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About Brickthus

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    PaB price investigator
  • Birthday 08/06/1973

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    Derby, England
  • Interests
    LEGO (obviously), mostly Trains and Technic,<br />Power Functions and Mindstorms<br />Electronics and its application to LEGO, Christian faith.


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  1. Brickthus

    Future Set Wishes and Speculation

    Now that we have both wider and narrower tyres at 43mm, the latter from 42093, smaller-scale trucks like 42008 can at least have single-width front tyres. A decent large truck of traditional style needs at least 2 types of tyre, a narrow one to double-up for driving axles and use singly for tag axles, and a wider one for super-wide front wheels and trailer wheels. The ratio is about 1.5:1 fro the two widths, but both pairs of parts (hub and tyre) are somewhat unlikely to be produced at any size, except for motorbike wheels! We have seen a couple of multiple-42082 MOC cranes but I would hope for a 6-axle one as the ultimate crane. The "ultimate crane" theme struggles with the limitations on the number of telescopic sections as well as the rigidity and weight over boom length. Whilst a real crane can have up to 7 telescopic sections and 5 is common, LEGO sets have 2 or 3. I was surprised to see only 2 in 42082. A telescopic section 1 brick thick would be far too heavy; I tried it once. Telescoping needs the walls of each section to be 1.6mm thick, not 8mm. I wonder which 2021H1 set(s) will have the 2-switch 6-AA battery unit that the Osprey had. This is a key PU piece that provides for anything that doesn't use phone control. I still wish the 4-port PU hub could be driven by the train handset. Could a firmware update achieve this? I enjoyed building 42100 but I don't really play with it. I found the phone controls imprecise compared to a handset with proper buttons. Soon the parts would be redeployed; I had planned to use some of the motors with the spare port of the switched hub but the Osprey failed. Following the Osprey debacle, we need more civil aircraft of 700-2000 pieces; over 2000 pieces might not be sufficiently swooshable. Has anyone made one a civil aircraft as a suggestion to TLG? We need to support the aircraft theme. I have some experiments ongoing. In terms of colours, especially panels, I'd like to see something with more "bright blue" (the traditional blue colour of 857). Not much in 42112. 42024 (2014) was the last set to have the 5x11 panel in bright blue. The parts could be re-used for Classic Space with Technic functions. Mark
  2. Brickthus

    42113 Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey

    It can be done with 4 links rather than 3. I did the collective and cyclic pitch for an Apache, using the 8856 helicopter rotor parts as the swash plate. Each pair of wishbone parts (black) has the collective and one dimension of the cyclic pitch added together with lever mechanisms. Both are routed to the respective controls in the double cockpit. Picture Folder The 8-lobed ball piece can slide on the drive axle with a little persuasion, either silicone lubricant or filing the axle hole. With heavy blades the blade-off prevention building method has to be strong. The new blades don't have as many attachments as the 89509 educational parts but 3x peg holes perpendicular to the release direction should be enough. I had plans to implement this for a Chinook. It could also be done for Osprey at a larger scale than the kit. In order bring the controls through the engine tilt mechanism, turn the motion into linear motion, sliding in and out of the engine pod, and use rotatable devices to turn it into lever motion within the engine pod. Mark
  3. Nemo has had a few updates, particularly in his eyes. Since then I have changed the gearbox so that two functions may be used together. This allows the mouth & gills to move at the same time as either the tail swish or the pectoral fins. Gear selection is now done with 2 manual levers on top, so this saves a motor. More possibilities from the free port (PF or PU) include motorising the Anemone movement. Nemo will be on show at the National Space Centre in Leicester, UK on 14th-15th March as part of their Brickish weekend. It would be great to meet some of you there. Mark
  4. Brickthus

