Last weekend (September 9 and 10, 2017) for the first time in my hometown Apeldoorn “Het Festijn met Bouwsteentjes”, loosely translated “The Party with Building Blocks” was organized at the Americahal. As a member of De Bouwsteen, a LEGO user group in the Netherlands, I volunteered during construction day to position tables and wooden plates inside the exhibition hall and to fix/finish some LEGO models that were broken during transport.
A nice side effect of helping out in your municipality is meeting other LEGO fans that might be living in your own neighbourhood or even street without them knowing you or each other. During the actual event I visited several times as a guest, showing big and small friends around the many LEGO displays and shops.
One of the showpieces was Paleis Soestdijk, a former palace of the Dutch Royal Family. It was commissioned by LEGO and built by members of De Bouwsteen in 7 months, taking 900 hours using 60,000 bricks! Here is a picture of the finished model, which consists of three parts that needed to be transported by lorry.
Another magnificent model that was on live display for the first time was Anatomini. This anatomically correct skeleton that fits inside an upscaled hollow minifigure has been created by Stephan Niks. He was one of the other volunteers I met during the event. He is an engineer and visualisation artist of (air)ports by profession with a keen interest in science and engineering. He told me he designed this model using LEGO Digital Designer. Please vote for this stunning model on LEGO IDEAS in order to increase the chances of having Anatomini turned into a genuine LEGO set. Also check out its beloning updates page for more pictures and a VR video..!
Here are two pictures I took of the display of Anatomini. One on Friday without the actual LEGO model, the second one with this great model live on stage..!
For my Second World War interested nephew I bought this German soldier with parachute and other gear from the BRiCKiZiMO Toys stand.
A scan of a local newspaper article (in Dutch) about this event can be found here.
The “Expert Builder Idea Book” with set number 8888 (published in 1980) – available as pdf, and via a lot of places as separate images, too – was a real eyeopener for me as a kid in the early 1980s. Its cover might ring a bell:
I have built the Excavator, the Car Chassis and the Yellow Jeep. But the most awesome model was the punch card-like Programmable Crane, as shown below:
Of course the model itself would not win in a beauty contest, but the mechanism of programming a device using gear racks blew my young mind. I have created several variations of this punch card principle back then. I think this model was one of the reasons for me to start saving money to buy my own home computer and to choose an education, and later on a profession, in the software development field..!
Who Let The Dogs Out
But there is one other model in the book I particularly like, and that is the Mechanical Dog. I will show all instruction pages here, because there are only 4, of which 2 contain the actual building steps:
I was able to build only one dog in the 1980s but now I have created all three! They walk a bit slowly in the next video.
But when I changed the gears on the legs of one dog from 8 and 40 teeth to 24 and 24 teeth that one outruns the others..!
For his 11th birthday I bought my WW2-interested nephew (the same one I got the soldiers and assembled the ambulance for) the #60144 Race Place as seen below:
Then I used my own dark tanned, dark and light bluish gray and black LEGO bricks to change it into a war plane for him. And I created and added some matching stickers. The result is shown here:
Finally I ordered this Panzer Crew Driver with helmet and goggles – now acting as a pilot – from BRiCKiZiMO to complete the scenery…
Last December, while visiting Mini Billund, a privately owned must see little LEGO museum (plus shop) in Wagenberg, the Netherlands, I took a picture of the following LEGO set of a typical Danish church in one of the many glass cases:
On the Brickset Forum I found the following data about this set. It was made from 1957 until 1962. Its set number is 1309 in Scandinavia and was sold starting 1958 in continental Europe using set number 309.
In those days the bricks where nicely displayed in their box as shown here:
The actual building of such a model was a more challenging task, though. That is because this set did not have separate building instructions. The pictures on the box were the only help you got. So the picture on the cover plus the one shown below were supposed to be enough. I guess you needed a lot of counting and guessing back then…
Fortunately, I found a very useful .lxf file on this page. I saved a backup here. It can e.g. be opened using LEGO Digital Designer but can also be imported by Stud.io (which by the way has very nice BrickLink integration). The next image shows the model after importing it in Stud.io, and after I removed two 1 x 2 white bricks to be replaced by windows. I removed those bricks because I finally found one image that showed the church from the back.
