cannot begin to find the words to express the true greatness that
In 1932, the LEGO company was born. In 1958, the basic 2x4 brick
was patented. Since then, LEGO products, especially the Technic
line, have grown to include such sophisticated components as gears,
pulleys, electric motors, pneumatic pistons, touch and light sensors,
programmable computer controllers, and much much more. I have
been playing with LEGO for as long as I can remember, and they
have come in extremely handy for prototyping and modeling mechanical
and creative designs, including 2A,
Inferno. They're not only a toy for kids but a valuable
design and engineering tool.
early 1999, I created 2A, a 15lb infrared remote-control combat
robot for a LEGO
Mindstorms promotion at the E3
trade show. Building with LEGO, I revised and modified
my design over and over extremely quickly. Repairs and upgrades
after tangling with the other fighting robots were a snap, too.
2A ended up with the 3rd place trophy. (see
a 2A demonstration video)
created another combat LEGO robot, called Tesseract,
which I demoed at BotBash
on a whim, partly as research into a future RoboGladiator weapon,
and partly just because I can, I created Sparky.
Sparky is a 108V sparking contraption powered by 72AA batteries
in 12 battery boxes. It uses lots of electric cables and
lots of electric plates.
next foray into LEGO design was the pair of bots named Itchy
These 2 lightweight bots were designed for the 2001 E3 trade show
at the Mindstorms Mayhem competition at the LEGO booth.
Itchy has a hoop for collecting ping pong balls & bashing
other bots on the head, while Scratchy has a large, weighted disc
with claws, spinning at about 600 RPM, to launch balls & bot
a 2002 robotics workshop for Santa Barbara county 3rd-12th grade
students enrolled in the Robo-Challenge
curriculum, I gave robot demos & entered 2 LEGO bots in the
tug-o-war competition: Longneck
and the Infernal Brick of Despair, which came in 1st &
2nd place. They didn't fare as well in subsequent tug-o-war events.
1992, I purchased my first camcorder, and within a few weeks of
the purchase, I'd already made a stop-motion
animated music video using LEGO parts. It depicts a giant
robotic dragon wreaking havoc at a rock concert.
a design and modeling class at UCSB,
I used LEGO bricks to make 3-D mockups of the class projects:
a children's playground, a roach coach lunch truck, an amusement
park thrill ride. After fleshing out the designs with LEGO, I
created 3-D CAD models with Pro/Engineer.
has even come in handy on more serious projects, like a structural
frame for an electromagnetic levitation device I put together
for a controls class.
2A employed 4 Mindstorms
RCX computer bricks, 8 battery packs, 22 motors, 8 pneumatic pistons,
and a large array of gears, pulleys, treads, chains, wiring, and
cranks. The infrared communication capability of the RCX bricks
was used to create a remote control system.
was much deadlier, with 16 motors overdriven at 18V, spinning
4 disks with protruding metal hooks. It drove by 8 motors and
3 more are used for speed controllers. It had 1 RCX brick on the
robot and 2 on the ergonomic remote control joystick.
first experiment with creating stop-motion animation was a music
video with LEGO characters and sets. Not only did LEGO allow me
create a polished look and feel, but it made for very convenient
posing in the painstaking stop-motion process.
the engineering design class I took many years ago, we were required
to make and pitch mockup models. While most students were struggling
with popsicle sticks, poster board, and drinking straws, I was
snapping together LEGO bricks. The professor of that class ended
up using photographs and CAD drawings of my thrill ride design
as documentation to our Mechanical Engineering department that
he deserved tenure.
DETAILS : Check
out 2A, Tesseract,
robots sponsored mostly by Switzer
Communications and LEGO