Tag: BayLUG

Looking forward to Maker Faire

Published / by Bill

This coming weekend, May 18-19, I’ll be joining a bunch of LEGO enthusiasts from BayLUG (Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group) at Maker Faire yet again. This annual event has been going on every year at the San Mateo Event Center (aka Fairgrounds) since 2006 and BayLUG has been a part every year. This year we have a 40′ by 40′ space which will feature robotics demonstrations, a kids’ play area, a working train layout by BayLTC (Bay Area LEGO Train Club), and lots of LEGO models on display. I hope you can come and see the show, and stop by to say hi.

Besides our LEGO exhibit, there are hundreds of amazing exhibitors and vendors offering everything from knitting to welding, from woodworking to electronics. It’s a celebration of all kinds of do-it-yourself hobbies and homebrew activities, and always lots of fun. Many of the art exhibits that you would otherwise have to go to Burning Man to see are there, and there are lots of great hands-on activiites for kids of all ages.

In the meantime, or if you can’t make it, take a look at my photos from previous years’ Maker Faires.

BayLUG at Great Train Expo Sept 2012

Published / by Bill

My local LEGO train club, the Bay Area LEGO Train Club (part of the Bay Area LEGO Users Group) took part in the Great Train Expo model train show this past weekend in San José, CA. We set up a LEGO layout with two loops of trains (one freight and one passenger), a downtown area, suburban houses, a campground, train yard, and more.

A number of my things were on display, including Kermit, the Robert Indiana LOVE and LEGO sculptures, my City Park, a city block featuring the Blackburn Hotel and other buildings I’ve made, the Caltrain locomotive and cars, some freight cars, houses, cars and trucks, and RV’s. (Seeing this list, I realize I need to post some of these models – even though they’ve been around for years, they’ve not all been properly blogged…)

You can see photos of the layout on my Flickr set for this event. Click the image below or view it as a slideshow.
Group Photo

Four-Track Signal Gantry

Published / by Bill

A signal gantry I built over four tracks at Bay Area LEGO Train Club exhibit at the Train Collectors’ Association Cal-Stewart Spring Meet, Santa Clara, California, March 2-4, 2012. I built it Friday night after we finished the setup when I realized we would have a four track line without much decoration in that area.

The signals over each track are based on the Union Pacific Signal Rules. Over each track there is a signal facing each direction, and each signal has three lights which could be red or green. I set up the signals with two each track marked “Clear” in one direction (top light green, two lights below red), and “Stop” in the other direction (all three lights red), in keeping with the direction of travel we used on the layout, but after I set all that up, someone put trains on running in the opposite direction (as shown in the photo below)!

Four-Track Signal Gantry

BayLTC at TCA 2012

Published / by Bill

The Bay Area LEGO Train Club displayed a train layout at the Train Collectors’ Association Cal-Stewart Spring Meet, in Santa Clara, California, on March 2-4, 2012.

This is one of our favorite events to display at, as they have a fairly low stress environment and it is in a very nice facility. We set up our exhibit on Friday afternoon, March 2, and finished setup Saturday morning. On Saturday, however, the show was only open to members of the TCA who were there for the Meet, so the crowd levels were low-stress. Sunday was busier, as it was open to the public from 10am-2pm. In past years, the attendance for the public day at this event has been fairly light, and we haven’t bothered putting up our “sneeze guards” (Plexiglass barriers that keep the little kids from reaching into the layout), but this year we quickly realized they had done a much better job promoting it, and we had to scramble to get the sneeze guards up before too many fingers found their way into places they shouldn’t (or worse yet, took things they shouldn’t … you know how grabby little kids can be around toys). Once we had them up, the crowd lightened up again, but we were still glad we did it.

This event was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center, where we will be holding Bricks by the Bay in two weeks. While we were there, I had a chance to meet with our representative from the Convention Center and tour the facilities we will be using along with some of the convention volunteers who were also participating in the layout. We finalized the BBTB event schedule and locations where all the activities will be held.

This year the layout was a rather unusual shape for us. Usually we make a big ring of tables, and Bruce brings a gate that carries two tracks across it, so we can have two loops of track circling the entire layout. But Bruce wasn’t able to attend so we tried a new design, making a large “C” shape instead, with the two loops of track doubling back at each end, making a total of four tracks around the layout. It worked quite well, but it presented us with a new esthetic challenge, as there was now a stretch with four parallel tracks and no structures. When I saw that Friday night, I decided we needed a signal gantry, so that night I whipped one up and I am quite happy how it came out.

Take a look at the pictures from the show. Click the image below, or view all the photos as a slideshow.

BayLTC at TCA 2012

February 2012 BayLUG Meeting

Published / by Bill

Last Saturday was the February 2012 meeting of BayLUG (Bay Area LEGO Users Group) at the Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto.

I wasn’t able to stay for the whole meeting, but I did bring a couple of things I’d been working on – a gas station and the head of Kermit the Frog. I entered the latter in our contest, whose theme was “Movies,” and won the adult category! There were lots of members with minifigs, parts, and sets for sale, and a few people bringing their latest projects. For the kids, there was an activity where they could build things to make up a town layout. And of course our vendor Angel was there with his bulk LEGO which was as popular as always.

