Saturday, April 26, 2008

Week TechVideo, 2008 #17 - NXT Segway

Nothing fresh (posted on YouTube, over 1 year ago), but it is one of my favorite videos from a LEGO build (even the music fits just great). The NXT Segway implementation below.

It is a creation from Rich (richrobottoughts), which is in fact "just" a copy from Philo's own implementation (NXTway) described here (video also here, but somewhat boring, as Philo wrote...). Rich also wrote about his replica at his RobotThoughts blog.

However, the first time the Segway concept was implemented with LEGO, was done by Steve Hassenplug who have used at the time, an RCX programmed with BrickOS (LegOS) to build his LegWay. Read more about and find the program source code here.
Later on, a newer implementation (NXTway-G), was built by Ryo Watanabe, using a gyroscopic sensor. Later again, Ryo has modified it to use the HiTechnic NXT Gyro sensor. See it also in action below.

Steve Hassenplug's LegWay on the left and Ryo Watanabe's NXTway-G on the right.

For the most skilled and if you have some interest in the background mathematics, that made this possible, see the NXTway-G Motion Equation and take an overview about its behavior and how it was done!

If you have further interest about Segway and its working principles read all about, at HowStuffWorks.

Segway, a two wheeled auto balancing transporter, is an invention from Dean Kamen, who owns DEKA [1], [2]. DEKA is a small research company whose name is derived from Dean Kamen's name and which mission is to foster innovation.

Dean is an inspired inventor with many other high impact inventions in the society with particular emphasis in medicine and auto balancing robots. Among them, you may find: iBOT [1, 2], AutoSyringe®, Luke Arm (presented before at TBs , here) and many other.

And because Dean's life also crosses the path of our favorite hobby, in what concerns with LEGO, he is also the founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) [1], [2]. An organization founded for developing ways to inspire young people in science, engineering and technology fields and lead them into innovation.

FIRST organizes many well known competitions like: FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST LEGO League (aka FLL, maybe the best known among AFOL comunity) [1, 2], Junior FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge.

Because of his passionate commitment to FIRST, Dean was awarded with the LEGO Prize this April, by the hands of Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen (Owner and Vice Cairman of LEGO). After 10 years leading FLL, from just a couple of hundred participants to more than 100,000!” says Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen.

“We are particularly proud to be able to honor Dean Kamen for his personal and untiring commitment to child development and learning. Children learn best when new knowledge is presented in play form, and in founding FIRST, Dean has created an organization which – uniquely and through systematic, creative play – helps children and young people understand and appreciate science and technology. We say that the future belongs to our children, and Dean Kamen plays an immensely important role in creating a better future – harnessing the fantastic creativity and inventiveness that children and young people experience through involvement in FIRST programs.”

“FIRST is inspiring the next generation of innovators and engineers,”
said Kamen. “Years from now, some of the students who competed in the Georgia Dome will be inventing solutions to society's most challenging problems."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is it a new part for 2H 2008 TECHNIC Sets !?

As it has been discussed today in several forums, between enthusiasts, a new TECHNIC part seems to have been found among the new sets for the 2nd half.

A new steering arm variant. Look at the photos below and if you realize into the details, it turns clear that this part has differences when compared to all its known predecessors.

(click to enlarge)

It doesn't seem to be, none of the illustrated below. Instead it looks like a shorter version of 32195b, with axle holes.

Steering Arm 6.5x2 with Towball Socket (on the left) and Steering Suspension Link with Arm (on the rigth)

The 'Steering Arm 6.5x2 with Towball Socket' illustrated above, had three small variations across the years (2738, 32195a and 32195b) which have been used in many sets (mainly supercars).
The part on the right shows more similarities with what we can see on the new images, but the ball joint doesn't seem very useful to connect with the actual 'Steering Gear' (x873c01) which is supposed to be found in the model, connecting the wheels to the suspension. Also the front part joining both side liftarms, doesn't fit what can be seen from the new 8297 B-model photos.

