Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week TechVideo, 2012 #04 - Sorting Plant

Kenneth & Lasse that you may remember from the "C5 - The Flying NXT Blimp" project, returned with a massive creation!
They have now created a sorting plant, that sorts 2x4 and 1x2 bicks in size and color. This is a model commissioned by Dynaway and it is used to demonstrate their manufacturing execution system. The model was designed to fit inside a large flight case, so that it can be easily transported among demonstration events.

The bricks get sorted directly into pallets in a high bay storage system. When a new color is detected, an empty pallet in the high bay storage is assigned to the color. When a pallet is full, a robot retrieves it, and returns a new empty pallet.

There are 7 NXTs in the plant and they all communicate with each other and a PC application over Bluetooth. The software was written in leJOS, which is a java language for LEGO MINDSTORMS.

Together with these, there are many more NXT motors and sensors. You should visit the BrickIt team's website, for more details.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

TBs TechPoll 28 (Results) - Most popular and Best selling 2011 LEGO Technic sets

Another year, another poll to find the "Most popular and Best selling 2011 LEGO Technic sets" at TBs . This time we reached a massive participation (almost 1.000 votes) which is a record here.

As done in the previous years, we have again decided to run both polls in parallel, so that we can achieve the most consistent results.

Still we see a considerable difference among the number of voters in both polls. If it means that the almost 200 votes difference corresponds to fans following us here, but not buying any Technic set all, will remain to know. Next year I must add an option with something like "Didn't buy any of them".

I think it was also the first time we got exactly the three sets at the same order, in both polls (Best Set and Most Bought). It worth also to mention that the sets of 1H, managed to get two places in both podiums, which may be considered a surprise.

The 8110 Unimog was the preferred  and most bought by far, compared to the second (8070 Super Car)!
However the difference is much bigger when it comes to choose the best set (79% to 21%)), then when it arrives the moment to buy them (71% to 42%).

The 8069 Backhoe Loader rests in third place at both polls, but the 8109 Flatbed Truck follows really close, specially on the Best Sets poll (15% and 14% respectively).

8081 Extreme Cruiser seems to show little advantage against the remaining but at the same time seems to be the less bought (at least for this sample). Maybe because of its limited availability as it was an exclusive of a few stores.
It was bought fewer times the the smallest Technic set of 2011 (8065 Mini Container Truck). Whether this can be a surprise, I can't say...

For all the remaining ones, it seems they take no part in this story, specially in terms of favoritism.

So, side-by-side lets see the winners for 2011, in both categories!

The Best
2011 LEGO Technic sets
The Best Selling
2011 LEGO Technic sets *

8110, Mercedes-Benz Unimog U400 1st Place 8110, Mercedes-Benz Unimog U400

8070, Super Car 2nd Place 8070, Super Car

8069, Backhoe Loader 3rd Place 8052, Backhoe Loader

By the end of the year, will come back with similar polls, for the 2012 sets, which also promises great competition already.

*) Exclusively according to the data collected within this poll, thus not related with any TLG official figures.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Into the strength of LEGO Technic beams

This is probably the biggest brick torture I've seen, since my visit to LW Zwolle where the giant Ferry Wheel was twisting Technic beams like if they were made of butter...

Tristan Lostroh from Australia has made some strength tests with Technic Liftarms and Brick Beams, at Faculty of Engineering, University of South Queensland.
The tests were basically done for tension and transverse forces. A second category of tests also focused on strength of pin connections in liftarms. Aim was to find failure modes and damage extension.
This was the second test series and report of of this kind, made that Tristan and you can download it here.

You may find some interesting results, mostly expected and that LEGO Technic beams are quite resistant for the material they are made of and weight. Also you will learn about the most common failure modes, which eventually may guide you on your larger and stressful models.

Those with a Materials, Mechanical or Civil Engineering background will certain be able to extract more conclusions and eventually criticize the applied methods, sampling or whatsoever.
Some discussion on the first and second reports can be found at Eurobricks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

London Toy Fair 2012 - First News

Huw from Brickset had the privilege to visit the LEGO stand at London Toy Fair 2012, today. He brings to us the first news about 2H2012 LEGO Technic sets, after some weeks of rumors and speculations.

