Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The most wanted Service Pack

Today, some Eurobricks members started to report they have received the Service Pack to fix their 8043 Excavator problems.

The Service Pack includes:

  • 4 new Linear Actuators.
  • A set of smaller parts (4) to fix the right track problem, consisting of:
    • 1x Axle and Pin Connector Perpendicular 3L with Center Pin Hole (32184).
    • 2x Axle Pin with Friction Ridges Lengthwise (43093).
    • 1x Axle 3 with Stud (6587).
  • Revised building instructions pages (41 and 45) from book 1.

As previously explained [1] the new LAs have an identical look to their predecessors, but could be distinguished by their new production code, located just below the orange cross hole.
According to the reported case, the code is 36X0. However I might check if this is an unique code (have my doubts), or if it will change over time as new production batches take place.

The new LAs and modification, are reported to be effective. Lower friction LAs, smoother and faster boom lift, and no more problems driving tracks.

Questions about the new LA design remain. What was changed? Has the internal screw pitch changed (meaning number of turns to run the full course)? Did the internal clutch suffered any changes? Does rod bends less when fully extended?
It should not take too long, until we get answers for at least some of these questions.

The main difficulty seems to be applying the track modifications, if you have the model previously built, as there aren't specific instructions to do it. It wouldn't be easy to the probably without dismantling a significant part of the model. As this is a building toy, it shouldn't be a problem however...

So it looks, soon we all be able to play and joy with the renewed beauty again.
In the country where I live, the new 8043 boxes are expected to arrive at stores in the middle of October.

How Mini LA's might work

Ever since pictures for the first 1H2011 sets started appearing, the FOLT (Fans Of LEGO Technic ) community latched onto a new part present on the 8069 Backhoe, looking like a miniature of a Linear Actuator.

Since it is significantly smaller than the LA we all know and love (and some hate...), it has been discussed if a part with this size and functionality is possible for a feasible cost. Two theories emerged: the first says that the Mini LA (called "mLA" in the rest of this post) is too small to work and is just a decorative element, like the Technic Axle Joiner Perpendicular with Extension, and the second says that it is a truly functional element.

Personally, I'm for the second theory, because, if the mLA's aren't functional, the Backhoe, a set supposedly costing 49.99€, would be severely overpriced for the functions it had: only steering and possibly the outriggers. At least the 8264 Hauler had the excuse of being motorised...

So, supposing the mLA is indeed functional, how does it work? Judging by the single available picture, I think the inner rod is too thick for the external diameter for the part to have the same three-layer structure the large LA has (fixed outer shell, rotating intermediate sleeve, sliding inner piston). Therefore, the next question is how to transform rotational movement into linear movement in a cylindrical shape, as simply as possible and with the lowest cost. A few fan theories have emerged; among those, there's one I think is the most likely to have been implemented, and, based on the picture we have, I've made some crude renderings to help understand how it might work

The mLA might work similarly to the regular LA, but without the external, fixed sleeve. It may be composed of three sub-parts, marked in these pictures in different colours: the red bracket, the green sleeve and the blue piston. The bracket, unlike the regular LA, is permanently attached to the rest of the part to allow for an overall smaller size. The screw has an input axle instead of an axle hole, unlike other Power Functions parts like LA's and motors, also to save on size. The piston doesn't differ much from the regular LA.

When the input axle is rotated, the whole outside rotates, unlike the regular LA, which has a fixed shell over the rotating sleeve. The inside of the sleeve is threaded, which, when it rotates, pushes or pulls the piston. To save costs (four mLA's on a 49.99€ set, when a set with four regular LA's costs a LOT more), all the sub-parts are probably made in plastic. This reduces the strength of the part, but, since the expected loads are also smaller, this shouldn't be a problem. For a comparison, the large Pneumatic cylinder's piston is metallic, whereas the smaller version's piston is plastic. Unlike the regular LA, there should be no room for any integrated protection mechanism to prevent straining the mLA when it reaches the end of its travel... but judging by the general opinion about the regular LA's protection, nobody will miss this feature.

This theory has the obvious disadvantage of the whole outer casing (save for the bracket) spinning when working, and that's blatantly unrealistic. Also, the sleeve must be securely attached to the bracket, so that it doesn't come off under load. The cutaway image I made shows a possible solution, but I'm not sure how that detail can be manufactured cheaply and effectively. On the bright side, I think this is the simplest design that can work.