As a matter of curiosity, it seems also that "old" steering arms (the ones at left, from above) used for instance at Enzo 1:10 and Fiorano, are still used in the rear axle suspension arms of this B-model and presumably at the 8297 main model (Off Roader) too. So, it would mean a mix design in what concerns steering/suspension arms.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New images from 2H 2008 TECHNIC sets

New images for some 2nd half 2008 TECHNIC sets, appeared at someone's Brickshelf folder.
Among them, it seems we have images for the respective B-models. They look great! (At least the Off Roader partner does. For the Excavator it seems we got something a bit strange...)
See them below (click on images to enlarge),

8294 - Excavator

(B-model on top and different views of main model below)

8297 - Off Roader

(B-model views on top and different views of main model below)

Personally and from some data I got, by doing some simple calculations, I would expect prices in Europe for the new sets to be in the ranges below (I know for my country but assume they won't be identical across Europe, as usual):

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Birds and bees: how LEGO sets are born

I found at the LUG Brasil forum a reference to a very interesting interactive tour about the process of turning small ABS pellets into complete LEGO sets (including TECHNIC, of course!): The Making of a Brick.

(click the image to load)

The tour is really cute and educative; it answers a lot of questions all LEGO fans, myself included, have certainly asked.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Week TechVideo, 2008 #16 - Pneumatic Inchworm

This week a look into Kevin Clague's Pneumatic Inchworm made of LEGO TECHNIC. It has two simultaneous waves in the body and can also crawl backwards.

Kevin has a lot of other TECHNIC and Pneumatic LEGO creations, in his webpage.

Friday, April 18, 2008

TBs TechNuggets 05 - Mobile Crane (855/955) instructions addenda

I've promised this to Eric (Blakbird and author of Technicopedia) longtime ago, but meanwhile thought it would nicely fit here at TBs too, so it took a long in my post queue...
This is an addenda to the old 855/955 Mobile Crane instructions, which I found at an eBay auction and won. It is a good example of a set that got some changes by LEGO, while selling on the market. Back to 1978, it was one of the most impressive sets at the time (and somehow still today in my opinion), together with other early TECHNIC sets (Branded Expert Builder Set in US, at the time).

The seller's description mentioned,
"It's a late version of the kit, with the additional parts to make the jib rest which was not on the original version. This is so the arm can be raised easily from the lowest position. The addendum to show this is on a separate sheet, later it was incorporated into the instructions. That makes this kit even rarer."

As Eric described at his Technicopedia 855/955 Mobile Crane technical information page,
"The gear racks are part of a translating rack assembly. A pair of pushrods connect the rack assembly to the boom. As the rack is translated aft, the pushrods drive the boom up. At the beginning of motion, the mechanical advantage is quite poor because the pushrods are almost parallel to the boom. For this reason, a lot of force is required at the crank to get things moving. Once the boom has been raised about 15 degrees, the crank turns easily."
That might be the reason why LEGO later added a boom rest to this model. It would prevent the boom from going all the way down, making it easier to raise the boom by moving the correspondent wheel.

At the time I found also a similar addenda with instructions modification for 853/956 (Car/Auto Chassis), which I wasn't able to find later anymore. It did relate with strengthen steering design, which breaks apart easily into early sets design. Apart that addenda, it is common to find different instructions books for this set, with differences on this matter (maybe a difference between USA and Europe building instructions. Fold-out poster format instructions were also used for Europe in the beginning, instead of more generally used book format).
Several other TECHNIC sets are known to have suffered small changes while on the market (not to mention the re-editions), but usually it resumes to part variations (color and/or design), at least for those I remember.

Eric, naturally you can also feel free to put this image into your 855/955 page at Technicopedia, to complement information about this model, if you wish.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

TBs TechTOC 03 - Another Pallete Jack

Certainly you remember the cute Paul's (Sariel) Pallete Jack published here at TBs .
Today I found another similar implementation (Pallete Truck) from Peer Kreuger, which I belive now to have been done before. Also a great model full of simplicity and geniality.

According to the author it is aproximately in scale, with the LEGO 8416 Forklift.

See more, at Peer Kreuger's LUGNET MOC advertisment, at his Brickshelf folder and MOCpages.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

TBs TechPoll 03 - After the 1st six months... "Which direction should TBs take?"

