Saturday, October 17, 2015 2015-01 Parts Update Now Available

The LDraw team has sent us the following announcement:

The 2015-01 LDraw Parts Update has now been released. This update includes 502 new files in the core library, including 338 new parts and 34 new primitives.

This update includes an unusually large, but welcome, proportion of improved and corrected parts. This is largely due to the work of Roland Melkert with the 'libfix version' of LDCad. Significant effort has also been expended by Magnus Forsberg to inline dithered colour subfiles (a now obsolete technique). Most of the obsoleted subfiles will be released in a future update.

You can preview the new parts in 2015-01 and download the update from the Latest Parts page.

The LDraw Team

Happy (virtual) building!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

TechnicBRICKs turns 8

Yesterday we celebrated 8 years since this project started. TBs grew fast and lived healthy for a long time, but everyone's life evolve and changes including the bloggers' life, and so it does a blog status as well...
You probably say to have not seen much happening here lately... Posts have been scarce, although we believe this is part of a cycle. Only the future can tell!

The fact is it was a lot more fun in the beginning when there was not much places LEGO Technic related news, and we were able to publish preliminary images from every new upcoming sets, take a lot of guesses about which features and new elements were likely included in each set, etc.

For now, the man who never sleeps, has been sleeping...
Nevertheless Alexandre never forgets the important dates and he is always willing to cook (render) a new anniversary cake for us.
This time it looks there was no one at driver's seat, and that's perhaps because of this TBs is not moving faster... but still everyone there looks to be enjoying the ride.

The car is orange as it couldn't have been differently, so it makes me think about a certain helicopter that we are waiting for the next year...

But if I were you I wouldn't be expecting too much from the next 1H flagship as it seems to be, at least the preliminary images don't reveal much excitement about it. That's probably because the recent Technic sets have their body covered with panels. Which is good and increases the realism - long ago were the days when LEGO Technic sets looked so empty showing gaps everywhere - but it also tends to make it more difficult to study the details specially when it comes to preliminary and diffuse images.

Basically it looks like a Kamov coaxial helicopter, with a not so rounded cockpit like a Chinook.
Those below look like good approximations while we can't show real images. The front steering is made with a single dual wheel configuration instead.

It is a cargo helicopter predominately white, with DBG stripes, an orange belly and a few other orange appointments like in the engines. The winch pulls a small blue "container" made with two 3x11 blue panels.
It has a coaxial counter-rotating dual rotor with six long blades in total (the same which were released with 9396 Helicopter). No collective or cyclic pitch as far as one can see.
No new panels or other elements visible, but it uses two white pieces used in small City cement mixer trucks (Design ID: 57792) as engine covers.
This looks to be and off-the-shelf PF set or at least it is PF ready and seems a good candidate to have a small switching gear box to control four functions with a single motor. What these functions could be we can only guess at the moment: coaxial rotors, winch, bottom cargo hatch and landing gears

Overall it looks good but does not raises an exaggerated excitement inside me.


New images for some 1H2016 sets

Today a few images surfaced on the LEGO servers, showing upcoming sets. Now we can see what some of the Technic sets will look like!

42045 Hydroplane Racer

It appears to be a competitor for 42002 Hovercraft from 2013, in theme and functions (moving cylinder engine and turbine as the model is pushed along the floor). Compared to the former, it should have a higher speed on water, but be unable to travel on land.

The only new element I see is a 18944 Technic, Panel Curved 3 x 13, for the first time in blue.

42046 Getaway Racer

One of the year's Pullback Racers. With the golden rims and the black (and sometimes very, very dark grey) colour scheme, if you don't apply the stickers this could be Batman's Hot Rod.

I don't see any new elements: neither new moulds nor old moulds in new colours.

42047 Police Interceptor

Up until now, Pullback Racers have appeared in a "road/offroad" duality: 42010/42011, 42026/42027, 42033/42034. Next year will be the trend breaker, with a "police/robbers" theme. It's nice to see something this unusual for Technic! Like "Batman's Hot Rod", with the Interceptor's white and lime colour scheme and the dark greeble on top, it looks more like "Ghostbusters' SUV" to me.

Like with its "adversary", I don't see any new elements in it.

42048 Race Kart

Usually Technic karts tend to be small models, due to the subject theme being naturally small and simple; however, this set seems to be in a larger than usual scale. Besides the mandatory steering and cylinder engine, I see a mysterious "handbrake" lever near the driver's seat. Could it be used to switch between some two functions? If so, I have no idea what could they be...

