Tuesday, November 30, 2010

HispaBrick Magazine 009

It is our pleasure to announce the release of HispaBrick Magazine 009.

In this issue you you will find a wide variety of articles and interviews. Among other items, there is an interview with LDD Development Manager Claus Matthiesen on LDD4 and beyond, as well as articles on SR 3D and LDraw. There are also several Technic and MINDSTORMS related articles, a number of articles by great builders (including Nathanaël Kuipers and Nicolas Lespour aka Nico71) and an interview with Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Chief Executive Officer of LEGO® A/S.

You can download the Spanish and the English version from www.hispabrickmagazine.com

Please don't forget to leave some feedback, either answering to this message or at infoAThispabrickmagazineDOTcom, also if you have any suggestions for future articles or would like to contribute to the next issue of the magazine

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #47 - PF Chopper

This week Jernej Krmelj (Zblj) presented his LEGO Technic Chopper.
It would have been just one more LEGO bike, if he didn't have stretched the limits incorporating a couple of PF motors to make it remotely driven.

With very low center of gravity because of using the PF battery box in the lowest position possible, an huge and wide back tire, and and smart steerer design, this chopper seems possible to drive like a charm!

The video itself, is also very well done, in the way it shows the model driving capabilities.
The initial scene where the Bionicle rider jumps to his seat in the Chopper, is an absolute must!

This Chopper features:
  • One XL-motor for driving.
  • One M-motor for steering.
  • Both front and rear wheel suspension.
But it doesn't feature:
  • Self-balancing. However it doesn't need to.

IMO the less pleasant detail in this model, is the large gears used to drive the back wheel. However according to Jernej, he tried to use one chain but it kept slipping and breaking. Then maybe some more but smaller gears, may have produced a nicer visual effect.

It is the huge and wide tire in the backside, combined with the ultra low center of gravity, those who allow for this model smooth driving and steerable capabilities. This without the need of complex self-balancing computing solutions, like those seen in other bikes controlled with NXT (although, all them are even larger remarkable achievements on their own).

Above the video from one example, but I know Philo was also caught driving like mad at Zwolle (NL), last October [1, 2, 3] ...

Friday, November 26, 2010

LDraw Tutorial - Part 4

In the light of some of the questions and problems that have come up after presenting the latest TBs TechChallenge I have decided to prepare some simple instructions for a first time install of the LDraw Parts Library, MLCad and LDview, the basic package you need to participate in this challenge. Rather than using the all-in-one installer provided on LDraw.org

I have just completed this installation on a clean Windows 7 Ultimate, so if you follow these simple steps and the on-screen instructions you will get while installing you should be able to complete installation without any problems. If you still run into any trouble do not hesitate to mention it in a comment and I'll do my best to help you out. If you are using Mac or Linux... I suppose you know what you are doing, but in case there is sufficient interest in some instructions for those OSes I can prepare something later on.

1 - Installing the LDraw Parts Library

First of all you should install the complete collection of parts provided by LDraw. You can find an installation program on this LDraw page. (There is also a zip file with all the parts for those of you who know what they are doing.)

The installer will suggest extracting the files to C:\LDraw and you should probably accept this suggestion. The installer doesn't actually install anything. That is to say, it does not place anything outside the folder it installs to. The only real difference between the zip file and the installer is that in the case of the zip file you have to create the location you want to extract the files to.

There is a good chance you may need parts that have not been officially released yet (for a number of reasons - I will explain something about that at a later time). As you can read in the LDraw Tutorial - Part 2, you can find those parts on the Parts Tracker, but you can also install all of the unofficial files at once by downloading and extracting the full set of Unofficial Parts Files to an appropriate location. To keep things simple use C:\LDraw\Unofficial and make sure the final result is that you get two new subfolders under Unofficial named C:\LDraw\Unofficial\p and C:\LDraw\Unofficial\parts.