In his own words,

"Only two previously unseen sets were on show, although the catalogue shows a third. 9393 Tractor was not on display but 9396 helicopter and 9398 4x4 crawler were. The helicopter is huge (60cm long), red and yellow, and features new blades whose pitch can be adjusted. It's not motorised but it can be, there's space in the body for the battery box. The 4x4 crawler is a IR-remote-control vehicle which had half-black and half-white bodywork which looked a bit odd, and odder still I suspect if you don't apply the stickers.

However, more importantly it comes with new motors and a new servo motor. The two axles were driven by separate motors which were squarer than those we've seen before, although it was difficult to see their geometry exactly. The servo motor would have been used for the steering and it, too, was a different shape to current PF motors. I don't get too excited about wheeled Technic models, there are too many of them, but I'll definitely be buying the Helicopter which looked to be the best Technic one ever!"

9393 - Tractor
The green spot... between the Jet Plan and the Qaud Bike, in the picture bellow.
Still no further details possible to be seen from that image below, except that front tires are smaller than the rear ones...

9396 - Helicopter
Not much to comment about this one. It was already clear this should be a big set and it is, if we look at it side-by-side with the other 2012 LEGO Technic sets, also from the picture below.
So it is now also confirmed this set won't have motorization and the "Batteries not Included" logo in the box, must be something very preliminar. Likely it should include instructions for motorization via 8293 Motor Set, as it is reported to have plenty of space to old a PF battery box inside the cargo compartment.

9398 - 4x4 Crawler
I'm not surprised about the comments on the color scheme used, despite I still think they might be appropriate for the type of vehicle represented by this model. There is a better definition image (still watermarked...) on the dealers catalog where we clearly see a red chassis (what a coincidence if we recall the new Crowkillers Vampire GT...), and the body which seems to change from black in the front towards white in the backside. This includes some white parts in the back, including the rear mudguards, which are orange at the front. I like the overall effect but agree this might look really odd if one decides to not apply the stickers...
But Huw made my day, when he confirmed new PF motors to drive the model and a new servo motor for steering.
The fact they are squarer looks also very promising - Hope to get some extra pin holes at the corners...

At another Toy Fair report, this one at FBTB, it is also mentioned "... with full RC controls and 2 motors allowed independent & power 4 wheel steering". I guess it might be two motors for independent axle power and one extra motor (the servo) for 4WS.
Another mysterious statement on FBTB, says "There’ll be a competition to customise these apparently.". Can it mean a new competition at for the fans to customize this model? Like proposals for own replacement of the controversial decoration options made by TLG Designers for this model, for instance!?

Can't wait to put my hands on these new motors!

Huw also took some bird view photos from the LEGO stand, including the Technic area here, and despite it is not possible to see any kind of details, we might probably have here the first photo from the new sets in real ABS...
See the Crawler in the left corner and the helicopter in the center which looks really huge!

Hope to see a lot more from the next Toy Fairs in the Calendar...

Vampire GT building instructions are now available!

Since the presentation of his latest car (Vampire GT), one with gull wing doors, the supercars master Paul Boratko (Crowkillers) has been working hard in collaboration with Eric Albretch (Blakbird), to produce amazing renders and digital building instructions for this gem.

The instructions are finally ready and you can buy them at Paul's website for the small amount of 12 bucks. I'd say it is well worth he money.
As an alternative you may also buy these via eBay, if you prefer so.
This time, Paul decided to make two versions of his car - One red with a standard black chassis and another one all black with peeks of red coming out from the chassis. It is an absolutely gorgeous work!
The best of all, is that for the same amount of money you will be able to download both building instructions (121 pages each) with respective parts list, and later decide which one to build (if not both...)
Here a nice photo from the couple, with the already usual chrome wheels, on Crowkiller's cars.

Meanwhile you can also watch the video that Paul released quite recently on YouTube, to promote his car.

