Sunday, May 17, 2015

Week TechVideo, 2015 #20 - EV3 Mosaic Printer Series

Jason Allemann (JK Brickworks) started a video series where he intends to show the evolution of a mosaic printer project, he started some days back.

After a first video with basic functionality implemented like parts pick and place, he added now X-Y positioning to place 1x1 plates in a 2D mosaic and an amazing simple plate supply system.




I really love the pick and place solution used by Jason! It is really clever, amazingly simple and effective.
This is definitely a series worth to follow, as we are already used to Jason geniality.

Looking forward to see more!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

There is a Predator in the highway!



Full featured supercars are definitely among the favorite models for LEGO Technic fans. Many try to build one but only a few really master the techniques to fulfill the challenge.

Nathanaël Kuipers is one of those talented builders who gave us real pearls in this domain, and this year he proposed us a new fictional supercar. Predator of its name!

In his own words "Predator is the result of several months of work and is inspired by exotic supercars like for example Koenigsegg, Pagani, Bugatti and Gumpert. What most of those cars have in common is that they all have their unique character despite their clean and generic supercar look. The idea was to give Predator a similar identity, keeping things clean, but still give it a unique and clear supercar styling. But its uniqueness should not be limited to its looks alone; also what's going on under the shell should give it a little extra, covering some innovative ideas."

Unlike almost everyone who got immediately rendered to this model, I must confess it took me some time to get used to it and to appreciate the looks when seen from all angles. Don't know exactly why but probably the proportions, the roof shape or the apparent very short bonnet. But this is a rear engine car after all and I've meanwhile learned to appreciate this design masterpiece.



But proportions apart, this car fundamentally lives from its innovative and uncommon functions or solutions we use to see in other Tecnhic supercars. Nothing less than we should expect from a model coming from Nathanaël's desk.
Highlights goes for the vertical gearbox layout located between the rear axle and the V8 engine, the ackermann geometry front axle steering with caster and kingpin inclination, and the gullwing doors.

Another remarkable aspect about this model is the fluid, modern and aerodynamic lines in perfect coexistence with a clean bodywork where almost every nook and cranny looks filled, without using unnecessary bricks or nothing more than the essential. Hence the car shows a relative low part count (1797) for its size and functions.

Finally what I like the most the most in this car looks is the rear view, where the tail lights, rear bumper and engine cover really stands out from the rest in my point of view. And off course the orange highlights over the predominant white color.



One of my favorite views in what concerns large Technic models in general and supercars in particular, is the bottom view which easily says a lot about a model. Hence here it is another set of images ending with the indispensable bottom view.
It looks quite unconventional and here we can see some details about the innovative gear shift mechanism. We can also see the unusual high number of Technic frames used, several of them used in vertical position (also unusual in itself) which gives extra rigidity to this model.



If you like to know a lot more details about this model, there are a few resources you should not miss:
  • Natanhaël's model presentation and personal's view abot the creative process leading to this magnificent model.
  • And a more independent view at Blakbird's eyes, in his review at EuroBricks.

At this point you are probably willing to build your own copy...
If this is the case or if you just want to take a closer look at the details, you probably would like to know the building instructions are available at the exchange of a small fee at Crowkiller's website or MOCPlans.

These are not done at the same level of detail as Nathanaël's previous Concept Car building instructions which were much more LEGO like and took an eternity to create, but they are still very detailed, complete and easy to follow.

Bellow some sample pages that should allow you to evaluate the finest quality and decide by yourself.





Happy building!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Go build it... Digitally and win an iPad!

LEGO Technic team is running a competition from their website.
It is an initiative to promote the LEGO Building Instructions app for Android and iOS, which includes easy to follow digital instructions for some of the mid-sized models in the LEGO Technic line.

All one has to do to enter the competition is to install the app, go to the LEGO Club website and use the app to identify the LEGO Technic model whose image can be seen at the website.

You can win an iPad and/or LEGO Technic sets during four weeks (two weeks still to go).
Find the full details here.



Unfortunately the Android app is still compatible with just a few devices and not available to install with the rest, although it should work fine with much more. LEGO seems not willing to carry the tests that would allow to release the app to many more devices with confidence.