Not many months left to know for sure... In the meanwhile, do you think mLA's are just decorative, or do they work differently?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The remaining Technic sets for 1H2011

I had seen a description from the remaining LEGO Technic sets before, but not yet the pictures.

Now here they come, via the Dutch dealer catalog scans.
I've added also complete and better images from the pages with the sets we had already seen before [1, 2].

If are looking to see all the details, you may access the full resolution original, from here.

And now it follows some comments on the different sets.

8065 - Mini Container Truck

This year brought the very first hook-lift truck to Technic, and only half a year later we get another. Being the smallest Technic set for the semester (and, considering last years' examples, the whole year), it has a single function: loading/unloading the container, actuated from a gear in the roof. However, unlike previous years' entry-level sets, whose mechanism is simply a worm gear connected to a Z8 gear, this one should have another pair of gears to bring movement from the roof to the worm gear.
The container, being a single System part (tipper), appears to be too small for this set; but, to maintain a low parts count (and consequently a low price), it's an understandable compromise.

No new parts foreseen at this model for the moment. However one of those new mini LAs as used in the Backhoe (8069) would have been (if it is not...) a great addition for this set.

8066 - Off-roader

It appears to be a successor of the 8820 Mountain Rambler and the 8816 Off-Roader, with an updated design courtesy of modern pieces. Like those, it features steering and rear suspension. But, unlike those, the steering is made via a Hand of God control at the top, and the smaller image suggests an additional function at the front. It could be front suspension or opening bonnet; however, there doesn't seem to be enough room between the wheels and their mudguards to allow suspension (compare with the 8261 Rally Truck), and the parts composing the bonnet appear fixed both at the front and rear.
The stylish headlights making use of the Bionicle teeth (if can definitely associate a part with a theme), is a great fit into the spaces left empty by the panels. They look white on the catalog image, but likely will turn into trans-clear, at the final boxes to be sold.
As a final note, personally I just feel this model too black. Either this one and the Container Truck (8065), would have been great opportunities to diversify a bit the color range for the 1H11 Technic models. If Designers are not willing to use new colors (for understandable reasons), at least should have used those which we are already used to, in the Technic assortment.

The bar on top of the windscreen turns to be a bit suspicious. Is it a flex axle poorly rendered, or some new part.
A 3mm rigid hose also doesn't fit with axle like termination that we can see from the side.

8067 - Mini Mobile Crane

Looks and works like an expanded 8270 Rough Terrain Crane (down to the detail of the red Technic beam being lifted!) on a truck chassis, with the additional functions of steering and outrigger deploying.

Judging by the small picture, there won't be mechanisms for the superstructure slewing or the outriggers, which doesn't come off as a great surprise given the size of the set. But still a rich set of functions, although very simple.
As far as we can see:
  • Steering front axis.
  • Adjustable outriggers (likely manual ones).
  • Slewing superstructure (likely manual)..
  • Tilt adjustable and telescopic boom.
  • Winch goes up and down (as expectable in such a model...)
IMO it looks a pretty nice and functional model. Very good playability for the size.

On the top of the telescopic section, where the winch cable goes, we can see what seems to be a new part.

8068 - Rescue Helicopter

Comments and discussion at an earlier TBs post.

As additional notes, we can say:
  • The recent Technic Pins (87082) are going to be released in black (as far as it seems from the image, under the in rotor and above air intakes).
  • Have some doubts there is any tail rotor behind the Fiorano wheel covers. So the cover seems to be the rotor itself and not a decorative protection. Probably there is not much space for much more, but it is not that nice if it confirms to be the case.

8069 - Backhoe

Comments and discussion at an earlier TBs post.

The B-model is going to be a "Log Transport vehicle", as written in the catalog.

8070 - Supercar

Comments and discussion at an earlier TBs post.

From the image today, we can also see that this set will be released in March as expectable. Large cars or some larger Technic sets in the 1H, use to be released by March.

Meanwhile Jetro, who is our Dutchman on-board , provided us with a translation from the text in the catalog pages.

