TexLUG Window at Galleria Store April 2011

Written by TJ on April 5th, 2011

I volunteered to do our LUG display this month at the Houston Galleria LEGO Store.



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It’s a display of trusses with a little info card. Thanks to Matt S. for the idea :-)



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I used the same base as my last display, except that I changed out the lettering for different colors to match our state flag.



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I wasn’t sure about putting in a little info sign. I made one for the last display I did in February. But the folks at the store assured me that the kids visiting the store will stick around a bit longer and actually read it. Cool! :-)

Custom Battery Power for the Power Functions System

Written by TJ on April 5th, 2011

There has always been a trick to getting a custom battery box to work with PF (power functions) components. The issue is basically that there are 4 wires used in the PF cables, and depending on where you are in the circuit, the outer set or the inner set can be used (but not at the same time).

The system is mapped out in detail here: www.philohome.com/pf/diagram.gif. Many, many thanks to Philo for this diagram.

Implementing this information to make a custom PF battery box is what I’ve figured out recently. I wanted to make a custom (non-LEGO) battery holder that would take 8x rechargeable AA batteries. That would give me a total of 9.6 volts (rechargeable AA batteries are typically 1.2 V per cell as compared to traditional alkaline batteries that are 1.5 V each) and essentially more and longer lasting power for my models (in comparison to using a standard LEGO battery holder that only takes 6x AA batteries).

Below is a schematic showing the set-up for a custom battery box.



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You can find off the shelf non-LEGO battery holders in a variety of sizes and capacities. For AA batteries, I’ve found holders that take 4 each and also 8. In my example below, I’ve used two 4x AA holders and wired them together in series.



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This is for my UP 844 MOC. The 4xAA holders fit snugly into a space that is 8-studs wide.



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When I first started to play around with this, I somehow misinterpreted the information and ended up wiring the batteries up like this:



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DO NOT DO THIS! This will make smoke come out of the PF IR receiver box.

My PF receiver is now a pristine example of what a PF receiver should look like from the outside. Inside, it’s toast.

OPC 6: Victorian House by Mike Doyle

Written by TJ on January 28th, 2011

Three Story Victorian with Tree by Mike Doyle



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(image © Mike Doyle)

Wow. Just wow.

My mind refused to believe this was made of LEGO until I checked out Mike’s blog (there’s a link to it on his Flickr page). The incredible amount of detail is astonishing.

The Desk

Written by TJ on January 24th, 2011

And finally, the long awaited photo of the new build area and desk:



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I tore down the old system of shelves back in November, which were not very sound and also not efficient with regards to storage space. I put up three new shelves directly mounted to the wall. The back of the desk’s surface serves as a fourth, bottom “shelf”.

The spacing of all the shelves was optimzed to fit my storage bins. I use the small-open-bin-type storage systems for the main storage. Storage of overflow parts (i.e. the parts that won’t fit into the small bins) go into the compartmentalized boxes (with lids) on top.

Protection of this highly-sorted bunch of parts comes in the form of hinged doors. When I’m done building for the day, I clear off the desk and shut these white doors. I still need to attach proper latches.



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“Protection” means I basically have to keep my kids from accessing these bins while I’m at work or otherwise out of the house. My 2-year old likes to get on my desk, pull bins, and dump them all over.

I also shortened the depth of my desk. It was 36″ deep, which made reaching the bins from a sitting position kind of hard (my arms aren’t THAT long). Now it’s 28″ deep and just right.

I kept the length of the desk (or width, as you look at it) the same: 8 feet.

In the past several weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time building, and I have to say all the modifications were worth it. I’m happy with the new set-up, and I think it works well for me.

LUG Showcase

Written by TJ on January 24th, 2011

I’ve created a “scene” for our (TexLUG) February LUG (LEGO Users Group) Showcase.



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The LUG Showcase program is program offered by the LEGO retail stores, and each store has a small display case for this feature. LUGs are invited to display a creation and advertise their club. The change-out of displays happens about every month.



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This is my first time to do a display. This display will go into the case in the Houston Galleria LEGO store on February 5. It will be up until early March.

Work in Progress: UP 844

Written by TJ on January 24th, 2011

I started this in April 2010, worked on it for a short while, then stopped building.



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Around the new year, I started up again and made significant progress. The main engine is pretty much done, except for some minor things and some “greebling” to be done. I also ran out of a few parts and I’m waiting for a Bricklink order to come in.



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I just started on the tender this past weekend. I’m working out the details of the wheels and linkages between wheel groups.

To recap: the engine is a model of Union Pacific’s 844 (4-8-4). It uses four geared 9V motors (pre-Power Functions), one for each driver set. The drivers are XL BBB (Big Ben Bricks).

It will be controlled by a Power Functions receiver and battery pack. Those will be housed in the tender.

I’m hoping to get this finished in a few weeks.

Trees!

Written by TJ on January 24th, 2011

Well, tree as in one tree, really :-) There will be more to come.



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I took the time to put together a tree with loads of flex tube. There is a single, long piece down the shaft (trunk) of the tree (the “trunk” is made of 2×2 round, brown bricks). There are four leaf pieces captured between every 2×2 brick, but then each leaf piece has a second piece connected to form a branch. There is a very short piece of flex tube at every one of these junctions between leaf pieces.

The problem with trees like this has always been that the branch leaf pieces do not stay connected. Any handling or vibration tends to knock them loose. When you pull something like this out of storage, there’s usually several dozen leaf pieces in the bottom of the bin.

The flex tube seems to fix this issue. I’ve let my kids handle the tree, and not a single leaf piece has fallen off.

OPC 5: Sandvik LH209L by Marek Markiewicz

Written by TJ on January 24th, 2011

Sandvik LH209L by Marek Markiewicz



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(image © Marek Markiewicz)

You don’t often see mining equipment MOC’d with LEGO. This beast is tough looking. I like the old, solid, large Technic tires.

Be sure to dig back into his other pages for his excellent Sandvik LH517L MOC.

OPC 4: US Truck 3 by Ingmar Spijkhoven

Written by TJ on January 24th, 2011

US Truck 3 by Ingmar Spijkhoven



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(image © Ingmar Spijkhoven)

I love the tough look of the thing. Very well done! This reminds me of some of the great MOCs from builders years ago on Lugnet, like Dennis Bosman.

OPC 3: Caterpillar 772 Dump Truck by Richard Brown

Written by TJ on January 24th, 2011

Caterpillar 772 Dump Truck by Richard Brown

Digging back into Richard Brown’s photos on Flickr, I found many other great creations.



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(image © Richard Brown)

Check out Richard’s photostream for more!