It was somehow easy to download online from Google Play store, the previous version of LEGO Building Instructions Android app, but this seems to have changed after sometime and consequently never managed to download and install the latest version 1.1.1 which adds instructions for 3 new 2015 models.

Don't think this is a true limitation to enter the competition, since should be much difficult for you to borrow an Apple device for the purpose, or even easier to find the model the image belongs too, if you are familiar with the recent LEGO Technic sets.


More difficult should be to enter the competition if you are not in one of the countries where the competition seems to be available (Belgium, Czech Republique, Denmark, Germany, France, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Finland and UK). All other languages where LEGO.com website is available, doesn't show this competition - Tell us if you succeed!



Good luck and tell us if you have won!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week TechVideo, 2015 #15 - Wheels on thin ice

We have seen Technic models performing at snow in winter, many times.

Although I don't remember to have seen a racer driving on ice. Saw it in this video from Kees Hogenhout and found it funny.




Be carefull if you try this. If the ice breaks, it was a Technic racer...


Enjoy!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Week TechVideo, 2015 #14 - Truck with crane...

It was a long time since the last weekly TechVideo...
Saw this recovery truck with crane today by PipasseyoyoMOC, and saw it would a good excuse to try to restart gently.




It includes 4 PF motors for 7 remote controlled functions.
  • 1 M-motor: Stabilizers deployment and gearbox switching
  • 1 M-motor: Steering or crane rotation
  • 1 XL-motor: Propulsion or crane lifting
  • 1 XL-motor: Flatbed deployment or crane extension

I found it very smart the idea of combining the gearbox switching function with the stabilizers deployment. Obviously there is a set of functions that should work with stabilizers deployed and another set which does not.


Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2015

BlueSmartControl enters the LEGO PF remote control race


Following on the SBrick by Vengit steps, there is another player in the Power Functions Bluetooth control business, trying to get their slice. It is named BlueSmartControl as you can see from the banner above.

I got to see this sometime back via some other fans who got a prototype to test, and it is reported to work.
Today I got to see the first videos on YouTube by these guys (BlueSmartControl Office) which are based in Vienna (Austria).
Their solution was demonstrated at a LEGO fan exhibition in Vienna few days back, with some LEGO Technic models and a LEGO Trains layout including trains of course, but also automated semaphores and switches.

In the video below we can see a 42030 Volvo L350F Wheel Loader being controlled from a smartphone, and the white BT receiver on top of the engine compartment where the LEGO IR receivers use to be.




I've faced several types of feedback, going from a good working app for Android phones, to they not selling this solution yet because they aiming for a working Android App before going public.

When we know that Vengit is struggling to make their solution stable and widely compatible with the many BLE Android phones in the market, I wonder whether it will be much easier for these guys, or they also have it working without flaws for a controlled and limited set of devices.



From above we can see what seems to be several types of prototyping cases still with crude 3D printed look and a couple of customized PF cables to connect with external devices like PF motors, lights, etc.

Before knowing about detailed specs or current performance what standout to me is the design solution itself. Knowing how scarce the LEGO PF extension wires have been, how expensive they are and the lack of viable alternatives, I just imagine how expensive the whole solution can turn with one single BT receiver to control six external devices, if only one gets connected to each port.



Looking forward to see how this BT LEGO PF remote control race will develop in the next weeks/months!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Technopedia news


This is certainly something the LEGO Technic fans have been waiting for a long time.
Yes, Eric Albrecht (a.k.a. Blakbird) told me yesterday he has been working hard in the last couple of months, and Technicopedia is now completed up through 2014!

Below there is sneak peak of all the work done for the 2014 LEGO Technic sets only.




You should go at Technicopedia and testify it for yourself and enjoy!

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 - mindsensors.com.
In the Kickstarter campaign the project appears associated with optoelectrons.com brand, but in reality the project itself is being advertised also at mindsensors.com website.
It happens these are two brands of the same robotics development  team. One more oriented to a younger audience and schools (mindsensors.com) 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 OpenElectrons.com.

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!

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