    Future Set Wishes and Speculation

    Forma uses a different business model for a different market. It began as a crowd-funded thing, with limited circulation. It aimed to be a desk toy. It has a few Technic pieces and a printed shell. Unfortunately Forma fails to meet the Technic set attributes of functions/cost and parts/cost so it is too expensive. It has only one function, which sets a functions price of £10, and under 300 pieces, which indicates a parts price of £25. It retails for £43! This is why I considered those equations for Nemo before building him. I designed Nemo to be Technic set, the natural equivalent of the Porsche 42056 or Off-Road Buggy 42099, using standard parts. Nemo has 4 motorised functions (£30 each) and 4 manual functions (£10 each) plus combinations so that's a functions price of at least £160. 2000-2500 pieces indicates a parts price of £200 including 1 motor and 1 2-port hub. I was also flexible between PF and PU, knowing that PU will be here for 10 years or so, and that a phone app provides opportunity for interactive play, similar to BOOST and 42099. I chose the 2-port hub because the train remote will work with it, not needing a phone. The fun of Nemo is to make some similar and some different mechanisms for a new application, but one that can rebuild just as any Technic set can. Definitely worth a try. Definitely worth supporting; let TLG and the market decide. Nemo has engine mechanisms in the Anemone, suspension wishbones supporting the fins and a gearbox to select the functions, as well as various cranks, sliders and levers. Even wheel arches for the mouth and gills. Add 4 wheels and rebuild as a car if you like! I have more ideas for creatures, with some really interesting mechanisms. These would each find a price point, based on the mechanism cost equation, and hence a size, so that the number of pieces would set the parts price similar to the functions price. I also set out to avoid loading the price with too many electrical pieces. When calculating the value of a Technic set, take off the electrical pieces at cost, and £1 per large panel, and then hope for 5-6p/piece for the rest. Mark
  5. Brickthus

    Future Set Wishes and Speculation

    I'd love to set another precedent for Technic, also aligning with the modern theme of saving the planet, a set where the primary model is an animal. We have had the occasional dinosaur (8485 3rd model) but not much else. The chance of having realistic movements and also fitting the functions/cost and parts/cost that we expect of the best vehicle sets. Might attract more people to Technic too. My first is Nemo, a scaled-up clown fish with motorised fins, fin-fold, tail, mouth & gills and manual tilt, turn and anemone. 48cm long, aiming for the same price point as Porsche 42056 or Off Road Buggy 42099. Compatible with PF and PU. Mark
  6. Brickthus

    Is 8w or 9w closer to minifigure scale?

    I build to 8mm scale, 1:38, using 8+ wide for UK prototype and it would be 10+ wide for US/EU prototypes. Minifigs are too short; using Woody's legs or a plate under each foot can raise them a bit. Mark
  7. Brickthus

    [Question] 9V Electrical Specifications

    1) Here's the circuit diagram of 9V train controller: The diodes top left rectify the 7V AC input and the capacitor smooths the unregulated power. The LM317 regulates to 9V DC. 2) Rails carry 9V and 0V but a partial short circuit between two opposite-position controllers would create 18V across the un-shorted connections. 3) No, but I would try to follow either standard LEGO circuits or model railway book circuits, which may specify keeping signals isolated from track etc. Mark
  8. Brickthus

    LEGO Ideas Discussion

    Most of us can only dream of attracting support that fast. As long as it's honest, and not associated with anything dodgy, I would have no problem with someone promoting my MOC. Getting the project accepted is a big fulfilment; further development is a means of attracting more interest. I've gone for something we don't see often, a Creature in Technic. An Orange Clown Fish, like Nemo and Marlin, with motorised features but designed to fit the parts/cost and functions/cost criteria of the best Technic sets. I hope this would provide variety for Technic fans and also attract a wider range of people. Mark
  9. As an alternative to the usual vehicles, here is my Technic MOC of an Orange Clown Fish, which can be built as Nemo (with "lucky fin") or Marlin. The model has 4 motorised functions: 1) Pectoral fins with 2 degrees of freedom in cyclic movement; 2) Folding in of pectoral fins; 3) Moving mouth and gills; and 4) Swishing tail. There are also 3 manual functions: 1) Tilt with trans-clear beams, able to nibble the anemone or swim a little above the flat position; 2) Turn on the turntable, through at least 180 degrees; and 3) the Anemone can move with some crankshafts underneath, via the gear on the left of it. The gear change is currently sequential (motorised) but I'm working on upgrades to that. The model has about 2000 parts in the fish and stand, plus another 500 or so in the sea bed items and turntable covering. It is designed to fit the parts/cost and functions/cost criteria for the Porsche 42056 or Off Road Buggy 42099 price point. You may notice parts from several sets; mouth/gill wheel arches from Corvettes 42093, fin edges from Car Transporter 42098, turntable from big red crane 42082 and orange parts from many sets. I have erred towards the real fish, omitting the whites of eyes and white teeth that are used in the cartoon characters. There is a short video and a long video on YouTube and the project is live on LEGO Ideas. More pictures there, and please add comments. I have development options for the control scheme. I used PF to get the functions working well but, as a potential set, I intend to use the 2-port PU hub for 2 motors (gear change and function power) as swap-in replacements; that would allow handset or phone control for best user-accessibility. One or two 4-port hubs could be used instead, but should I go that far, given the risk of loading the price with the electrical parts? The ultimate motorisation might be like 42100 with 4 motors in the fish and 3 motors on the sea bed, but £400 was not my intention. Nevertheless it should be cheaper than keeping a real fish and has the advantage of leaving the real fish where they belong. As a large Technic set, there is potential for sponsorship from Disney Pixar, just as other sets are sponsored by vehicle manufacturers. The Finding Dory franchise is accepted as a theme. Hope you like it. I would be very grateful for your support. If you would like to see Technic Creature sets alongside the usual vehicle sets then this might be the way to do it. It might even interest a wider range of people in Technic. Thanks, Mark
  10. Brickthus

