Miscellaneous

Lego Build Day 5

11-09-09_0932Slowness of work and lack of motivation to find it (no doubt caused by my cold) meant that mid-afternoon today I gave up staring at my computer and went and got productive with the Lego instead.  I say "productive", some might argue that building a Lego car doesn't quite count as there is no ultimate gain at the end of it, other than a little self-back-patting.  Nonetheless, my aching back and legs are testament to the hours I spent sat on the floor today.  That and the visible progress I've made (photos coming tomorrow now added).11-09-09_0935With the basic chassis pretty much sorted I started work on the body, taking some inspiration from a Ford Mustang but generally doing what I could with the pieces I have to make something vaguely resembling a muscle car.  First came the front bumper, which incorporated some cool headlights.  Photos don't do justice to just how cool they look, especially in the dark.  I'm going for a red body, with a white stripe down the middle.  Making convincing curves with Lego has always been a challenge, and the result is usually a somewhat angular version of the intended curves.  Basically, use your imagination and you'll see a pretty car underneath.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Miscellaneous

Lego Build Day 4

10-09-09_1008It's day 4 of the build, and that can mean only one thing - starting off by taking it all apart again.  Yes, I decided that the front subframe just will not do.  So, in an effort to make the front end more realistic I decided to move the engine so that it was on top of the wheels rather than behind them.  That meant redesigning the suspension assembly again to make it wider so that the engine could sit inside.  It was a bit tedious, to be honest, but it was worth it once it was done as it looks so much better now, and hopefully it'll be stronger too once I get the arms braced from the front side of the subframe.The front subframe also now has a diagonal strut on each side, further strengthening it, which is no bad thing given that's where a lot of the force is going to be taken, right over the wheels.  I've also widened the front subframe to give me more space between the steering shaft and the drive shaft, which has allowed for a far more compact yet satisfactory connection between engine and drive shaft.  It now runs smoothly and efficiently with only the most essential cogs in between (I want to retain a high cog ratio so that the engine spins fast even when the car is moving slowly).  Oh, and the front subframe has been significantly shortened, too.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Miscellaneous

Lego Build Day 3

08-09-09_2009Perfectionist that I am, pretty much the entire car has been rebuilt this evening, apart from the engine.  Not satisfied with the imprecise and uncontrollable steering, I completely rebuilt the whole assembly from scratch using my own custom design.  The system I'd used yesterday was taken from an official Lego model, and used their official steering pieces, but the problem lay in their axle; because the ball joint was only one stud's width away from the pivot point it meant that the mechanism accentuated any give in the gearing rather than compensating for it.  So I rebuilt it using 'conventional' Lego pieces to give me a ball joint 2 studs away from the pivot point.  It took some fiddling around to get it all lined up properly and get the suspension strut sitting nicely, and then some more fiddling to get it to attach to the front subframe, but we're finally there - I have a front suspension/steering assembly that I'm happy with!08-09-09_2107Next on my list of things to sort out was the rear axle, which just looked plain ugly.  It would do the job, and would probably be mostly hidden by the bodywork once that was figured out, but I just didn't like the way it looked or the way it worked - it just wasn't realistic in any way shape or form.  So that was stripped out too.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Miscellaneous

Lego Build Day 2

08-09-09_1743Following the progress made on Saturday, and a good night's sleep or two to think about it, I sat down and did some more building this evening.  Rather than trying to connect the front axle directly to the engine block and then connect that to the rest of the car, I realised it would be far stronger to build a solid front subframe and place the other components into it.  The engine is therefore now situated behind the front axle rather than almost on top of it, which if nothing else will make the profile a little more streamlined.  With that sorted out it's actually starting to come together!I've made a start on the rear of the car too, building the rear axle.  Rather than tackling the complexities of independent driven suspension at the rear I've gone for a live axle with movement in only one direction.  It makes it a lot simpler, though considerably less realistic - movement on one side of the car will affect the other side just as much, which isn't ideal.  Still, at least it works.  08-09-09_1744There's a differential in there too, and the drive shaft has been connected to the engine at the front of the car.  I wanted to have the engine spinning at a good speed when the car is moving, so I've geared it all up accordingly.  Unfortunately that does mean that there's a fair amount of resistance, but I may be able to live with that.  It may be that I'll be able to connect in an electric motor later on to drive the engine directly and have it drive the car at a manageable speed.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Miscellaneous

