Wednesday, February 27, 2008

TBs TechTOC 02 - Pallet Jack

Take a look into this small, simple and genius TECHNIC MOC from Paul (Sariel).
IMHO, it beats all small TECHNIC sets, that LEGO have released in the past years.

Find these and more pictures at Paul's Brickshelf folder.

It features a closed pneumatic circuit, which allows it to operate without any pump or compressor. Like this other illustration on the left (click to enlarge and read), describing the working principle in use (taken from Paul's Brickshelf folder also).

See it at work at the video on the right.
Lots of fun and good playability for the size and amount of parts.

Certainly a great fit to make a Pallet series, as I suggest below. ;)

Monday, February 25, 2008

TBs TechTips 011 - Triangle and Hexagon TECHNIC structures

After the TECHNIC Meta-Parts, let me present another article from Kevin Knuth at BrickEngineer, which describes us some good examples and techniques to build triangular and hexagonal structures.

His designs below, show equilateral triangles (equal side lengths). These are extremely sturdy constructs and the smallest possible ones are just below, together with the parts required to build them.

If the pins are a bit clunky on the left triangle (any size triangle can be built this way), thin TECHNIC liftarms with 2L axles can be used to secure the triangle (middle and right images)

Following we have similar but larger versions of the last triangle. They have however slightly different forms. The left one uses 11L beams with 1L offset, so that there are peg holes at the triangle corners and the version at rigth uses 9L beams, but lacks holes at the triangle corners.

The example below, shows a 11L triangle with an axle at the center, made with a TECHNIC 3-blade rotor. The animation illustrates how the braces hold the central rotor in place.

Hexagonal platforms can be easily created with any one of the equilateral triangle designs above.
Below an image for a large hexagon. The triangles in that hexagon are not connected, which can however be easily accomplished. Some type of plates per adjacent triangle sides would be just one example, strong enough for most applications.

You can find these examples and more information at each one of the original posts. Read them at:

Triangular or hexagonal structures haven't been a "natural" form to build, with LEGO.
There are however a few TECHNIC parts, that would allow to develop in this way.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

TBs TechTips 010 - Extend the limits of your PF Remote

Must say, I got amazed when I saw the thumbstick 8-Way Power Functions remote control from Jason Railton for the first time, this week at LUGNET (on the left).

With the advent of Power Functions in 2007, it was launched the LEGO Power Functions IR Remote Control (on the right).
This remote features simultaneous control of two ports (A, B) for one of four channels at a time, from two 2-Way controls. Polarity is also configurable for each port, at the remote.
The way it operates, makes use of 'Combo Direct Mode' as described in the 'LEGO Power Functions RC Protocol' and which LEGO released for Open Source recently. This mode has timeout for lost IR.

After LEGO made the PF protocol specification Open Source, we got to know it is designed to handle up to 8 channels and that in addition to 'Combo Direct Mode', several other operation modes are available, like:
  • Single Pin Continuous Mode
  • Single Pin Timeout Mode
  • Single Output Mode
  • Combo PWM Mode

None of these is available from the current LEGO PF remote. So we can expect for news in this domain, either from LEGO with the new TECHNIC sets for the coming years, or any other OEM who may get interest to develop hardware for PF (actually there are still some constraints to this, as referred here).

Personally, I would expect to see new remotes with more capabilities, like:
  • 4 or 8-Way controls
  • Simple buttons for toggle functions
  • Steering wheel like, control
  • Variable speed control (more likely on 2-Way controls)
  • More channels handling
  • etc...

Some of these modes/features, may never be released as of-the-shelf remotes, but left for MOCs or even integration projects with LEGO MINDSTORMS RCX or NXT (see ahead in this post).
Meanwhile several skilled builders, developed their own efforts to expand the standard remote usability.

A first development was made by Mark Bellis back in March 2007, with his Joystick-Controls (more photos here).
The idea was to keep the levers short, so that smaller hands
could operate them easily. In the end, 5L axles on the middle
handset give a lever length equal to the joysticks.

Later, several other Remote Control creations with similar or different functionalities arose. See them and chose/adapt the one that best fits your needs.

Steering Wheel remotes:
  • On the previous TBs post, about RC PF trucks, we saw a steering wheel remote from ZED in action. Very simple, effective and with a good design!
  • Pedro Agnelo, have also a few examples for a steering wheel remote, at his Brickshelf folder.
    the first try (left), and here the correspondent evolution with build sequence pictures (right).
  • ...and on the left, the PF Steering Wheel master piece. ;)
    See it at Brickshelf.

4 and 8-Way remotes:
  • At right also a 4/8-Way remote from Paul (Sariel) from LUGPol, who is already a frequent reference at TBs.
    This is a 2 hands control, where 2-Way transversal movement is transformed into a longitudinal one to actuate the PR remote.
    See more pictures from his Brickshelf folder.
  • Another similar construction, from Bobofrutx (also a LUGPol member).
  • Also from previous TBs post, we can see a similar 4/8-Way remote from Marek (LUGPol again... It seems everybody there, is building around the same subject ;) ), for two hands operation. However this video was not directly posted, but others did.
    It is model inspired on Bobofrutx (above) and Duku (below in this post). See more here.
  • Pedro Agnelo, designed another pure 8-Way remote, quite different/innovative, and which you can see more in detail at his Brickshelf folder.
  • Jason Railton, designed this brilliant thumbstick (8-Way joystick) remote control handset for one hand operation (if its fits in your hand...), which you can see at his Brickshelf folder. There you will find also the stepwise instructions to build also yours. ;)
    It’s a two-axis joystick that lets you move the stick up/down/left/right (+diagonals) and operate the two IR RC outputs of the selected channel. The up/down movement operates the right (blue) port, while left/right movement operates the left (red) port.

