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  1. My new MOC is probably the weirdest Lego Technic car (I) ever uploaded- it is made to be invisible and to work autonomously. Its use case is based on the fact that at a party, you never really get the snack you want without interrupting talks of others. My solution is a small robot that follows the edge of the snack table while carrying the snack tray(s). That is where the name comes from, it 'races trays' around the table and I liked the software-origined word 'Raytracer' a lot. For the same reason why a car exists with the name 'Interceptor'. I have done some exploring in this area, a few years ago TrayRacer 1.0 was published. But it could only follow rounded tables. And that got me thinking: can you build a Lego Thing that is able to understand when there's a corner coming up? The first answer was 'no'. It was never done before and I couldn't think of any way. The second answer was 'Well, for the intended size, you will need a mechanical sensor and a mechanical 'brain' that is able to translate the 'mechanical sensor data' into 'Let's start a steering action NOW'. That's a lot of quotes, how to convert this into hard plastic bricks? After a lot of thinking, tinkering and tuning TrayRacer 2.0 was born. It is really hard when you throw the remote out of the door, to make the robot think for itself without using the convenient Mindstorms sensors. TrayRacer 2.0 uses only a single PF M motor and is full mechanic Lego Technic. There's an important reason why I only used an M-motor: power consumption. A nice robot system with a lot of sensors and actuators will be always empty as the testing is done and the party is starting. A simple rechargeable battery box with a PF M motor is small and reliable. I added PF navigation lights because it looks good in the dark, which looks good on the party. The new TrayRacer 2.0 is 4 studs high, exposing the 4-stud batterybox as a load on the back. This had to be accepted as I needed the speed control: you HAVE to be able to set the 'feeding speed' on parties otherwise people eat way too much. In other cases, maybe an old battery would have been a solution. [As a sidenote: with the new Lego Technic electronic systems coming up, I don't see battery boxes and motors becoming any smaller. This is a bad development that TLG should be aware of. ] High quality photos (Brickshelf files not yet public, so direct links:) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 The video explains it all: The deep technical details- a dynamic system Usually, 'mechanical sensor data' is fed into a clutch/driving ring or a differential, which means the device using the data also influences it. The 'mechanical imput impedance' is too low (This robot is built using mostly electronic engineering concepts..). In the RayTracer 2.0, this effect is visible in the sensor wheel. It takes some effort to shift the driving ring, which means the rubber band needs to be stronger. As said in the video, the sensor wheel needs to be pressed to the RIGHT (so robot pressed LEFT) for straight driving, which is harder when the rubber band is stronger. Because the robot is very light (lithium battery, no big electric components) a stronger rubber band means it needs to push harder to the LEFT, which is only possible when its rotational inertia is higher, so then it needs to be heavier. But weight kills power consumption. A lower weight causes oscillations, as the robot slams to the left using its inertia after a succesful steering action - enabling straight driving- , then the rubber band springs back because the robot is not able to press hard enough to the left continuously- enabling the left wheel brake again-. When the rubber band is too strong, it oscillates forever, when it is just a little too strong, the robot is designed to reach a stable orientation in a few oscillations. In the video this effect is sometimes visible, you can see different dynamics with its bodywork removed! Also, as you can see, the sensor wheel is on a long lever. The lever enables tuning of the force needed to press it to the RIGHT, thus for tuning it together with the rubber band system. To summarize: because the 'mechanical information' is influenced by its 'processor', there is a fine optimum in rubber band strenght vs sensor wheel lever length vs overall robot weight. For this reason, I could give you instructions, but there's no guarantee that any reproduction would work. Any axle that is a tiny little bent, any driving ring with some small damage, even the friction of individual pins, these are all factors that influence the final tuning and need to be optimized. Instructionless building with Lego Technic is not only a unique combination of parts, it's also the way it's built and tuned that makes it a final product. Some quick photos:
  2. Once in a while, every Technic builder wants to build a Lego boat. I was no exception, but there's a lots of boats being built: how to make an original boat then? I decided to not design a good-looking boat, but to make it a tool for filming. This choice asks for a boat that can be quickly placed into its filming position, which means it should be fast and agile. It should also have enough remote control range to film on big water areas. The 1980's Power Functions remote is thus completely out of the question: responds very slow and outside, there's 2 metres of range. We all must thank S-brick for existing. S-brick (or alternatives) makes this boat possible: without sufficient range, there cannot be a camera boat. Many boats have a keel and a rotating propeller at the back. A submerged plane behind the propeller acts as a rudder. Sadly, a rudder becomes less efffective at lower boat speeds and the boat reacts slowly to it: turning the rudder does not mean turning the boat, it first needs speed (and thus space!) to turn. In Dutch ditches (where I wanted to test the boat), there is not a lot of space available for maneuvering. Having a a slow-responding boat with a rudder there means the boat being into the reed all the time. I therefore eliminated the rudder and mounted the propeller on a hinge. Any hinging of the propeller system at any propeller speed the boat causes immediate turning, which is a nice direct response on the steering input. Good theory, but when a single rotating propeller is mounted on the rear, the boat will rotate along its Z-axis. I'm not sure why this happens. It may happen due to the gyroscopic effect of the propeller or due to the Lego propellers not being made for water propulsion, but anyway I had to deal with it. A second propeller placed next to the first propeller that rotates in the opposite direction seems to to the trick. However, when you mount this system on a single hinge, the (larger) system swings out quite far and easiliy hits reed in the typical tight Dutch waters I tested it in. Also, in windy waters, having a single propeller at the rear means the steering is countersteering all the time just to sail straight on! To deal with the problem, I mounted 1 propeller at the front of the boat and one steered propeller at the rear. This means the boat always tracks straight (even when the wind comes in from any side) and that the propellers can be mounted close to the boat, reducing its draft. The boat is made from 2 boat hulls to create a stable camera platform. This concept worked, it gave a lot of control. I decided to use a race buggy motor as it provides a lot of RPM at low torque, excactly what a boat needs. As no additional parts (for looking nice etc) were added, the boat was light, controllable, fast and really fun to use. The steering is a quite unusual setup (for me). It contains a rack with a 24t gear, a PF Servo motor and a ball link system. This setup had the power and speed that was needed for the steering to be quick. The video The GoPro is mounted upside down under the boat. The high speed axle to the front propeller is also visible. For water level footage, the GoPro is mounted starboard-side of the boat. As the boat only weighs 831 grams, this effects the balance a bit.. Sometimes, I used a rearward-facing camera, mounted in a Lego frame and adjustable by a large linear actuator. The same camera, facing to the front. Due to the size of the boat, there are weight restrictions. The boat wouldn't sink with a mounted DSLR camera, but it would not be stable enough when the wind increases. The Sbrick and PF battery box are mounted on the left side to keep a low center of gravity and to restore the balance (the servo is not in the middle). The boat packs some power, which is visible from the wake in the water. Thanks to S-brick the boat never went out of range so it was also a really nice toy. It might have been faster with BuWizz though, but that question might be answered later. I think this boat really makes a case for the race buggy motor. It has good RPM and power for its size and in the water it never runs out of torque (a problem that can occur on land.. ). Hopefully someday somehow it will be made compatible to Powered Up, otherwise this hero will disappear in the shady realms of the past.
  3. Building Lego Technic creations and posting videos is a common bussiness for every MOC designer. Coming up with small and large inventions and sharing them is a continuing activity that never bores. However, there is one common dream, one ultimate goal that every Lego enthousiast silently dreams about: to design a professional Lego model. Several builders do what is called 'commissioned work'. Building a Lego Technic model and selling whatever it became to a company or private party. In general, Lego Technic custom models are loved by non-Lego enthousiasts because 'it works'. Several years ago, I got the unique chance to do commissioned work because a company CEO's brother accidentially saw my scale model. I first refused to sell my beloved Luctor, but two years later the one metre model was ready I got positive reviews about the looks, but the most comments were: "wow, it really works". Somehow this model must have been leaked inside 'CEO-land', as one year ago I was asked by the Hoeflon company (based in the Netherlands) to build a give-away Lego Technic model, to be used as a business gift. How cool is it to not receive the 32st boring USB drive, but a complete custom Lego Technic model.. The company builds mini cranes that go inside buildings to do heavy lifting. My task was to build a scale model of a machine that is already very compact in real life. As a result, I present a 1:14 scale model of the Hoeflon C6 crane. (please note I'm NOT paid by Hoeflon in any way, the whole story is just about how things happened and to explain the link with reality). The crane is my smallest MOC for a long time. It was really a challenge