2 - Installing MLCad

To install MLCad, go to the MLCad website, select the language of your choice (English or German) and in the navigation bar on the left click on Downloads. Download the latest version V3.30 now (1,1MB). Save the zip file to a convenient location on your computer and then extract it. Where? Well, that's up to you, but in the original LDraw all-in-one installer, applications (programs) were  installed to the Apps folder under LDraw (C:\LDraw\Apps\MLCad in this case for example).

The first time you start MLCad it will ask you where the LDraw Parts Library is (which is why you should install that first). By default it will suggest you to look in C:\LDraw - another good reason to place the parts there.

You are now ready to start working with MLCad. If this is your first time or you need a refresher course, please read the LDraw Tutorial - Part 1.

3 - Installing MLCad.ini

MLCad is not complete without the MLCad.ini file. It's main purpose is to populate the minifig generator with every available minifig part, but there is also a section in MLCad.ini that describes where official and unofficial parts are located.

You can download the latest version of MLCad.ini from the dedicated page on Holly-Wood.it. Extract the file in the same folder as MLCad.exe. If you already have a previous version of MLCad.ini, note any manual changes you may have made to it and overwrite it with the most current version.

If you have installed the Unofficial part, now is the time to make a small change in MLCad.ini. Open the file with your favourite text editor (e.g. Notepad) and scroll down to the section that begins with [SCAN_ORDER]. By default it will look like this:

1 = SHOW Parts
2 = HIDE P
; 3 = SHOW Unofficial\Parts
; 4 = HIDE Unofficial\P
; 5 = SHOW Unofficial\LSynth
; 6 = SHOW Unofficial\Helper

As you may have already guessed, you need to delete the semicolon ( ; ) at the beginning of lines 3 and 4 to tell MLCad where the unofficial parts are. Save and close and you are ready to go.

Don't forget to rescan the parts library so MLCad actually sees where the parts are and what parts it has available (open MLCad and go to File > Scan Parts...) This and much more is also described in LDraw Tutorial - Part 2.

4 - Installing LDview

In order to be able to supply a decent quality render of your creation, you will also need to install LDView. You can download the program from its official Download page on SourceForge .

Installation is straight forward, simply follow the instructions and accept default settings. You can ask the program to install to C:\LDraw\Apps\LDview if you would like to keep everything LDraw related in the same place.

You should now have all the necessary tools to participate in the TBs TechREVERSE Challenge!

TBs TechTOC 10 - What a fleet!

What a Formula 1 car fleet!...

This is something I've been to post about, almost since TBs start... Thus, don't expect it to be fresh breaking news!
However it lays deep into Brickshelf folders and it is worth to give a look, I believe.

This man (mamemia) committed the heresy of painting not one, nor two LEGO parts... but really a large bunch of them [1, 2, 3, 4,...]. Some will certainly get shocked or mad about this...
To give them a final touch, he even produced just "few" nice looking custom stickers.

All the seven different cars, seem to be slight variants on the 8461 (Williams F1 Team Racer), released by LEGO in 2002. Exception for the decoration which is obviously an huge customization work and quite different from the original.
I can't be sure, but think these have been built about the same time (2002-2003) and they are replicas from some of the most distinct contemporary F1 cars (Jaguar, Renault, Jordan, Bar, Ferrari, Sauber and Toyota).

You may find a lot more photos from these magnificent cars, at mamemia's Brickshelf folder.

It might be a controversial opinion, but must say the result is visually really stunning, at least.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TBs TechChallenge, 2010 - Reverse 8066 (SUV)

Giving continuity to the initiative from the last year [1], TBs is now hosting a new edition from the TechREVERSE Challenge.

In collaboration with the LEGO Technic product line, we decided to bring one of the 1H2011 models into contest.
As you are probably already guessing, the challenge will consist in reverse-build one of the new small models. The model to choose should not include any new element, out of the element assortment available in 2010 (new colors for already existing elements may however apply).
So the set selection for the current TechREVERSE Challenge issue is the 8066 (SUV).

