Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Week TechVideo, 2009 #14 - Batmobile Tumbler

The fellow LEGO Ambassador Peer Kreuger (mahjqa) from LOWLUG, made an awesome TECHNIC version of the Batmobile 'Tumbler'.
It is powered with LPF elements, remote controlled and features manual 2-speed gearbox, rear axis differential and a functional steering.

Nice effect for a picture taken on the bathtub.

Funny was the video end, when the Tumbler felt from the stairs after the IR steering got stuck, once the cart went out of the room and IR signal became also out of line sight.
Not so funny thought Peer for sure... but as far as I know, no severe damage did happen and it took just some minutes to rebuild it all.
The end was so hilarious, that I even thought it was intentional.

Very nice, is also the solution found to make the front Tumbler wheels to steer.

You may find additional photos, at mahjqa's Flickr photostream.

In case you'd like to know more about this Batmobile car, originally made for the film 'Batman Begins' (2005), you may also take a look on the video below.

The Tumbler

Take care and get out the front of the car!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

TLG officially announced the first PF train

Not really TECHNIC, but close enough... really close!...

After some of usual leaks, TLG has announced among great AFOL Community excitement some weeks ago, the new Direct To Consumer Exclusive train set, the Emerald Night (10194).

Despite the magnificent design, it wouldn't be justification for the furor it caused, if it wasn't also anticipated for long time, that LEGO was to replace their 9V and RC train systems by a new PF substitute train system.

Through several official communications in the past [1, page 2], [2], [3] we got to know the PF train system would include several new PF elements, like an IR Speed Remote Control and a Rechargeable Battery Box.
Apart some preliminary rumored information, the previous announcement revealed just the train and the fact that it would not include of the box, any PF elements. Anyone who would intend to motorize the train with the new PF train system, would need to buy them separately.

The whole elements were planned to be first be unveiled to the public, simultaneously at Brickfest PDX in Portland (Oregon) and Wunderwelt Modellbau in St. Pölten (Austria), this weekend. At the same time the several packs were published also at the S@H website.

On top of this, we also got an official video announcement from Jamie Berard (LEGO Designer) with some explanations about the train and its new elements. However nothing significant mentioned about the new PF elements. See it below:

See on the side of the GG in the background near 3' 15'', when Pierre comes into the scene. A new LEGO modular on the way!?...

The train and the new PF elements, are made available to the public in different packs from LEGO S@H, as listed below:
  • 10194 - The Emerald Night Train
  • K10194 - The Emerald Night Collection
  • K8882 - LEGO® Power Functions Train Accessories Pack

The pack K10194 includes the 10194 Emerald Train, the new Flexible Track and some old/new PF elements which allow to lit the train headlights, motorize and remote it:
  • 10194 - The Emerald Night Train
  • 8867 - Flexible Train Track
  • 8870 - Power Functions Light
  • 8878 - Power Functions Rechargeable Battery Box *
  • 8879 - Power Functions IR Speed Remote Control *
  • 8882 - Power Functions XL Motor
  • 8884 - Power Functions IR Receiver
  • 8887 - Power Functions Transformer 10V DC *
* New PF elements

The pack K8882 includes just the PF elements required to enlighten, motorize and remote the train:
  • 8870 - Power Functions Light
  • 8878 - Power Functions Rechargeable Battery Box *
  • 8879 - Power Functions IR Speed Remote Control *
  • 8882 - Power Functions XL Motor
  • 8884 - Power Functions IR Receiver
  • 8887 - Power Functions Transformer 10V DC *
* New PF elements

As for the prices, while we know that the train set (10194) will cost: 99,99USD; 89,99EUR (not the same in all European Countries) or 68,50GBP.
For the today's announced packs and individual elements, the only price source up to the moment is the UK S@H catalog, here and here which points to:
  • K10194 - 159,99 GBP
  • K8882 - 79,99 GBP
  • 8867 - 22,50 GBP (Flexible Train Track elements, 64x)
  • 8878 - 42,09 GBP (PF Rechargeable Battery Box)
  • 8879 - 10,75 GBP (PF IR Speed Remote Control, Handset)
  • 8887 - 16,65 GBP (PF Transformer 10V DC, Battery charger)

If we take a look into the price for the complete PF train set, it will be quite a lot of money.
Wonder how will LEGO manage to release SYSTEM City PF trains, in the future, at reasonable prices.

The new Track elements:

Apart to the new PF elements, we're also getting the new Flexible Train Track (8867), which will bring a new freedom for the train enthusiasts, to build their layouts. This was one of the main train fans demand for long time, finally made true.

Certainly after many wondering for long time, which solution would be in use by TLG, an unexpected one for most.