Vampire GT features:
  • Dash Switch that lets you select either Rear Wheel and All Wheel Drive
  • New Styled All Wheel Drive 5 Speed Transmission with Reverse
  • Working Hand of God Steering with remote cockpit steering
  • 4 Wheel Independent Suspension
  • Gull wing doors
  • Turning a Small Bevel Gear in the rear will Open and Close Each Door
  • Opening Hood and Rear Hatch

Which one will you build? The Red one, the Black (once the required parts will become generally available), or both?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week TechVideo, 2012 #03 - Super GT40

With more than one hundred MOCs built, Supercars are not among the most frequent models in Sariel's portfolio. He made several promises and attempts and even one first test with a Dodge Charger R/T, but somehow the prefix Super didn't fit quite well in this, at least to my eyes.

Finally this last week, he presented the finished version of his latest model. A Ford GT40 that looks absolutely gorgeous and Super!

While it looks absolutely an evil modern (even more than the original inspiration...) race car, it is also quite distinctive from any other LEGO Technic Supercar we have ever seen (either from TLG or fan builders). Besides de absence of a gearbox or the traditional fake piston engine, it is the bright red color contrasting with the white stripes, the superb photos and the huge tires that make it almost unique.

However and as for the aesthetics I would highlight the distinctive rear design, the lines smoothness and complexity at the front, and the genial pattern simulation detail from the driver's seat.

This masterpiece features:
  • LEGO RC Unit for power and remote control
  • 2 hard-coupled RC motors geard 5:1 for propulsion, 1 PF M-motor, 1 Micromotor
  • Rear axle drive through a differential
  • Full independent double wishbone suspension
  • Front axle return-to-center, using RC Unit's steering output
  • Functional steering wheel
  • Integrated speedometer
  • Front and rear lights (real)
  • Opening doors
  • Opening rear bonnet
  • Front and rear remote-controlled turn signals
  • Dashboard with turn signals indicators

Here some nice visuals...

See the full photo set at Sariel's Brickshelf folder.

9397 hits the shelves at Argos, UK

Like it was the case last year with 8070 Supercar by the same time, it seems that Argos UK was again the first to release the 1H late Technic release 9397 Logging Truck. Although still a March release for the general market, I think.

Some lucky guys had already the chance to buy their model and shown that there is also a new part, included in this set.
The surprise (if we can really call it a surprise) that was reserved for us it was a new LEGO Technic part as you can see from the building instructions partlist published on flickr Oafley Jones' photostream.

This is very similar with the existing 32557 Technic, Pin Connector Perpendicular Long but got 1L extra length with an axle-hole.
I'm pretty sure MOCers out there will find good use for it!

Some photos of the model made by their first owners start to pop-up. Here some examples...

Building Instructions booklet numbers are: 6004029, 6004032 and 6010324 (just for the case when these become available online, at LEGO web cache).

And while we don't get the first video from the real thing, lets take a look on an replica of the B-model, made by dokludi.

Soon we should know more about this!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Supercar Deluxe 2 building instructions are now available!

Paul Boratko (Crowkillers) has been working hard in collaboration with Jurgen Krooshoop and Eric Albretch (Blakbird), to produce digital building instructions for his Supercar Deluxe 2.

It has been a long wait, but the instructions are finally ready and you can buy them at Paul's website or through eBay, for the small amount of 10 bucks.
For a 163 pages building instructions, I'd say it is well worth the money! Also you can download from the same place, the BrickStore XML file with the corresponding partlist, that helps you finding the required parts to build this model, on BrickLink.

Supercar Deluxe 2 features:
  • All Wheel Drive with front mounted V10 engine
  • Over 1,600 pieces
  • All new 4 speed transmission design
  • 4 Wheel Independent Suspension
  • Opening Hood
  • Doors that Open by rolling a bevel gear in the back
  • Spoiler Raises and lowers by rolling a bevel gear between the seats
  • Hand of God steering that also works with dashboard steering

But get ready... something tell us that Paul's Vampire GT2 building instructions, are also being cooked.

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