Like the previously-described sets, I don't see any new mould in this one, only 18944 Technic, Panels Curved 3 x 13 in... uh... purple? Oh my, I really hope it's not yet another colour to make parts availability for MOC building more difficult! I hope the colours in the picture are misleading and those panels are in fact dark blue, but comparison with the blue pins in the same picture doesn't give me much hope.

42049 Mine Loader

From the name, I was expecting a wheel loader equipped with a front shovel, like last year's 42030 Volvo L350F, albeit flatter and in a smaller scale, to complement this years's 42035 Mining Truck. Instead we have a loader that's indeed flat (for working in the cramped spaces found in mines), but has, instead of a shovel, a grabber claw in front. This one should be quite fun to play with, once modified for remote control!

The only new element I see is the red half-cylinder, used here twice to make a huge tank for the Loader to pick up.

Now we're still missing the images for the following sets. Maybe they're still not available because these are the ones with new moulds?
42044 Display Team Jet
42050 Drag Racer
42052 Heavy Lift Helicopter
42053 Volvo EW 160E
42054 Claas Xerion 5000 Tractor
42055 Bucket Wheel Excavator

Via Brickset

Friday, October 9, 2015

Review - The LEGO Power Functions Idea Book

Yoshihito Isogawa is already a household name when it comes to clever LEGO Technic and MINDSTORMS contraptions. He gained international recognition in the AFOL community with his LEGO construction guide Tora No Maki [1]. nitially the book was published by Isogawa himself as a PDF file, but the book really became famous when No Starch published a print version in three volumes as The LEGO Technic Idea Book [2].

His next No Starch title was The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Idea Book, in which he applied the same principles used in his LEGO Technic book to the (limited) inventory of the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 retail set 31313 [3]

This time Isogawa has prepared a two-volume set of books called The LEGO Power Functions Idea Book. In a sense the book is a cross between his original LEGO Technic Idea Book and the MINDSTORMS EV3 Idea Book, in the sense that on the one hand the setup of the book is heavily inspired on the former, and like the latter, most builds now also include an inventory of the parts that are necessary to build it. Even so, true to form, the book does not contain detailed building instructions of the models. Each model is built with pieces in a wide range of colours, making it easier to see what parts are used and how they are connected. Pictures from different angles of each build provide enough information to “reverse engineer” all of the contraptions for even the most inexperienced builder. Aside from the introduction the book has virtually no text. The images speak for themselves.

Volume one bears the title “Machines and Mechanisms”. It starts out with a number of concepts that are very similar to the LEGO Technic Idea Book, but incorporating a Power Functions motor in each one of them. This means that if you do not have the LEGO Technic Ideas books you will still get a valuable foundation in construction techniques, but if you do, the book in no way simply rehashes the concepts of the earlier series. For one thing a number of new LEGO parts have appeared over the years and these are used in new and innovative ways. A number of the construction techniques used in this volume are also completely new. As you build your way through the book, the builds become progressively more complex, going from different ways of transmitting rotation with gears, chains, pulleys and levers in part one, to implementing these techniques to create machines with arms, wings and other types of movement in part two which for example shows different ways of building gripping fingers, moving arms and even machines for drawing pictures.

You can see videos of some of the mechanisms in action at the following links:
Rotation while moving / Sine Wave Drawing Machine / Drawing Arm

Volume two is entitled “Cars and Contraptions” and is a clear continuation of volume one. It describes vehicles that use several of the ideas for transmitting motion from the first volume and adds further ideas. Again the constructions become progressively more complex and include vehicles with differentials, with suspension and even vehicles that can react to obstacles or avoid falling off a table. Part two looks at ways of moving forward without using wheels or tracks and includes several cool walkers. Part 3 describes special mechanisms including transmissions.

Example build from book 2:
Car that senses the edge of a table

Once you have worked your way through both volumes you will probably be hungry for more. Ideally you should use the fragments and ideas provided in the books as inspiration for your own builds, but you may also want to consider getting the earlier LEGO Technic Ideas books for additional inspiration.

Both volumes of the LEGO Power Functions Ideas Book include a parts list, indicating which parts are used in either one or both of the volumes. All elements are currently used in LEGO sets and are reasonably easy to get. Even so, the underlying idea isn’t so much to show you how to build a specific contraption, but to inspire you to use construction ideas with different and varied LEGO parts. Often there is more than one way to achieve the same goal and different construction solutions can be applied to build the same (or a very similar) mechanism.

The two volumes contain 316 and 318 pages respectively, brimful of high quality images on beautiful glossy paper, and weigh approximately 1 kilo each!

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