Each 8867 box, will include 64x FlexTrack elements, which will allow smooth curves and elevations. If you carefully look into the picture above, will see the these track elements include a check rail to prevent derailments, which is something very new into LEGO train tracks.

After this, train layouts will get:
  • parallel or single curves of any radius.
  • eliptic, parabolic or any variable radius curves
  • close any geometry where just small deviations are needed
  • easier or shorter line elevations
  • ...

The Train PF elements:

To enlighten and motorize the Emerald Night (10194), LEGO designers have used some of the previously available LPF elements like: the IR Receiver (8884), the XL-Motor (8882) and PF Lights (8870).

At the same time, while the TECHNIC motors are traditionally used in steam locos, the previous LEGO RC train motor is also about to be sold as a separate element (8866), to be used within other type of PF Trains.
Together with a PF Extension Wire (8886), it could be connected to a PF IR Receiver (8884) and thus get speed control via the new PF IR Speed Remote Control (8879) as well. Or of course directly connected to the new PF Rechargeable Battery Box (8878) which also has built-in speed control.

And finally, lets look into the new PF elements and their details:

The PF IR Speed Remote Control (8879) is another 4 channel PF remote, but this with speed and other control capabilities, making wider use of the C1/C2 signals, as defined within PF RC protocol.

With this IR Speed RC handset you control the power on both outputs of the IR Receiver (8884) – you can control the speed of a motor in both directions or even dim the light. The Power Functions RC system has 4 channels so you can run up to 8 trains at the same time (2 trains on the same channel but on different outputs).

The remote has two dials where you can set speed and direction on each channel (7 speed forward and 7 speed backward). It relies on 'Single output Mode' as defined in the PF RC Protocol above mentioned and has no timeout for lost IR commands.
Below each channel you have also one 'Stop' button and one pole reverser switch, as in the standard IR Remote Control (8885).

The form factor of this PF remote is also similar to the one used for 8885, having the same beam connectivity on the left and right sides. This will contribute to easier integration of both remote types, as well as development of imaginative solutions around this remote as we have seen earlier with 8885.

The PF Rechargeable Battery Box (8878) is a Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) Rechargeable battery, with 1150mAh capacity and 7,4V output.
The battery will have on topside a normal PF connector for connectivity to the rest of the PF elements and one connector for recharging via the new DC transformer. As consequence and with actual solution, the train must be stopped for battery replacement or charging.

In cases where you just want your train to drive without remote control, the Rechargeable battery has integrated speed control of its own (orange dial): Connect the motor directly to the Rechargeable battery, set the dial at the desired speed and press the green button.
This might be also very useful for standalone applications of this battery, into TECHNIC models.

An undesired feature, from AFOLs perspective I would say, is a built-in power-off timer which actuates after 2h without any interaction with the battery (speed change command or charging). Any of these actions will immediately reset the timer and are the ways to make it run longer without interruption, which is of particular importance at exhibition displays.

The PF Transformer 10V DC (8887) is a more conventional and new type of LEGO transformer, introduced due to future legal requirements. It replaces the old 10VAC transformer used with the old 9V trains and the NXT rechargeable battery, which will be progressively phased out.
With this transformer, each PF rechargeable battery is expected to fully charge in less than 2 hours (confirmation measurements to be done at first opportunity).

Now lets use and abuse from these new elements into our TECHNIC constructions!
Unfortunately none of these new PF elements, seem to be included with the new 2H2009 TECHNIC sets.

Meanwhile some packs and elements prices, for US and European markets, have been listed at S@H.
I'll add them to the table below, as the still missing ones get known.
Please note that listed European prices, may vary across Euro countries.


10194Emerald Night99,9989,9568,50
K10194The Emerald Night Collection219,99215,95159,99
K8882LEGO® Power Functions Train Accessories Pack99,99115,9579,99
8867Flexible Train Track24,9929,9522,50
8878Power Functions Rechargeable Battery Box49,9959,9542,09
8879Power Functions IR Speed Remote Control12,9914,9510,75
8887Power Functions Transformer 10V DC24,9924,9516,65
8866Train Motor10,9913,959,79

Last Update: 2009.Mar.31 02:18 GMT

Friday, March 27, 2009

Week TechVideo, 2009 #13 - Cine Room

It is the second time, I bring here a video showing a perfect integration of TECHNIC into a primarily SYSTEM building.

This time a Cine Room by Ricardo Oliveira (fellow from PLUG), where he made use of some TECHNIC stuff to build a working movie projector, for his latest creation. The Cine Room was built as a tribute and gift to a friend (Luis Santos), who helped Ricardo with preparation of the video for his Vending Machine.

