Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #43 - LEGOWORLD over-view

LEGOWORLD 2010 (in Zwolle), closed its doors the past week.
The participants who are now recovering from the tiring days are also finally starting to produce and post their videos from the event.

One that most raised my attention was this "Space Elevator", in a video from Peer Kreuger (mahjqa). Probably inspired from these ones [1] [2], also published a few days ago, by Isogawa Yoshihito.
Has he explains, there was a power line coming from the ceiling at their stand and it would have been a shame not to use it...

I though it might be a wireless camera on the elevator, but found the image too good for that.
After a closer look, you may notice the camera gray cable extending along the black power line.
After all it was juts a regular compact photocamera, recording all offline, as you may see through the comments...

Another great thing is that the videos now popping up, focus mainly on the several Technic and MINDSTORMS booths. Hence you may get a good overview from these models exhibited this year at LW.

So lets take a look!

There you will find many, many constructions that we have seen to appear during the last weeks (or not so recent), like: DrywFiltiarn's LEGO Factory and Will's MakerBot, Philo's 3D Laser Scaner, the Air powered car and the Avatar battle helicopter both from barebos/barman, two WALL-E designs, a robot remotely controlled from an helmet by NeXTSTORM (Vassilis), the Monster Chess, a few Omnibots and even a self-balancing motorcicle... just to name a few...


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The modular Concept Car from NK, evolves into a Concept 4x4

Super Super Cars
No, I didn't got stutterer... but we must distinguish among so called Super Cars...

Former LEGO Designer Nathanaël Kuipers who developed 8674, 8271, 8292 LEGO official Technic sets and shown us about two years  ago his Technic Concept Car [1]. Since the beginning he developed the concept around modularity requirements and interchangeable functional blocks (unibody frame, front and rear suspensions; gearbox; engine - front or rear mont; front, rear, or AWD, etc...).
Such concept once achieved in its individual modules, opens endless possibilities. Simply genial and gorgeous!

The original Concept Car, was not a concept in its own, but Nathanaël has meanwhile proven why he called it modular and produced another car based on the same concept.
Concept 4x4 is a Jeep based on some of the same modules (V12 engine and 5+R speed gearbox), a few other compatible ones made new (suspension with higher ground clearance; off-road tires; 4WD with center diff; adjustable seats, etc...) and an almost unchanged frame.
An example from how much variation can be introduced on the same platform and how flexible the concept is.

Enjoy the photos and find more info at MOCpages or Nathanaël's Brickshelf gallery!

See how the several modules just fit and snap together.

This another great example where nothing is missed and what it takes to become a real Technic car Super!

Last but not the least and because it is always good to have a face to put on a name, just look at this photo from Nathanaël, standing in front of one of his LEGO official designs (8292, Cherry Picker).

Kudos Nathanaël!

This guy should still be at TLG playing with our future toys, don't you agree?

RIP, Daniel Jezek published the following sad announcment,

Daniel Jezek

"We regret to announce the sudden and unexpected passing of Dan Jezek, owner and founder of Dan will be greatly missed by all of his family and many friends at Bricklink and around the world. A memorial fund is being set up and will be announced at a later date. If you wish to send condolences, you may do so via e-mail to condolences (at)

The website will continue under the ownership of the Jezek family. Eric Smith, owner of Northstar Computer Systems, will act as BrickLink Administrator. Northstar has been the host for BrickLink for the past decade. The current BrickLink moderators for the various aspects of the site are all continuing in their roles. Troy Ceferatti is resuming his role as Community Overseer.

The site will continue operating without interruption and all Bricklink users - buyers and sellers - can be reassured that the policies and fee structures will remain as before. Please remember Dan in your thoughts and prayers."

I wish you rest in peace!

Daniel's life was really short but full of accomplishment!
He dramatically changed an hobby and the life from almost every LEGO fan forever!
Somehow I also believe you had a decisive role changing the destiny of a giant - TLG. They should be eternally grateful.

Long live to BrickLink!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #42 - The Kingdom is in danger!...

Just hilarious!

I'm the King. I'm the King! I am the King!!

And then you ask "what does this was to do with LEGO Technic?".
- Apart from being LEGO? Nothing! Absolutely nothing this time!... Just found it too much hilarious and BTW, he is the King!...

Some issue yet to clarify, at some production line, should be producing jumping crowns like this one.

Hey!!! The LEGO Kingdom is in danger!...

Friday, October 22, 2010

TBs TechTalk 04 - Designing the set 8043 - Raise your questions!

Now that the new 8043 Excavator problems have been solved and the model is again available to ship from, it is time to do something that has been in the pipe for awhile.

