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About NathanR

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    Smells like new LEGO

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  1. I tried LPub3D a few months back, but on opening a model I couldn't get either LDView or LDGLite to render any step images. I see a new version got released earlier today, might check that out.
  2. I thought about that, but I'm not sure if this change the projection mode from perspective to orthographic? I found a Relative rot step that gave the same view as an Absolute top-down view, maybe the relative command didn't cancel out the rotation completely, but the rendered images were very slightly different with lines between bricks more prominent.
  3. I'm using Bricksmith and LPub 4 to create instructions for a rather large MOC (~8k pieces), but I need help with angles for a few ROTSTEP commands. Currently, I have two steps set in Bricksmith as: Step: Relative to default view: x,y,z = 10, -8, 7 Step: Additive: x,y,z = 180, 70, 180 This gives the following commands in the LDraw file: 0 ROTSTEP 10.971 -6.596 8.335 REL. (Side issue - why is this different to the angles I specified??) 0 ROTSTEP 180.000 70.000 180.000 ADD The problem is that Bricksmith does an ADD relative to whatever rotation was used for the previous step, while LPub does an ADD rotation relative to the default step orientation (i.e. ROTSTEP 0 0 0 ADD is identical to a STEP command with no previous rotations). So LPub shows a different view to the one I set in Bricksmith. I know xyz rotation angles cannot be directly added, so I tried converting them to quaternions, combined them, then converted back to an x,y,z rotation angle. Unfortunately (10,-8,7) + (180, 70, 180) gives (-140, -76, -148), which is nothing like what I expected. Is there any way to convert the ROTSTEP ADD command to a ROTSTEP REL command showing exactly the same rotation?
  4. NathanR

    Comparison of LEGO rendering engines

    I once had a similar problem with missing train track and wheels, there is a workaround but it is not for the faint-hearted: Download and install Blender on your computer. Install the Blender plugin for importing LDraw models (LDR format, not the Bricksmith MPD format). Download and install the mecabricks blender render template (free version available, also a paid-for version with more advanced features like scratches and thumbprints on your bricks). Convert your model to the LDraw format. Upload the model to mecabricks (do not reposition it!!), then export it as a .OBJ 3d model. Import the .OBJ into blender following the instructions supplied with the mecabricks template. Edit the LDRaw model to contain only the missing pieces. Import the modified LDraw file into blender. The two sets of 3D objects should sit together perfectly, no scaling or repositioning needed. Modify the new LDraw objects to use the mecabricks colours. Follow the remaining mecabricks template instructions to prepare the model. Position your camera, click render and wait. This allowed me to turn this mecabricks model of the Winter Village Steam Train into my Christmas card from last year: (Note that many parts I had to import from LDraw have since been added to the mecabricks library)
  5. NathanR

    Comparison of LEGO rendering engines

    I believe these two examples are from the software, which includes a built-in POV-ray render tool. But for sure, you can have LDView export a POV-ray file, I had forgotten all about this method of rendering. There is also an "LGEO" POV-ray parts library that replaces the LDraw bricks with higher-quality 3D models.
  6. NathanR

    Comparison of LEGO rendering engines

    Nice! The v2.01 is probably the most impressive out of what you've shown, although the black tyres look more like a solid brick rather than rubber. You did miss one render engine, The website has a CAD editor that allows the import of LDD and LDraw files, you can then render using a blender template or render online using the website's render farm. An example render of one of my MOCs, generated using the render farm:
  7. NathanR

    Is Lego’s quality deteriorating?

    @SpiderSpaceman I'm in the south of France due to my work, I don't have any air conditioning. My apartment stays cosy in the winter but is unbearably hot during the summer (and as I mentioned, it did hit highs of around 38 degrees C last month). It's not been humid enough to damage any of the prints on my pieces, and the manufacturer claims the plastic bags I use act as "a barrier to moisture", so not fully waterproof but should be reasonably ok. I always store models disassembled, I even started keeping minifigures in separate pieces once I read that keeping them assembled could cause the torsos to crack. The Saturn V really has me bothered, I reckon I only have 2-3 months to buy a replacement, but I really don't see any way to stop it going the same way. The plastic just feels like it's gone a little soft.
  8. NathanR

    Brick separators

    Tiles have a small groove at the bottom, place the handle end of the brick separator into the groove then lever the tile upwards. The tool was surprisingly well designed.
  9. NathanR

    Is Lego’s quality deteriorating?

