Giving the Roller Coaster a Boost

Not satisfied with merely motorising my Roller Coaster 10261, I incorporate the Boost Robotics System, and then add some additional functionality. It’s all fun and games until the batteries stop running at full power…

IMG_0255There is no doubt that the new Roller Coaster 10261 is a magnificent model, worthy of a set piece in any LEGO Layout.  But driving it manually is a little tedious,to say nothing of the roughness of the ride. How can we make it so that we may have the coaster running, and share a drink with friends at the same time, while they marvel at this wonderful set?

Simple motoring using an ‘M’ motor.

Adding a Power Functions medium motor is simple: so simple in fact that you can work out how to do it in the pre release video: plug a motor over the drive shaft, and let it go.

And it goes on… and on… and on until you turn it off.  There is no break in the activity, the constant rumble of the motor.  Don’t get me wrong, this is pretty awesome, and with two trains of coaster carriages running, it can be pretty hypnotic. There is no reason that this should be any harder with the equivalent Powered Up/ PF2.0 motor, when we see it released in the future.

But I wonder if more can be done.

A Little Boost
In fact, adding simple automation to the set using the Boost Move hub, sensor and servo motor is pretty simple, and is described on the final page of the instructions. This is what it looks and sounds like.

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Time To Get ‘Powered Up’: Known Knowns, Known Unknowns. And A Little Speculation…

Feeling overwhelmed after a barrage of press releases and new sets being announced by LEGO in New York this week, I attempt to put together what is known about the new Powered Up platform, previously referred to as Power Functions 2.0

60197_LEGO_City_Personenzug_Packung-2This week, at the Fall Preview for the (Northern) Summer 2018 LEGO® releases, there have been a number of exciting announcements, some of which have been vigorously speculated about for most of the year, plus a couple of surprises!

Given that this year respresents (amongst other things) the twentieth anniversary of the LEGO Mindstorms range, and also represents 10 years since we first saw the arrival of Power Functions, it should come as no surprise that we have seen a number of sets featuring the new “Powered Up” platform – previously referred to as Power Functions 2.0.

“For 20 years, we have been creating new ways for children to combine technology and LEGO building, starting with the introduction of LEGO MINDSTORMS®, a robotics toolkit that pioneered the idea of a ‘smart toy,” said Michael McNally, senior director brand relations for the LEGO Group. “With Powered Up, we’ve established a flexible connected platform to enable innovative new play experiences that merge digital and physical play in natural ways that will delight and inspire the builders of today and tomorrow – while still focusing on the core physical play proposition of our System of Play – the LEGO brick.”

We have also seen some exciting announcements to go with LEGO Boost.

Powered Up: Power Functions 2.0 Known Knowns.

Back in February, we presented information about the new power functions platform. We were aware that we have a new combined Bluetooth receiver and Battery Box, as well as a motor unit suitable for trains. We knew that the new cables featured the same connections as the WeDo 2.0 platform, as well as Boost.We also knew there would be a new remote and that the platform could also be App Powered.

This new platform, and all of the other Motorised LEGO Elements now fall under the broader banner of “Powered up,” and includes CITY Trains, app driven vehicles, Boost and the DUPLO Cargo Train.

Trains

60197_LEGO_City_Personenzug_Produkt-2 Continue reading

Beginning with Boost: Driven to Distraction

In which we look at the steering wheeled base, that is one of the starter platforms with LEGO Boost Creative Toolkit, visit the nomenclature of LEGO Tyres and go out for a spin…Along the way, we go atomic.  Now read on…

IMG_9778The recent announcement of the forthcoming Power functions 2.0 reminded me that it has been a while since we looked at the Boost Creative Toolbox.  I just wanted to briefly touch on one of the starter models from the Creative Canvas today: the Vehicle hub.

All you need is a little patience.

Towards the end of 2017, Boost became supported on new platforms including the iOS smartphones, and Windows 10- no longer limited to tablets (iOS, Android and Kindle fire).  There is also an up to date compatibility list available from the Unofficial LEGO Boost Community Facebook page. Continue reading

Giving NEXO Knights a Boost…

A quick post this morning to demonstrate how easy it is to get a fun result from LEGO Boost, with very little style or skill. I really believe that the Boost Move Hub is the successor to the motor bricks of the 1960’s and 70’s.

