Monday, January 11, 2016

Lego Cruise Ship is Back on Lego Ideas!

Take 2

We've stuck the Lego Disney Wonder back on Lego Ideas - Please support it now!

And don't forget to check out the original article about it's construction.

We need your help!

We reposted it on Lego Ideas due to several requests, however last time it didn't even get 1000 supporters. Most of that is probably because it lost visibility on the Lego system.

If you really want to reach 10,000 votes and see Lego consider this project, we're going to need a LOT more social media support. Tweet about the project, share it on Facebook. Get your friends to support it. Blog about it. Anything!

The link is

The Gang with The Lego Wonder
Lego Wonder and The Gang

Saturday, May 2, 2015

How do I mirror an LDD / LDraw file?

THIS ONLY WORKS FOR BASIC BRICKS/PLATES (and some others) on a boring orientation.  I don't try to figure out how to find a left ring for a right wing, etc., so this won't work for all models.

I made part of a Lego model that I wanted to "mirror", just flip about an axis.  It's "just bricks" so I didn't have to worry about wings or funny shapes or anything.  I'm surprised Lego Digital Designer doesn't have this.

Anyway, I figured the easiest way to do this was to export it into an LDraw (ldr) file, then since that's plain text, just flip the - signs on the appropriate coordinates.

Here's the little program I used to do this (C#, Windows).  After compiling, just say something like:

SimpleLcadMirror infile.ldr outfile.ldr y

Hmm, don't know how to "compile" it you say?  On Windows it's reasonably easy.

Open cmd (win+r, type cmd, press enter)
notepad SimpleLcadMirror.cs
Copy the stuff below into that file and save it
Type this into the cmd and press enter:
    %windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\csc.exe SimpleLcadMirror.cs
It should compile and give you a SimpleLcadMirror.exe

Then 'just' run it from the cmd line:
SimpleLcadMirror.exe yourfile.ldr newfile.ldr x y

// Simple utility to mirror an LCAD file
using System;
using System.IO;

class MirrorLCad
    static void Main(string[] args)
        String filenameIn = null;
        String filenameOut = null;
        bool mirrorX = false;
        bool mirrorY = false;
        bool mirrorZ = false;
        bool round = false;

        if (args == null || args.Length < 3)

        filenameIn = args[0];
        filenameOut = args[1];
        for (int i = 2; i < args.Length; i++)
            if (args[i].Equals("x"))
                mirrorX = true;
            else if (args[i].Equals("y"))
                mirrorY = true;
            else if (args[i].Equals("z"))
                mirrorZ = true;


        var inFile = new StreamReader(filenameIn);
        var outFile = new StreamWriter(filenameOut);
        String line;
        while ((line = inFile.ReadLine()) != null)
            // Very boring in line detection, only type one, and only if syntax has no strange stuff
            line = line.TrimStart();
            if (line.StartsWith("1 "))
                string[] parts = line.Split(' ');
                // We care about x, y, z, - 2, 3 & 4
                // 1  x y z a b c d e f g h i 
                if (mirrorX) { parts[2] = mirror(parts[2]); }
                if (mirrorY) { parts[3] = mirror(parts[3]); }
                if (mirrorZ) { parts[4] = mirror(parts[4]); }
                foreach (var part in parts)
                    outFile.Write(' ');
                // Don't do anything to strange line

    static String mirror(String value)
        if (value.StartsWith("-"))
            value = value.Substring(1);
            value = '-' + value;
        return value;

    static void PrintUsage()
        Console.WriteLine("SimpleLcadMirror   [x] [y] [z]");
        Console.WriteLine("y is vertical, z is depth, x is horizontal");

    static void PrintWarning()
        Console.WriteLine("ONLY ARRANGES PARTS POSITIONS, doesn't swap parts (eg: left/right wing, etc)");
        Console.WriteLine("Intended for simple brick/plate structures on a simple axis, square to the grid");

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lego Disney Wonder is a Lego Ideas Project now!

You can support the Lego Disney Wonder project on Lego Ideas.  In addition to the Wonder you will be able to build the Magic, Dream or Fantasy too!  We're 1% of the way to the 10K supporters we need.  Support and share!

Support the Lego Wonder Cruise Ship Now Please!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Working on building an L3-G0 from Lego Bricks

We've started to build an R2-D2 style astromech droid out of Lego.  His name's "L3-G0" (Elthree-Geezero).  I thought that maybe he'd have enough interesting stuff to get his own blog, so he's at - not sure if that's the best idea, but that's where to find more.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Space Needle Was Destroyed? Again?!?!?!

What The Ferret!?!?!?!  Now this just isn't fair.  My Lego Space Needle has been standing for about 4 years, with only one major "accident" as I learned about moving it.  It collapsed almost a month ago as I turned it Green ago due to differences in the brick sizes.