    Interesting... I know the rubber elements can go a bit funny with age, so I try and keep them separate. But it seems the "sticky" feeling is just me? I'm a bit surprised, I've always had hot hands, I wouldn't have thought I'd have only just started noticing it with the bricks. I will have to try @fred67's idea of a damp washcloth The Saturn V model spent 6 months in the resealable food bags, before being swapped out to the archival bags. The food bags felt pretty much like new at the time of replacement, but they never said what type of plastic they were - it felt like polythene, but I've read that PVC bags break down and release an acidic gas. I have noticed that all used bricks lack the high-gloss sheen of factory-fresh bricks, but I assumed that was due to grease from thumbprints. The bags are airtight, and have been stored in cardboard boxes in a rarely opened cupboard, well away from direct sunlight. It's been a hot summer this year (highs of around 38 degrees C), but I'd be very surprised if temperatures in the bags got to the point that the ABS could soften and lose clutch. The other quality issues you mentioned are things I've rarely seen. I've been lucky with sets from the mid-90s, they don't seem to have discoloured at all. I don't see much in terms of colour variations, except in white bricks. These always seem to have a red, blue or yellow colour cast to them (I believe due to the colour used previously in the mould), but it's only noticeable if you have lots of white bricks from different sources sitting next to each other. One jarring example was the Lego Ideas Yellow Submarine. On the tail fin, the 1x1 brick with clip for the rudder was a very solid white, while the other yellow bricks around it seemed a little darker, almost as though they were very slightly translucent. In the last 10-12 years I think I have only seen two mismoulded parts, one misprinted part, and one mis-printed sticker sheet. Lego's customer service was at least quick to replace them. I've rarely seen cracked parts, never in the cheese slopes (I must have just been lucky), and broken bricks have usually been my own fault (once due to sitting on a model I stuffed in my pocket, once due to stuffing a 1x2 tile in the new-style 1x1 vertical clip). Old, large plates could crack a little but these days I think the plastic is a little different and would go a bit like chewing gum, stretching instead of cracking and giving a hard fracture. Oh yes. What they call "the China plastic". No idea where it's really from, but the CMF line has often felt different to "proper" Lego figures, the plastic is a bit translucent (or used to be).
  10. Lego building used to be a real joy for me, but I’m starting to feel that the quality of Lego bricks has fallen in recent years. Not the sets, which are pretty much always high quality and interesting designs, but the plastic bricks themselves. I've been finding that new bricks feel tacky, old bricks feel sticky and/or are losing clutch, yet bricks from over ten years ago feel fine (even better than modern bricks). For example, whenever I get out a Lego set that was bought in the last 4 or 5 years, the bricks always come out feeling a little funny. Some of my older winter village sets and the Star Wars Rebels “Ghost” immediately spring to mind as being a bit unpleasant to build, though the sticky feeling would usually “go off” the model once it had been in the open air for a few days. Now, I’ve been storing the sets in resealable plastic bags - food bags at first, then museum-quality archival storage bags once I learnt the food bags might break down with age. I don’t know what damage, if any, has already been done by the food bags. But the annoying thing is, a few weeks ago I bought my first BrickHeadz figures and after spending 30 minutes building one of them, my fingers felt tacky. It was like a residue had built up on them, and it was the same uncomfortable sensation I get from my “old” Lego sets. Now when I say Lego bricks used to be better, I’m not viewing the past with rose-tinted specs. I actually dug out a train set I bricklinked as all new parts about ten years ago. It’s been built a few times over the years. For a start, the bricks felt chunkier (I know that the walls of bricks have been thinned out over the years) and seemed to grip each other a little more tightly than modern bricks do. I can’t do any exact measurements, but it seemed those ten year old bricks needed just a tiny more force to pull apart than the new versions. I also noticed that the walls of older bricks were a little more rigid. A couple hours building left my hands felt a little moist, but not sticky. But the real reason behind this post is that yesterday, I sat down to build my 21309 Saturn V again. I don’t have much display space, so I keep dismantling models and rebuilding them at a later date. The larger plates (2x14, 2x8…) felt sticky, slimy even, and seemed to flex more than they should. It was as though they had gone a little rubbery in storage, though they still had good rigidity, good clutch and did their job well. The smaller parts hadn’t fared much better though. Loads of the 1x2 grille tiles felt like they had a soft grip, some of the 1x1 bricks felt a little loose, many of the 1x2 jumper plates were barely holding on. Large chunks of the side panels feel rubbery rather than a solid plastic. Anything mounted on an offset stud is a vey weak connection now. I’ve had this set 14 months and this is only the fourth time it’s been built… I honestly don’t know what’s happened here. The rocket was a lot more solid the first time I built it. I’m thinking something in the plastic must have been changed over the last few years, but what? ABS is ABS, and it's supposed to be pretty tough, is there any way it could be being attacked or broken down? Is it just me, or has anyone else seen this kind of behaviour in modern Lego bricks? I apologise for the lengthy rant, but I’ve been getting so frustrated and upset with the Lego bricks that I’m about ready to give up on this as a hobby. Am I the only one who feels that Lego bricks are not as good as they used to be, does anyone else have examples of old vs new bricks they could share?
  11. NathanR