Apart the very nice looking room, plenty of details and beautiful seats, the highlight goes for the projector mechanism implementation, made with TECHNIC parts.
Like any classic projector, it includes a light source, a shutter and a reel that carries the customized acetate film.
Note however that the secret here is the use of an 54930c02, electric light brick with yellow LED and one press button, which in one single piece simulate the traditional 'light source + shutter'. Thus the mechanism just needs to actuate on the press button at predefined intervals synched with each film frame, that's running simultaneously, to lit the scene.

Se it in action, below...

The video is again very well done and the slightly scratched B&W film, gave it a special old cinema touch.

You may also find additional photos showing the details for this MOC, at Ricardo's BS folder.

Genial and Kudos for Ricardo!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SR 3D Builder

Many of you, may never heard about 'SR 3D Builder' before!?
A CAD application for PC, which allows you to create LEGO models. It was created by Sergio Reano, who as been working on its successive enhancements, since 2006.
Actually in version

Among 'SR 3D Builder' features, you may find:
  • Support for other popular program formats like: .dat; .ldr and .mpd (partially support) files
  • 3D view building environment with reflection and transparencies
  • Fast selecting/moving/adding/removing
  • Copy/Rotation/Deletetion/Color change of single or multiple brick
  • Real connections detection (not always the same near brick positioning)
  • Brick selection by Block (means that solid connected bricks can be selected at once)
  • Grid positioning to speed up positioning of pieces
  • Automatic and precise positioning of most bricks according to connection detection
  • Automatic detection of rotation axles
  • Hinges and gear support (includes real time animation of moving parts)
  • Connection Solver for quick connecting hinges and rotating parts
  • Towball connection support
  • Belt Generator with real connections
  • Undo/Redo options and Automatic brick orientation
  • Support of unofficial parts
  • Management of parts groups
  • Exclusive MirrorBuilding features for quick build of symmetric models
  • And much more...

Besides extremely fast on real time rendering, while rotating complex models, 'SR 3D Builder' is not just another LEGO CAD application and it is certainly not because of it, that I'm writing here today about.

It was a bit more than one year ago, when I tried a new 'SR 3D Builder' feature which let me totally astonished and which I was not expecting to see any time soon running this smooth, on a desktop PC (and have been since then, promising myself to write here about it...).
Unlike other LEGO CAD programs like LDD, MLCAD (LDraw package) or LeoCAD, this program is easily and automatically capable to detect rotation axles in parts like gears or hinges, solve connections between these parts and animate their movements in real time with proper relative speeds!
Of course I'm here not comparing this, with professional CAD applications like SolidWorks and others similar.

Doubt it? Then take a look in the small sample video below, that I've produced to illustrate the feature.

Amazing, isn't it!?

But if you enjoyed it, then you may want to see some other videos that Sergio recently prepared to show the capabilities of his application.

Some more examples, may also be seen at Sergio's YouTube channel.

Certainly, features like these, would be a great addition to LDD and others, despite different targeted audiences.
And there are still, new features to come...

Once some have shown curiosity to see how does 'SR 3D Builder' animations would perform with large part-count and complex models, I took the hint and produced another video using the 8480 (Space Shuttle) model file.

While in some situations the results produced are really promising, some others are more funny, so to say!

Don't forget some parts may have not been patched to support automatic rotations and some other sections of the model seem not properly connected for some reason
, which originates a few disruptions (probably not properly handled during set model definition, whichever CAD application was used to make it). It happens for instance, with some hinge plates at the delta wing.
The model has a complex gearbox with driving rings which require proper setting (positioning), to make the functions to work, but not achievable with simple rotational movements. Thus some preparation required to see every e2e mechanism and respective gears working.

Also the moving parts behave like ghosts, moving into the space already occupied by other parts upon rotation movements. To be honest I was also not expecting it to be different at this stage.

Nevertheless it is possible to properly operate the cargo compartment doors, some of the Canadarm and satellite functions, the front landing gear, etc...

Good work!

Last Update: 2009.Mar.26 02:29 GMT

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Week TechVideo, 2009 #12 - One beast of hydraulic shovel

I was amazed sometime ago, when saw this model for the first time, so it has been in my post queue since awhile.

It is a 1:42 scale LEGO model from world's largest hydraulic shovel (Terex RH400) and a creation from the LUGPol member Zbiczasty.

This 4Kg LEGO model is powered with 4 motors and 14 pneumatic cylinders, and reproduces quite accurately the original monster functions, as you can see from the video above.
It features drive, steering, an impressive arm movements recreation and even the open/close shovel mechanism.

You may find more images at Zbiczasty's BS folder, however lets enjoy just a few extra deeplinks below.

Massive, isn't it!?

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