Thursday, 31 March 2016

Brixhibition Launceston 2016

Saturday April 16 2016 & Sunday April 17 2016
9:30 AM to 4:30 PM

Albert Hall - 45 Tamar Street, Launceston, Tasmania 7250

Tribute to my Pull-Along Mower for 8110 - By Ryan Smith

A couple of years ago I designed and built a pull-along mower attachment for the LEGO Technic Unimog 8110. Recently I have found that somebody has recreated this attachment using LEGO Digital Designer and has made a step by step building guide which can be seen here:

Why is LEGO popular?

  • It's constructive. I could watch football, read books, or listen to music.  But LEGO lets me build something and be "productive".
  • It's tactile.  Sure, I can build a 3D virtual model or draw a picture, but I can't feel it in my hands.
  • It's nostalgic.  I grew up with LEGO, it's got a hold on me.
  • It's a perfectionist's tool.  Unlike other mediums like, say, clay, LEGO is "perfect", geometric, and fits a simple mental model of how shapes "should" be.
  • It's challenging.  A limited palette of elements with essentially unlimited possibilities?  That's a fun challenge.
  • It supports collectors.  Some people love collecting "all" of something, and LEGO offers many opportunities there.
  • It's a great learning tool.  It teaches kids spatial relations, organizational skills, and other great things.  So it's "good" for kids to play with.
  • It's high quality.  LEGO's had a long track record of being one of the highest quality construction toys-- it's the "best" of many different other options.
  • It doesn't expire.  LEGO can be handed down from generation to generation, and it doesn't go bad (well, not much anyway).
  • It's wholesome.  The brand image of LEGO is pretty pure (used to be even more so).  Everyone's happy, colorful, and historically pretty non-violent.
  • It supports all age levels.  Every age person finds LEGO models interesting-- even adults are amazed and intrigued by well-done models.
  • It's current.  LEGO has kept with the times in terms of product offering, media, and so forth.
  • It's valuable.  In recent years, as the value of LEGO has increased, more people want to invest in it.
  • It's enormously diverse.  Especially with the licenses in the past 18 years, there have been a WIDE range of products.
  • It's a moral company.  Everyone loves a family-owned business that responds to moral issues, versus a faceless corporation solely after profits.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Display Shelves

For the last month or so I have been on the lookout for some shelves to store and display my Unimog and attachments. These needed to be large enough for this to fit but not so large as to take up too much room. Yesterday I called past "The Reject Shop" and found these shelves for $29. They are the right size and fit in my budget, the less I spend on these the more I have to spend on LEGO Technic :)

Last night I spent a few minutes putting them together and setting up my Unimog and attachments.

Unimog Attachment - Scissor Lift

Over the past couple of weeks I have been designing and building a LEGO Technic scissor lift. This started off as a standalone project which was going to be separate to my Unimog attachments with manual control. After some early design work and overcoming some issues with both the lifting mechanism and control I designed to instead build this as a attachment for the Unimog, mounting it to the rear tray and using the rear PTO to raise and lower this.

I have spent around 15 hours over the past couple of weeks undertaking the research, design and construction process. I am very pleased with the end result and this is now my favorite attachment.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Dads are important too

This post has NOTHING to do with LEGO Technic but it is something I feel very strongly about...

I am going to have a bit of a rant. It was only the other day that my wife and I were talking about how lucky we are to be in the position where we BOTH look after our daughter.

Of late I have seen more and more of this (, while it raises a number of really good points, it is sad that in 2016 we still see dads in general as "the lesser parent". Mums and dads are BOTH important.

Some dads are awesome, some dads suck. Some mums are awesome, some mums suck. What matters most is your child or children and the fact they are being raised in a loving and supportive environment. It takes a village to raise a child, we are lucky to have the support of our families and close friends, who all in various ways are helping us to raise our daughter to be the best person she can be.

I am very lucky that my work situation allows me to work full time hours over a four day week, this means early starts and late finishes but it gives me the privilege of being able to spend a full day during the week with our daughter, just me and her doing things together. As she gets older we are becoming closer and I am learning as much from her as she is from me. This is not me “baby sitting” her, it is me being a parent. I understand that not many people are lucky enough to be in this position.

As I leave so early for work, Sabrina does the morning jobs of feeding and dressing daughter and getting her ready and off to care before she goes to Uni. Sometimes she picks daughter up, other times I do. While Sabrina does almost all the cooking, I mostly wash up and also help parent daughter and get her off to bed. Overnight I get up to her when needed 95% of the time. Of a weekend we do things together as a family and things by ourselves, often daughter is happy to entertain herself, provided we are close by. This is “the new normal” for us and it works. We are both individually and collectively capable of looking after daughter and anything one of us can do the other can do (in computer terms we are a true RAID 1). THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE....