    (mostly) MOC: Another Saturn V tower

    I wouldn't rely on the axles for strength, they're 32L and in my experience they are rather bendy. Just storing them straight can be a challenge. Ok, but when I fixed the rotation of the Saturn V in my LUT, I had to go back and shorten one of the arms to avoid a collision. Huh, I only knew about the white lozenge version, which is kind of barrel-like. I wonder if that was just a protective cover during rollout, or if it's a part of the pad that change from mission to mission. Wow, I did not know the lightning mast could do that, that's a really sweet touch for the model!
  12. @C4ro Latest LDD runs ok on my MacBook Pro (but it has a solid-state drive which is faster than a regular hard drive disk). Under LDD->Preferences, try turning down the "Advanced Shading" slider, maybe turn off "high-quality rendering of bricks in the brick palette". Also, is your Mac doing other tasks in the background? (As it's new, it may still be running spotlight indexing, which can really slow down hard drive access)
  13. NathanR

    (mostly) MOC: Another Saturn V tower

    Do you know about Part 15535 ( This might work better, and give a larger hole for smoother movement of the string. A few suggestions for the crane: make the turntable base a 6x6 round plate instead of 4x4 Add an extra 1 (2?) plates to the base of the crane, so it rests on the tiled circle. (reduces risk of a load popping the crane off it's turntable base) The red front section of the crane attaches to the yellow back half by just one stud per side, maybe add another plate underneath to reinforce it? The front of the crane has some red technic axles visible, I'd suggest swapping out to technic pins or pin/axle for a better grip. Wow, nice!! The single stud connections to the hinge will be a bit weak, but that's way better than mine. I couldn't figure out any way to get the arms to "retract" behind the shields. Also, I love those hold-down arms. Oh, and just to be really nitpicky on two details... The Saturn V should be rotated 90 degrees, the column of 1x1 bricks up the S-1C should be facing the tower (and the S-II should have the white tile with printed black rectangles pointing to the tower). And the four white boxes on the MLP that represent the shields for the pad cameras (parts 29119, 29120) need spinning 180 degrees.
  14. NathanR

    (mostly) MOC: Another Saturn V tower

    LPub3D would have taken ages to open the model because it's 5000 pieces, probably ~400 part types, and only one step. So it had to render an image of the full model, then an image of each of the individual bricks for the part callout. LPub3D should have a window that shows the text of the LDraw file (at worst case, just open the LDraw file in Notepad). Type some "0 STEP" commands every few lines and you'll get the model broken down into steps. This is where an LDraw editor comes in handy. The editors allow you to group bricks by step (you have to do this manually, unlike LDD there is no way to auto-generate a manual that you then tweak to suit), and also to create "submodels" (LPub3D calls them sub-assemblies, they appear as the callouts with yellow boxes). It would be worth trying to make an instruction manual. Maybe try just a small section of the model (like the launch platform base) and see how you go on with it.
  15. NathanR

    Death Star 75159 Modifications

    Death Star 2 can actually be relatively cheap buying bricks individually, if you are willing to swap out rare (expensive) colour bricks for cheaper alternatives. I looked into this a year or two back and got a price estimate of around £300 from bricklink. I never ordered it, but I kept my notes on which parts to replace, see below (may no longer be completely accurate)