And then the challenge TBs has for you, is exactly this!
Reverse and build your own LDraw reproduction from the 8066 main model, based on the product pictures available below.

In order to prepare an LDraw model for this set, you may need to install the LDraw Tools if not having them already installed in your system.
Even this model not using new parts, you may eventually face the need to use some parts not yet released into the LDraw official library or the latest Parts Update available (please realize I'm not stating you will do). In that case you may want to download the still unofficial LDraw parts.

So, in case you miss some required parts in your MLCad installation or similar, we advise you to look for them into the Parts Tracker list (repository of not yet official parts submitted to LDraw Part Library).

Additional parts may also be found from a work repository, with parts being shared by the LEGO Universe Team with the LDraw.org community.

If for some reason you become convinced that the part you are looking for, is not present into the LDraw official library neither the unofficial LDraw parts, or the work repository above mentioned, then you should skip it and leave the correspondent space empty..
In the eventually of such missing parts, they should not impact the final classifications, as they would affect everyone in the same manner.

In case you have difficulties with the LDraw unofficial parts and need further help about this, you may find helpful some of the tutorials published before at TBs [2, 3].

As for every contest, there must be some rules defined, that will help us later to determine who's the winner contestant.
Slight changes have occurred when compared to the rules used in 2009. Read carefully!

Challenge Goal:
  • Reverse engineer and reproduce into a LDraw file format, the Challenge proposed model.
  • The reproduction should be exact (model complete assembly, parts color and parts list).

Challenge Participation Rules:
  • Every contestant should submit his participation in the form of one single LDraw file.
    Hierarchical organization into sub-models is also allowed.
  • The contestants are allowed to enter one single submission (always the first one submitted).
  • Each contest submission must include one single model only.
  • Contestants must also include one render image from their model, with a minimum resolution of 800x600.
    It would be great if you have skills for photo-realistic rendering, but not considered for the purpose of contest evaluation.
  • Any eventual special elements in the model must be reproduced accordingly (e.g. flexible parts, shock absorbers, etc...). Reproduction should be as close as possible to the original.
  • All the submissions must be sent via e-mail, to the TBs mailbox setup for the purpose of this challenge, with indication of the applicant identification (full name and nickname if applicable), postal* and e-mail addresses.

    TBs TechREVERSE Challenge mailbox: challenge[at]technicbricks.com

Classification Criteria:
  • The winning participation will be the first submission sent, that exactly matches the LEGO official model being reproduced: model complete assembly, parts color and parts list.
  • If none of the submissions fill all the criteria above, it will be selected the first submitted model, that gets closer to the original, based the total number of mismatches counted.

  • All the submissions must be sent to the mailbox above indicated, in the next two weeks. Thus before the 7th of December 2010, 24:00 CET**.
  • The organization reserves the right to extend the submission period, if there is a reasonable justification.
  • Final results are expected to be published by the end of December or begin of next January, depending on the overall participation figures.


  • The Challenge winner will be awarded with one set sponsored by the LEGO Technic product line.
  • There will be also a few extra prizes, for those ending in following rank positions.
  • Due to formalities, the details about the contest prizes won't be communicated immediately, but in the beginning of December. Stay tunned!

  • In the event of any eventual leak with further official details about this model, during the participations submission period, may become a justification to close the submissions period with immediate effect.
  • Any eventual issues not foreseen in the contest rules, shall be evaluated and decided by majority among the TBs editors.
  • The organization reserves the right to cancel the contest at anytime, if participation quality levels are not getting satisfactory.

Take part in the fun!
And do not forget... these unique prizes can become yours.

*) Rest assured your private data won't be published, or used for any other purpose other than this contest.
**) Use the link provided, to find the correspondent local time at your Time Zone.

