (part number 45303). Although there are significant changes in the form factor (without even going into the 6-wire cable), the motor is still roughly the same size as the current LPF1 M motor and initial reports appear to confirm that the internal motor is the same as that of the current M motor. New in this iteration are the 4 studs on top of the motor, which will be very welcome in System builds. The flip side of this change s that there are now only 3 connection points around the axle conector at the front of the motor. Including a 4th is not possible because of those new studs.


The bottom side of the motor confirms the similarity to the "old" M motor which you can see side by side in the following image:



Of course the current drawn by this motor means that LEGO recommends you only connect one motor per hub. One or two blogs covering the news about the new WeDo 2.0 set talked about the set including a servo, but the information LEGO provides is that this is a "simple" left/right motor. Since the overal size of the motor hasn't changed there would not be space for such an addition either.

Next up are the sensors. These are also overhauled versions of the existing WeDo sensors: tilt and motion (proximity). According to the FAQ these have new functionality. In addition to sensing tilt in 4 directions (and of course "no tilt") the tilt sensor now has a new "shake" mode and the motion sensor which detected the presence of an object within its range can now also detect if the object comes closer or moves away. I'm curious to see how this "shake" function is implemented. The other functions were already accessible through programming with Scratch.




So to recap, an image of the entire family of new parts:



Last but not least, a shout out to Vassilis Chryssanthakopoulos AKA Nextstorm from blast education for the additional images!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

WeDo 2.0 - The future of PF

CES (Computer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas is always an excellent reference and a showcase for the new technologies that will appear in the coming year. This year is no different. LEGO have just announced  a new product: WeDo 2.0

WeDo came to market in 2009, geared towards starting robotics with primary school children. The first version of WeDo had a USB tether or hub to which 1 motor and 1 sensor or 2 sensors could be connected. The software runs on a computer that acts as the brain of the gadgets that are built with LEGO elements that are mostly from the System catalogue (stackable rather modern "Technic").

Version 2.0, which was presented today, comes with several important updates to this earlier platform. The main novelty is the fact that the new hub is not tethered, but rather a kind of intelligent battery box (for standard batteries or a separately sold battery pack) which connects to the computer via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy).

This makes it possible to program the hub, not only via a computer, but also from a portable device (iPad/Android tablet) or even a Chrome Book (the latter in the second half of 2016).

Also new is the way motor and sensors connect to the hub. At first glance, the cables already look wider than usual, but upon closer examination it is clear to see that the connector type used is very similar to the one you see in MINDSTORMS. :



In the following image you can see all the electronic elements in the set: the hub, a new motor and two sensors. The sensors are said to be more advanced, but it remains to be seen whether that is because the software now includes options that were already available in Scratch or because they are really better.



The software for WeDo 2.0 can be downloaded free of charge, but LEGO also offers a paid curriculum pack with +40 hours of lesson plans.

It looks like the price of the new set will be around €160, which sounds quite good, taking into account the technological update, the fact that the software is now included and the larger number of elements that in the first WeDo set.

So now, after the "sales pitch" it's time to discuss something interesting and exciting that has come up while I was asking for additional information on this new platform. In the official press release the new elements are referred to as PF elements so I had to ask and this is what I was told:

Q: Why do you call the elements PF when the connectors are not compatible? 
A: We call them PF because it is linking up to the new platform. WeDo 2.0 is not compatible with the old WeDo. Although all future PF will be compatible with the new platform introduced with WeDo 2.0.

This has enormous implications as it sounds like PF is moving into a new direction, with 6 wire cables and different connectors that could enable completely new possibilities! Time to start speculating!!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

LDraw.org 2015-01 Parts Update Now Available

The LDraw team has sent us the following announcement:

The 2015-01 LDraw Parts Update has now been released. This update includes 502 new files in the core library, including 338 new parts and 34 new primitives.

This update includes an unusually large, but welcome, proportion of improved and corrected parts. This is largely due to the work of Roland Melkert with the 'libfix version' of LDCad. Significant effort has also been expended by Magnus Forsberg to inline dithered colour subfiles (a now obsolete technique). Most of the obsoleted subfiles will be released in a future update.

You can preview the new parts in 2015-01 and download the update from the Latest Parts page.

The LDraw Team


Happy (virtual) building!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

TechnicBRICKs turns 8

Yesterday we celebrated 8 years since this project started. TBs grew fast and lived healthy for a long time, but everyone's life evolve and changes including the bloggers' life, and so it does a blog status as well...
You probably say to have not seen much happening here lately... Posts have been scarce, although we believe this is part of a cycle. Only the future can tell!

The fact is it was a lot more fun in the beginning when there was not much places LEGO Technic related news, and we were able to publish preliminary images from every new upcoming sets, take a lot of guesses about which features and new elements were likely included in each set, etc.

For now, the man who never sleeps, has been sleeping...
Nevertheless Alexandre never forgets the important dates and he is always willing to cook (render) a new anniversary cake for us.
This time it looks there was no one at driver's seat, and that's perhaps because of this TBs is not moving faster... but still everyone there looks to be enjoying the ride.



The car is orange as it couldn't have been differently, so it makes me think about a certain helicopter that we are waiting for the next year...

But if I were you I wouldn't be expecting too much from the next 1H flagship as it seems to be, at least the preliminary images don't reveal much excitement about it. That's probably because the recent Technic sets have their body covered with panels. Which is good and increases the realism - long ago were the days when LEGO Technic sets looked so empty showing gaps everywhere - but it also tends to make it more difficult to study the details specially when it comes to preliminary and diffuse images.

Basically it looks like a Kamov coaxial helicopter, with a not so rounded cockpit like a Chinook.
Those below look like good approximations while we can't show real images. The front steering is made with a single dual wheel configuration instead.



It is a cargo helicopter predominately white, with DBG stripes, an orange belly and a few other orange appointments like in the engines. The winch pulls a small blue "container" made with two 3x11 blue panels.
It has a coaxial counter-rotating dual rotor with six long blades in total (the same which were released with 9396 Helicopter). No collective or cyclic pitch as far as one can see.
No new panels or other elements visible, but it uses two white pieces used in small City cement mixer trucks (Design ID: 57792) as engine covers.
This looks to be and off-the-shelf PF set or at least it is PF ready and seems a good candidate to have a small switching gear box to control four functions with a single motor. What these functions could be we can only guess at the moment: coaxial rotors, winch, bottom cargo hatch and landing gears

Overall it looks good but does not raises an exaggerated excitement inside me.


Enjoy!

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