    Jason next challenge, is to make a similar thumbstick controller, for a mechanical tank. It should be an 8-Way like this one, and capable to translate the up/down/left/right (+diagonals) instructions into tank drive commands.
    But it seems the diagonals are not easy to deal with... can we help him?

Other remotes:

And finally some examples for multi-channel expanded designs, from left to rigth and up to down:
  • Mark Bellis (the same as above);
  • LIEBHERR R964 model from Fabio Sali, at LEGOWorld 2007.
  • A creation from Duku (LUGPol) with a real steering wheel. See more details at the respective Brickshelf folder.
  • And to finish, Jason with an expansion from his great 8-Way thumbstick remote (2x 8-Way thumbstick + 2x 2-Way controls);

LPF protocol advanced modes with MINDSTORMS RCX and NXT:

Immediately after LPF protocol release, some experts started writing code to implement the new PF modes within existing hardware.
  • Bob Kojima developed code for RCX and BrickOS, so that with his firmware it is possible to control LEGO Power Functions devices with a RCX.
    The great advancement is that it can issue PWM commands, for the Power Functions IR Receivers and this way control motors speed (stop and 7 speeds forward/backward as allowed by the protocol).

  • John Hansen together with Jason Railton, adapted the NBC and NXC API functions for the HiTechnic IRLink device, to support the newly documented Power Function modes as well as the RC Train IR protocol.
    This way with a NXT and an IRLink sensor, it is possible to make use of all modes/commands that LPF protocol allows (Single Pin timeout or continous, PWM,...).

New examples added.

Last Update:
2008.Feb.25 23:01 GMT

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Week TechVideo, 2008 #08 - Kenworth W900L with PF RC and ...

This week I bring a mix between LEGO TECHNIC and Model Team, just to be different... ;)
It is a model from a Kenworth W900L truck, controlled by Power Functions.

Realize on some interesting solutions, like:
  • Very compact and large steering reduction (using a worm gear) to make it easily remote controlled when motorized (via Power Functions RC).

  • Rear drive train, with 4 driven wheels and unsprung pendular suspension.
    However this design lacks an independent oscillation solution for each truck side, like we can see from Jennifer Clark's Demag AC50-1 simplified diagram, on the image at right (examples 3 and 4).
    That's correct that Jennifer illustrated solution doesn't represent an all-wheel drive mechanism (as on figure below left), however it could be achieved by using a differential which separates each side driving mechanism. Then a similar geared construction at each side, could be used to drive all the individual wheels.

  • The RC adaptation is also a very nice construction detail (however this is a subject for a coming post with a lot more and different implementations, for similar concepts).

For static observation of these details, take a look at the respective Brickshelf folder.

Meanwhile Marek Markiewicz from LUGPol, shown me also his 6-wide PF MiniTruck, which I decided to add here in this post because of subject similarity and time coincidence.
This example also got a PF controlled front steering, and all PF elements are hidden inside the trailer. Look into Marek's Brickshelf folder, for further model images.

Last Update:
2008.Feb.23 14:25 GMT

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More images from '2008 American International Toy Fair', running in NY (cont.)

Now we started to get flooded by images from new 2008 sets, coming from Toy Fair (NY)... ;)
Thanks to Cagri! Who commented on the previous post about these new images at flickr.

I'll post some below which bring new perspectives, details, info, etc...
Later (instead of creating new posts) I will add here other photos, whenever they bring something new that justifies it.

8294 - Escavator

The image on the left, is an high resolution one. If you click on it, you will get the full image where you can see many interesting details, never seen before.
Specially details for the new Linear Actuators and connections.

Below some more images at moderate resolutions (or higher) with perspectives and details probably not seen before (also click to enlarge).

8295 - Telescopic Handler

The image on the left, is an high resolution one. If you click on it, you will get the full image where you can see many interesting details, never seen before.
Specially details from the new Linear Actuator and around.
Linear Actuator "piston" doesn't look like a screw anymore and seems now to be metallic.

Below some more images at moderate resolutions (or higher) with perspectives and details probably not seen before (also click to enlarge).

8297 - Off Roader

The image on the left, is an high resolution one. If you click on it, you will get the full image where you may see some details.
Don't know the model length, but from the steering wheel size, it should be relative smaller than usual LEGO supercars.

Below some more images at moderate resolutions (or higher) with perspectives and details probably not seen before (also click to enlarge).

Edit: shows us a new video from the Off Roader, at Toy Fair (see it here).
In this
we can see also, fast and partial images from the Telescopic Handler.

Concerning the US Suggested Retail Prices (SRP), we have:
  • 8293 - $29,99
  • 8294 - $59,99
  • 8295 - $89,99
  • 8297 - $119,99

Also take a look on the images below, which show some new Bionicle sets.
The 2nd half 2008 Bionicle sets will introduce some new panel fairings, which look compatible with the current TECHNIC panels. These new panels may be very useful into TECHNIC constructions, because they are straigth and have pin holes on both ends.
They were seen before in some preliminary images from the new sets boxes, but these now are real and shinning. ;)

Last Update: 2008.Feb.20 18:57 GMT

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