So let’s stop commenting on somebody’s ability to parent based on their gender and making assumptions because of this. Let’s instead support and encourage each and every one of us to be the best parent we can be, no matter what our gender. If you are happy, the other parent is happy and most importantly your child or children are happy, that is what matters.

Becoming a MOC Builder

Some really good points in this:

Friday, 11 March 2016

Survey - LEGO - Time, Money and Space

Reading various forums and groups it seems that most people are limited in their involvement in the LEGO hobby by "Time, Money and Space" or a combination of all three. I have created a very simple three question survey to see what the "normal" is for each of these and how different people's situations compare.

Update: 15/03/2016 - Results

Thank you to everybody who took part in this survey, the results are below:

Average time spent per month: 20-40 hours, with less than 20 a close second.

Average money spent per month: $100 - $200

Space: Three way tie between.
- I don't have a separate space, I build at the kitchen table or other shared area - No display space
- I have a desk or table in a shared space such as a living room - I have a display space

- I have a dedicated space which is purely for LEGO

Unimog Attachment - Field Plough

I have recently completed my latest Unimog attachment, this is a field plough (or cultivator). I recently saw one of these in use behind a tractor and thought it would make a good attachment to go behind my Unimog.

Over a few hours the last two nights I have built this. The building process was fairly easy and enjoyable except for trying to get the "lift and tilt" mechanism to work how I wanted, this was to both tilt the plough up and lift it. I am happy with the end result as can be seen in the photos and video below.

Me and My Building Desk - March 2016

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Unimog Attachment - Loading Conveyor

Below are the details of my latest Unimog attachment, this is a loading conveyor. While I have not been able to find any "real" Unimogs with this attachment I thought it was a good idea. As it moves continuously it would also make a good display at a Brixhibition in the future. 

Update - 5/4/2016: I have recently spent some time making some changes to this attachment, the loading area now has a cage around it to allow more parts to be stacked up for loading, new photos and a video are below.

How did LEGO Technic get started

An excellent read on the very beginning of LEGO Technic.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Unimog Attachment - Rubbish Loader MK2

I have now finished my latest attachment for the Unimog U400. This is a rear mounted rubbish loader which is controlled via the rear PTO.

A few years ago I built "MK1" of this but was not 100% happy with it, now with some more building experience and a wider range of parts I have spent some time over the past few days building and testing this.

The video and photos below show this in action.

Video of this in use

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Enjoying a small person free building day

Unimog Attachment - Pull Along Mower - MK3

I recently redesigned and rebuilt a dozer blade for my Unimog U400, since doing this I have been thinking about having another try at a mower attachment, this would fit in well with the "civil services" theme of some of my other Unimog attachments. While researching this I had the goal of using a LA to raise and lower this, I also wanted it to be much more "professional" looking as far as the design and colours went. 

The first issue I faced was how to make two functions work off the single PTO on the rear of the Unimog. I started thinking about using a simple two way switch to split the PTO at the rear of the Unimog; I played around with this in LDD but decided it would look stupid. My next idea was to turn the blades using the rear PTO and have a handle at the top to raise and lower the mower using a LA. After thinking about this some more and playing around with it I decided I was not happy with this idea either. In the end I took an idea off set 9393 which uses a drive off the rear wheels to turn the blades, in my case the wheels are attached to the mower deck itself. 

Late last week I sat down and started the building process, this went well and over a few nights / Saturday afternoon I got the mower deck built with the wheels turning the blades. I also built the mounting system to the rear of the Unimog using the "standard" mounting points to allow this to be easily removed if required, this uses the rear PTO to raise and lower the mower deck. This also has a pivot point at the front of the mower deck which allows this to turn as the Unimog goes around corners.

While I was testing this I found that the mower deck was being lifted high above the Unimog and was swinging around as it was driven. At this point I left it for the day. Last night while in bed I woke up with an idea, instead of lifting the mower deck the full height I could add a hinge which would allow this to bend as it was lifted, it would still have good ground clearance but would not end up so high off the ground. This morning I made some changes based on my idea and I was very pleased to be able to get this to work how I had hoped. Now as it lifts it bends which works much better.

Features are:
- Lift and carry of mower deck (rear PTO / large LA)
- swivel point for steering
- Working mower blades (driven via rear wheels)

Unimog Attachment - Front Mounted Dozer Blade

I have now finished my next attachment for the Unimog U400. This is a front mounted dozer blade controlled by the front PTO.

My research for this started by looking online at the various attachments people have designed and built for this model on the Eurobricks forum: ( I also undertook some research online of the various attachments that are used on real life Unimogs. From this research I came up with a possible idea and I did some rough hand drawings to see what would work. 

A couple of days later I had some spare time, so I got out my parts collection and started to build based on the drawings I had done.