Page 21: " Just like real!
  • Richness of detail, real life functions and a big building challenge make LEGO Technic unique. Due to the fact that there are alternative models and you can build in Power Functions, boys think LEGO Technic is cooler than ever.
  • Building with Technic is the logical continuation of  building with LEGO. The special Technic building experience make these sets popular with boys and adults.
  • Guaranteed successful: the #8069 Back Hoe is driven by gears, has an arm that than move to both sides, and supports for stability. It can also be turned into a vehicle for transporting logs.
  • There is an alternative model for each set on and
  • LEGO Technic is backed up by print, LEGO Club Magazine and internet activities (only in Holland). "

Page 41: " A challenging building experience:
  • LEGO Technic is a unique building concept that appeals to a wide public, has no direct competition inside this segment and enjoys great loyalty from the fans. Unique factors which stimulate great yearly sales.
  • The most outstanding product this season is the #8070 Supercar, which will definitely be a must have for both boys in the target group and adult fans. With the gearbox between the chairs and the Power Functions system, the rear spoiler, both doors and the hood can be opened and closed.
  • LEGO Technic is supported by print and internet activities (only in Holland). "

In the overall IMHO, it seems we are getting a very well balanced assortment of sets for the 1H, and it will be probably among the recent years, the one where I'll buy most of them.
The Backhoe is of course, the set that makes me to wait more impatient.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #38 - The NeXT Trumpet Show

Jetro got a dPressure sensor for NXT, from Dexter Industries and immediately started to think, how this could be used into some type of innovative model/application.

Finally he came up with a playable electrical MINDSTORMS Trumpet.
Together with an old style pneumatic pump (a single inlet cylinder with return spring) he was able to turn pressure levels into harmonic tones [1, 2] coming out of the trumpet (NXT brick).
With 3 additional Touch Sensors he manged to find a way for lowering the pitch by 1, 2 or 3 semitones. Here through some software programing, instead of acting as a set of piston valves, like in the real trumpets.

Below you can see an image from the pump and touch sensor blocks, together with the dPressure sensor itself.

And more can be found at Jetro's flickr photostream.

I'm a bit heard of earing, but guess Jetro is mastering some classic, in his performance.

As almost every Sunday I use to feature one video here at TBs , I've been preparing this for this weekend. As a matter of coincidence, Jetro came with a post of his own at EB about this same contraption. Read it here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

8070 Supercar leaked

Finally we got to see images from the next LEGO Technic car, to be released in the 1H of 2011 - "Supercar" from its name...

I want to believe (and I do) that the directions taken to conceive this model, were based on observations done from a children population, in order to conclude about their preferences among Supercar bodies with cool functions or more mechanically detailed Supercars.
Also I do believe that nowadays youngsters may chose the first, and then we AFOLs and Technic fans should have nothing else to say than pray for a dedicated LEGO Technic UCS Supercar, to get into the LEGO Direct-to-Consumer product line roadmap...

Unlike what we were guessing, the Fiorano wheel covers won't be covering the wheels on the new Supercar... yet it's a funny coincidence that it was exactly them that initially led to the speculation here at TBs about a new Technic large car in the works!

An image of the 8070 Supercar has leaked, which dissolves many doubts. First of all, it's not a Lamborghini (or else the set would certainly receive a more specific name than just "Supercar" and a price tag to match). And, like so many large Technic cars before it, unfortunately comes in red instead of a more exotic colour like orange or dark blue. Since this preliminary picture doesn't show any stickers and the leaked 8068 Rescue Helicopter image shows them, it's expectable that the final product won't feature them either.
I like the front grill made with modified tiles, instead of a large sticker, as used in the 8145 GTB Fiorano.

Some were expecting TLG to release a large Lambo anytime soon, after having replaced the Ferrari license with the Lamborghini one. Whether it would become more like an 1:10 display car, or an 1:8 with realistic mechanics, opinions get divided. However it looks we are not getting close to none of them.

From what can be discerned from the small images near the main picture, it should be safe to say that the 8070 has front wheel steering via a Hand-Of-God control at the top (whether or not the steering wheel works can't be seen, but the small image would have room for the respective indication), and suspension on all wheels. A cylinder engine, at least V6, is also visible. However, such an engine would be positively tiny in such a large compartment, so most surely there is another pair or two of cylinders that might be hiding under the bonnet.

However, the main gimmick on the 8070 is clearly the one based on Power Functions. From the pictures, it's quite possible that the gear lever, unlike previous (and more aptly-named, by the way) Supercars, isn't used to switch gears for different engine-wheel speed ratios, but instead to switch functions powered by the M-motor, in a way quite similar to the 8480 Space Shuttle. As depicted on the left illustration and respective numbered function views following, depending on the selected lever position, we have the following functions:
  1. Opening/closing the left door.
  2. Opening/closing the right door.
  3. Deploying or tilting the rear spoiler.
  4. Opening/closing the bonnet.