TBs celebrates its first 6 months online, today! Which direction should it take?

I thought it was time, to ask your opinion and read what you have to write.
So decided to create a new poll, where you can choose the type of posts you most like to read at TBs .
The options will be:

  • Focus more on news about TECHNIC and short posts.
  • Focus on building techniques, examples (How to...) and extensive comments.
  • Focus more on other's MOCs.
  • Focus on review of new sets and parts.
  • A bit of everything above.
  • Include also topics related with other LEGO themes.

You are allowed to make more than one choice, if you fell it better expresses your opinion.

If you fell this were not the right questions to make, your have any other opinion/comment (e.g. about: content, topics, ideas, blog graphical look & fell, etc...), please fell free to leave it as a comment to this post.
Your opinion is much appreciated!

Week TechVideo, 2008 #15 - Power Functions Quad Crawler

This week one video for a TECHNIC MOC, which later turned into a NXT variation.
It is a Power Functions Quad Crawler vehicle, built by snowblader13 (Andrew Stein) and author of the NXTCentral blog.

See, how it turned from 'Power Functions' into a 'NXT' Quad Crawler.

Andrew invited me to participate at NXTCentral when he started his project, which I accepted however never made it happen... Shame on me, but time is already too less, just for TBs . :P

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

TBs TechPoll 02 (Results) - 2008, 1st Quarter - Favorite week TechVideos

TBs 2nd poll finished today, after one week and 48 votes. Here it goes the results.
Poll objective was to let you choose your favorite videos, from those weekly presented here during 2008 1st quarter, at section 'Week TechVideo'.

So it seems everybody liked to see KKK playing like a child. ;) So do I!
It is not strange the result, since this is the most unusual or at least unexpected video we could imagine to find, related with LEGO and LEGO TECHNIC.
Well in fact "unusual, unexpected"... Why... ?? :P

Below as usual, the: 1st, 2nd and 3rd most voted videos.

#1 - "Week TechVideo, 2008 #02 - KKK also has fun with TECHNIC!"

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

#3 - "Week TechVideo, 2008 #06 - A Chain Pression Drive mechanism, applied to a 0-99 counter" and "Week TechVideo, 2008 #11 - 8660 raytrace animation"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

TBs TechNuggets 04 - Trans-clear motor prototypes

Did you know?

From time to time we see appearing in the market (BrickLink, eBay, etc...) some LEGO parts with special colors, never released into a set or sold by LEGO as single parts.
There are several possible origins for such parts, as described below:

  • Parts resulting from new developments and produced as prototypes.
  • LEGO makes regular tests with parts production molds. These tests are made with ABS colors usually not used to produce the correspondent normal part. Red is a common color used for mold testing.
  • Some parts are occasionally produced with special colors to be used by designers creating new models, or to be used in models at LEGOLAND Parks.
  • I red somewhere, that special colored parts maybe occasionally produced for a specific propose on large LUG events!?

These bricks in special colors are quite expensive to produce, and in none of the situations above (specially the first three), these parts are expected to leave the company and reach the market. However sometimes it happens... (as explained by Jan Beyer. Scroll down at linked page, for the English version).

I managed to buy some of these rare and special parts, with origin from several of the situations above, I suppose.
In what concerns TECHNIC parts, it happened with a few trans-clear motors (shown below) . I love trans-clear parts and specially the rare ones... :P
Despite some other regular versions existing in such color [(47154c01 Creator motor), (45721c01 Non-electric Windup motor)], it is always a good chance to see the internals of such parts, either stopped or running. I guess these may be true prototypes or mold test strikes, later assembled with real motors inside.

The 'standard 9V motor' (71427c01) on the left, 'minimotor' (2986) at middle and right.

These I bought both from Hungary sellers, and seem to have been produced at an old LEGO factory in Budapest (Hungary) in the 90s. Actual LEGO factories (outsourced to Flextronics) in Hungary, are at Sárvár (Duplo) and Nyíregyháza (Creator) according to my source.

