Computer-Shaped LEGO Brick Brought To Life

The blue LEGO brick described, with the OLED inside shining through the 3D-printed and subsequently cast brick body. The picture on the small OLED imitates the lines of text shown on the brick that this is an imitation of.

In childhood, many of us wondered — wouldn’t it be cool if our miniature toys had “real” functions? Say, that our toy cars actually were able to drive, or at least, that the headlights could light up. [James Brown] captures some of this childhood expectation of magic, recreating the 2×2 45°-sloped Lego bricks with computer screens and panels drawn on them by building a LEGO brick (thread, nitter) with an actual display inside of it.

This is possible thanks to an exceptionally small OLED display and a microcontroller board that’s not much larger. It’s designed to plug onto a LEGO platform that has an internal 9V battery, with power exposed on the brick’s studs. [James] has taken care building this — the brick was built with help of a tiny 3D-printed form, and then, further given shape by casting in what appears to be silicone or resin.

We’ve yet to hear more details like the microcontroller used — at least, the displays look similar to the ones used in a different project of [James]’, a keyboard where every keycap has a display in it (thread, nitter). Nevertheless, it is lovely to witness this feat of micro-engineering and fabrication. It reminds us of an another impressive build we covered recently — a 1/87 scale miniature Smart Car that’s as functional as you can get!

26 thoughts on “Computer-Shaped LEGO Brick Brought To Life

    1. Glad to hear it helps! I’ve mentioned it internally, so hopefully, other writers use it whenever we get a Twitter post, too.

      I would also like to emphasize that you can always replace twitter.com with nitter.net (or any other instance from here) yourself. Sometimes writers, including myself, will forget it – other times, like here, it would make the text needlessly verbose to add a nitter alternative link for every Twitter link. In other words, don’t forget to do it yourself where applicable ^__^

      And – let’s all keep our fingers crossed that Nitter can keep operating! It’s truly a wonderful platform for what it achieves.

      1. Threads on twitter can become convoluted and extremely difficult to follow. I’m sure if I was a twitter aficionado I could figure out how to put them in a sequential order, but I’m not, and Nitter does it really nicely for me.

    1. Go large enough motors and then the Lego servo motor or position aware Mindstorms motors and some Technic (or Znap I suppose) could give you active flight control!

      Though once you start making the Lego computer into a real computer sticking to ‘real Lego’ parts seems overkill when your standard servos are likely stronger motors that weigh less not needing to be Lego levels of over engineered to survive play (scratch that meant abuse)…

      Wonder how much a suitably sized ducted fan multirotor could lift – thinking ducted fan so the Lego spaceship shell actually looks right not because it makes aerodynamic sense. Seems like with the wonders of modern battery and brushless motor it should be possible to have a real Lego spaceship, built of mostly normal Lego parts around a frame of probably ducted fan, but I guess exposed props wouldn’t be too bad either – sort of the same thing Lego did themselves with their RC car platform a while ago one big monolith that contains the RC elements, motors etc but you can build what you like on it, at least to some extent – never owned one so don’t really know how good it really was…

  1. When I was a kid, the most high tech Lego available had a tiny incandescent bulb in it. Used an uncommon battery that when we got back from Denmark we couldn’t find.

    1. Far as I know all Lego has been standard cells in the early days, C or was it D cells in the 4.5V era, AA and 9v in the 9v era, with the oddest disposable battery in use being relatively recent sets that stuff a light and a pretty common watch battery into a 2×3 brick…

      Love to know what you are talking about, the oddities Lego has produced over the years are often very interesting, and I’d love to know why and when they used a rare/odd battery choice.

      1. This was bought in Denmark in 1965. It was “larger” but flat. I can’t remember the terminals on the Lego light, but I thought it was unusual. So apart from the voltage, the battery had to accept the terminals from the bulb.

        The bulb wss tiny, so I can’t imagine it needing more than 1.5V. But when we came home, there was never a battery for it. Thatl likely meant my mother or father went to the hardware store or toy department and told they had no battery of that type.
        So I’ve always assumed the battery was common in Denmark but not Canada.

        1. Far as I know Lego never did anything electric before the 4.5V stuff, though strange promotional rareities that nobody remembers/knows about till they turn up again does happen. And ’65 is early 4.5V stuff in Europe anyway. Was the Bulb housed in a 2×2 or 2×4 brick? If so that really sounds like normal 4.5V (or later 12V) stuff..

          Larger and flat as a battery sure sounds like it could be a lantern battery, those have come in a few odd shapes, or I suppose its a simple case of nobody realising or reading the instructions I assume it would have come with that the large Lego brick like battery box unscrews and takes which ever one of the fatter AA shaped standard cells I have many rechargeable off, seems rather unlikely but I guess the child you were probably wouldn’t know yet, and your parents would have to be from a generation rather less electronic technology invested as they grew up, so maybe they didn’t know either…

          I’m really curious now.

          It is long before my time, but all I know of in Europe (and all the references I frequent when looking at Lego know of too) was released with very standard cells. there is a strange old Sampsonite Lego battery box from about that time that I have never personally seen, though how you would get that in Europe when they were the American producer of early Lego, I don’t really know much about, but it seems its lid was always transparent and from the pictures it looks like it holds a normal set of cells.

          (I should know – I spend far too long looking for interesting old Lego, and cheap second hand Lego in general, that these days I’d never get to use, so don’t actually buy… But all the varied parts they have made in recent years are fascinating, if often rather annoyingly useless for anything but cosmetic finishes having only one or two possible attachment points and funny shaped bits that get in the way…)

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