Once more TBs is going to run an interview with the LEGO Designers. This time about the 2010 LEGO Technic flagship model, thus with Anders Gaasedal Christensen (Goose Valley) who designed the model and Ricco Rejnholdt Krog, Design Lead for the LEGO Technic team.

We decided however to accomplish some kind of innovation and involve our readership in the process, i.e. also let you submit your own questions to the Designers, about this model and respective design process.

Please feel to ask as many questions as you like, by dropping them as comments to this post.
In the meantime we will prepare our own questions and wait till Sunday (31.Oct) to gather all your inputs.

Although you should be aware of the following remarks:
  • Like we did in 2009 about the set 8258 (Crane Truck) [1, 2], this should be an interview about the model itself and the respective design process.
    What I mean is that it should not become an interview about the fans detected model problems and meanwhile fixed by the designers. Off course we could raise questions about the quality issue as long as there is an appropriate mix of other questions as well.

  • The TBs editors team will prepare its own set of questions and select among your inputs those questions that will be forward to the Technic Designers.

  • The questions will be grouped by similarity to prepare the final set, hence not all them will make into the final set of questions to send.
    Also the questions will be selected by relevance and questions that likely could not be answered by the Designers, will be dropped upfront. Obviously we refer to questions somehow related with future products (either new sets or parts) and eventually others as well (depend on what you will write).

  • TBs team members will do its best to consider all your inputs into a reasonable amount of questions, but of course there should be also a limit to the total number of questions we should send.
    There is always a subjective judgment on the selection/gathering criteria. By leaving your questions, you are accepting these will be considered but may not find their way into the final set of questions.

  • After all and regardless of the amount and questions to send, it will be up to the Designers team to select those they will want to answer (if not all of them).

This may be an unique opportunity to most of us, eagerly wanting to know more from behind the scenes.
So please don't be shy and ask!

Model Scaler Tool, by Sariel

After developing a few versions from its famous gear calculator [1], Paul (Sariel) published today another tool for all the LEGO model builders, no less useful!

It is an handy Model Scaler and it uses an image of the original object you want to build, to calculate the dimensions of its model. The measurements can be simply drawn on the image and then printed together with it.

The Model Scaler is meant to work basically like that:
  • You load an image into it, preferably a blueprint.
  • You enter certain target dimension (in LEGO studs) and then draw this dimension on the blueprint (it can be for instance a wheel diameter, since you probably know which LEGO wheels you’re going to use in your model).
  • A pixels-to-studs ratio is calculated and from now on all dimensions you draw on the image are shown in studs.
  • Once finished, you can easily print the image with measurements on it or save it using the Print Screen.

You may find a lot more information and utilization instructions from the author, at as you might expect.
For the tool itself, you may access it here:

Thanks Paul for another great tool, and happy moddeling for all the rest.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

LEGOWORLD, Zwolle 2010

LEGOWORLD, Zwolle 2010 at the massive IJsselhallen opened its doors for the tenth consecutive year.

Robots are already walking around.

This is an autonomous Rover been built to run at this year's LEGOWORLD.
It is a project from Eric Steenstra who has been involved in other very large projects with MIDSTORMS NXT with some other friends, during the past editions of LW events.

If according to the original plan, the big arm on it, should have a camera that takes pictures of the crowd around.
Think this monster uses 9 NXT intelligent bircks an off course some PF L-motors and other sensors.
You may take a look at more detailed photos and schematics, from Eric's Brickshelf folder here.

We should see more and great constructions, the next days!

More detailed info about the monster vehicle, taken from this video at YT.

"...holds 13 NXTs, 32 PFXL motors, a photo camera, a wireless movie camera.
the top can extent to 3.4 meters, and the camera is then at 2.4 meters up.
It was made to take pictures during the LEGOWORLD show in Zwolle in 2010."

Last Update: 2010.Oct.23 02:36 CET

Open Window for Enrollment of new LEGO Ambassadors

After lengthen the actual LEGO Ambassador cycle for sometime, in order  to redefine an strengthen the Program mode of operation for the next cycles, TLG (LEGO Community Engagement and Communications team) announced last Tuesday a four week open enrollment period for the LEGO communities to apply for the Program.

There are some modifications which basically I can summarize in:
  • Broader and clear rules definition for the groups which can qualify for the Program (online and offline LUGs, interactive blogs and forums) and how to get in.
  • The community representative (LEGO Ambassador) selection process is now tottaly in the hands of the community being represented.
  • No time limit for ambassadorship and new enrollment periods every six months.
  • No more NDAs, thus perhaps lighter scope. Still worth it I'm sure!
Then we have also definitions for the new Program format, tasks and touch points, etc...