Inspired and helped by the aforementioned digital drawing I have recreated this 60-year-old model using my own white and red LEGO bricks. But it took a while to pick the not so much discolored white pieces from my collection. The only parts I had to order via BrickLink were all the windows. Some pictures of the final result are shown here (click on image to enlarge):
During the Christmas season I found the time to create another project from the book published in 1985 entitled “Make And Program Your Own Robots for the Commodore 64 and VIC-20” I started blogging about here.
I skipped the project called “Card Reader”, some kind of punch(ed) card reader able to translate holes punched in a piece of cardboard into binary code. Maybe I will try that some other time.
This time I created the Mini Arm project. It requires two 4.5V motors and some pretty intricate wiring. I made a copy of the page and used different color felt tip pens to make the schema more readable, as shown below.
This time two homemade switches were needed, again constructed using a paperclip, some tinfoil and a small rubber band, as seen in Part V.
The Commodore 64 BASIC program belonging to this project has a “Teach Moves” mode and a “Repeat Moves” mode. While in Teach Mode the keys 1 and Q make the arm turn and keys 2 and W make it go up and down. At the end of each move press key S to save that particular move.
Below are some videos of the working arm. We start with an overview and end with some LEGO brick lifting.
Today the last bricks arrived (ordered via BrickLink) enabling me to finish building the Lego WWII German Opel Blitz Ambulance found on Brian (Fitzsimmons)’s Bricks Instructions YouTube channel. It will be a gift for my nephew, who specifically asked me if I would create this model for him. He is the same nephew for which I ordered the Axis and Allies Soldiers from BRiCKiZiMO. Below are some pictures of the finished model:
I also ordered this wounded soldier for him to act as a passenger inside the ambulance:
Thanks to the people of the great and inspiring company Xpirit I finally have my very own copy of the limited edition Microsoft Azure minifig. I placed it between the famous geek with his laptop and C:\ prompt mug and the gamer wearing headphones and a USB key hanging on his belt. So thanks to René, Alex and Rasmus Hald for bringing, transporting and handing over this LEGO gem.
Today I went to a very interesting so-called Global Azure Bootcamp about Azure Service Fabric hosted by the great and inspiring company Xpirit.
One of its bright employees showed me this awesome promotional minifig:
It reminded me of the fact that some LEGO employees have minifigs as their official business card, like these:
And those business cards did inspire me a couple of times in the past to create some kind of promotional gift, award for special achievements or birthday treats, in chronological order:
In 2008 (for my 37th birthday) I created 50(!) minifigs holding some tool, wearing different hats or having some hairdo, to hand out as a treat to each of my colleagues. It costed a bit, but at least they last longer than a tradional piece of birthday cake 🙂
For this action I printed, cut out and pasted 100 company logos (front and back). This is part of the sticker print sheet I created for that purpose:
In 2012 (for my 41st birthday) I created over 20 minifigs for all my birthday guests to take home after an afternoon of free gaming at the Bonami SpelComputer Museum.
As a thank you gift for the very nice owners/hosts of this great retro/video/computer/game museum, Naomi and John, I created these two figurines, which pretty much resemble them:
As a Christmas gift for 2012 I created these little promotional figures for the startup company Jooroon for which I had developed a software proof-of-concept involving a smartphone app that same year.
In 2013 I created this minifig as a special achievement award during a very prestigious training bootcamp for newly hired Microsoft employees. The guy concerned earned his MCSD: Web Applications certification during these training weeks and said jokingly every time he took one of the exams: “I’ll have these MCSD exams for breakfast”. That’s why I gave the figurine a butcher’s knife and a T-bone steak. He loved it. He came from Denmark and had even done an internship at the LEGO company…
My sister-in-law made these 30 awesome cardboard LEGO lunch boxes for my nephew’s 10th birthday celebration at school. Inside the boxes will be an apple turnover and a mini candybar. It was a lot of work, but hey, it is a jubilee year, she told me.
The saga continues with this third contraption of the book I started writing about here. This project is called Lift Operator and it is the first structure in the book using a homemade switch constructed with a paperclip, a small elastic belt and some tinfoil, as shown here:
The placement of this homemade switch in the top of the elevator shaft is shown here:
The cogwheel contains four pins causing the paperclip part of the switch to touch the tinfoil wrapped other pin thus making contact. The elastic belt makes sure the contact is broken again in between. These signals are then used by the program to measure how far the elevator car has travelled. In the next video you see the switch opening and closing and the green light on the Vic Rel cartridge flashing accordingly. The program taking care of this all contains only 12 lines of code. They sure knew how to write concise code back in the days 🙂