But now it's been destroyed again in less than a month :(  Someone at work accidentally knocked it over, and neatly cleaned up the parts into a recycling basket.  I wonder what her expression was as it came crashing toward her?

Because I never want to have to do this again, I made a time lapse video of rebuilding it this time.  It turned out pretty cool:

In order to take the time lapse pictures I had two options:
  1. I could've bought $100 camera thingy from the store (cheaper ones were out of stock).
  2. Or I could build a Lego Mindstorms robot to trigger my camera using my existing remote trigger.
Guess which I chose? :)

We're getting better at this.  This is probably the most damaged it's been, but it only took 4 hours to get all 4500 pieces back together again.  I feel like I spent longer trying to get the camera trigger to behave!  It took a frame every 13 seconds or so, and was surprisingly reliable.  It was also surprised that neither the camera nor the RCX needed it's batteries changed.

Objects on the table may be shorter than they appear...

The other day I mentioned that the Lego Space Needle fell over.  It's been standing for years, so that's a bit odd.  As I mentioned in that post, a major contributing factor seems to be that the bricks I was using weren't the expected size.

Here's a video where I demonstrate the problem.  (You might have to go full-screen to see the seams between bricks)
I didn't measure exactly, but if you build a big long tower of the 3-tall Lego bricks, and another of the 1-tall Lego bricks that are nominally the same size, then we discover that the 3-tall Lego bricks are a bit shorter than one would expect.

In this example, 35 of the 3-tall bricks (white) should be about the same height as 105 of the 1-tall bricks (green).  In practice, the 3-tall bricks were a tiny bit too short.  Yes, they are all very firmly attached to each other.

At Comicon, I asked Dan Parker, LCP, if he'd noticed anything like that before.  Apparently there are some bricks where the tolerances add up and things don't align as one would expect.

Makes me wonder what I would've done if I'd originally build the model with the other bricks.  Would I have made shorter legs or made the center tower taller?

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Space Needle Fell Over :(

Ugh, not again!  The Lego Space Needle crashed, time to play 7,000 piece pickup...

LL protecting herself from falling pieces
It's 10:30 PM on Thursday Feb 28th.  Too bad there's not a Feb 29th, 'cause Comicon opens on the 1st @ noon.  That's not a lot of time to put 7,000 pieces back together :(

It's ironic, I keep telling people how stable this thing is, then, once every 4 years or so, this happens.  Worse, the move from work to ECCC went great, very little damage (it always breaks a bit when I move it, but apparently I'm getting better, took only 30 min to put back up when I took it back to work).  Apparently I shouldn't have mentioned that an hour ago.

Worser, I was filming putting it up... and the camera died about 30 min ago.... :( 

Worsest, there're no instructions.

We fumbled around for a bit, but then they turned out the lights and we called it a day.  In the morning my sister & I spent some time fixing some of the critical spots.  We were back at ECCC around noon to begin reconstructing it.  With the rest of SEALUG's help, it was back on it's feet by 6.  For some reason, RC relegated me to the back table.  (Something to do with insurance premiums and the guests or something).

What happened?  I mean, this thing's been standing for over 3 years.  I've always figured another Nisqually Earthquake would be it's doom, but nothing was going on.

Well, for ECCC, I figured that it should be "Emerald" in honor for the "Emerald" in "Emerald City Comicon's" name.  That, and the real space needle's green on top with a painting of trees, so I was gonna do that anyway.

So we rebuilt all of the white leg pieces in green.  At the same time we went from ~4500 pieces to ~5500 or so, primarily because the white legs are 2x2 wide by 3 bricks tall.  Lime green doesn't come in 3 brick tall forms, so the plan was 3 times as many bricks one tall.  (In practice I ran out, so I had to use 4 1x1x1 bricks for every 2x2x1 brick, so we ended up at ~7000 bricks).

Once the bottom legs got rebuilt, up to where they hit the tower in the middle,  something wasn't right.  The top half of the tower wouldn't fit on!  It's like the green legs were longer.  So I padded the tower with a plate (a plate is 1/3 of a normal brick).  Apparently that wasn't a great plan because it crashed.

On rebuilding we were more careful, and, indeed, the legs were too long.  We ended up removing a plate from each of the lower three legs.  Additionally the same error happened with the top struts, and they were also shortened by a plate. 

When I mentioned my observation that the bricks weren't the right heights, Dan Parker belatedly confirmed that sometimes the tolerances creep in and things that seem like they should work in Lego, don't.  I'll blog a bit more about that later.

The Emerald Lego Space Needle made it up for the rest of Comicon, where people queued up to see it.  (Well, maybe they were looking for Hogwarts, but they had to get past me first.)  I even think I saw a Unicorn.

Now it's back at work.  Took a bit to get all the green out, but only 30 minutes to unload the car and put it up, with the green roof representing the real needle's trees.