In case you have some leadership role into a LEGO Community, you may have interest to now more about the new Program format, and read the Program Outline with all the details.

At the light of the new Program rules, we at TBs are also evaluating the possibility to take part of the new Program with own new Ambassador, as I am not intending to apply for LA representing my LUG neither TBs in the coming enrollment windows. It has been however a great and fruitful experience.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Robots started to play with LEGO bricks

Since almost he beginning of this blog, I've tried to highlight one video featuring a LEGO Technic construction or more occasionally a MINDSTORMS one. They have been 150 now, but some were also the weeks when I've not done it (always because of shortage of time available).

Rarely I also felt compelled to post some video I had just found, despite another had already been posted for that same week, but have been able to keep my strict policy up to now.

However today morning I've seen something that really caught my eye in surprise. It has been posted at other blogs like Engadget and The NXT Step, but I still wanted to give my two cents here at TBs .
Thus this is just another video post...

willgorman (the author of The Flush thing, here highlighted before... just brilliant ideas from this man ) published at BattleBricks one video from his latest creation - MakerLegoBot, a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 3D LEGO Printer that uses standard LEGO bricks.
Another thing build out of LEGO that itself builds other things out of LEGO... Totally mindblowing as stated at

This sort of rapid prototyping machine, uses 3 NXT intelligent bricks and 9 NXT motors to put every required brick in its place.
A Java Application that runs on the PC takes an .ldr MLCad file, determines a set of print instructions and then sends the instructions via USB over to the MakerLegoBot for printing. In its actual version this evil machine builds with 1x2, 2x2, 3x2, 4x2, and 8x2 bricks.

The core concept that makes 3D print of LEGO bricks possible, is the sticky grab and axle release mechanism. The printer head selects from an array of LEGO bricks through a feed system, moves to the correct location, and then places each part in its determined spot.

Once a brick is retrieved, the printer head rotates vertically and moves to the exact location where the brick should be placed. The printer then places the brick, and uses an axle based release mechanism to leave the Lego in place. Immediately after placing the Lego, the bottom of the printer head applies pressure to the brick to ensure its proper placement.
This brick stacking and fit process, was exactly what most impressed me. As far as we can see from the video, it seems there are almost no seams between the bricks, so this robot is building even better, tighter and more precisely than many humans building manually.

This robot will be at display in action, at LEGOWORLD (Zwolle) from next friday, however it seems it won't be the only LEGO building LEGO robot, out there...
Stay tunned!

For a further description and building instructions for this 2.400 brick model, you should refer to the original post at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

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

The LEGO Group Wants to Hear From You!

As Adult or Teenage Fans of LEGO, we value your perspective and respect your creativity and passion for the LEGO brand.

Once again we ask you to take a survey so that we may learn more about the needs and wishes of the global AFOL (defined as ages 20+) and TFOL (defined as ages 13-19) communities.

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 July 2010 survey:

  • The survey was completed by 7.911 AFOLs and TFOLs. 35% of respondents were TFOLs, 65% was AFOLs. The number of respondent continues to grow and the difference between teenagers and adults has shifted by 5% in favor of the teenagers from the last survey results.
  • In this survey we asked some questions specifically about the use of smart phones. We found that only 33% of the all respondents use one, of those only 19% of the teenage fans use one while 41% of the adults use one.
  • Regarding the preferred operating system, Apple was the highest with 49% followed by Android with 16%.

  • When asked about interest in interacting with LEGO Customer service, 33% said you preferred not to. Of those that would like to interact, 53% preferred to use an online method such as facebook or virtual chat program

Thank you,
The LEGO Community Team

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #41 - Tractor Xerion 4500

A few weeks ago, GuiliuG (or lego7777777) presented at EB a full featured Xerion 4500 tractor.

It has no motorized Power Functions, but instead a very interesting set of manual functions, well packed inside its body and scale. A beauty lets say!
IMO what it is most interesting in this model, is the building style and some of the techniques applied which I find quite close to the "official" way of building, as actually in use by the LEGO Technic designers.

While very elegant, the model features a bunch of manual functions like:

  • Manual Crab steering with powered steering wheel.
  • Full rotating cabin, despite not exactly as in a real Xerion 4500 [1].
  • Coupler leveling for trailers fit, with transmission to drive eventual trailer functions.
  • Hood raises to unhide an Inline-four engine.

Then it is also plenty of aesthetic details very well integrated in the model and never exaggerated. The rear wheels mudguards are just one good example of it.

