Thursday, December 30, 2010

TBs TechTips 32 - LEGO Compass without magnets

New Scientist TV brings us a video that teaches how to build a Compass out of LEGO Technic elements, without using any magnet.
That might sound impossible, but the ancient Chinese worked out how to make it 4500 years ago. An ingenious combination of gears and wheels ensures allows to have a needle on a "pointing chariot" that always points in the same direction as it moves and changes direction.

Find how!...

Like at another example that we saw recently, it turns evident that ancient civilizations mastered the gear mechanisms and maths, much earlier and beyond what we might have imagined!

TBs TechNostalgia 06 - 8485 Commercial

We have been trying to list every LEGO Technic commercial available online, that we are able to find. Specially the older ones, which are not so easy to find nowadays.

Despite the low video quality, here it is one which I think it was not yet listed before at TBs . The set is the 8485 (Control Centre II), released already 15 years ago.

It was certainly one of the most advanced LEGO sets at its time, and it is still among the most favorite LEGO Technic sets from many fans.

A sort of reinvigorated 'Control Centre', is something actually missing in the current PF elements portfolio, which certainly would leverage a different kind of sets and MOCs.
Of course we have the MINDSTORMS platform, but that's another and expensive league, not necessarily required for many applications.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2H2011 LEGO Technic sets - Again

Some new images from the 2H11 Technic sets, were uploaded at flickr.
They are just individual and distorted shots from the same catalog recently seen, but with a better resolution thus revealing a few more details (despite the flash spots). Click on the images to see them enlarged!

8071 - Bucket Truck

It seems to have four functions:

  • Front wheel steering
  • Lower/raise front outriggers
  • Rotate air lift
  • Lower/raise airlift
We can see a knob wheel on the side, below the whit panel, and the function arrows at the box art seem to indicate at least another one at the rear (probably to rotate or raise the air lift).
Some more should exist and then this model should not include any switch box function, but individual knobs instead.

8109 - Flatbed Truck

Now we can clearly see a two-way switch box, which seems to allow for selecting among two main functions:
  • Lower/raise (tilt) the flatbed
  • Extend/retract a tow fork, under the flatbed
It seems there is also an HOG knob on the cabin roof, to steer the front wheels.
And the flatbed winch is now more than evident. Although still not sure if it is a motorized function (not matching the two-way switch box observation), or just manually operated.
Also still not clear where the PF battery box fits inside this model.

8110 - Unimog U400

Not much to add to the previous analysis, except an increased confidence on the hypothesis already advanced.
  • Pneumatic crane with three DOF, and visible levers for the three pneumatic valves on the Unimog rear ride
  • The rear outriggers are now clearly visible from an image at the PF orange band on the right
  • 4-way function switch (two levers), on top of the battery box, but only one function clearly indicated in the diagrams (the head winch).
    The other three probable motorized functions previously advanced, are still good candidates, despite not yet possible to confirm: motorized pump (technically not the same as a compressor); outriggers regulation and crane rotation.
There are still no further details visible, that support or confirm the existence of elements/functions like: claw small pneumatic cylinder, motorized pump, independent wheels suspension or AWD/4WD functionality.

Notice that all the pneumatic tubing seems to be still lacking in this mock-up, which is also not a surprise, considering other preliminary images that we have seen in the past from different models.

Sorry if the terms used are technically the most correct ones, but as you might have already understood... I'm not a native English speaker, not even close...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #51 - Crowkillers 2011

After almost three months of work, Paul Boratko (Crowkillers) uploaded this week a video from his new car.

My first reaction when I saw it was to think - One of these days we might try one of the larger Technic models, at the TechREVERSE Challenge...

It is strongly inspired by the upcoming LEGO Technic 8070 (Supercar), in the form and functions, but still different! Apart from the visible differences that you might find at a closer look, and as we do not expect that Paul has a gift of divine, we could also expect that the solutions he found, should be substantially different from those that TLG put in its own car.

This new Supercar from Paul, is built in studless design with full suspension, both Hand of God steering and also on the driving wheel inside the car, V8 engine, rear wheel drive with suspension and a 4-function switching box that is operated by shifting into four different positions and turning a knob in the rear. Turning clockwise opens each function and counter clockwise closes them.

The four functions allow to operate each door, the hood, and the rear spoiler.

You may also find many pictures from this car functions and construction details, at Paul's Brickshelf folder, as usual.

But let me show some of them, to illustrate a few comments that follow.

Like in real cars, I love the way the butterfly doors open and the visual effect they produce.

But also notice the supreme detail from the pictures above. The panels that are directly behind the front wheels are angled inwards rather than straight up like in the 8070. Angled inwards towards the engine compartment as well as angled inwards towards the door.

The rear of the car is my favorite part, for the good job with the tail lights, contouring them with the panels and getting all of the proper colors into place. Trans-red, trans-orange and clear for reverse. Also the knob operating the 4-functions, is perfectly integrated and dissimulated among the rear panels. The new panels, are indeed a great Technic achievement when compared to their predecessors.

