Micro Moonbase Monorail

At long last, here is the blog entry about my micro moonbase monorail.Micro Moonbase Monorail Last January, I got together with other members of BayLUG to install a “microscale space” display at the Valley Fair Mall LEGO store. I posted pictures and a description of that on my blog back then, but I always meant to post details about my model that was featured in the display. So here they are, eight months later – sorry!

Here we see two buildings connected by a monorail. At the right is a sort of office building which has an opening for the monorail to enter the building, inspired by the way they do at Disneyland (or is it WDW) where the monorail goes into the hotel (or at least, I think it did when I was a kid – does it still?). At the other end is a standalone station with a micro moonbase connection. In both cases, the monorail fits into the building closely enough that you can imagine it is an airtight connection (something that matters a lot on an airless moon…).

For the track I am using the straight 16-stud long track of the type originally produced for the 4.5V and 12V trains from long ago, but which has lately been available at the LEGO store Pick-A-Brick (in New Grey, natch). I designed a monorail car that fits nicely on the track. The only problem with the design is it would never be able to take any turns, so it’s a good thing I only have straight track of that type! :-)

Click the photo above to see more, or click to look on Flickr (slideshow) or on Brickshelf (pending moderation).

Scarlet Mayhem

Studless, smooth, and sleek, this racer, known as “Scarlet Mayhem,” was the winner of the first annual Earth to Mars race, which tests a ship’s performance in atmosphere, interplanetary, and reentry situations. Scarlet MayhemThe two-man crew take turns flying the craft, similar to the Le Mans car race. Detailed photos are available on Flickr.

The scoops on the tops of the wings provide air for the engines when running inside the atmosphere in scramjet mode. It has a lot of SNOT details – the bottom of the fuselage is mounted studs-down, and covered in tiles and slopes so that no studs or undersides of bricks are showing. The wings are studs-out, made of bricks, and the only conventional part of the ship is the wingtips which do show their undersides. Because of the studs-down bottom, there are no studs inside on the floor for the minifigs to sit on (to add a studs-up floor would require the roof to be higher, ruining the lines, or removing too much interior space for the minifigs). As a result, the minifigs are sitting on 2×4 plate “sleds” which slide into the ship and sit loosely. The cockpit canopy is hinged on the sides.

This model was built mainly using parts from the Enzo Ferrari 1:17 set, borrowing parts from Prehistoric Power and Speedboat sets. Why such a limited source of parts? I’m on vacation in the east coast away from my LEGO collection, but I bought the above sets at the LEGO store during BrickFest 2006.

It’s a little strange to be building LEGO away from home, and with an unfamiliar and reduced palette. Still, I got a lot of great new parts which I look forward to combining with my collection at home when I return.

Update: I have also posted pictures of this model on Brickshelf.
Update: I also posted about this on Lugnet and Classic-Space.com.[tags]lego,space,snot[/tags]

LEGO embraces Moonbase

The LEGO company has set a challenge to their own designers – create a moonbase module and present it at Brickfest!

I think this is the first time that LEGO has embraced a fan-created system like this. It’s great news for the relationship between adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs) and the LEGO company.

You can vote for your favorite of the designs presented. Here are the candidates; click the images to see more pictures:

1. The Loony Luna Knight

2. Command and Defence

3. Squidman Module

4. Space Hungry Hippos

5. Ice Planet Dome

Personally I voted for the Hungry Hippos. Remember that game from when we were kids in the 70’s? See the video if you’re not convinced just how cool this LEGO model is![tags]lego,moonbase,space,contest,brickfest[/tags]

BayLUG Space Meeting June 18, 2006

On June 18, the Space contingent of the Bay Area LEGO Users Group had its first Space-only meeting.

We met on a Sunday evening at the Round Table Pizza parlor in Mountain View. They have a nice back room that you can reserve for free if you call ahead, which we’ve used for various members-only events in the past. Besides bringing our latest Space models to show off, we also had a contest and a parts draft.

My winning 'top greeble' contest entry
My winning “top greeble” contest entry

The contest was for “best greeble” and there were two categories: top greeble and bottom greeble. But what is a greeble? When they were building the models for use in the Star Wars movies, the modelers used the term “greeble” for the little bits of detail used to break up the otherwise smooth skin of the spacecraft. Read more about it on Wikipedia. Members brought examples of greebles on both the top and the bottom of their models (or looking another way, studs-up vs. studs-down). I won in the “top greeble” category!

Parts laid out for drafting
Parts laid out for drafting

The parts draft was an opportunity for us to leverage our buying power to get large numbers of interesting parts. A parts draft is where each person brings a particular LEGO set and then we sort the contents of the boxes into piles, and take turns drawing from the piles. We used Set 4881 “Robo Platoon” since it could be obtained for $5 at the local LEGO store (it sold out before the meeting was held though, so some members couldn’t get a copy), and had a lot of great parts. We limited it to 2 copies of the set per person, to keep things fair. We sorted the parts out into baggies and literally drew straws – Pizza Hut drinking straws cut to various lengths – to determine the order for selecting. Even though everyone got at least one unwanted bag (toward the end the choices were pretty limited), I think everyone was happy with what they got for their $5 (or $10 for those who brought two boxes).

The meeting date for our next Space meeting hasn’t been set yet, but it will probably be later in the summer. We did select a contest theme though – build a spaceship without using any grey (light grey or dark, old or new).[tags]lego,space,baylug,meeting,partsdraft,greeble,greebles,contest[/tags]

BayLUG Display at Valley Fair Mall

On Sunday, May 28, we (Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group) installed our first-ever display at the LEGO Store in the Valley Fair Mall, Santa Clara, CA. BayLUG Display at Valley Fair Mall Our display, changed out about once a month, was previously at the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton (such as the Microscale San Francisco in January and the Aquarium in February), but that LEGO store was closed in May and we were given permission to have our display in Santa Clara instead.

The theme for this display was “micro-scale space.” Several of the contest entries at the meeting on Saturday are featured along with a few others that were built just for this display. Participating members include Russell, Bruce, Charles, Adrienne, Jim, Justin, and myself.

We used several methods of displaying the flying models: some are taped to the back wall, some hang from strings attached to magnets, which are stuck to the underside of the shelf above, others hang from strings that are taped to said shelf, and still others are attached by wire which is wrapped around the shelf bracket above. Last time (the Aquarium) we used magnets and strings to suspend models and many of them fell down, but that was probably due to the construction in the shop next door. When this exhibit is over we’ll see which method(s) worked best.

My contribution to this display was the monorail you can see in the foreground, which commutes between an office building and a micro moonbase compatible station. The track continues off to the left out of the scene. When the display is over I’ll post an entry highlighting just that model, with photos showing how it was done, as I have done with entries from earlier store displays (TransAmerica Pyramid, Lombard Street, and Fish). I also provided the moon crater baseplates, which date back to the early 1980’s Classic Space LEGO era.

View all the pictures on Flickr or on Brickshelf (once moderated).[tags]lego,baylug,space,microscale,legostore[/tags]

BayLUG Meeting, May 27 2006

This past Saturday, BayLUG Meeting, May 27 2006 we had a Bay Area LEGO Users’ Group meeting at the Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto. The theme for the contest was “micro scale space” with two contests, one for micro moonbase models and another for micro scale spacecraft. The term “micro scale” refers to any model built to a model where instead of using LEGO minifigs, the size of a human is taken to be about the height of a LEGO brick, or smaller.[tags]lego,baylug,space,microscale[/tags]