    Technic 2020 Set Discussion

    You hear that "p" word in the January Technic sets announcement? That is the sound of inevitability! I wish it were so for pneumatics in the August announcement! No Technic animals in the range this year; all vehicles as usual. I thought perhaps an animal or two would attract a wider range of people to the theme, as well as providing variety to existing Technic fans. More people = more profitability = better sets. I would hope that a firmware update to the Technic Control+ hub would enable the hub to have at least some outputs controlled with a train remote handset. Even better if two handsets could work to control all 4 outputs; otherwise why does the remote have peg holes at the sides? Mark
  11. Thanks for the review. I'll wait and see whether there will be smaller and more-versatile PU parts like the PF parts, especially leads. I have made much use of the PF switches, including in a control panel (which is why it has the little switch on the back). As for PU in a Technic flagship, I would be put off unless PU demonstrates versatility and integration with the system. The parts in this review a plug and play for a smaller range of applications, such as trains or educational robotics. It is not as easy as PF was for a set like the 8275 Bulldozer. I would be more enthusiastic if the simpler PF functions were replicated; the expensive "Bluetooth and app" philosophy works for the new generation but would add too much complexity to use it in all models. I have many PF models with just a motor and battery; the trade for including those for £10 was favourable compared to adding the (now £35) 8293 kit separately. The X-Ray video shows that the motor inside the Boost motor is the same as the one on the XL motor, which makes it a good powerful standard motor and easier to use than a large NXT or EV3 motor. This is the most likely in a Technic set and would be an encouraging sign. If more than two motors were used then the instructions on getting 2 hubs controlled from 1 handset need to be included. I've done it but not always right first time. Sometimes the 2nd hub is reluctant to sync with the handset. However, recent Technic sets have tended to use fewer motors and more function gearboxes because of the cost. A further encouragement would be if the Boost motor can act as a servo motor (if there is no Servo motor in PU). Mark
  12. Brickthus

    Powered Up - A tear down...

    We can only hope. Otherwise the applications with our previous product investments are limited. I do get the feeling PU is designed for the modern "module + app" generation and have less appeal to those of us who are used to making compatible hardware. The most fun I had with PF was to create my own circuits to go with its protocol. I had in mind to make a multi-coloured LED signal and also a flashing light like the 9V light pair. If TLG do not announce a set of leads soon, including some compatibility with PF, then I'll be tempted by the other IDC plug idea. However, the problem of obsolescence of older products is serious; many of us have large investments in previous electrical products. 9V leads degrade. Track connectors crumble and other leads are showing similar signs. I'm not sure whether the PF or PU lead insulation material is similar or not, but it has similar flexibility and feel. Either way, it indicates that there is a life limit on electrical products with cables, far short of the life of ordinary bricks, which will severely limit my purchasing unless a maintainability solution can be found. Oddly enough the 4.5V and 12V leads are fine, and use plugs that are easy to rewire. Best cable system yet! Given that the PU plugs are unique to TLG, is the 6-way cable available commercially? If so, I'd like to get some and re-wire some 9V leads and track connectors. That would keep things going at least until PU is fully deployed. Thanks for the teardown and interesting discussion. It seems the 6 pins are similar to the NXT/EV3 interface, where Gnd and Vcc (3.3V) are similar and ID1 and ID2 work as serial ports. I drove an LED from the NXT by changing the sensor type in software. Perhaps PU will be able to control an NXT/EV3 motor with only an interface programming change in an app? Mark
  13. Brickthus