For reasons best known to myself, I recently built the NEXO Knights Knighton castle set. It was an interesting build, demonstrating the 2017 NEXO Aesthetic, with lots of dark blue, orange, trans neon orange, dark stone grey and bright blue for the trim (being King Halbert’s colour). But I bought it for the parts. Reasons shall become apparent with time, or perhaps on Instagram…

In pulling it apart, I thought, wouldn’t this look great if it were mobile, like the Fortrex. Then I realised I had not yet dismantled the walking base which I discussed last week. To make the project a little easier, I removed the tail, head plate and gun: I am here for a good time, not a long time. I reconstructed a tower and moved some of the other components from the caster to produce something a little like this…

final

 

So… a few elements onto the walking base, a short ‘Walk forward’ Program, and voila: a moving MOC that is just a little more interesting than anything I might have produced with the castle elements alone, or indeed the Boost. The Classic knight was terribly impressed with the changes that had occurred since he was a young lad.

final

The program I used is extremely simple: Play; Walk forward at speed 50 for 30 seconds; And Stop.

Mercifully, I have not mixed elements too much, and returning my sorted Boost to its natural state should not be too hard.

And now I return you to our normal viewing…

What would like to make move with Boost? Would you build a more comprehensive castle to move? Why not comment below, and follow the Rambling Brick on WordPress or Facebook. Until next time…

Play Well!

Beginning with Boost II: Walking Base

Last week we met Vernie, one of the hero models that is part of LEGO Boost.  Today I wanted to just quickly look at the walking base, a creative platform designed to be built on with your own bricks.

The instructions are included in the app, and accessed through the secret portal…

finding walker
Diving into the vortex behind the curtain reveals both the walking and driving platforms.

The build took me about 45 minutes, with a few distractions in the room. The build was made much easier by the fact that I had sorted elements after dismantling Vernie last week.

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Beginning with Boost I: Meet Vernie

In which I recall making models move in simpler times, invest in a LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox set, and set about meeting Vernie the robot.  This article is as much for the beginner, trying to understand where to look for information, and finding out what my personal experience was like with the first couple of models.  In the future I will build some more, and look at the programs involved along the way.

One of the amazing things about LEGO® bricks is that they can be used to construct the most amazing models.  One of the things that lifts LEGO models to the the next level is movement.  For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the idea of making my LEGO models move.  I just haven’t been particularly good at it!

My first experience with making LEGO move autonomously was using the blue 4.5V motor in the mid 70’s: part of set 100 or 112: to be honest, I am not really sure.  I was probably about five years old at the time.  But being able to make my LEGO crawl across the living room table was pretty amazing.

As life progressed, I graduated to the 181 train set: a black motor brick, with a dedicated battery box in the tender, running behind the engine. There was an additional switch below the battery box, which allowed a raised railway signal to stop the train. Somewhere along the road we found some coloured gears, and simple motorised machines became an option. Then came the Technical sets, with their single drive shaft motor, and optional gearing boxes. I have already written about these early Technic experiences this year.

However, before I could around to exploring monorails, 12V or 9V trains,  I entered my dark ages.  I emerged just as the Power Functions elements were being introduced, along with NXT.  I probably found the Power Functions a little easier to use than NXT, or subsequently EV3, primarily because the construction techniques for Technic – with the square profile beams – perplexed me.  To be honest, they still do.  Turning a  single wheel by myself is something I can deal with.  Having a motor do it for me is extremely appealing.

So, when I heard about LEGO Boost, I became quite excited.  LEGO Boost is a brick based (rather than Technic) robotics system with 3 independent motor channels, as well as a light and distance sensor brick, and an inbuilt tilt sensor, designed to be programmed by a 7 year old with some form of tablet device. Perhaps this would be something I could use in the not too distant future to motorise my models, or introduce a level of interactivity into them. Continue reading

Talking about Boost In Billund: Interview with Carl Merriam

Meeting LEGO Boost

Since it was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, LEGO® Boost has been anticipated as an easy to use robotics platform. Designed for use by children aged 7 and up, the tablet based system was released in most of the world at the start of August, and made its way into the Australian retail Channels in October 2017.  With a retail price of $AU250, and 845 elements, including a mixture of System and Technic elements, as well as a new integrated Move Hub, I was intrigued by what it might have to offer for easy MOC automation.  At the LEGO® Fan Media Days in Billund this year, I had the opportunity to meet with Carl Merriam, one of the model designers who has been involved with LEGO Boost. We had a talk about some of the features of the Boost system, and looked at what some of the included models have to offer.

IMG_5479

Thanks for your time Carl, could you perhaps start by explaining a little about the basics of LEGO Boost? Continue reading