Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TBs TechTips 31 - Sequential gearbox 7+R, by Sheepo

...It is today or never!
I've been about to write this post since my visit to HispaBrick 2009 in Madrid (Spain), last December...

By that time I also wrote a post tagged with TBs TechTips, about a LEGO Technic sequential gearbox (from Sariel). Today we have here a much different solution for the same problem, and simultaneously an extremely interesting one.

It is a sequential gear box developed by Sheepo (Fernando), based on the design included with the mythic 8448 'Super Street Sensation', but expanded with 2 additional speeds, thus achieving an amazing 7+R configuration.

A Technic sequential gearbox is a challenge that I was always amazed with, and made me wonder whether it would be possible to build something reliable within a reasonable size range (or almost...). Thus it was with big satisfaction that I finally saw some solutions to raise.

The gearbox ratios achieved with this model from Sheepo, are:
  • R - 0,40
  • 1 - 0,60
  • 2 - 0,67
  • 3 - 1,00
  • 4 - 1,11
  • 5 - 1,67
  • 6 - 1,85
  • 7 - 2,77

I had the privilege to see it live and working inside Sheepo's Bugatti Veyron 16.4 [1, 2] while at Hispabrick, and I must say it is absolutely amazing, despite not yet 100% reliable (but getting very close).
For sometime it was quite a mystery how did Sheepo managed to make it working. The car was so crowded of parts and mechanisms that even with a deep look and taking some videos, it was impossible to realize how the 'thing' works without seeing the gearbox alone out of the model, or having a CAD model from it.
I remember to ask Sheepo to prepare something that would allow us to fully understand the mechanism, how it works and all the effort he put to develop this idea.

Not much time after, Sheepo prepared a photo sequence that would allow us to follow the building steps, understand it and eventually come up with some improvements.
Later and with the contribution from Jurgen Krooshoop [3, 4], it was prepared also one LDraw model for the gearbox with instructions.
You may find all the images at Brickshelf and a commented sequence at MOCpages.

And two additional videos at YouTube [5, 6].

As mentioned above, all this lives inside a the latest Sheepo's supercar, a model from the Bugatti Veyron 16.4.

The model with stunning curves and details, reproduces as close as possible with LEGO Technic parts the real Bugatti model and uses a set of LPF and legacy parts featuring some innovative and interesting functions, like:
  • 1x RC motor, to move the vehicle.
  • 1x XL-motor, for the sequential gearbox.
  • 1x M-motor, for the brakes.
  • 1x M-motor, for the steering.
  • 1x M-motor, to control the foldable top.
  • 1x M-motor, to control rear spoiler both actions (foldable and tilt adjustable).
  • 3x PF IR-receivers.
  • 3x PF IR bang-bang remotes, with a double lever in front of the set of controllers for changing gears.
all this powered with,
  • 1x PF Battery box.

    Apart from the very clever design of the rear spoiler, which goes up and tilts with the same continuous movement and single motor, there is also a set of all wheels friction based brakes, that are functional and compact enough to fit within each of the 8448 wheels.

    For more photos and descriptions, take a look at Sheepo's MOCpages account.

    From there you may also find a nice video about this model and its functions, produced in cooperation with the store.

    Read the extensive description about the model and its building process, as the main article from the latest edition of Hispabrick Magazine (available online for free download).
    It is also a tribute to LEGO Technic supercars, from which we don't see any new official model, simply for too long time...

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Week TechVideo, 2010 #12 - LEGO conveyor belt trailer (self unloading)

    Just found it interesting and a pretty original function, built with LEGO Technic.

    One truck trailer with a belt conveyor, which can be filled with approx. 20 Kg of beans and unloads itself within 12 minutes.
    It is part from a 1:13 scale model of a DAF 95XF truck designed by Dennis Bosman (legotrucks).

    You can read all about this model, built in 2002, at 'LEGO Trucks & Heavy Equipment' website, where you will find also lot more about other Dennis' creations (Trucks and Construction Machinery).

    And of course, Dennis was also featured in my favorite TBs post.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    LEGO Education Renewable Energy Set, available for pre-order

    Renewable Energy Add-On Set (9688) here referred before [1, 2], is now available for pre-order from LEGO Education US Website.

    Indicated price is $99,95 and it is expected to ship by Fall 2010.

    Good source for new NXT/LPF parts and  some wind blades.

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Week TechVideo, 2010 #10 - One more Skid Steer Loader

    As far as I remember, two Skid Steer Loaders have been featured here at TBs .
    Each with a different implementation for the mechanism to raise the bucket [1, pneumatic cylinders] [2, linear actuator made of discrete parts].
    Today a third one from Attila. This time a full RC tracked version, inspired on CAT 277B, and using four LEGO Linear Actuators for the bucket control.

