LEGO Row Boat Is The Poolside Companion You Didn’t Know You Needed

Maybe it’s the upbeat music, or the views of a placid lake at sunset, or perhaps it’s just seeing those little plastic rods pumping away with all their might. Whatever the reason may be, the video [Vimal Patel] posted of his little remote controlled LEGO row boat cruising around on the open water is sure to put a smile on the face of even the most jaded hacker.

[Vimal] tells us that his creation is made up of over 140 unmodified LEGO parts, and is controlled over Bluetooth which connects to an app on his phone. While we would like to see some more detail on the reciprocating module he came up with to drive the boat’s paddles, we have to admit that the images he provided in his flickr album for the project are impeccable overall. If the toy boat game doesn’t work out for [Vimal], we think he definitely has what it takes to get into the advertising department for a car manufacturer.

[Vimal] was even kind enough to provide a LEGO Digital Designer file for the project, which in the world of little rainbow colored blocks is akin to releasing the source code, so you can build up your own fleet before next summer.

It’s worth noting that [Vimal] is something of a virtuoso in the world of modular building blocks, and no stranger here at Hackaday. His self lacing shoe impressed earlier this year, and this isn’t even his first LEGO watercraft.

All he has to do now to reach the true pinnacle of LEGO construction is to start building with giant versions of everyone’s favorite block.

Continue reading “LEGO Row Boat Is The Poolside Companion You Didn’t Know You Needed”

LEGO-compatible Electronics Kits Everywhere!

Within the last few years, a lot of companies have started with the aim to disrupt the educational electronics industry using their LEGO-compatible sets. Now they’re ubiquitous, and fighting each other for their slice of space in your child’s box of bricks. What’s going on here?

Raison D’Être

The main reason for LEGO-compatibility is familiarity. Parents and children get LEGO. They have used it. They already have a bunch. When it comes to leveling up and learning about electronics, it makes sense to do that by adding on to a thing they already know and understand, and it means they can continue to play with and get more use from their existing sets. The parent choosing between something that’s LEGO-compatible and a completely separate ecosystem like littleBits (or Capsela) sees having to set aside all the LEGO and buy all new plastic parts and learn the new ecosystem, which is a significant re-investment. littleBits eventually caught on and started offering adapter plates, and that fact demonstrates how much demand there is to stick with the studs.

Continue reading “LEGO-compatible Electronics Kits Everywhere!”

LEGO Components Under X-Ray

[Nico71] works for a company that makes industrial CT scanners. These x-ray machines look inside a piece of equipment, allowing operators to verify assembly and to inspect for material integrity. It also allowed [Nico71] the opportunity to scan a LEGO servo he had lying around, and which no longer worked. The resulting images look fantastic, and really allow you to look into a closed system and pick apart how it works or why it’s not working. In this case, you can see one of the wires has been damaged.

[Nico71] plans to scan a bunch of LEGO components, comparing (for instance) official LEGO products with shanzhai knockoffs. Which is better constructed? It’s one thing to have thinner or cheaper plastic, or a lower grade of steel, but how is the part engineered?

We’ve covered a surprising amount of CT goodness on Hackaday, including this process for turning a CT scan into a 3D print and a post on improving a homebrew CT scanner. Continue reading “LEGO Components Under X-Ray”

LEGO Prototyping with Tinkercad’s Brick Mode

[Andrew Sink] made a brief video demonstrating how he imported an STL of the well-known 3D Benchy tugboat model, and instead of sending it to a 3D printer used the Brick Mode feature to make a physical copy out of LEGO bricks in an eye-aching kaleidoscope of colors.

For those of you who haven’t used Tinkercad lately, Brick Mode allows you to represent a model as LEGO bricks at various scales. You model something as usual (or import a model) and by pushing a single button, render it in LEGO as accurately as can be done with standard bricks.

In addition, [Andrew] shows how the “Layers” feature can be used as a makeshift assembly guide for the model, albeit with a couple of quirks that he explains in the video embedded below.

Continue reading “LEGO Prototyping with Tinkercad’s Brick Mode”

LiPo Added to LEGO Power Functions Power Brick

LEGO’s Power Functions elements mostly consist of DC motors and the hardware to be driven by those motors like gears and wheels. They also include battery packs, usually a bunch of AA cells in a plastic box. One of the challenges of the system — for hackers, anyway — is interfacing with the product line’s plugs, which resemble 2×2 plates with power and ground connectors built in, designed to be impossible to connect in reverse. It’s difficult to make the physical shape of the plug, with the connectors right where they should be. This hurdle means you also pretty much have to use LEGO’s power boxes or take your chances with frying your components from an unregulated LiPo.

The LiPo Power Brick project serves as a DC-DC power supply, serving up constant 9 V output, with
over current protection limiting current to 3 A peak or 2 A continuous and over-discharge protection shutting down the power supply when it zeroes out. It can be used in conjunction with Sbrick smart Power Functions controllers. The SBrick can also source 3A per channel, which is more than any LEGO PF-compatible power supply can deliver.

The LiPo Power Brick is the same size as a standard 2×4 brick, allowing you to easily add it to your next project.

All-LEGO Centrifugal Pump

[Yoshihito Isogawa] almost never employs non-LEGO parts in his creations. He created an excellent centrifugal pump out of 100% LEGO. While mostly a curiosity, you can definitely get a sense of how the mechanics work.

A Power Functions motor turns a 6×6 round plate that appears to have 1×2 smooth plates jammed between the studs, and secured with a 4×4 round plate on the other end. He geared up the motor so the assembly is spun very quickly, with those smooth plates forcing the water through a Technic mounting hole in one of the bricks.

[Yoshihito] is known for his utterly elegant, stripped down mechanical assemblies—-check out his books if this is your bag. According to his bio he’s twice won the Japanese medal for best manual, so I guess he’s really good at explaining things! Also, that’s a thing?

For more DIY pump creation check out the air pump made out of a PVC pipe and the DIY syringe pump we published previously.

Quintuple-Sized LEGO Go-Kart

[Matt Denton] was inspired by [James Bruton]’s scaled up LEGO and decided to create his own giant LEGO project. He found a classic model that he wanted to scale up.  1985’s Technic Go-Kart (set #1972) contained 98 pieces and seemed manageable.

He wanted to create something his 8yo nephew [Ruben] could sit in, but had to rule out a fully kid-sized go-kart. It had also to be (at least somewhat) economical with regards to plastic and printing time. [Matt] settled on sizing the largest piece—the 2×8 plate—to fit diagonally on the 11”x11” bed of his Lulzbot Taz5.

It took 168 hours to print all 98 parts (some of them in a series of smaller pieces), 5 kilos total of filament at mostly 20% infill. The resulting car can be assembled and disassembled just like LEGO—no glue! The rack and pinion steering actually works and the Ninjaflex-tired wheels roll as one would expect. So, pretty much the same as the real model only five times bigger. The only non-LEGO components are threaded rods down the middle of his cross axles as well as the hose, just Neoprene hosing from a hardware store.

[Matt] is well-known to Hackaday readers, being one of the original BB-8 builders as well as co-creator of the Mantis walking robot. He’ll be on hand this weekend in Maker Faire Hannover to share this project, Mantis, and others. Continue reading “Quintuple-Sized LEGO Go-Kart”