Where this car would have All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) or not, it is not possible to say from these pictures, however having to accommodate such a large battery box inside the body, it shouldn't leave any room available for more complex functions.

So, it could be said that the 8070 is related to the 8297 Off-Roader in the same way the 8448 Super Street Sensation is related to the 8466 4x4 Off-Roader: a sports car and an SUV with comparable functionalities. Certainly not the "true Supercar" the fans have been waiting for since the aforementioned 8466, but undoubtedly a step up from the stylish, yet mechanically-simplistic Ferrari sets.

Not being a model intended to replicate any real car, it definitely has a nice looking body and headlight configuration. Quite different from any previous LEGO car in this class.
It may worth to notice, this is the first time LEGO Designers use the new panels in such type of car, and it seems they have achieved some very nice looking angles and effects, on the car sides.

In resume a "LEGO Technic Supercar without precedents", as advertised in the catalog!

This post was written with the collaboration of my co-blogger Alexandre (AVCampos).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

1H2011 Technic sets, first images

Only now I managed some time, two finish my 2 cents about the first images known from the 1H2011 LEGO Technic sets.

As we all know from the past seasons, such preliminary images are based on CAD models usually developed so early in the design process that a lot of things in the final model may have changed meanwhile.
Often these 3D models are using "quick-fix" files modeling the new parts, so that the Art Directors have something to work with. Thus, there are often small mistakes or missing details, not so important to develop the retailer catalogs or first box mock-ups.

At least unlike what usually happens with the 2H sets, we shouldn't need to wait too long to see photos from the real models and take more accurate conclusions. Hopefully already at LEGOWORLD in Zwolle, the latest.

At this point in time you may have already deducted everything by yourselves, in the comments left here at TBs and many other forums. Nevertheless let me try to draw my thoughts...

Below the photo from an Italian dealers catalog with a few Technic sets for the 1H2011.

Again it makes me wonder that in many cases, we're getting at each half, larger and more complex versions of the same machines we have gotten in the previous semesters.
So let me speculate a bit and say - Could this mean that we may expect for a new flagship Excavator, in the years to come.

8069 - Backhoe

At first we notice the same large front shovel and small rear bucket, as used in the mythic 8455 (the last Back-hoe from LEGO, released in 2003).
While they fit nicely on the predecessor, the bucket looks quite small on the actual model which seems to be smaller or almost the same size as 8455. So this 8069 image, may have suffered some kind of distortion.

In second place we notice immediately something new, that looks to be mini-LAs (Linear Actuators).
In the midst of some excitement from some and skepticism from others, the main discussion at the moment seems to focus on whether these mini-LAs are fully functional or rather dummy versions (friction cylinders similar to those introduced earlier into other themes, 53586).
Personally I believe it wont make any sense to use dummy LAs into a Technic model, when they are used on the main functions the model exhibits. At the image we also clearly see one 20t bevel gear in tan color and another tan 12t bevel gear, into an identical setup to that one used into 8294 or 8043 (despite there the 20t bevels being idle gears).
Despite the several possible justifications raised for the gears existing next to these LAs, I still believe they are functional LAs. Also the explanation given by Daniel in the comments which is quite hard to see because of the watermark in the image, seems to be conclusive IMO. I tried to make it clear on the photo below, where of course I've used one of the old LAs.

Of course we shouldn't expect them to support significant loads (as their big brothers does...), to have large courses but it still seems plausible they are very capable to deal with the loads produced in this model.

Because of its apparent size, it is also a potential mystery how such a small LA internals could have been designed (with or without internal sleeve), but certainly there are achievable technical solutions, like some advanced also in the comments to this post.
Internal clutching as existing in the older/larger LAs, doesn't look a possibility for the mini ones either. This is not a problem as long as they are not intended to be utilized with actual electrical motors. However a low-torque S-motor is again claimed...
It remains to know, whether the mini-LA rod is a metallic or a plastic one. Here I bet on the plastic solution, but won't be too surprised if later I'll find it is metallic.