The standard 9V motor is also reported to exist with two internal variations (silvered and golden colored internal parts), as shown below.

Below I've just added a similar photo with the correspondent standard parts, for comparation.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Week TechVideo, 2008 #14 - The TECHNIC Workshop

This week I bring two videos from a LUG friend (Filipe Coentro).
These are the videos from two MOCs, Filipe submited to the 1st MOC Competition organized by PLUG at its forum. The theme for this 1st contest was the "Industry".
These were also present in a PLUGfest/expo organized by PLUG, which took place in Braga (north of Portugal), during last weekend (28, 29 and 30 of March).

As you can see, these MOCs have a TECHNIC inspiration and show us models from two common machines at a metallo-mechanics workshop. A Lathe with the craftsman and a Linear Saw, both in movement and simulating real operation.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

LEGO Pneumatics, live and kicking

Some doubts have been raised more than once, here at TBs ([1], [2]), regarding the future of LEGO pneumatics, after the release of upcoming TECHNIC Linear Actuators.

I've been addressing some questions to TLG, through the forum from Portuguese Comunidade0937 and actual Portuguese LEGO Ambassador (Tânia Baixinho).
Actually I've already created a similar section at PLUG's forum (my native forum and LUG) in collaboration with another LEGO ambassador.

These questions are usually answered by Jan Beyer (Project Manager, LEGO Community Development).
One of the last questions was,

"New TECHNIC Linear Actuator vs Pneumatic Cylinder

Jan, which was the LEGO goal by designing the upcoming TECHNIC Linear Actuator, that we will see for example in the new Excavator (8294)?
Develop a new part, to add functionality and new possibilities or does it aims to replace the Pneumatic Cylinders role, at TECHNIC sets?"

For which Jan, answered with the following,
"It adds new possibilities and better functionality but it does not replace the Pneumatic!"

So it seems we could remain confident, these won't be the end of LEGO TECHNIC pneumatics.
... and hopefully won't be also the end of some new developments in the area (just my wish). :P

Despite the info already stated above, more or less at the same time I added this question into the new 'Ask a designer' section from TECHNIC webpage at
Now it was my turn to see one of the questions that I submitted, answered by the TECHNIC team. ;)

Naturally the answer is the same, but here I transcribe, both the question and respective answer, for you.
"Which was the LEGO goal by designing the upcoming TECHNIC Linear Actuator, that we see for example in the new Excavator (8294)? Develop a new part, to add functionality and new possibilities or does it aim to replace the Pneumatic Cylinders role in TECHNIC sets?

- FCorreia

The goal we set for the new linear Actuator was to be able to add new functions and possibilities together with the new Power Functions system. On top of that we also designed it so it can be used to add functions in models that do not include motors. It is not the idea that it should replace any of the pneumatic cylinders :-)"

See it also here, while it doesn't get too deep in the list... ;)

Last Update: 2008.Jun.13 13:48 GMT

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

First answers, now at Design Studio

"Happy April 1st, everyone!", it's the way it started. ;)

No it is not an April Fools joke!
In the sequence of the 'TECHNIC Design Studio' recent announcement here at TBs , the first fan questions have now been answered at 'Ask a Designer' section.
Now lets hope they find the time to answer more, and continue at good rhythm.

And we got to know, they are working to shoot a new TV commercial next week, for the fall and new TECHNIC sets.

TBs TechPoll 02 - 2008, 1st Quarter - Favorite week TechVideos

Just launched a new poll (2nd) for you to vote on your favorite 'Week TechVideo', among those that have been highlighted at TBs , during the last quarter (2008, Q1).

Below, the list of 'Week TechVideo' posts, for this period:

You can vote at more than one video!

TBs TechTips 014 - Orbital gearbox

Today, another simple and effective design from Paul (Sariel).
From the image and video below we can see how to build a 2-speed orbital gearbox.

As explained on the image, it is a synchronized design, where the gearbox shifts by rotating the blue axle 180 degrees. See more, at Paul's Brickshelf folder like an 'heavy duty' design (below) which internals rotate faster, cause extra load forces but features the same gears relations.

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