    Powered UP AFOL Community Answers

    The answers gave a few encouragements, such as how to control multiple hubs from one handset, but it's not easy. Connecting each one individually and switching off each time still leaves trouble recognising the 2nd one as you restart and try to add up the connections. Sometimes it goes into a bang-bang control mode too! That was fixed by turning off and on again. I noticed that the PWM command on each hub is offset when a hub is first turned on, so going up and down in power without reaching maximum or pressing Stop leaves a buzz at zero speed. Fixed for the duration of hub On-time by going to maximum or pressing Stop. As long as we can get the multi-hub control to work, PU should prove to be a good product, at least as good as PF. I have made sure my Space Monorail is compatible with PU. I have yet to take pictures of my monorail train that uses it as an alternative to PF. Serious use for trains or monorail would need a PU hub with a LiPo battery, but I am remaining calm and quietly confident, awaiting developments. The support for PF should continue while PF sets are on shelves. 42080 is a new 2H2018 set with PF so the support would extend to at least 2 years from now. Wait and see if any 1H2019 sets have PF included. After that it will be while stocks last. Whilst I might agree with M_longer and andythenorth that soldering is going a bit far, using 12V individual plugs is something I did between 9V and PF, mainly to power an IR Receiver from a 9V battery box. A similar technique would work for the transition from 9V/PF to PU, and it's "all LEGO". The patent thing is only prohibitive if you intend to make commercial profit from it, or sell in a way that might undermine the patent-holder's market. Part of the aim of PU is to prevent kids making short circuits; it leads to customer dissatisfaction and expensive replacements. It was easy to make them in 9V, possible in PF with the 9V backward compatibility but not possible with NXT plugs. PU retains the impossibility of short circuits but simplifies the NXT plugs, losing the vulnerable clip. TLG has not ruled out selling female PU sockets for AFOL use but is pensive about selling them to support 3rd-party products. If I were TLG I would think hard about the balance between losing the initiative electrically, as they did with PF, and the need to satisfy customer functionality desires themselves, when they are a much larger organisation and therefore slower by default. They will have to think like a start-up if they are to develop PU rapidly themselves in the ways we would like. I would recommend that TLG licence selected 3rd parties as they did with some NXT sensors. I bought some licensed sensor types (IR Link, IR Receiver, Colour sensor and RFID sensor) and I would buy licensed PU parts. This kind of licensing would enable TLG to keep control of its patented connectors but let us get a wider range of electrical parts to play with. My investigations so far, using 2x train set 60198 (hubs and train motors) have found results consistent with my own assumption that the electrical interface would be similar to NXT/EV3 with the new connector type. That means pins 1&2 are 0V and 9V for a dumb motor or light (powered either way round but possible to read an RCX-type sensor when the motor drive is off, if the hub supports that), pins 3&4 should be +3.3V and 0V for smart sensors and pins 5&6 should be data pins (open drain) for serial I/O. This means smart sensors & motors would be recognised by type by their serial IDs, whereas dumb motors have the potential to be recognised by having a resistance of tens of ohms and an inductive load characteristic, if the hub detects voltage and current and has the right software to correlate their changes in time. This depends on what TLG wants the hub to do. Certainly the Boost hub can recognise the smart sensor and motor, and the WeDo hub can recognise the motor, motion sensor and tilt sensor. If the tilt sensor is only a passive device, where a ball-bearing makes one or two of four resistance contacts at a time, then it could be like an RCX passive sensor on pins 1&2 and that would mean passive RCX sensor types could be used (active TBD but more likely to benefit from being smart instead). The CyberMaster recognised its tools by the resistor in the switch in the module but did not work with active senors; this might be the extent of RCX-type sensing by pins 1&2 in the PU protocol - TBC, for TLG to confirm or deny. The use of an electrical interface similar to NXT/EV3 also means it would need only 2x 12V individual plugs to connect a dumb motor (including 9V motors or PF motors with pins C1 & C2) to pins 1&2 of a PU male plug lead. I suspect the port uses a similar motor driver to PF IR Receiver, so it might have the same issue as PF IR Receiver V1 if it were asked to drive 2x PF M-motors in parallel. This could be a simple reason why daisy-chaining of motors has been prohibited by design. The use of the NXT/EV3 interface would also give backward compatibility with those types of sensors and motors if a suitable lead were provided (or if AFOLs used 12V plugs to hybridise one). I'm sure there are software developers ready to get hold of the PU SDK if it were released. I would suggest that anyone brave enough might like to try splicing an NXT cable to a PU cable, to see if they can control an NXT/EV3 motor. Identify pin 1 of the NXT cable and connect to pin 1 of the PU cable and so on. Use a multimeter to check each port; voltage setting of 20V for hubs, resistance setting of 10-30 ohms for motors. I don't expect the motor's encoder to work with the train hub, but it might work with the Boost or WeDo hubs. Caveat: no responsibility is taken for your experiments or any damage consequences from them, whether you take the suggestion or not. If you try it and succeed, please post here. I would like to see three things from TLG regarding PU: Confirmation that the electrical interface is similar to the NXT/EV3 or confirmation of what it is, if it were different. Images and descriptions of the simplest products in the PU range, as soon as possible. It has to be cheaper than the hub to add a motor and battery to a model without needing Bluetooth control, preferably also with a pole reverser switch. There should be a PU kit to replace PF kit 8293, preferably starting in 2019 and sold in parallel with 8293, to help the transition. The price point of £30 looks difficult to achieve because the light brick 88005 is already £8.99 rather than £5.49. The lower the entry point price, the better for children. A PU LiPo multiplexer hub, in a 4x8x3 box, including the LiPo cells and charging socket of PF battery 8878, a flying lead to take commands from a PU hub, 2 ports on one end of the box (using the PU hub port positions) copying the motor drive input and 2 ports on the other end copying it in reverse (swap pins 1&2 or drive the opposite way round from the other channel of the motor driver). This device would enable 2-motor train locomotives by plugging a train motor into each end. It would power the motors with the LiPo battery and keep the AAAs for just the Bluetooth part. The motor driver chip can drive 2x motors per channel so that would make use of it for 4 motors. The multiplexer hub would also behave like an NXT/EV3 multiplexer for smart sensors and motors. Target price £50, perhaps £55 including the smart sensor functions. While I wait for PU to develop, I am encouraged in pneumatics. We have a new valve switch in set 42080 and it is possible to order them separately over the phone for about £2 each (pneumatic parts always show "Out Of Stock" on the LS@H "Buy Bricks" page, if they are listed at all. Other parts may be ordered either individually from that set or by the pneumatic bag of a set like 42043 (around £44.71 for 9 parts plus 28 tubes). This gives us the option to enjoy mechanical control systems while we wait-and-see for the electrical ones. Mark
  14. Brickthus