From all the considerations above it comes obvious that despite a smaller LA (shorter and thinner), it is still 3L wide on the bracket section as its old brother. I'm afraid it may look somehow not proportional or difficult to make if fit, for many possible applications.
Regarding the bracket, it doesn't seem to be detachable in opposition to the previous LA, which also seems a pretty obvious choice due to its smaller scale/space impositions. Because of that, mini-LAs seem to be a single piece of plastic and thus made in one single color (likely LBG as far as we can see).

Some already complained from having the mini-LAs in this model, almost directly linked to the respective operating wheel. However could we expect much more from a mid-range / mid-size model, with limited available space for gearing chains?
This is where pneumatic cylinders are strong and useful, if applied into such LEGO models..

As for the model functions and looking to the arrows in the picture, and some parts/construction details, we should have:
  • Steering function. Likely controlled via HOG on the exhaust pipe
  • Front arm lower/raise and shovel tilt. Likely a single combined function controlled from a knob in each side of the model and probably connected together with a pass trough axle.
  • Two mini-LAs controlling the backhoe. One for the arm and another for the combined movement from the dippers and the bucket. The bucket looks coupled to the dipper with a 64451 Technic Link, like in 8047.
    It is however unclear from where these are actuated, as there is only one extra knob on the cabin roof. The roof light is likely not used as another knob.
    Maybe all the backhoe movements are tied together to a single knob. Again not surprisingly for a 50€ set.
    It remains still unclear whether the backhoe can rotate over the vertical axis or not, but due the mechanisms to drive the mini-LAs we must be prepared to accept it won't.
  • As for the outriggers, I have no idea how these get adjusted, but probably it is done manually.

These makes a total of 4 mini-LAs (2 in the front arm and two in the backhoe).
For its size and price, it looks a nice set to play with!

Apart from the mini-LAs, no other new parts foreseen so far.

8068 - Rescue Helicopter

This seems to be a nice looking small/mid-scale model, however the resemblances to the 2010 helicopter (8046) are too much.
One of them should at least to have a different color scheme. As the US Cost Guard helicopters are indeed red colored in the most cases, then maybe the former one should have had different colors.
If willing to detach a bit from the reality, it would also have been a perfect opportunity to launch something in orange, thats not a construction machine...

The model has however a strong adherence to the shape of real Rescue Helicopters.

As for the functions, it is quite hard to be sure at this point, about what is included, but it seems there are three knobs on the side. So I guess they may drive:
  • the main and tail rotors.
  • the winch.
  • a set of landing gears.

As some already noticed, indeed it seems we got back the Fiorano wheel covers into a tail rotor. Likely this is one more evidence that this nice part is back into a new large car, than it won't.

Like it happened with the Excavator (8043), I just expect we also won't get a STAMP (STicker Across Multiple Parts) on the white fairings, just below the main rotor.

Again it seems we are seeing a recently released model to increase in size and functional detail. As many misses the main rotor tilt functions from the old 8856 (Whirlwind Rescue), probably the Technic Helicopter ever released, may we expect to see something similar soon... We never know...

8065 - Mini Dump Truck

Th cabin is red! Can you see it?
IMO there is a strong possibility it also includes one mini-LA, to raise the Dump.

Now it rests to pray, for images from the 8065 (Mini Dump Truck), 8066 (SUV), 8067 (Mobile Mini-crane), and obviously the 8070 (Super Car).
Just hope the Super Car won't came with new mini-LAs to open the doors and the hood...

New sets image, via Eurobricks

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #37 - Air powered car

This week an experimental Air Powered Car, another amazing creation from Barry Bosman (barebos, barman or Barman76).

It is also my first attempt to embed a flickr video, here at TBs ...

The idea is brilliant, the execution perfect, and the result seems much funny to play with.
With such light structure and two powerful fans the car runs quite fast, and the two fans also offer an excellent means to maneuver or steer the vehicle. Definitely a model that should offer a great playability.

I'm tempted to build one!...

Air powered car-3

In the first part of this video the car uses steady back wheels and as you can see, it seems quite easy to steer. On the second part it uses 3 casters and from Barry's comment, I guess the control is gone... However we can't see it, because flickr cuts any video uploaded, after second 90. Better to use YT instead.

Quite funny, the principle and the "blades" used for these fans is exactly the same I've used more than two years ago, in a diorama where a "buried" fan was supposed to generate enough wind to make an hang glider to oscillate while landing. Unfortunately I was trying to use a PF M-motor instead of these powerful RC motors, and the result wasn't that good...

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