While planning this TechREVERSE 2nd edition, it came across the possibility to accept files in other formats than those from LDraw (.LDR or .MPD). Namely .LXF files from 'LEGO Digital Designer' (LDD) or .L3B from 'SR 3D Builder'.

Despite an idea, this is a relative complex topic, and for obvious reasons I intend to keep the workload generated by this Challenge under affordable limits. Thus avoiding diversity and the use of multiple tools to verify each participant's submission.
Because this is a topic not yet analyzed to its full extent, I decided to remain with LDraw, and all submissions will be evaluated with MLCad editor.

Nevertheless I'd find very useful if we could have some discussion on the limitations, pros & cons from using other CAD applications and file formats, for the TechREVERSE Challenge purpose.
Depending on the conclusions we will reach, maybe we could have a different LEGO CAD tool in use at a future edition of the TechREVERSE Challenge.

Despite more user friendly interfaces and features from some other tools (e.g. handling of flexible parts), I'm specially concerned with:
Please remind, my ultimate goal is to use only one single tool to evaluate all the submissions, without loosing any of the information included into the submitted files. Eventually letting the contestants to use the tool of their preference.

Despite of LDraw being the format chosen for this edition, if you like it, you may also send the corresponding LDD or SR 3D files, for the purpose of this future evaluation.

Feel free to add your thoughts about this subject, as comments to this post.

Before submitting the LDraw file from your model to contest, please make sure you have the latest Parts Library Update installed into your system. The latest update is actually release 2010-02.
Please also notice that LDraw Library Update files are not cumulative. Thus you must install also those made available since your last update.
Alternatively you may also reinstall the Entire Official Library, which should turn things easier and safer.

By not doing this, you incur into several problems like:
  • Parts not found when it comes to evaluate the submissions.
    As a matter of example, sometimes part numbers change from non official IDs into official ones (it was the case from the Bionicle Teeths, formerly x346.dat, now 41669.dat).
  • Parts version update warnings, stating that the file being loaded uses older versions of specific parts.
    This may not cause problems, but can also become a the source of mismatches, for instance in case the respective parts definition suffered modifications regarding part orientation, origin, etc...

Last Update: 2010.Nov.27 00:49 CET

Monday, November 22, 2010

TBs TechChallenge, 2010 - Heads-up!

The TBs TechChallenge contest is returning in 2010.

It is the 2nd challenge we run, and it is about to begin!
Stay tunned, and don't forget to check out TBs tomorrow (2010.Nov.23) at 16:00 CET*.

Join the fun and apply for unique and cool prizes.
*) Use the link provided, to find the correspondent local time at your Time Zone.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #46 - RC Walker

Lesley Hisgen (hisgen01) shows his nice LEGO Technic RC Walker.

It is a remote controlled and articulated hexapod, making use of PF elements only. Thus not involving any kind of programmable device like NXT, RCX or similar.
The "robot" uses one XL-motor to drive the walking function and one M-motor for steering.
Steering function is achieved by moving the body articulations.

In the video description, Lesley mentions the walker to move a bit slow. However and if the video is not accelerated, I'd say it moves pretty fast.
Anyway, looking forward to see the promised improvements to come.
It looks simple but simultaneously one of the most effective LEGO walkers I've ever seen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

LEGO Technic - On the drawing board

Today TBs is going to show you an article about the The LEGO Technic market and design process, published at LEGO LIFE - The LEGO magazine for the employees.
It is an issue with a bit more than two years (Sep.2008), but still very actual and is worth reading.

The article is divided into two parts.

  • The first mainly focused on the market topics and challenges, by Per Hjuler (VP and executive responsible for the product line) where the three core concepts behind LEGO Technic are explained: Authenticity, Functionality and Challenging building (The AFC strategy).
  • And a second part with an inside view, dedicated to the Top-secret meetings at the Tech House. The place where the Designers have a weekly meeting under Ricco's lead, to discuss the progress on the products they are designing for us, and which will hit the shelves one or two years ahead.

