Obstacle Climbing Rover Built With The Power Of Lego

When we want to prototype a rover, we’ve developed a tendency to immediately reach for the 3D printer and Arduino or Raspberry Pi. It’s easy to forget the prototyping tool many of us grew up using: LEGO. The [Brick Experiment Channel] has not forgotten, and in the video after the break demonstrates how he used Lego Technic components to prototype an impressive little obstacle climbing robot.

The little Lego rover starts as a simple four-wheeled rover trying to climb on top of a book. Swap in a four-wheel-drive gearbox and grippy tires, and it clears the first obstacle. Add a few books to the stack causes the break-over angle to become an issue, so the rover gets an inverted-V chassis. As the obstacle height increases, batteries are moved around for better weight distribution, but the real improvement comes when an actuating middle joint is added, turning it into a wheeled inchworm. Clearing overhangs suspended beams, and gaps are all just a matter of finding the right technique.

Thanks to Lego’s modularity, all this is possible in an hour or two where a 3D printer and CAD might have stretched it into days. This robot does have the limitation of not being able to turn. Conventional car steering or Mecanum wheels are two options, but how would you do it?

The [Brick Experiment Channel] knows a thing or two about building Lego robots, even for stealing keys. Continue reading “Obstacle Climbing Rover Built With The Power Of Lego”

DIY LEGO Record Cleaner Is Revolutionary

There are many schools of thought when it comes to keeping vinyl records clean. It’s a ritual that’s nearly as important as the one that comes after it — queuing up the record and lowering the needle. We’ve seen people use everything from Windex and microfiber towels to ultrasonic cleaning machines that cost hundreds or even thousands. In the midst of building a beefier ultrasonic record cleaner and waiting for parts, [Baserolokus] looked around at all the LEGO around the house and decided to build a plastic prototype in the interim.

The idea behind ultrasonic cleaning is simple — high-frequency sound waves pumped through distilled water produce tons of tiny bubbles. These bubbles gently knock all the dirt and grime out of the grooves without using any brushes, rags, or harsh cleaners. [Baserolokus] built two pieces that hang on the edge of a washtub. On one side, a Technic motor spins the record at just under one RPM, it spins against a 3D printer wheel embedded in the other side. Check it out in action after the break.

Cleaning your vinyl is a great first step, but you might be ruining your records with a sub-par turntable. Take a deep dive with [Jenny List]’s thorough primer on the subject.

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Lego Tank Fires Soccer Ball Cannon

Back in the 20th century, Lego Technic was a popular toy designed to teach kids about mechanical technology, and be a lot of fun to boot. Motors and pneumatics were available, but by and large you had to move your creations and make the noises yourself. That’s not the case these days, as the [Brick Experiment Channel] demonstrates with this impressive Lego tank.

The drivetrain is straightforward, using standard Lego tank treads with each side given its own motor for easy skid steering. However, the real party piece is the slingshot cannon, which launches Lego soccer balls at 60 km/h. Utilizing several motors, it’s complete with elevation adjustment for accurate ranging, and a 6 round magazine so you can (slowly) prosecute your targets with rounds downrange.

What really makes this build great is the control system, with the tank being controlled by a PS4 controller via Sbrick, a device that lets Lego motors be controlled via Bluetooth. We’d love to build a couple of Lego vehicles and have them blast away at each other. We’ve seen the technology used before for a secret heist robot. Video after the break.

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Lego Heist Bot Steals Keys

Breaking and entering is a felony offense, and one that risks the interloper receiving serious bodily harm for the trouble. Sending in a robot instead is an attractive alternative. While we doubt any actual intention to use their creation for evil, [Brick Experiment Channel] have nonetheless built a viable heist bot out of Lego.

