Tag Archives: lego

Help Bring PancakeBot to Bay Area Maker Faire

Pancakebot

Miguel, the great guy behind PancakeBot, a CNC pancake printer made out of Lego, is running an Indiegogo campaign to help bring the whole family all the way from Norway to the Bay Area Maker Faire. We met Miguel at the New York Maker Faire last year, and got a chance to see PancakeBot in action.

Even if you can’t support the campaign, you should check out the video to see the machine in action, cheered on by enthusiastic young pancake aficionados. And come to Maker Faire in May, where we’ll hope to see Miguel and family with the awesome PancakeBot.

Evil Mad Scientist Halloween Projects

EMSL Halloween Roundup

Halloween, one of our favorite holidays, is fast approaching. We’ve updated our Halloween Projects Archive once again to ensure that all of our Halloween projects are gathered together in one convenient location. If one of our projects inspires you to make something, we’d love to see the results in the flickr auxiliary.

Field Trip: Bell Labs Technology Showcase

Bell Labs

Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey is one of the sites that should be on every geek pilgrimage itinerary.

Bell Labs 004

Their Technology Showcase is a enshrined in a small exhibit area off of the main lobby. In the center of the exhibit, on a pedestal of its very own, is the first transistor. It looks like a very small piece of mixed media abstract sculpture, with geometric forms and wires bent in wonderful angles. If that were the only thing to see, it would still be worth the visit.

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Nearby, the first MOSFET sits in an impressive array of other firsts, including an early CCD and a micro-mirror array.

Telstar at Bell Labs

Telstar, the world’s first active communications satellite hangs overhead. This one is a flight backup unit that was never used.

Glass for fiberoptics

These fiberoptic preforms were placed under a polarizer so that the optical qualities of the cores would be more apparent to visitors.

There are many more beautiful objects, as well as interactive wall for exploring many world-changing developments that happened at and through Bell Labs.

Huge thanks go to Drew Fustini of Pumping Station: One for organizing our post-Maker Faire pilgrimage via twitter and driving us all up to New Jersey.

Open Hardware Summit 2012 Badges

ohs lego badge 015

The 2012 Open Hardware Summit is happening today in New York City and we had the pleasure of designing and building the badges for this year’s conference.

As you can see, the badges are built out of Lego bricks, and are a bit on the whimsical side. The hardware community’s connections to Lego run deep, as so many of us developed our mechanical understanding with it, and many of us continue to use it both for prototyping and play. (This is really only part of the badge; there is also a paper underlay below the Lego, with the attendee name and affiliation.)

We used LEGO Digital Designer, free software for Mac and Windows, to create the preliminary designs for the badges.  As we started shopping on bricklink (“the unofficial Lego marketplace”) to figure out exactly how many parts were actually available in the world in the particular shapes and colors that we needed, we gradually modified our designs to make them work with more commonly available parts.

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We ended up running with four slightly different designs: one with plates, one with tiles, one with bricks, and one “dot matrix” with single round tiles.

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Here is the most important part: The “modified 2×3 plate with hole” on the top, where your lanyard clips, has to be held very securely.  To be able to work with different sizes of backing plates available, we used a couple of slight variations on this theme.

Backs waiting to be finished

We ordered nearly fifteen thousand Lego bricks, sourced from twelve different suppliers, to make sure we could get all of the parts we needed.

Badges in progress

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When all the parts finally arrived, our shop staff was happy to drop everything else they were doing to spend several days building Lego badges in time for the summit.

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And for a final touch, we added a tool in a holder to each badge.  There are a few different tool types— our own little easter egg.

As we did with last year’s badges, we are releasing the design files (such as they are) in the preferred format for modification (lxf files). The four representative models are available for download here (37 KB zip file).

Ladyada’s Workshop in LEGO

Adafruit has an awesome LEGO kit design for Ladyada’s Workshop up on LEGO CUUSOO. CUUSOO is a site where people can submit designs for new LEGO sets or vote to support designs that have already been submitted. With enough support, LEGO may eventually turn these into actual production kits. With your support, maybe we can all have the chance to play with a LEGO version of MOSFET, a pick-and-place and a soldering iron.

The Cult of LEGO

Cult of Lego Front Cover

No Starch Press recently sent us a review copy of their new book, The Cult of LEGO by John Baichtal and Joe Meno of Brick Journal.

It is not a book for kids. It is also not about LEGO. Nor is it really about the amazing things that people build out of LEGO (of which a great many are featured). Rather, it is about those people. The Cult of LEGO is a beautiful and substantial work, exploring the breadth of communities that have been grown around LEGO.

Cult of Lego - PCB Spacers

The book is heavy with photos, cleanly laid out, and expertly produced– solidly built like a LEGO brick, right down to the astronaut on the cover. Fine touches throughout– like the chapter numbers built from basic blocks, or the title page in the style of an old LEGO instruction guide (“304 interlocking pages”) –add to the charm. I suspect that anyone who has grown up with LEGO will genuinely want to have one of these on their coffee table.

Cult of Lego Big & Small

As we do occasionally publish LEGO projects, John Baichtal interviewed me briefly in the course of researching the book, and a few of our modest projects (including organizing bricks and circuit board standoffs) are featured. Seeing our own projects as footnotes to gargantuan scale models of aircraft carriers, or to the the first Google server (in its LEGO case), or to working mechanical computers is thrilling. It is also quite humbling.

But the community is the thing. Sure, there is a lot to say about fandom proper and conventions, but LEGO also represents a shared experience to many people, a cultural influence, an artistic medium, and a common language. The Cult of LEGO explores each of these topics through interviews and topic-based descriptions of projects. It is easy to forget how important LEGO is to modern robotics education, or how much of a mark the mini figure has made on popular culture, and I’m glad to have been reminded.

Cult of Lego - printed legos

Because it is about the community (rather than the company), The Cult of LEGO is free to discuss “fan art” in all of its guises, and that leaves the book delightfully modern and in some ways irreverent.

Many people still believe in keeping their models pure, made of only extra-virgin LEGO-blessed ABS. But others these days are injection molding their own custom mini figure scale weapons. Or like our friend Andrew Plumb, beginning to explore 3D printing of custom bricks.

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The Cult of LEGO is available this week. I give it my highest recommendation. If you grew up with LEGO, you owe it to yourself to get a copy.

Halloween Projects from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

The Great Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories Halloween Project Archive!

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and our collection of Halloween projects continues to grow. Every fall we update it to include our latest projects for the season. In the list that follows, we’ve organized dozens of our Halloween projects into categories: costumes, pumpkins, decor and food.

Last updated: 10/2015.

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