Below a couple of pictures to illustrate the 4-function switching box and the respective associated functions in the car.

Well done!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2H2011 LEGO Technic sets - The first images

Suddenly some images from the 2H2011 LEGO Dealer's catalog have been shown at flickr.
Fortunately those included also some images from most of the 2011 LEGO Tecnhic sets, listed the day before.

Here we go...

8071 - Bucket Truck

The Bucket Truck somehow resembles me the 8292 (Cherry Picker) from 2008, on a truck with a different cabin form, or even more the 8289 (Fire Truck) from 2006, whose aerial lift has more similarities (no telescopic boom) and also had a pair of front outriggers like this new set.
The wheel/tire assembly seems to be the same as used in the rear axis of the 8260 (Tractor) from 2009. It might be a good indication for the scale of this model.
The predominant white color in this model might look a bit unexpected, but it perfectly matches the color from the majority of the results obtained if we google for "Bucket Truck".
As far as we can see from the image, no Power Functions used in this model.

8109 - Flatbed Truck

The most eye-catching characteristic in this model, seems to be its bi-colored yellow/red schema. Quite unusual in Technic sets, at least with such color contrast.
This is a PF enabled set, which seems to include one single M-motor. About this model functions', I'd risk to advance the flatbed can either tilt or slide out. Maybe using a dual mechanism similar to that used in the 8052 (Container Truck) from 2010. Although there is no clue for the presence of a Linear Actuator to perform these functions, from the box image.
From the model main image in the box, it seems there is also a winch function. Three functions seems not too much from a model with the size of this one.
It is the same type of vehicle as proposed for B-model in the 8264 (Hauler) from 2009, however here in a larger scale and likely with more functions.
It would have been a great idea if the LEGO Technic team, had thought to launch another set with a vehicle in a similar scale for the same year, to pair with this Flatbed Truck. If correctly marketed they could have benefited each other, and leveraged their counterpart sales.
So far, no new parts visible in this image.

8110 - Unimog U400

Now, lets look into the 2011 main model. The always awaited Technic flagship!
The Unimog is a versatile multi-purpose Mercedes vehicle, usually sold with attached equipment for specific utilizations. In the case here represented, one lift crane.

After a sneak peak in 2010, it turns obvious that the pneumatics are making a strong return in 2011! They were not present in a flagship since 2006, after several years being used in the largest Technic models (despite usually in small quantities). Maybe the fans demand has been heard in the Olympus...
The pneumatic cylinders are used to move the several crane sections, so there might be two large cylinders present and probably a small one (although not visible in the image) to actuate the claw. From the image we can notice the rubber belts used to force the claw to close, when the hypothetical small cylinder is not actuated.
Also we can notice three levers at the rear, protruding from the respective pneumatic valves. Thus also three cylinders from this perspective.
With such amount of pneumatic cylinders and the PF motor visible in the box, this couldn't be a true flagship, if it would not have a motorized pneumatic compressor... If it gets confirmed, it would mean however that won't be a large pneumatic pump used in this set, but a small one instead.

The presence of a compressor, would confirm this as perfect successor of another mythical Technic set. The 8868 (Air Tech Claw Rig) from 1992. However if we dare to step back a little more in time, this set makes me also to remember the 8854 (Power Crane) from 1989.

As other functions this model might have, we can see a winch at the front and probably some mechanism to rotate the crane in the rear, despite no indication visible in the box. These together with the eventual pneumatic compressor, are the most obvious candidate functions to be present in this model and to get PF motorization.
It would make three functions, which is not a very likely amount. A pair number of functions would be something more usual, therefore we may have enumerated one extra function, or we might have still something else to discover. Maybe the outriggers that seem to glimpse from the rear!?
At least the images on the box seem to indicate the presence of a 4-way switch box on the right side, above the battery box, with two levers (one red and one yellow). An observation consistent with the single PF M-motor, that we can see illustrated in the box.

It seems we're going also to get a new type tires with tis model. As for the proportions perceived from the image, it looks the wheels used might be the 44772 (56mm D. x 34mm) type, but having a new tire with a track of the same type as used in 32019. The tires should be as slim as the wheel they use, thus not a balloon type.
Just wished the model to be large enough, or an off-road Unimog variant, to get the mythic Power Puller wheels...