    It looks quit well built and realistic.
    As usual you may find some more photos from this model, at Attila's Brickshelf folder.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    TBs TechTips 30 - Pneumatic auto-valves with return-to-center function

    Not exactly the most consensual way of building with LEGO Technic, but some have developed a simple concept for remotely controlling pneumatic valves.

    First dmac (LUGPol's member) introduced his concept with the video below. An automatic pneumatic valve steered by a PF M-motor.
    When actuated in one direction, the PF M-motor takes the lever on the valve to one side and then it returns to center.

    Aiming to achieve a small size, major drawbacks are: motor stalled at both ends of travel, above usual stressed parts and weird angles formed between pats. Also it even shortens the battery autonomy.
    However the design is simple, effective and small which is quite important when it comes to to remote control a few pneumatic valves into a medium-sized model.
    Most interesting is the ability from the LPF motor to return-to-center, once de-energized. This happens because the tensions generated are enough to make the PF-motor to rewind a bit.
    This of course would also be possible with a clutch gear and other return return-to-center solutions presented here. However once more, space saving was the major goal to achieve with this design.

    ...and so fistachpl or Intact (another LUGPol member), needing to fit 4 of them into a single MOC, took it even further and proposed a smaller design.

    With his design, fistachpl managed to build a quadruple valve with a dimension of just 16x9x6 studs. Like this...

    Definitely a couple of significant steps to add remote control capabilities into more complex while small/medium sized pneumatic models.

    Having exchanged some messages with fistachpl, I must admit that the stressed parts here involved may be seen as an acceptable price to pay, comparable to other large models like cranes with huge booms where there are far more compressed and tensioned parts. Some are bended, gears are fatigued and some parts are under combined tensions (compression, bending, etc). Therefore a little bending and torsion of a few parts, may be nothing when compared to what we're already used to see in many other models and most of the times not even notice.
    In addition it works perfectly still under high pressures and it's very simple design.

    Although, I'm still a fan from Sariel's pneumatic autovalve design, shown here at TBs long ago.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Week TechVideo, 2010 #09 - SR 3D Builder, latest improvements

    Probably you will remember a post from one year ago [1], about SR 3D Builder application.

    Now in version 0.4.58, it is getting a more & more interesting and powerful tool, release after release.
    So that this week, I decided to highlight not one but the last two videos from Sergio Reano on YouTube, to show the last improvements of this great tool!

    Here you have the latest improvements (0.4.58) regarding complex hinges with 4-bar linkage and upwards.
    But also some other application improvements on graphical display performance.

    Going back a few months and release 0.4.57, you got the ability to fade out fixed parts into an animation, to show mechanic functionality. Just great, isn't it?

    Give it a try!

    Please notice the time this post was written, version 0.4.58 was just a preview on YouTube, and version 0.4.57 was still the one available at Sergio's website.
    Only today, Sergio released the new version.

    As consequence many of you who didn't realize on the version number, may have downloaded one version expecting to see something that wasn't still not there.
    If it was your case, please download and install the new version uploaded.

    Sorry for any inconvenience! 

    Last Update: 2010.Mar.09 18:02 CET

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Curiosities about the 8258 Crane Truck

    Yesterday TLG announced its Annual Report and Progress Report for the financial year of 2009.
    The results increased considerably at all fronts (Sales, Profit, Assest, Cash Flow, Investment, etc...). Just "highly satisfactory results" as stated in the report.

    As supplement to both reports, TLG released the 2nd issue from its annual magazine, The Brick.
    All this to say that I found inside, an interesting article with some facts & curiosities about the 2009 Technic flagship (8258) and Uwe Wabra who has designed it [1, 2]. Some are not really new to the fans, but still interesting notes.


    "If LEGO Designer Uwe Wabra sees a tough, cool truck driving down the street, he is quite likely to run after it for a closer look. That’s what it’s like being a LEGO® Technic designer. Although most of the inspiration for the big models comes from online illustrations or trade fairs, the designer is always on the lookout for new interesting details.

    It took Uwe Wabra eight months to design the big motorised Technic Crane Truck. He built at least 50 different versions before arriving at the finished item. The result is a red truck with a four‑stage gearbox controlling all its functions. The yellow crane unfolds, rises and lowers, and swivels. The
    cab can tip open, and four outriggers stabilise the vehicle as it lifts its heavy loads.

    While Uwe Wabra is designing a model, he can build it without the building instructions – he could put the crane truck together in 4‑5 hours, whereas other people might spend twice that long. But once the model is finished and he is working on a new design project, within a couple of weeks he’s forgotten the old one.

