Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I may get around to writing a "journal" of sorts about BrickFair (I attended quite a few seminars and games there that won't get too much attention elsewhere), but for now I'm just posting general commentary over at LMOTD.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


At long last, I'm finally writing about the lamp. My lamp has been around for nearly a decade now, but since the largest event it's ever appeared at is LEGOPalooza at UNC Chapel Hill, not many people know about it. Everyone who has seen it expresses interest, though, and I keep saying one of these days, I'll write about it. That day is today. Sure, I wish I had better photos (these were taken before I bought myself a proper duster), but at least we're here now...

Overview shot

This is a sculpture with a socket cord in it lamp made out of LEGO. Back when electronics casing hadn't become such a popular thing to build out of LEGO, I came across a socket cord at a hardware store and thought this would be a good opportunity to try my hand at building non-LEGO electrical matter into some sort of LEGO sculpture. Surprisingly, I'm yet to hear about anyone else building one of these, even though it is relatively simple to do.

I have built and re-built this a few times now, and I hope to post reasonably good instructions at some point in the future (sadly, the twisty red part isn't easy to toss into a CAD program to make instructions). You can get the gist of how this is constructed from the photos below. Sadly, none of these were taken with the intended clip-on shade, but I don't think it looks that bad with this lampshade either.

Personally, I don't think this should count as "cheating" - the cord, bulb, and shade are the only non-LEGO parts. This is otherwise completely purist - something that you can't do if you just build around a commercially available build-your-own-lamp kit. Socket cords are available at most hardware stores should you want to try this yourself.

On to the "detail" shots!

Here is the base of the lamp. Note how DUPLO bricks were used to create a sturdy base without using that many parts. A gap the size of one 1x1 LEGO brick was appropriate to get the cord out safely.

This is the top of the lamp. The cord was snaked through the entire construction, but the socket itself requires some extra support - which this little ledge you can see provides.

Here's the top section. When I built this, I was into showing off techniques. I don't think the design suffered for it. This is another fairly straightforward trick - just angle the bricks a little bit. You do have to make sure you get the right height in there - believe it or not, you can often get parts to "stick" in there when the connection is not really sturdy enough to stay. I put 8 bricks in between the two red 2x4s, but if I wanted to squeeze 9 or 10 in there and let things twist, I could have gotten away with it.

Look! It's my ball! Complete building instructions are available to download. This, by the way, is one of the reasons I decided to make my ball in sections that allow the "core" to be popped out.

That about sums it up. Any questions?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Things to Build out of LEGO Parts

I recently came across this post that I started writing last March, and I thought I would go ahead and share it today. I should probably make a longer and more complete list, but this is interesting enough on its own.

It's been a while since I've made one of these lists and I'm finding that inspiration has struck me repeatedly and violently tonight. I've toyed around with the idea of doing some sort of CAD-related contest for some of these to gather up ideas on how I want mine to look (but never actually figured out how I'd make that work).

  • Oil rig (the tall tower kind - I never did get to it)

  • Large hospital (possibly based on the 1987 Emergency Treatment Center kit, but with more realistic scale)

  • Aquarium (1x4x3 trans-light-blue panels to separate visitors from underwater vignettes)

  • Soda Shoppe (already started even though I really don't have time - never mind the tiles for a proper checked floor, or the correct minifigs for soda jerks...)

  • suburban restaurant (buffet?) with enclosed patio (or two)

  • suburban American houses in colors that a homeowner's association would actually allow (for inspiration, use Street View for this subdivision in Apex, NC) - bought specially-colored parts from Cary for this, but will probably have to be clever for roofing

  • suburban American landscaping (there is no such thing as a cul-de-sac roadplate piece)

  • Parking lot or parking garage (where the heck do people park when they go to the Cafe Corner?) - side thought - parking spaces on road plates?

  • Large urban bank

  • Town Plan buildings upsized to Cafe Corner scale (restyled?)

  • Great Ball Contraption town - factory buildings dump balls onto motorized cars/trucks/train, train/cars unload balls themselves back into other factory buildings, chutes and machinery maneuver balls withing factory buildings.

  • Jewelry store (to use the "Diamonds" brick from a Spiderman set)

  • Girly clothing store (for realistic variety and cool sideways use of DUPLO roof piece)

  • A few buildings that minifigs walk around (done using hockey sports pieces)

  • Cathedral (in bley)

I've been a bit inspired by the thought of building some Americana lately. All these plans are for naught, though, because my big bag 'o' minifigs is MIA. Perhaps it's time for me to build miniland-scale instead (but where to start?)

Quick Update

As you may have noticed, I've posted jack here lately. We're still recovering from the water damage, and I'm still working on wrapping up some long-term projects (I suspect that most people who care enough about me personally to read this know of a few things that I haven't finished to put up here yet).

I can now follow up on this post from last year and two posts from this past weekend with the announcement that I will be attending BrickFair this year.

This blog remains a bit ignored - note the hideous default layout - but frankly I've been two busy to prioritize it. We're trying to push for LMOTD being actually updated every day right now. Keep watching that site for now (especially if you're here as a LEGO fan) - I don't anticipate posting much more here for the immediate time being. I'm also continuing to work on the NCLUG website, which also has some pretty substantial work to be done ASAP (we now have TWO Window-In-The-Community displays, but no proper webpage discussing them) and I've had to make some pretty sudden changes there. This blog, while reasonably good for a things-I'm-working-on update, isn't too exciting for LEGO content and I was really surprised when I saw some posts from here syndicated on there. After learning more about the WordPress software, I wound up changing it to grab BrickJournal posts (Joe Meno's also in that group) and not include posts from here or LMOTD.

While I have registered for BrickFair, I have not yet registered any MOCs for BrickFair. I'm open to suggestions if anyone would like to request a MOC of mine that they have seen in the past (I can't fulfill all requests due to the amount packed away right now, but some can be done).

Additionally, Matthew and I are working on some surprises for BrickFair. Nothing too crazy, since we didn't start preparing soon enough to sponsor a LMOTD-backed doorprize or goodie-bag giveaway, but there may be something put together. I won't announce what we've looked into, but I am really hoping we'll have something ready to announce in the next few days.

Finally, I can provide free delivery to the convention of any order placed in my BrickLink store before Wednesday, August 19th., there's the update. Bland, behind-the-scenes, and not too exciting. At least it puts something slightly less personal and dramatic up here for the people reading this blog for the first time.