Sunday, April 25, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #16 - Tetris-Bot

This 'thing' uses too much non-LEGO elements... but still considered the video worths a mention here.

Tetris-Bot is a Tetris-playing robot. Now robots play games for us!...

It consists of a DSP board to analyze images coming from a camera, and a three-finger NXT robotic hand that presses the keys on the computer keyboard.
The software running on the DSP recognizes the new shapes falling and finds the best place/orientation where they fit. Then the instructions are communicated to the NXT robotic hand, via the outputs LEDs on the board and a light sensor connected to the NXT brick.

Very original, at least!

Monday, April 19, 2010

LDD for Technic?

Traditionally Technic creators have used either photos or LDraw to document their constructions, and sometimes with stunning results. However the learning curve for LDraw is quite steep (despite the existence of several tutorials). On of the main 'problems' with LDraw used to be the fact that parts don't simply click together and that traditionally LDraw even permits the existence of a part completely or partially inside another*.

For those who have never tried LDraw for these and other reasons, at first LDD looked  like it might be the solution. However, the limited number of available parts and colours, as well as some initial bugs in the program soon made it clear that it wasn't the tool many had hoped for, especially for Technic builders.

A recent development in LDD has changed some of that though. It still isn't the perfect Technic Designer tool, but it may be closer to an interesting starting point for those who want to begin documenting their constructions with a CAD tool.

A recent post on EuroBricks revealed that a minor change in one of the .ini files now gives you access to what is called the LEGO Universe (LU) mode. This mode gives you access to a much larger number of parts and colours, although no longer with the certainty that anything you build can also be ordered - the original purpose of LDD.

For instructions on how to activate LU Mode please refer to the information posted on EuroBricks.

Is it any good? Well judge for yourself: zblj made the following instruction file based on his mini off-roader:

* There is an LDraw compatible tool that does incorporate this click-into-place function as well as many other advanced options, called SR 3D [1][2]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #15 - What a suspension!...

This week lets take o look into a video from a peculiar suspension design.
It was done by zacflyer, and features a wip 4x4 car with crab steering and powered by NXT motors.

For more about the suspension details, you should also take a look at this other video from the same author.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Gear Ratio Calculator, by Sariel

If you have ever used Sariel's Gear Ratio Calculator before, you're qualified for a surprise: it has been completely updated and has become even easier to use and with added functionality.

First of all, you can now easily choose which gear is driver and which is follower using a visual drop-down menu with 20 different gears, including all three available differentials, the two Technic turntables and the Hailfire wheel. You can select up to 25 pairs of gears and you will get gear ratio information for each pair of gears as well as for the cumulative result.

A second utility has been added to the page: a Gear Coupler. You can select different distances based on a grid of either liftarms or Technic bricks (the horizontal spacing between the two types is different!) and for each distance all available gear combinations and their resulting gear ratios are shown, ordered from low to high.

This second tool only works for parallel gears so the differentials, the worm gear and the single bevel gears are not taken into account. Just like for the Gear Ratio Calculator, gear ratios are indicated next to each possible gear combination.

The calculator was made using the jQuery library so you will need to use a JavaScript enabled browser that supports this technology (IE 6+, Firefox 2+, Safari 3+, Opera 9+, Chrome1+).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The LEGO Group Wants to Hear From You! - April 2010

The LEGO Group Wants to Hear From You!

As Adult or Teenage Fans of LEGO, you bring an important perspective to the LEGO Group. We respect your creativity and passion for the LEGO brand.

Since December 2008, we have done quarterly online surveys to learn more about the needs and wishes of global AFOL (defined as ages 20+) and TFOL (defined as ages 13-19) communities. For your information, we have listed the key findings from the latest survey in November 2009 below. Now we ask you to take the survey again. It include some of the same questions, but also a set of new questions for you.

Please take a few moments to complete this short online survey to let us know your opinion about the LEGO Group.

You might notice that the link refers to the LEGO Kids Inner Circle; this is because Satmetrix, which hosts that site, is also supporting our efforts to track AFOL/TFOL opinions. Rest assured that this survey is for AFOL’s and TFOLs only.

Here are some of the key findings from the November 2009 survey:

  • The survey was completed by 3.800 AFOLs and TFOLs. 30% of respondents were TFOLs, 70% was AFOLs. When asked about likeliness to recommend LEGO products and services to friends and family, AFOLs are (consistent with the previous surveys) more likely to recommend than TFOLs. When asked what the LEGO Group can do to improve willingness to recommend, most frequent answers center around request for adult/teen oriented products, re-release of classic sets and better pricing.
  • In this survey we asked some questions specifically about LEGO Architecture. It was interesting for us to find out that 91% of the respondents are aware of LEGO Architecture. There was given as the most important reasons to purchase a LEGO Architecture set:
  • I liked the building (53%)
  • I like the way the product looks when it is built (44%)
  • I just saw it and wanted it (40%)
    • We also asked about AFOL and TFOL experiences with different LEGO Group touchpoints. A touchpoint is what we call places where consumers are in direct contact with the LEGO Group e.g. LEGO Stores, Consumer Service or The touch points which received the highest rating by you was LEGO Stores and Consumer Service. The ones that received the lowest rating was (excluding S@H) and the Community Team. We will investigate the reasons for the lower ratings further as we certainly want to improve!

    Thank you,
    The LEGO Community Team

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    NK Supercar, made digital

    Nathanael Kuipers (NK) is known for some of his large Technic cars, either built outside and inside TLG. I won't mention Supercars, to avoid any confusions and misinterpretations here, as some are not exactly in that class of models.