You can see photos of the meeting on my Flickr account.

BayLUG January 2012 Meeting @ Dave Porter’s

Published / by Bill

Every January for the past several years, BayLUG has had a meeting at the lovely home of member Dave Porter who has a huge personal layout on display. People bring their latest creations to show, and stuff to sell, and we have our annual first meeting of the year. This year we had elections for new club officers. Click the image for the full set of photos, or view them as a slideshow

I brought my 14 Friends sets that I had built for the “Fortnight of Friends” series to display, and people of all ages really enjoyed looking at the new parts and colors in the sets. The animals were particularly popular among the kids … in fact one of the little girls who apparently had not yet learned the meaning of private property had wandered off with the bunny, both kittens, and the hedgehog! When I noticed they were missing I started asking around and finally this little girl was answering very cagily that she thought she had seen them somewhere in Dave’s layout upstairs… I left the room along with her parents and a few minutes later she came back, having “found” them. It was all rather cute once I had resolved the mystery. But my stuff had been handled so much I felt no choice but to wash all the parts when I got them home. They’re drying as I write this, and I look forward to finding uses for all the new parts and colors…

By the way I have a huge backlog of parts to sort. Anyone want to come over and help me work through it?

Wrapping up the Living LEGO-cy Show

Published / by Bill

The last day of BayLUG‘s annual “Living LEGO-cy” show and teardown took place on Sunday, January 15th. My pictures are available online. This is an event we do every year at the Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto, CA, as a fundraiser for the club and for the museum. This year we had excellent attendance, with a peak of 841 people coming through on the 30th, which was the most people we’ve had in one day since we started keeping track (and charging $2 admission).

Here’s a group photo of club members taken during teardown. Click the photo to see the rest of the images, or view them as a slideshow.

Group Photo

Our next event is the Train Collectors Association Cal-Stewart Spring convention, open to the public on Sunday March 4th, from 10:00am-2pm. It’s a toy train show and one of our favorite events of the year. Two weeks after that is the Bricks by the Bay 2012 convention – the convention runs Friday through Sunday, March 16-18, and is open to the public on Sunday the 18th.

Nice article about BayLUG museum show

Published / by Bill

A local newspaper has a great story on their Web site about the BayLUG/BayLTC exhibit at the Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto. The article comes with a gallery of photos and videos, and I’m pleased to report that three of the four videos show my models (City Park, Caltrain, and Scrambler). [Aside: I just noticed that the pages for those last two are out of date, and I never blogged about the Caltrain cars I’ve built… sorry I will update that soon.]

There are only three days left in the show: Fri-Sun, January 13-15. If you haven’t made it out there yet, best do so soon!

Maker Faire 2011

Published / by Bill

My local LEGO club, the Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group, has been displaying at Maker Faire every year since it started in 2005. Maker Faire is an amazing event, full of all kinds of creativity, from knitting to robots to welding to music. A lot of the art cars and artistic displays that Burning Man is famous for can be seen at Maker Faire in a much more pleasant climate. Regardless of your hobby, it’s a hobbyist’s paradise. And if you’re ever looking for a new hobby, it’s the perfect place to find one.

We had just over 20 club members participating to some degree, at various points during the setup and event. We set up the tables and displays Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and opened to the public at 10am Saturday. I have no idea how many thousands of people came through, but the crowds were nonstop all weekend. The show wrapped up at 6pm last night and we quickly tore down and packed up the display.

We had a 40′ by 50′ space set aside for our club to use, and we divided that up into four distinct areas.

In one corner we had a train/town layout, which is where I spent most of my time. We had a downtown area with buildings, cars, trucks, etc. I had two blocks, one featuring my Blackburn Hotel and other buildings, and the other with my City Park. We also had a suburb full of houses and smaller businesses, and a train yard for storing the trains that weren’t running. Inspired by the Log Cabin set, we had a little campground area featuring two of those cabins and one large one that I made out of three of that set. I also parked my RVs in that area, and we had a lake with an island full of bison/buffalo in the middle for reasons I don’t really understand, but they were cool buffalo. I called them the water buffalo. There was a large open space on the layout which we filled with creations built by kids in our MOC building area (see below).

Besides the town/train layout, we had a row of tables along one side with all sorts of other creations by our club members, including some of my sculpture pieces, Marcello’s Japanese Navy WWII ships, Charles’s spaceships, some Technic creations by Jeremy, and some of my assorted models including the big yacht and some of my 7-wide cars.

The other two corners of our space were devoted to a MOC building area and a Mindstorms demo area. In the MOC building area, we had bulk LEGO parts dumped out on the floor and kids of all ages were invited to build whatever they liked out of the parts. We displayed the parts on the train layout so that the kids could contribute to our display. The Mindstorms area featured live demonstrations of robots of various types run by Eva and Steve, who worked tirelessly all weekend showing the robots off to the public and teaching them about LEGO robots.

To see what it all looked like, click the photo below or click here for a slideshow of all the pictures.

Maker Faire 2011