The robot in question is actually two, that work together to execute their mission. Once lowered in the house, the scissor lift bot drives into position next to a coffee table. It then lifts its companion bot into position by extending its motor-driven linear actuators. The recovery bot then drives out onto the table, snatches a set of keys with its arm, and returns to the lift bot, before exiting the house. It’s all achieved with the use of the SBrick, a third-party Lego accessory which allows remote control of Lego motors over Bluetooth. A wireless camera also helps out with vision for the platform.

Lego really does make it easy to build quick, functional mechanisms without a whole lot of fuss. We’ve seen it employed in all sorts of ways, like this handy film scanner. Video after the break.

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Animatronic Saturn V Launch Tower Sends Lego Model To The Moon

When it comes to their more adult-oriented models, Lego really knocked it out of the park with their Saturn V rocket model. Within the constraints of the universe of Lego parts, the one-meter-tall model is incredibly detailed, and thousands of space fans eagerly snapped up the kit when it came out.

But a rocket without a launchpad is just a little sad, which is why [Mark Howe] came up with this animatronic Saturn V launch pad and gantry for his rocket model. The level of detail in the launchpad complements the features of the Saturn V model perfectly, and highlights just what it took to service the crew and the rocket once it was rolled out to the pad. As you can imagine, extensive use of 3D-printed parts was the key to getting the look just right, and to making parts that actually move.

When it’s time for a launch, the sway control arm and hammerhead crane swing out of the way under servo control as the Arduino embedded in the base plays authentic countdown audio. The crew catwalk swings away, the engines light, and the service arms swing back. Then for the pièce de résistance, the Saturn V begins rising slowly from the pad on five columns of flame. [Mark] uses a trio of steppers driving linear actuators to lift the model; the flame effect is cleverly provided by strings of WS2812s inside five clear plastic tubes. We have to say it took some guts to put the precious 1,969-piece model on a lift like that, but the effect was well worth the risk.

This project has a great look and is obviously a labor of love, and a great homage to the Apollo program’s many successes. We’ve got a ton of other Apollo-era hacks on our pages, including a replica DSKY, a rejuvenated AGC, and a look behind the big boards of mission control.

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Still Got Film To Scan? This Lego And Raspberry Pi Scanner Is For You

There was a time during the early years of mass digital photography, when a film scanner was a common sight. A small box usually connected to a USB port, it had a slot for slides or negatives. In 2020 they’re  a rare breed, but never fear! [Bezineb5] has a solution in the shape of an automated scanner using a Radpberry Pi and a mechanism made of Lego.

The Lego mechanism is a sprocket feeder that moves the film past the field of view from an SLR camera. The software on the Pi runs in a Docker container, and features a machine learning approach to spotting frame boundaries. This is beyond the capabilities of the Pi, so is offloaded to a Google Coral accelerator.

The whole process is automated with the Pi controlling not only the Lego but also the camera, to the extent of retrieving the photos from it to the Pi. There’s a smart web interface to control everything, making the process — if you’ll excuse the pun — a snap. There’s a video of it in action, that you can see below the break.

We’ve featured many film scanner projects over the years, one that remains memorable is this 3D printed lens mount.

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A Whimsical Touch-Free Gumball Machine For These Trying Times

It sucks that certain stuff in public is off-limits right now, like drinking fountains and coin-operated candy and gum machines — especially the fun kind where you get to watch your gumball take a twisting trip down the tower and into the collection bin. Hopefully there will be commercial contact-free machines one of these days that take NFC payments. Until then, we’ll have to make them ourselves out of cardboard and whimsy and Micro:bits.

[Brown Dog Gadgets] also used one of their Crazy Circuits Bit Boards, which is a Micro:bit-to-LEGO interface module for building circuits with conductive tape. There’s a distance sensor in the rocket’s base, and a servo to dispense the gumballs. This entire build is fantastic, but we particularly like the clever use of a LEGO Technic beam to both catch the gumball and prevent the next one from going anywhere. You can see it in action after the break.

Wave hand, receive gumball is about as simple as it gets for the end user. The three robots approach takes much more work.

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