So… for the last 15 years, I have had a circa 2000 ATAT on the mantlepiece, made using 9754 Mindstorms Dark Side Developer Kit. It hasn’t been given much of a run, and I cannot recall ever changing the batteries in the Micro Scout control unit. I have been starting to become concerned about the possibility of battery leakage. So… I decided to pull the model apart, and replace it in its box. This is coincidental with a member of OZLUG asking the question ‘Can I make every other major model from this kit with the pieces in the walker?’ (Incidentally, the answer to this is ‘NO’)
This set comes from an era when boxes came with a plastic, compartmentalised insert! So I set about pulling the ‘hero model’ apart, and replacing it in its box. I am not aiming to sell it in the near future (for a 15 year old set, it has only appreciated from ~US $100 at release to ~$AU150 on brick link presently for used, with a beaten up box). I suspect it has much more to teach me.
So… I am not much of an engineer when it comes to considering MOCS, and do not build with Technic very often – so I thought I would see what I could gain from examining this set in the process.
The Starting Points
Lets state the obvious for the people who got into lego after 2007: This set is heavy on light grey and dark grey. These are discontinued colors and not to be confused with the new medium and dark stone grey (Blueish grays on brick link)
Off With Its Head!
The First Step is to remove the head. The most interesting aspect of the head is that it attaches some regular 1 x 4 technic bricks to the lifting arms to create ‘invisible studs’ to connect plates onto: The bricks are secured with a combination of: Technic pins (which can rotate), axle pins and a plain vanilla, a non-rotating technic axle. The axle acts to space the front of the head/cabin and provide a place for the laser cannons to mount.
I love the simplicity of these cannons: trans red bars in an axle holder with axle hole (!) you can also see how the side panels were attached. Useful to see this in a set where the number of decorative/non functional pieces can almost be counted on my fingers.
the 2 pins in the back of the head provide attachment to the swivel on the body, whereas 2 wheels with the tyres removed provide a decorative neck. Of interest, the head swings a little as the model walks: mainly though the swaying of the body…
The head is attached here (Pardon the dust):
The bulk of the ‘body panels are held on simply with a ‘wire frame’ of axles, with the panels attached.
Flexion at the ankle is due to a pin through the ankle, through the 1 x 3 x 5 connector block. The lower leg uses a long pin, interacting with adjacent studs, to reduce movement at the ankle.
This limited fixation at the knee and ankle allows movement resembling walking, generated by rotation of gears at the hips (I fear I may be zoopomorphising a little bit too much here, but the walkers certainly resemble large, long legged quadrupeds, even if a tank or armoured speeder may have been a little more efficient, and possibly less vulnerable to cable attack by the snow speeders.)
Limited flexion back and forward ensures that the legs don’t just collapse, and allow the feet to sit flat on the floor, regardless of the angle of the’calf’ – within reason.
At the attachment of each leg, is a 1 x 3 plate that is attached to motor drive.
The walking motion is dependent on the alignment of these plates: each ‘hip’ must point in a different direction to those adjacent to it.
Note also the 2 studs on the side of the lower beam used to hold plates on for aesthetic effect.
The Microscout Brick…
The microprocessor has a number of built in programs, and limited input/output channels…As discussed previously, it was strapped down to the x-frame.
The controls are, as you can see, complex… 🙂
There are a number of built in programs- select with the select button, run with the… you get the idea.
- Runs in one direction
- runs in one direction, then reverses direction
- Runs until it encounters light on the sensor, then runs backwards
- runs backwards on seeing a single flash. Double flash results in changing direction
- Flash light: runs backwards, and gets faster
- On detecting a light, sounds an alarm and runs backwards
- Plays a sequence of beeps – play back as flashes and whether correct or incorrect affects the direction the motor runs
- Power mode: unfortunately the details of this are on a now ‘dead’ link – http://www.legomindstorms.com/darkside
So… one input, one output! That is all
there are studs on top, but also holes on the side to allow attaching to another beam/ hold it down.
Next I came to the moment of terror…were the batteries intact, or was there to be corrosion all over the terminals…?
All good! Deep sigh of relief.
Removing the micro-scout reveals the rest of the frame:
There are differentials at the front, the back, as well as in the centre of the frame.
Get back in the box…
I think, as I pulled pieces off and placed them into the box, I found myself wishing for smaller compartments, and more of them.
Ultimately we got to this:
There are 3 manuals in the set that go towards the set, each building a model of different complexity. Lots of ideas are provided for alternative variations on the main build (head shapes, gun shapes, even feet shapes. They each have around 50-60 pages.
And here they are… Back in their box
I look forward to taking it out again with fresh eyes, and developing some technic skill.
Dismantling the set with care took me around an hour and a half- 2 hours, including photography and conversation with members of our local LUG.
I especially appreciate the use of the differentials, to drive the legs, as well as the leg tilting mechanism. I also liked the insight into creating a studded surface, next to a lifting beam.
…To say nothing about developing an appreciation of that old school gray!
One thought on “Reboxing:9754 Dark Side Developer Kit”
[…] NOW, I did not come out of my LEGO Dark Ages when LEGO Star Wars made its debut. LEGO sets were for kids. And I was a bit too busy doing some post graduate study at the time. Triumphant defeat of a significant examination hurdle was celebrated by my brother giving me a copy of 9454 Dark Side Developer Kit. IT was amazing. I put the various models together, experimented with the control system, and kept it built up for years, through the birth of two children, four house moves and several mortgage repayments, Ultimately dismantling it in 2016. […]