    But one of his Supecars is an AWD Convertible with Double Wishbone suspension and Butterfly doors (guess they are not exactly Scissor doors).
    This is a MOC built with parts from two mythic LEGO Technic cars (8458, Silver Champion and 8466, Off-Roader).

    You may find several photos, the LDraw model and partial photo instructions, at Nathanael's Brickshelf folder.

    But the relevance from the story, came from the fact that he took more than 5 years to finish the LDraw file for this model. But for the satisfaction of some, he finally did!
    So that the renders start to appear immediately... Bellow on the left one render produced by Blakbird and the one made by Nathanael on the right.
    Or might it be a really nice photograph?... Discover through the comments left...

    Awesome, aren't they!?

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Week TechVideo, 2010 #14 - TT10 by Attila

    Once more, Attila brings us some very nice looking model. This time a vehicle for TT races from MALUG (Hungary).
    It is a model from the KrAZ 255B truck, it uses 3 PF XL-motors for driving and lets see how does it works at some inhospitable terrain.

    You may find some more images from the tenth Attila's TT model (TT10) at his Brickshelf folder.

    Meanwhile just take a look at some other videos by Attila, with his former off-road TT9, behaving on frozen mud and snow.


    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    LEGOstudio by Isogawa

    Isogawa Yoshihito has presented us in the past with a valuable work and his great books [1, 2], plenty of building techniques and ideas.
    They are very useful as reference sources for many building with LEGO Technic. It looks like they are a result from very singular way of living the LEGO passion and stay in life.

    Now you may find a lot more creations and recent videos, from his LEGOstudio website, which he divided into: Main Works, Small Works and Joke Works.

    Below just a few amazing and brilliant produced videos, well representative of Isogawa's genius that I've selected to highlight here today.

    These and much more, found at ISOGAWA Yoshihito's Channel at YT.

    You may also find a lot more about Isogawa's work, from his work, books and one article at BrickJournal 8 Vol. 2.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    TBs TechPoll 19 - Which other colors would you like to get more often?

    Lets start a new poll to hear what you have to say.

    As you might know, TLG is continuously changing or fine tunning the colors in production, seeking for a more balanced and future proof color palette. At the same time the number of colors available have been reduced comparative to what we had in the past, as a measure to reduce the number of active elements and by consequence the production costs, inventories, complexity, etc...

    This has also happened to the LEGO Technic theme and with a few exceptions, we have seen some colors to completely disappear from Technic sets, mainly after years 1999-2001. It was the case of colors like: Purple, Dark Turquoise, Metal Blue - just to give a few examples.
    Some others have seen their frequency also substantially reduced, or they do appear occasionally at some Technic parts in other themes (e.g. Bionicle, Star Wars). Good examples are Orange, Medium Orange, Tan, Reddish Brown, etc...which are or have been available with just a very limited set of Technic parts, thus severely limiting the possibilities to build models based on fancy and different colors.

    The main colors actually being used in Technic sets, are: Black, Yellow, Red, Blue, Lime, Dark Bluish Gray and Light Bluish Gray. Some of these are even mainly used to build the chassis and other inner structures, leaving even a more reduced set of available colors, to build distinctive and different looking models from the color perspective.

    From those actually less available but still in the actual LEGO color palette, my question to you today is - Given a set of colors, which would be for you the most desirable ones to get more often, in parts never before released with such colors, and ultimately to build your own models?
    Obviously I mainly refer to Technic beams, liftarms and panels.

    The choices* I have included into this poll, are:

    • Tan
    • Dark Tan
    • Orange
    • Reddish Brown
    • Green
    • Dark Green
    • Medium Blue
    • Dark Blue
    • Trans-clear

    Realize that some of these colors were never used for Technic parts before.
    Poll will be open to collect your preferences, during the next two weeks and you can take multiple chopices.
    Please feel free also to add your specific ideas/suggestions, through comments to this post.

    At a later opportunity we will also hear from you, about which are your favorites among the main colors actually used in Technic models.

    Below the actual color palette for 2010, being used by LEGO to produce parts.

    *) As I believe them to be the most spread and known, the BrickLink color names are the ones used in the poll. In case you need for a conversion between BrickLink colors and official LEGO Color ID, please refer to this Peeron Color Chart.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Interview with Michael Lachmann

    As you may already know, after several years of 'silence', MLCad v3.30 was released some weeks ago. I had the opportunity to interview the creator of MLCad, Michael Lachmann and ask him some questions about this new release and about the past and the future of MLCad.

    The most important change in MLCad v3.30 is related to colour handling, but there are some other changes and more to come. If you want to know more and would like to read the interview with Michael Lachmann, you can do so in Hispabrick Magazine 007.

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    Week TechVideo, 2010 #13 - Forklift Truck

    This week featuring some type of machine, we didn't use to see at here at TBs . Also TLG doesn't release one of this kind, already for some time since the great 8416, in 2005.

    It is again one model from Nico71's long list of constructions. A fully remote controlled Forklift, with for PF motors.

    • 1x XL-motor for driving
    • 1x M-motor for steering
    • 1x M-motor to extend/retract the single-stage forklift mast
    • 1x M-motor to tilt the mast

    As for some other of his models, Nico provided detailed photo instructions to assist you building your own replica (Click over the picture below, to get there).

    You may found a lot more images from this model at Nico's BS folder, and read about this model in his own words (although in French) at Nico's page on MOCpages.

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