to fit all the functions inside the cramped body. The functions are: Track widening Boom rising/lowering Boom extension Fly Jib Rotating superstructure Friction winch Self-locking outtriggers Variable angle outtriggers with over 90 degree range These functions happen in a Lego Technic model of a smaller volume than the 9391 Technic crane set. Over the years I had lost some creativity to build small models so this one was a real challenge. I'm happy with the current setup but who knows.. The model is delivered with black or LBG tracks. LBG track links are slightly more expensive and this quickly adds up when 100+ cranes need to be made. To be fair, I find the looks of the 9391 stunning for the low part count. However, as I show in the video, it does not really work as a crane. The above photo shows the comparable sizes of both models. The front view. Please note the relative widht of the tracks: They are each 3L while the vehicle width is 7L. The resulting chassis is one stud in width! To widen the tracks, the crane has a shifting axle system with half bushes as stoppers. The final result is not the strongest system, but the crane at least has the function! The top view shows why this crane is called the 'Spider Crane': the outtriggers can be seen as the legs. The great thing about building such small models is that every part can be seen and every part has its function. There are very few 'unused studs'. This crane has a 3-section boom. In transport shape, this crane is 12 cm high so all of it should be folded. Therefore it looks like a proper mess when folded in. It is a common known fact that Hoeflon cranes will lift their own weight, because one crane should be able to lift another crane into a cellar. Hopes were low for the scale model as it is fully made from plastic Lego pieces. Under these loads, they will simply bend. Using the correct crane position and the winch, I got one crane to lift the other - just. On this small scale, I could not use the same strong structure from the real C6, so it was a nice result that my building resulted in something with the same strenght. The crane in full extended mode. The shape changes dramatically when the boom is unfolded. It reaches a maximum height of 42 cm. This model is meant as a business gift. This box was developed by a third party and it looks great. It is just big enough to contain the 425 parts and the A5-sized building instructions. I spent really hours drawing a 3D model and creating building instructions with lPub. By doing it yourselves, it becomes clear how much time goes into it.. The agreement with Hoeflon was: me delivering the PDF, Hoeflon doing the printing. I'm really pleased with the end result. To conclude, this MOC shows that you don't need a lot of parts to build a fun Technic model. I have many parts now compared to five years ago, but all of it is useless when someone knocks on the door to ask for a small scale model. This model also shows the problem of modern Technic sets from the store shelves. They are built large, very large. The 8265 Wheel loader is an example. It is enormous, while having less functions than this small crane that will fit into its bucket. Now the size may speak to the inner desire of the (hu)man to posess big things, but personally I like finesse and elegance over size. It is my big hope that TLG sees this in time, otherwise the awesomeness of new Lego Technic sets will fade away. The video
  4. As a last goodbye to 2016, I present this small red car. It is not really built to be particularly good looking (I used a wire bodywork to have a low weight) or to have a particular high speed. But what it does, is put a smile on your face. Technics are kept simple, there's an RC buggy motor next to a PF lipo batterybox in the middle, a PF medium steering motor before the front axle and an IR V2 receiver to enable 1 metre of infrared range when going outside. Please Lego... Please... do something about it. The frustration and anger about this appalling range is powering companies like S-brick. And that's why my future cars are having an S-brick, leaving this model as one of my last PF IR remote controlleds MOCs... We're making a fun car, right? So there is a silly spoiler and huge rear tires. By the way, these wide tires provide excellent traction in dry conditions, which is important for low-weight cars like this. The interior had to be sacrificed to have a low position for the drive motor and battery box. Because of this measure, the handling was quite good, but made much worse by the slow PF IR remote. In the end, of course there is the video: The longer story can be read on MOCpages and better photos are on Brickshelf. Have a nice 2017!
  5. Hi guys! My latest creation is this mud racer. It was not designed to be art, but to have fun. Therefore the frame and bodywork was kept very light and it has the light 8878 accu. This added up to a weight of just 600 grams! The steering happens by an PF m-motor because the servo motor was too slow for the speed this racer evolved. The front axle is pendular to keep the rear wheels always on the ground, this was vital for driving in grass, stones and mud. The rear axle has a differential - but not always. Watch the video for details. Read the full review on: to see photos of the drivetrain or watch the video below. I have personally learnt much from this great little car, you can expect more soon.