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 🙂
Finally I took the time to show the moving results of the second project from the book I talked about in this blog post. It is called the Whirly Turtle and needs just one motor to make the most creative drawings.
This is a lap around the contraption:
And this is me steering it manually by using the keyboard:
Finally two attempts of a preprogrammed drawing route, both ending in a dramatic drop off my desk 🙂
As you may have noticed, the motor used in my first model (see Part II) is an Electric Technic Motor 4.5V (#6216) like this one:
I still had the one I got as a Christmas present from my parents back in the late 70s in a beautiful box like this one and I used it a lot in the years to come.
To be able to make some of the models in the book (see Part I) I needed two more of those motors and fortunately I could buy them last week from a LEGO fan that collects and sells mainly sets from the 70s and 80s era. And he gave me 4 electric plugs (#766c01) for free, thanks Marcel!
I need to break off that little plastic pin in the middle in order to make the plugs fit into my own motor and battery box that do not have a hole to accommodate for that pin.
Ok, in the meantime I have received the Vic Rel cartridge (see Part I).
Then I bought a working Commodore 64C (the newer model of the C64, which was released in 1986 and looked a little bit like the Commodore 128). Back in the 80s I owned the original C64 (the so-called breadbox model), so now I wanted the new model for a change 🙂
My Commodore 64 is the same model, but does not look as nice as the one in this picture.
The Vic Rel cartridge placed in the user port of my Commodore 64.
By default all red lights are turned on when the computer is turned on.
I already built the first LEGO Technic model from the book Make And Program Your Own Robots For the Commodore 64 and Vic 20 (see also Part I) that made me start this little project in the first place… but I could not really test it until I received my Commodore 64. I typed in the Basic code also provided by this splendid book, looking like this:
And then the following happened:
So it all worked great..! This first robot model from the book is called Walking Android
. If you watch really good you can see the leftmost light on the Vic Rel cartridge turning red as soon as the contraption starts walking after the first keypress. The light is turned off as soon as a key is pressed again causing the robot to stop walking.
Being a teenager back in the 80s my home computer of choice was the Commodore 64. It stayed in my old room at my parents house long after I moved to my own place. I sold it over a decade ago when I got my parents to learn how to use a PC with an Internet connection and they needed a place to put these new devices. I saw no further use for it because I could emulate the C64 for free on my PC using e.g. CCS64, Hoxs64 or the Commodore 64 Emulator (written in WPF and Silverlight that also ran on a Windows Phone 7). I even bought a Competition Pro USB joystick to get that same micro switch game feeling of the mid 80s while playing those emulated games on a modern PC…
Recently I stumbled upon a forum post entitled Make And Program Your Own Robots (1985 Lego!). The book mentioned there is basically about creating LEGO Technic models and operating them using LEGO 4.5 volt motors controlled by a CBM 64. This is made possible using a relay controller called the VIC REL, created in 1983 by Handic Software AB. This hardware interface needs to be put physically into the so-called user port of your Commodore 64. So now I am regretting ever selling this beautiful device 😦
Due to sentimental reasons I searched for this book (ISBN 10: 0099426609, ISBN 13: 9780099426608) and bought a copy via Amazon in the UK. And although it was published in 1985 it looks as if no one ever really opened the copy I received. Here is a picture of the cover:
There is also a version of this book “… For the Sinclair Spectrum”
At first just for giggles I started looking for such a Vic Rel relay cartridge… but you guessed it… I finally ordered this one via eBay, sold by a user called freeweb. So now I am waiting for its arrival. To be continued…