Lego Build Day 1

Yes, I've got the Lego out again.  Unlike last time I have work to do during the day, so my building is restricted to free evenings, so progress is a little slower.  Still, nothing like a good challenge.  The project this time round is a vehicle of some sort, probably a sports car or similar.  The reason for the uncertainty is that the main goal is to experiment with a combination of suspension and an active drivetrain.  I experimented a while back with ways of getting a 4x4 drive system in place, but that proved too complicated given the bricks I have, so this time I'm going for the front wheels doing the steering and the rear wheels being connected to the engine, and with all four wheels having some form of suspension, albeit limited travel.Today I started work on the front of the car, trying to get a setup capable of steering and suspension in a small space (I want to leave space for the engine in the front too).  In the end I stole an idea from another model, and used the front suspension and steering system almost straight out of the instruction booklet.  The next problem was working out how to connect that solidly to a subframe and not have it get in the way of the drivetrain.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Miscellaneous

Never trust a penguin

Just look at its beady, shifty eyes.  What secrets does it hide?  What is it plotting?  I daren’t turn my back on it, just in case. This is no irrational fear.  We have a penguin in the bathroom, who tries to charge me rent.  Honest.  Penguins cannot be trusted, I Read more…

By Matthew, ago
Miscellaneous

Lego Tumbler mk2 progress

I have been making slow but promising progress on my second attempt Lego Tumbler.  Whereas last time I was able to spent all day every day for a week working on the model, at the moment I only have evenings available to me, so it's a little slower in coming together.  That said, the progress this evening has been really encouraging and it's already looking better than the previous version.I have also been taking plenty of photos, partly for my own reference and geekiness, and partly because I got a lot of comments on YouTube of people asking me how it all worked, and since I've not seen anyone else do anything like this on anywhere near the same level of technical accuracy I felt it might be useful to someone!  I'll try to include some photos in this post, but I'll be putting them up on a central gallery too, so take a look there if you're interested. (more…)

By Matthew, ago
Miscellaneous

Lego Tumbler

When Christopher Nolan decided to shoot a new Batman film in 2005, one of the most iconic components of the design was the Batmobile.  Over the years it's been seen in all sorts of guises, and by today's standards most have been cheesy and unbelievable.  The 'Tumbler' was different, having a back-story of its own, and was quite simply awesome.  Of course, it came with its own technical difficulties to overcome, most notably at the front wheels.  With no conventional axle to hold the wheels in place and provide steering, everything had to be reversed and miniaturised, whilst keeping it rugged enough to stand up to the rough treatment of jumping over things.  By all accounts the Tumbler was a fantastic machine, both in looks and performance.Tumbler completeOne might think, then, that such technical achievements would not be possible on a smaller scale.  Think again.  Having reclaimed my Lego a couple of weekends ago, I set about creating my own Tumbler.  I had seen on another web site that other people had had the same idea, creating some stunning reconstructions of the iconic vehicle.  But almost all had static front wheels, providing no steering, and only a few sported suspension.  True, it's no easy task, and it took a lot of thinking and experimenting to get it right.  But I did it, and I am pleased to reveal images of my very own working model of the Tumbler, completely constructed of Lego.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Life

In absence of a publisher…

I am not a novelist.  There are times when I think it would be nice, but there are several problems that hold me back.  Firstly, plot has never been my strong point; I can do description and emotion and action, but making it interesting in the plot department has always been something I've struggled with.  That leads on to my next problem - I rarely manage to finish anything.  I have any number of potential novels in the early stages of development, all with plenty of promise and even some clever and funny lines, but so far nothing that has come anywhere near a conclusion.  Until now.(more…)

By Matthew, ago
Life

Extraneous bumf

Today I decided to start sorting out some of my junk in preparation for moving house.  Over the past few years I have steadily acquired various odds and ends and failed to get rid of very much, and as a result I have a plethora of either obsolete or unnecessary possessions.  Now, it's worth pointing out that I am not a compulsive hoarder, but at the same time I don't like getting rid of things that I might potentially find useful at a later date.  However, with storage space at our new house being decidedly on the diminutive side, I decided that now would be an ideal opportunity to scale back on the excess baggage.  Here, then, is a list of what I'm getting rid of - if there is anything here that you think might sit happily on your desk or in your cupboard or whatever, let me know.(more…)

By Matthew, ago