Off course the most distinctive element (despite not original) is the solution used to control all the crab steering functions with a single joystick mechanism. See how from the video below and author's photos at Brickshelf.
A very nice detail is also the powered steering wheel, which unfortunately we haven't seen anymore, into LEGO Technic official sets.

You may also find a specific sequence of reversed order photos at Brickshelf, that will help you in case you want to build this by yourself, or better understand the functions and mechanisms.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Message Board at

On the 11th, Ricco Krog announced at the blog the new Technic Message Board, as part of the already existing LEGO Message Boards.
This looks however tailored to fit the youngsters needs, to my eyes.

Happy chat!

Do Androids Dream of LEGO MINDSTORMS?

"Do Androids Dream of LEGO MINDSTORMS?"

This is the question that given the name to the latest annoucment at news page.

TLG is announcing MINDdroid, a remote-control application for Android mobile phones, that connects directly with your NXT and allow to control the movement or actions from your robots.

This was an application developed by AFOLs in collaboration with the LEGO MINDSTORMS team.

In case you own an Android phone, you may download MINDdroid by reading the matrix barcode (or QR code) on the image above, with your phone scanning application, or directly visiting the Android Market through your Android also.

To read the original and full announcement, please go here.

Despite this not the first remote-control application for NXT, I believe this could mean a major breakthrough in the way you can deal with some of your robots, in terms of ease and simplicity.

I remember to have seen before, Bluetooth remote-control applications for Nokia phones, but these off course didn't offer the sexiest ability to control a robot by the flick of your wrist.

Other solutions we have seen for Wiimote never offered the chance to connect directly with NXT, requiring always the use of a computer as a stepping stone.
The Wiimote uses the Bluetooth HID profile, whereas the NXT just supports the serial profile.
Thats where a device like a Bluethoot mobile phone becomes handy, because of course it should support an application wirtten to use the same serial profile.

Guess we will soon see a flood of AFOLs creating new robots or adapting their existing ones, to use Android phone as remote control devices.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #40 - Legs, legs and more legs

Today I decided to post differently. Two videos from different authors in one single 'Week TechVideo' post.

Spiders and insects are quite different animals as we all know. In common there is the fact of them having multiple pairs of legs, unlike us humans which have one pair and most of other mammals which have two pairs.
If it is not easy to capture the several types of leg movement sequences from a 4-legged animal, it is incredible more difficult to understand real hexapod and octopod gait sequences.
You may find several good articles in the net about different types of gait, but they won't make it trivial their realization with a LEGO robot.

Spiders belong to the arachnids class and have 8 legs (4 pairs), and insects have 6 legs (3 pairs) among other well defined differences.

The realization of hexapod and octopod walker LEGO robots, is something that could go from relative simple implementations to quite complex ones. The result could be more or less effective but is almost always fascinating and difficult to achieve. Making this walkers turn is even more difficult.
On top of this, you may achieve really slow realizations or instead quite fast ones. It all depends on your skills.

Despite totally different in their complexity, approaches and solutions taken, I decided to post side-by-side two of the most impressive and actual LEGO walker realizations, of my preference (not to mention pure LEGO pneumatic realizations) - Respectively one 8 and one 6-legged, robots.

On the left side we have the "PF/NXT OMNI-Spider" by Menno Gorter (A Dutch AFOL) who has been building incredible LEGO walkers for decades.
Realize on how natural the movements look like, the legs placement are and how it is capable to walk in any direction, like a Killough Platform robot with omni-wheels.

The model here highlighted features a brilliant 8-legged spider, with four PF motors controlling them in pairs.
It is a preview from a prototype to display at Legoworld (Zwolle) starting next week. If it is a prototype, I would like to see how the final version will be. Hopefully we should get access to new videos soon.
Dammit if I understand the moving sequence of this legs... But we all know it was filmed to be not understood. Isn't it Menno?

On the right side a video for an "Hexapod Walker" by Gus Jansson.This six legged robot driven by 3 NXT motors (one for each two legs). Legs move in a boxy figure 8 pattern, and this I can understand much easier.

According to the author description at YT - "The left and right motors control their respective sides corner legs. The motor in the back controls the middle set of legs so that either left or right corner legs can be lifted. When left middle goes down, left corner legs go up and right middle goes up.

First program just walks in a simple pattern. The second program was for a walking robot race and uses the small LED lights as navigation aids. Light sensor, mounted in the back but looks forward, sees the light and with every step adjusts step size to aim for light."

Also the color schema used, is awesome!
Just in case you want to try something similar, you may find detailed pictures from this model, at Gus flickr stream (LEGO Hexapod Walker).

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