Tuesday, November 22, 2016

LEGO-related Charitable Opportunities

There are a few exciting LEGO-related charitable opportunities currently going on:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Microscale Tanks (with instructions!)

Name of Model: Mini tank
Created by: Mike "mikevd" Dung
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikevd/28815286630/in/pool-44124304756@N01
Details: These fantastic microscale tanks are practically begging us to build some large battle scenes at a smaller scale. They make excellent use of the rotation joint element from the large Knight's Kingdom figures, which has always felt like a part waiting to be rediscovered. I figured someone would find a great way to use it as space-y greebling first, but it looks perfect as a tank turret here. The complete breakdown of how they were built should enable anyone to build these, with the possible exception of the center connecting the treads - the combination of Technic, Axle and Pin Connector Perpendicular and Technic, Pin Connector Round 1L can be replaced with Technic, Axle and Pin Connector Perpendicular 3L with Center Pin Hole (which is also available in more colors so far).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Robotics Monday: Controlling Power Functions Motors from an Arduino

Name of Model: Take Control Over Lego Power Functions
Created by: Patrick Müller
Found at: https://www.hackster.io/Notthemarsian/take-control-over-lego-power-functions-ee0bfa
Details: Recently spotted in Hackster.io's news e-mail: Take Control Over Lego Power Functions. This quick tutorial is not purist (it involves cutting Power Functions extension wires, in addition to using an Arduino and other non-LEGO parts), but it clearly explains how to make it all work together. The Arduino platform is rapidly becoming the most popular hobby electronics and robotics platform, but it doesn't have a 9-volt output. Yes, I know we refer to the previous LEGO electrical system as 9 Volt, but the Power Functions system also has 9 volts under the hood (it's unfortunate that the official LEGO terminology doesn't provide more insight into how the systems actually work). Among the other useful tips in the article is a recommendation for a particular integrated Texas Instruments Dual H-Bridge motor driver chip (L293D), which handles the correct voltages and much of the work of controlling motors for you.

Sure, most of us will probably stick to using the Power Functions system and IR controllers to handle our Technic motor control needs, but it's great to see someone making it straightforward enough that even a novice at electronics could quickly get up and running with an Arduino- and Bluetooth-based control system instead. I may be one of the purists who prefer the all-in-one nature of the off-the-shelf Mindstorms kits, but we need to be able to do these things with more modern microcontrollers too.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Buzz Lightyear's X-Wing Fighter

Name of Model: Buzz Lightyear's X-Wing
Created by: Duncan "donuts_ftw" Lindbo
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124874271@N06/28419695121/
Details: Duncan "donuts_ftw" Lindbo recently came across the Buzz Lightyear wing element from the Disney series of Collectible Minifigures and built this beauty. This microscale version of the X-Wing Fighter (from Star Wars, now also owned by Disney) also makes great use of the new Flat Tile 1X1 ½ Circle, White element (found in a few Mixels sets) to get the shaping of the wings right at this scale. There's also some clever studs-not-on-top (SNOT) work - note the lime clip ring plate in the cockpit to connect the two 1x1 plate with tooth elements on the sides. Notice that (although I'm not sure how he did it - perhaps white clip ring plates attached to either side of the lime one?) the bottom set of wings is attached upside-down relative to the cockpit and top set of wings - a nice bit of symmetry that keeps the handle bar plates from marring the shape of the spaceship.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

News from Some Friends of LMOTD

Some brief news from some of our friends:

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta is hosting an Adult Night TONIGHT from 7-9 PM, featuring three classes with Master Model Builder Aries Viera. The classes will focus on detailing with small pieces, making Minilanders, and using studs-not-on-top techniques. This is also a great opportunity to check out their rides, miniland displays, and 4D cinema without needing to be accompanied by a kid.

The Atlanta LEGOLAND Discovery Center will also be hosting a Ninjago Weekend August 20th and 21st, as well as a Homeschool Day (register here) on August 24th.