    Future Set Wishes and Speculation

    Next year 10 balloon tyres and a mini version of 42009! Having 8 tyres made me think twice about how many sets to buy; settled on 2 for now and ordered some extra valves. There is also a trend in pneumatic pieces: 42043 4 switches, 2L, 1M, 1S cylinders but a lot of truck with it 42053 3 switches, 2L, 1S cylinders as the main functions of the vehicle, and a hand pump. 42080 2 switches (new type), 2L, 1S cylinders, main functions but a larger vehicle Soon we could have a replacement for the 8837 small pneumatic excavator with 2 switches and 1L/M and 1S cylinders as the main functions, and hand-pump control, but would it be at a low-enough price point to buy quite a few? I suspect £30 might not be possible these days for any set with 2 pneumatic functions. Perhaps if it did not have the small compressor for PF motor addition? There would be an excuse for lacking motor addition capability from the transition from PF to PU; it would need a Technic PU battery box and an L-motor with PU plug first. That would also be more expensive than necessary for adding a motor; I hope there will be cheaper ways to add a motor without remote control, at least to mirror the functions of PF in the PU parts range. I'd also like to see more Technic sets with 4 of the 43mm wheels and tyres of the type that replaced the ones that were so plentiful in Model Team days. A smaller set like 8837 would encourage younger kids to get into pneumatics, from age 9 rather than 10 (42053, 42080) or 11 (42043). 2 functions is also just enough to automate a second model, which is where the technical fun really begins! Mark
  15. Brickthus

    [WIP] Lego monorails. [Custom Rail Systems (CRS)]

    Since my brick order arrived, I have added an update to my Space Monorail with completely stress-free curves of smaller radii in both permanent and movable varieties. Mark