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My favorite building platform is LEGO. I have boxes of LEGO Technic. I frequently build robots and then take them apart. To make finding the right part easier, I sort most of my LEGO. The image above is a small stash of my sorted LEGO Technic parts.

There are three stages to my sorting scheme. First is what you see in the picture, little bins holding small quantities of parts. I typically use these bins to build a model as they are handy and portable.

Bins work well for small amounts of parts, but if your addicted to LEGO like I am, you probably have way more parts than you can fit in bins. Inside the cardboard box you see in the photo (and several others around my apartment) is a similar assortment of parts, but in bags. Each type of part gets its own bag and these bags hold the overflow of parts. For larger projects where I need a lot of one part, I will usually pull the bags and keep them handy. Some parts, like LEGO Technic pins, I keep in soda bottles. I find it is easier to fill up a 2 liter bottle with black friction pins and pour from that. Bags have a nasty habit of friction pins all over my work area.

My last level or sorting is something I affectionately call MUL or Miscellaneous Unsorted LEGO. MUL is typically a box (or now 3) of past projects or sets I have parted out to get sorted. A few times a year (and I am in the middle of one right now), I take all my MUL parts and sort them. Most of the time parts go directly to a bag as I like to keep my bins stocked.

While I sort parts by type, I do not sort by color. While I would love to have that much organization, it simply isn’t practical for me to spend the time parting things out that far. I also do not have that many parts on hand (although I’m sure my brother, parents, girlfriend, and apartment maintenance manager would disagree).

I enjoy keeping my LEGO parts sorted and organized. It lets me build without having to dig for a part. This is just one method of organization and I know many other AFOLs sort their bricks as well. It is software a work in progress as it has evolved over time. I am always open to new sorting ideas!

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One of the awesome projects at Maker Faire 2016 was creating a drone. Radio Shack had a free workshop using their DIY Drone Kits. Naturally I got a kit and quickly assembled it. However, my drone piloting skills are still developing and this quad has had more than a few rough landings. It wasn’t long before the original airframe needed to be replaced. A couple weeks of work later, I was successful and the replacement airframe can be found on Thingiverse! Follow me after the break and I’ll share all the details on my latest project! Read the rest of this entry »

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The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide by Pawel Kmiec is a great technical manual for building mechanical models. Unlike some of the previous books I have reviewed, Kmiec’s designs are for the advanced Technic builder. Kmiec does cover some basics, as you can seen in the sample pages below, but this quickly gives way to complex gearboxes and suspension systems. Join me after the break for more of my thoughts on this great LEGO reference!

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Special Project Update

Posted: November 9, 2016 in News

You might have noticed I didn’t post last week. This will be the only post this week. I am working on a special project and it isn’t ready quite yet. I have had several iterations on this project, but it still needs another one or two to be 100% functional. It’s very exciting! In the mean time, I have a book review to share next week and the plan is to share my special project the following week! Stay tuned!

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Hot glue is a maker’s best friend. Regardless if you’re creating a costume for Dragon Con or mounting some electronics, hot glue is an essential tool. Recently my hot glue gun died and it was time to get a new one. I found this inexpensive glue gun on amazon for around 20 USD and it arrived today!

My old hot glue gun was a simple low temperature model that took small glue sticks. However, it came in handing in securing cables (FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition  teams know what I’m talking about!) and holding electronics in place. This time I decided to upgrade to a variable temperature model that can take larger glue sticks.

There is something to be said for high temperature glue guns. Experimenting with this new tool, I discovered that higher-temperature glue seems to be more durable and hold better. I am really interested to see how this affects attaching electronics to 3D printed parts. The glue temperature is not warm enough to melt ABS or PETG plastic. More experimentation is needed to fully understand how I can best utilize my new hot glue gun. I am far from an expert in hot glue, but it is an important to have a hot glue gun handy when making. You never know when it might come in handy!

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If you have launched EV3-G recently, you probably discovered that there is a new update! LEGO has released version 1.2.2 to address the “VM Program Instruction Break” bug. Be sure to update your software to the latest version. The bug did not affect the firmware on your EV3, just the compiler in EV3-G.

The Seshan Brothers, over at EV3Lessons.com, have an excellent overview of the bug.

You can download the latest versions of the LEGO MINDSTORMS programming software here!

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LEGO was all over World Maker Faire! Besides FIRST LEGO League, LEGO was a common sight. LEGO provides a flexible building platform and Makers love LEGO. While it might not ship in a final project, the iconic, modular bricks provides an unmatched ease of use for prototyping. This has been one of my favorite posts to write, showing off all the awesome creations of the community! Follow me after the break to check out more of the LEGO sights of World Maker Faire 2016!

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As I mentioned last week, I want to share a really fun robot. Sorry for the delay in this post, but I needed to make a quick video of the footage for Youtube. The Maker movement is all about fusing different mediums to create something unique. For this ROBOT MAK3R, that means mixing 3D Printing, LEGO MINDSTORMS, Spider Wire, and a GoPro action camera.

Capturing events is always a challenge for me. While I am displaying, I am typically very busy answering questions and meeting everyone. I really wanted a way to document these awesome events that still allowed me to be social. Sounds like a robot to me! With some on-site programming I was able to achieve this goal! While the bot needed a bit of tuning, movement along its wire was smooth and pan and tilt controls worked as designed! Not bad for a quick build! Check out the footage from World Maker Faire 2016 and learn about this awesome bot after the break!

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This past weekend was World Maker Faire 2016 in New York. Maker Faire is a celebration of creativity, technology, and invention. I was lucky to attend the event again this year, showing off some LEGO robots at the ILUGNY booth. While the booth was constantly busy, I was able to explore and see some truly amazing projects. Follow me after the break for more photos from this incredible event!

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20160928_211917679_iosEveryone knows they should read the manual. But let’s be honest, we don’t. Maybe it’s because you’re already an expert in that new gizmo you just bought or maybe you just don’t have time. Rarely do we want to follow instructions unless something is really wrong.

For a maker, the manual or instructions is a great source of creativity! I love reading LEGO instructions. I learn new building techniques that help me make better creations. For example, a bot I am taking to World Maker Faire this weekend has some components that are modified from a LEGO set. I built the part according to the manual and then decided to enhance it and tweak the design to fit my project.

This works beyond LEGO sets. Remember that radio I took with me to the Caribbean? I modified the schematic to add in the transistor. I could have also made other tweaks to change frequency or power output.

So the next time someone says RTFM, don’t feel offended. Look at it as an opportunity to learn something new, a starting point for your own creativity, or a solution to a problem.