Bionicle community BZPower turned 15 years old yesterday. They've been running raffles to commemorate the anniversary, many of which are free to enter. They've been celebrating all month and have also marked down their fantastic Themes to Revive T-shirts and offered a discount (with code) on their Premier Membership program.

Finally, BrickFair Virginia is right around the corner! There are other LEGO fan conventions out there, but this one is the biggest, best, and our personal favorite. The Dulles Expo Center recently expanded their facilities, and the full expanded space will be filled with fan displays of original LEGO creations (there will be some vendors and activities, too, but you're here for fascinating LEGO models, right?). Full event registration (for Wednesday, August 3rd through Sunday, August 7th) is open through August 5th for $80. Tickets for public days are available now for $15, with an online-only discounted option for people entering after 2 PM.

You can also register now to attend upcoming BrickFair conventions in New Jersey, Alabama, Massachusetts, and Virginia (2017). Sure, tickets for the weekend show part of it will be available later (you can sign up for e-mails on when shows come up and tickets become available), but we want to see you build something exciting, bring it to show off, and get to know fellow builders.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

BrickUniverse Raleigh 2016 LEGO Online Community Panel

Name of Video: BrickUniverse Raleigh 2016 LEGO Online Community Panel
Created by: BZPower
Found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvvzdklRu_4
Details: Our friends at BZPower recently posted video of the BrickUniverse Raleigh 2016 LEGO Online Community Panel. LMOTD contributors Dan and Matthew were both on the panel - myself (Dan) representing this blog and Matthew representing Beyond the Brick. Also featured on the panel were Scott Barnick (contributor at New Elementary), Andrew Bulthaupt (admin at BZPower), George Barnick of Brickipedia, and Stephen Forthofer from The Brick Show. We discussed a number of aspects of the online LEGO fan community, focusing on how each of our outlets within the community uses various sites and platforms that are a part of our ever-growing community. You may find interesting the parts where the history and future direction of this blog are covered, but much of the conversation was about the sheer size of the fan community today - which is more interesting for those of us who are willing to jump on panels but are shy about the whole self-promotion thing.

We will (eventually) be covering BrickUniverse Raleigh 2016 in more detail.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Toa of Rock... Raiders

Name of Model: The Toa of Rock... Raiders
Created by: Unijob Lindo
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/102085494@N02/22502726842/in/dateposted/
Details: Why yes, I'm actually using the name of a model as a post title. This hits the perfect sweet spot for me - it uses great techniques and rare colors to combine two now-classic official LEGO themes. Perhaps you have to had been young in the 1990's to appreciate this; people much older than that tend to think of both Bionicle and Rock Raiders as childish and overly-juniorized themes (on a related note, we really need to have a better summary of what "juniorization" is). A quick check of Ryan's color chart shows that most of the important colors in the Rock Raiders theme's color scheme have been discontinued - teal (Bright Bluish Green [TLG]/Dark Turquoise [BL]) was last in a new set in 2005, and the "great color change" means that we haven't seen old brown (Earth Orange [TLG]/Brown [BL]), old dark grey (Dark Grey [TLG]/Dark Gray [BL]), or old light grey (Grey [TLG]/Light Gray [BL]) in a new set since 2006. Metalized Silver [TLG]/Chrome silver [BL] hasn't exactly been a common color over the years, either, even if it hasn't been discontinued yet.

The colors aren't the only thing to love here - there are also some clever joints and details. Bionicle ball joints are used on the knees to allow two sockets to form a joint together. The same joints are also used in a more traditional (although non-geared) way on the standard Toa torso element (which I'm just now realizing hasn't actually been in a set since 2004) and with a rare black Technic axle towball connected to a Mixel socket to create a very flexible wrist on one hand. Some extra color and body is given to areas that otherwise might look spindly, thanks to the Transparent Fluorescent Green [TLG]/Trans-Neon Green [BL] 1 x 1 round plates pushed into Technic pinholes. The best detail, though, may just be the chainsaw blades coming out of the feet.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Clever Dragon