    It looks, by the way, as if Uwe likes the number 1877. The Crane Truck consists of 1877 LEGO pieces – the same number as the black Tow Truck (a US vehicle from 2006) that he also designed."

    Again nothing new for us, but still a note on the same page, which is also mentioned at different place in the magazine, to be an actual trend in the Company.
    Designers leave fingerprint

    "Notice the driver’s name sign on the windscreen, the registration plate and the company name on the door UW Lifting Service – the vehicle carries the designer’s personal touch."

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    LEGO Power Functions RC Protocol v1.20 update

    Today LEGO released a new version from the LPF RC Protocol document.
    Now in its version 1.20, which can be downloaded from here.

    After having analyzed the document, the main changes seem to be:

    • Removal of "Single pin continuous mode".
    • Removal of "Single pin timeout mode".
    • Some commands addition to the "Single output mode". As it seems this has also inherited equivalents to the commands from the first mode above (removed).

     Some questions that are now raising in my head, are:
    • Why were these modes removed?
      • For optimization and reserve space for new modes to come!?
    • Is it the "Single pin timeout mode" simply gone?
    • Reasoning for the negative logic at some "Single ouptut mode" added commands?
    • What have changed besides the protocol?
      • Does the RC Receivers will get changed too, getting us a 3rd version of them?
      • What about retro-compatibility? I guess the existing receivers will continue to answer to the modes now removed!?
    • Any other subtle changes in this new version of the protocol?

     ...clarification request addressed to TLG.

    Having meanwhile studied the document again, I can say the both modes removed ("Single pin continuous" and "Single pin timeout") were incorporated into "Single output mode".

    Also and answering to another set of questions above, one can say that the RC Receivers didn't get another change at the time.
    It happens this new version of the document describing the LPF RC Protocol was intended to replace the previous one (version 1.10), which was released with errors. Thus the RC Receivers in production by then implement the protocol described in version 1.20, instead of 1.10.

    Last Update: 2012.Jun.30 00:30 CET

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Motorized LEGO Boat Race

    Michael Huffmann has drawn my attention to this announcement for a Motorized LEGO Boat Race at BrickMagic.

    This is a call for participation in a Motorized LEGO Boat Race to be held at BrickMagic - a LEGO Fan event in Raleigh, North Carolina on May 7, 8, and 9, 2010 - Mother’s Day weekend!

    I had posted the rules awhile back & they have worked well for us at GFLUG for the past 2 years. I will probably amend the rules a little as it applies to BrickMagic and post the official ones on the BrickMagic web-site.

    There will be 2 to 3 different heaps -- simple (from one side of the pool to the other), simple (a lap of the pool; back and forth), and advance (around the pool and around obstacles).

    There will be trophies and prizes for winners and sinkers -- possible categories:

    Davy Jones Award for Boat that Sank the Fastest
    Doofensmirtz Award for Advanced Boat that Sank Itself
    Best Boat Float - Best Themed Boat

    Some disclaimers about the boat race:

    (1) Everyone who participates must be an adult & understands the risks to their LEGO motorized boat; that no one will be responsible for water damaged parts, nor any part replacement.
    (2) Everyone around the pool, everyone must exercise caution to not slip -- meaning no shoes & maybe wear swim attire, no running.
    (3) There will be zero tolerance for alcohol during the race... afterwards is a different story.
    (4) Disclaimer and rules are subject to change.

    If you have any questions, need clarification on rules, or just plan to participate, please send me e-mail.

    Some final thoughts:
    • Always remember try out your boat in water before the event.
    • Don’t over engineer the problem, sometime simpler is faster.
    • We came up with a few other (alternative) heaps listed below.
    • Water-proof your electronics! Can’t stress this enough.
    • There is a limited range to some LEGO electronics, this became painfully obvious as we maneuvered boats around the pool

    Mike Huffman
    BrickMagic Motorized LEGO Boat Race Coordinator

    Here are a few pics from last year's edition:

    The Challenge is on!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 challenge competition - March challenge

    The LEGO Technic Challenge competion theme for the month of March is announced!

    Continuing the success from the previous month [1, 2], Off-Road is now the theme.

    What to build?
    This month (March) the competition is all about Offroading - build a model that can handle going offroad, a master of the terrain that can handle the hardest conditions!
    Sand, snow and outdoor environments can be hard on your LEGO® Technic elements, your model does not need to be pictured outside, but must fit into the Off-Road theme.

    Previous Winner
    The winner for February was meanwhile also voted, and it goes for user shadow.m36 who built a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) Plane.
    "It is a remote control VTOL plane. an XL motor controls the angle of the propellors and a small motor to power each propellor."

    Join the Challenge and continue to the Big Finale in October!

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