And finally the color! Yes, the color!!
I want to believe the slightly orange shade that we see at the U400 box, really means what it seems to be, and not some technique to highlight the model's cabin... At least the cabin color shade seems really different from the pneumatic cylinders' yellow, behind.
Hopefully another fans pray that have reached the Olympus...
One way or another, it doesn't seem that we have got really new orange Technic parts, but most likely Bright Light Orange ones (or Flame Yellowish Orange [Color ID 191], if we want to use TLG color nomenclature).
If it confirms to be the case, it wouldn't be totally unexpected for three main reasons:

  • It is a color that was still present in the color palette for 2010. Likely it maintains active for 2011.
  • It is a color which was already used in the past, to produce Technic parts (for a few Bionicle sets, in 2005).
  • Being a different orange shade, it does not cause confusion with the orange details used in all PF elements, as a visually distinctive element.
    There was one orange Technic part used in a recent Technic set (8297, Off-Roader) also using PF elements. Probably because it was a singular part, it was not considered enough to raise confusion, but instead something that would enhance the PF wow effect.
After all, apart a few beams and panels, it doesn't seem that TLG had to produce that many different elements in this orange shade, to please one long waited fans wish.
Just hope it is something to continue, with an increased variety of Technic parts, produced in this same color. 

Unlike in the previous Technic flagships, there are no stickers with a clue about which was the Technic designer behind this awesome set.

On a less positive note, the Mercedes-Benz logo in the box, seems to be the main reason to justify the dealer price increase, already seen on a price-list. As we well know, licensed sets usually means higher prices.
Unfortunately it is not a price increased for the best reason - Some new cool PF elements, or increased set complexity and part count.
Although, it is cool to have another licensed Technic set!

Some other questions that remain open after having seen this image:
  • Does the wheels have suspension?
  • Is it 4WD, with three diffs?

Now, it just rests to know what the 8081 (Extreme Cruiser) set is going to be.
A mid sized motorcycle... or a kind of a Jeep/SUV.

Friday, December 24, 2010

2H2011 LEGO Technic sets listed has now listed the new LEGO Technic sets for the 2H11.

According to this list, they will be:

  • 8071 - Bucket Truck
  • 8081 - Extreme Cruiser
  • 8109 - Flatbed Truck
  • 8110 - Unimog U400
    Let me speculate a bit... Having the highest set number, this seems to be the 2011 Technic flagship, and I'd guess it is a large TrTr vehicle with lots of parts and some new cool ones...
    From the indications that I've seen, its retail price will increase a bit, if we have the 8043 as a reference. Thus probably, some even more cool stuff in there.
    Some images if you want to see what an Unimog U400, might be...

Trial and Racing competitions review - 2010

The plan was to have here a quarterly resume with the latests videos from TrTr or Technic Race competitions, being promoted by different LUGs.
Somehow it has not been done, and the last resume published (also the first one...), was for the 3rd Quarter of 2009.
Anyhow we won't want to finish another year, without highlighting some of the great competitions that have been happening all over the world, in 2010!

Czech Republic
And because we are in the winter, there is actually snow almost everywhere (not here...), lets start with the LEGO Technic Rallies organized by Kostky club members.

The 4th competition from the LTR series, happened in January - Rally White Hill

The cars in competition.
The pole!
The race results.
And the overal LTR ranking, after 4 races.

Because snow is something very unusual in the country where I live, I always got fascinated seeing LEGO models rolling on the snow.
Here we just have sun, beaches and thus boring things...

There was a 5th race in April (Rally Bimox), but from this I've not found any video footage.

The pole!
The race results.
And the overal LTR ranking, after the 5th race.

Shmade is consistently taking the leadership, in the competition.

But has we have seen from previous years, the Czech group also organize their own competitions in the TrTr category. 2010 was not an exception and they have organized their third official Truck Trial Championship, comprising 5 races.

Below a couple of videos from their 2010 races. A promo video and a crash compilation.

You may also find a ton of very nice nature photos, from the Czech 2010 LEGO Technic TrTr (LTTT) races, under this Brickshelf folder.
Just some appetizer...

It looks the challenge is getting though!!

And again LUGPol should have been the most active community, organizing TrTr competitions.
Here we get an overview from all their competitions in 2010, from the excellent videos produced by Sariel.

#1/2010 Grand Prix Mazovia - Warsaw, Poland - April 10th, 2010
13 Trucks, 4 sections

#2/2010 Grand Prix Mazovia - Warsaw, Poland - April 24th, 2010
13 Trucks, 4 sections

#3/2010 Grand Prix Mazovia - Warsaw, Poland - May 22th, 2010
11 Trucks, 4 sections

#4/2010 Grand Prix Mazovia - Warsaw, Poland - August 7th, 2010
9 Trucks, 4 sections

#5/2010 Grand Prix Mazovia - Warsaw, Poland - September 4th, 2010

#6/2010 Grand Prix Mazovia - Warsaw, Poland - September 2th, 2010

MALUG members also did a few TrTr competitions in 2010.
Here we the videos from their most successful event.

The pole!
Hungarian Truck Trial Meeting - July 17th, 2010

Also the BeLUG members organized a TrTr training day, for a later competition.
Obstacles all made of LEGO bricks. Some really interesting ones!

Belgian Truck Trial - Training Day - August, 2010

Let us know if there are videos from some other races or TrTr competitions that have been happening at different places/LUGs, and I'll gladly keep updating them into this post.

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