Name of Model: Dragon
Created by: takamichi irie (legomichiiiiii)
Found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/legomichiiiiii/24578934281/
Details: takamichi irie (legomichiiiiii) recently built this awesome little dragon - it's short enough for a minifig to pet, but definitely fearsome enough to terrorize a microscale kingdom. The head may look a little familiar - it seems to take after an awesome build of Nessie that Sean and Steph Mayo built last year (which I probably should have blogged at the time), but that horns and binoculars technique still works very well. The torso really speaks to me - it's a brilliant use of the thick-pin skeleton torso, with a lightsaber hilt for the neck, four skeleton legs for the legs, and the gargoyle collectible minifigure wings as the dragon's wings. The wings don't look to be swooshable to me (minifig neck accessories tend to have looser connections), but that'd be easy enough to fix with a 1x1 round brick (that's how I'd do it, anyway, but it probably looks better the way it is).

The head and tail demonstrate another technique - using clips in askew connections that are sturdy, but wouldn't be considered "legal" in an official set or LEGO Digital Designer. I think I spy a minifig hand holding that tail in place, with the end that normally connects to a minifig's arm crammed into the skeleton torso (another "illegal" but very useful connection).

The builder recently started a blog in English and Japanese: http://blog.livedoor.jp/legomichiiiiii/

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Motorized Super Mario Bros. Piranha Plant

Name of Model: Super Mario Bros. Piranha Plant
Created by: Daniel Pikora (yours truly)
Found at: https://youtu.be/oJrjyQKZ1Y0 for now
Details: While I (Dan) continue to be largely absent due to personal issues (I'm now moving to a new state again), I have still kept building and kept attending events. At one such recent event (this year's BrickFair Alabama), I was interviewed by our friends at Beyond the Brick about my Super Mario Bros. Piranha Plant. While the mechanism still doesn't run smoothly enough for me to be completely happy with it, it's worked well enough to take to shows - but I've been avoiding documenting it online until I've had a chance to make it work better (in this clip, it's already lurching along at a slower speed and sticking a little). I'd like to revise it further to fix the motion problems and to try to capture more of a world from Super Mario Bros. - perhaps with a few more moving characters.

This model debuted at last year's Maker Faire Orlando, which coincided with the 30th anniversary of the original release of Super Mario Bros. It also works out nicely that Piranha Plants were actually green back then (as compared to the red that's currently more common). Not that colors showed up on my classic Game Boy, anyway...

I had originally planned on building this for BZPower's "Lights and Action"-themed convention circuit last year, but this took too long to get together and then still didn't work reliably enough to send off with someone else. You may still have seen it at last year's Maker Faire Orlando, Brickworld Tampa, BrickCon, BrickFair New Jersey, BrickUniverse Dallas, and/or the Orange County Public Library System LEGO Contest (in addition to this year's BrickFair Alabama, seen in the featured clip). Later this year, I plan on displaying it (at least) at BrickUniverse Raleigh, BrickNation West Friendship, Scouting For Bricks, BrickFair New England, and BrickFair Virginia.

Monday, June 29, 2015

LEGO Starburst Vending Machine

Name of Model: LEGO Starburst Vending Machine
Created by: Stuart "iceleftd" Roll
Found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2RRsMwc3Ho
Details:

Making things out of LEGO that "move" is a wonderful thing. Creating something out of LEGO that can do something in response to human input is pretty awesome. There are a few LEGO vending machines out there that can be easily found with a Google search. In fact, in the description of the LEGO Starburst vending machine video the builder acknowledges the "LEGO vending machines" of another YouTube user by the name of ElectryDragonite. While ElectryDragonite's LEGO vending machines are numerous and very interesting, what makes iceleftd's Starburst vending machine wonderful is the sleekness of the design coupled with the very well thought out mechanical components and functionalities. This LEGO Starburst vending machine is a truly impressive build that really shows off the talent of this amazing builder.


In addition to an impeccably well produced video, iceleftd has also created a very sleek rendering of the vending machine which can be found on the builder's Flickr.