Click here to open the full article in PDF format.

Enjoy the strongly informative reading!

This article is here reproduced, with permission from the LEGO Group.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

TBs TechPoll 21 - 2010, 3rd Quarter - Favorite week TechVideos

Before we reach the end of Q4... lets run another poll, this time for the videos weekly featured at TBs during the third quarter of 2010.

In the next two weeks vote for your favorite video(s), among those highlighted during the 3rd quarter (2010, Q3) under the 'Week TechVideo' tag.

Bellow is the list with the videos posted within this period:

As usual, you can vote for more than one video!

- This video poll does not aim to select the best MOC, but rather well done videos featuring a LEGO Technic model, a nice video reportage from a Technic subject as part of an AFOL event, or
some cool/innovative thing with interest for the Technic fans community.
- These are videos that somehow caught my eye at some point, thus based on a personal choice, and do not intend in any way to be considered as the best representatives from the work done by the Technic fans.
- Please notice, this is a poll taken for the fun. The authors of the videos here featured are not rewarded, independently of the final rank position they will achieve.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #45 - Applying the Geneva mechanism

Some days ago Thiago Bouzan wrote me about his improvements on a Geneva mechanism design, presented here at TBs long ago.

However, what I found most genius in his model, was not the Geneva mechanism implementation itself, but the application he found to command a functions switch box sequentially, with such indexing mechanism.
Who says it can command a switch box, may also say a sequential gearbox for a car transmission.

Here the Geneva mechanism is used to switch among functions the easy way, using a secondary selection motor. Ideal for remote operation of any 4-stage switch box or gearbox.
The mechanism allows for a larger 'window' to tune the secondary motor, as by conception it locks always in one of four positions.
Now it would be great if someone would manage to build a 6 or 8-station Geneva mechanism, out of LEGO parts, to command 5+R and 7+R car sequential gearboxes...
Probably an alternative way to build a remote controlled sequential like gearbox. A bit like doing the same as the one at Sheepo's Buggati Veyron.

Still regarding the Geneva mechanism, Thiago explains:

In this mechanism we have a driving wheel and a driven wheel (or star wheel). This document explains that in order to work properly, a Geneva mechanism should fulfill three conditions:
  1. r is the distance between the center of the driving wheel to the center of its outer pin.
  2. The center distance of the two wheels should be the square root of 2 times r.
  3. r should also be the distance of  the outer radius of the star wheel.
Consider the space between the centers of the holes in a Technic beam as a unit of measurement. In my design I have r equal to 4 in both wheels and a distance between then of 6.

This fulfill conditions 1) and 3). Condition 2) could be match with r = 5 and distance between the wheels = 7., because 7 is a good approximation to square root 2 times 5. It looks like that the example from the original post meet these criteria.
The reason why I didn't choose this particular combination was to make full use of two (32249) 'Red Technic Beam Quarter Circle' and achieve a more compact size. But I intend to make a new model that will meet all these conditions.

Simply a brilliant idea on how to apply the Geneva mechanism into a LEGO model.

Friday, November 12, 2010

1H2011 Technic sets - First photos

The first photo look like images from the new 1H11 Technic sets and respective boxes without watermarks, were found today.
However still small sized ones. Hopefully more will find their way out soon...

  • 8065 - Mini Dump Truck

  • 8066 - SUV

    Since the first images seen at a dealer catalog [1], we suspected that the headlights on this SUV, made with the Bionicle tooth parts could become released in trans-clear color for the first time.
    They were shown to be white in these first images, which is the natural replacement color for the trans-clear, into initial mock-up images. Now it became clear they will be effectively released in trans-clear.

  • 8067 - Mobile Mini-Crane

  • 8068 - Rescue Helicopter

  • 8069 - Backhoe Loader

Now lets wait for larger images and the final images from the 8070 Super Car.

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