Volvo FE Garbage Truck


My favorite vehicles to build are garbage trucks (Ok, maybe trial trucks). I enjoy the many functions that I can create. I enjoy the diversity of shapes, sizes and colors, and I enjoy how ubiquitous they are. But I have not built many. So it was time to fix that.

Volvo FE Refuse

I was originally going to do a large scale truck, but as my temporal limitations are becoming ever more apparent, I decided to do something smaller this time. The 13 stud wide truck is popular in the Technic community, so I decided to go with that. I very much enjoy the Volvo FE, so that was my truck. Since my last truck was one with three axles and Power Functions, this one would have two axles and be manually controlled.

Volvo FE Extraction

I searched high and low for garbage box that would work well: Gesink-Norba, Heil, McNeilius, EZ-Pak, Dennis-Eagle, Ros Roca. All required a compactor that would need a round base for the trash to collect. Curves are hard to do in LEGO. I had some trouble with refuse compaction cycle working well on the Axor due to the floor curve on the hopper. I wanted a compaction cycle that was more simple and more reliable. So I designed my own.

It’s dead simple.

There is a angled elevator in the hopper that goes straight up and down. The center gear on the outside of the hopper that moves the elevator. When refuse is placed on the elevator and lifted, the refuse will fall over an internal wall at the top of the cycle. The refuse falls into the compaction bin, until the rear hopper is opened. Bigger parts sometimes gets stuck on the cross axle.

Volvo FE Hopper

Inside the compaction bin, is an extraction plate. Turn the gear down near the front left wheel, and you drive a mLA to move the internal extraction plate. Everything works well for small LEGO refuse parts. I built the side of the compaction bin with slopes and tiles. After a number of panel attempts, this one seemed to be the best looking option. I very much enjoy the shape.

Volvo FE Compactor

Since I had a little more internal room, I added a driveline to the truck. A rear differential powers a small fake inline 2 cylinder engine under the cab. To check it out, the cab tilts forward. The steering axle serves as a friction connector so the cab does not open unless you intend it to tilt. The doors open, and the bodywork was designed to mirror the Volvo FE 2011 body style. I built a small red refuse bin to show off the functions of the truck.

This may be my favorite build of the year. All the functions work perfectly, and the model looks great. I think I could add a tilting bin function, and add another mLA to give more strength to the extraction plate, but other than that I am not sure I would change anything. I will keep this one built for a while.

Happy building.

 

Porsche 714


My Entry for the LEGO Rebrick Porsche Contest.

This year, it seems like everything about LEGO Technic is about Porsche. LEGO created a 911, and started a contest for creating your own Porsche. Porsche is all everyone is building and talking about.

714

So I made one too. The Rebrick team posted a contest to design your dream Porsche, and thinking of the words of Mr. Porsche, “I couldn’t find the car I dreamt of, so I decided to build one myself,” I set to work. My dream Porsche lives in the spirit of the 914 and the 924: A compact, lightweight, mass-market, rear-wheel-drive sports car. It has a long hood, short overhangs, and a roofline that alludes to Porsches of today and yesterday.

714 Rear

I had six weeks to design a car. In a week I had the front and rear axle, and the transmission. The transmission is a similar unit to the one I had in the ATS. Six speed manual, with a single point shift lever. It keeps the gear changes quick with short throws. The rear axle is an independent suspension design, with short upper swingarms, and long lower swingarms. This changes the camber of the wheels as they move through the suspension travel, to keep a consistent contact patch around a corner. The limited slip differential is mounted longitudinally behind the axle. The front suspension is also independent with short upper and long lower swingers. The are mounted to a steering uckle that gives both Ackerman and caster geometry.

714 WIP1

Because it was my dream car, I wanted a car that would be inexpensive, and teach me how to drive fast. A front engine, rear wheel drive is a less expensive car to design and build. Additionally, my car would have a Boxer 4 for lower cost, and an option for Boxer 6 for more performance. Since I can use some training to be a better fast driver, I though a roll cage would be necessary.

714 WIP2

The remaining five weeks were spent working on the bodywork and the interior, which always takes more time than you think. I fit the cabin in around all the mechanical bits, and was able to add a glovebox and a manually adjustable tilt steering wheel. The seats are simple, but match the car interior well. I wanted to keep a couple of features that were iconic in my mind with Porsche cars: Round headlights, a full width thin taillight, a curvaceous roof, hunches over the rear wheels, and a taller greenhouse. After many drafts, I was able to get a design I was pleased with.

The car turned out how I wanted, and I felt it was a good contribution to the contest. The front of the car did not turn out how I envisioned it in my mind. The rear did not look as clean as I wanted. Mechanically the car works great. The suspension works perfectly, and the steering works flawlessly without hitting the wheel fenders. The transmission is great, and the limited slip differential continues to do the trick.

After all this talk about Porsches, I’ll take some off and build something different.

Happy Building.

9393 Updates


Every once and a while, I find myself building an older set from my collection. I find it relaxing not to think about design and simply follow instructions. Recently, I built LEGO’s 2012 set 9393, and after a couple of days, I thought, it needs something else.

The full gallery may be found on Flickr and Brickshelf. Instructions may be found here.

9393 Harrow Furrow

The LEGO set was simple with steering, lime green color scheme, a mower implement, and a system to raise and lower the implement. I decided it needed a fake motor, front suspension, a drive differential, and some bigger front wheels. I started building. Adding the motor proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. By adding the larger front wheels, I was able to get the steering axle lower by one stud. This allowed space for the engine to be added, but did not solve the structural problem of how to mount the front suspension. I ended trying a number of solutions, but ended with one with many connectors, axles, and two liftarms running over the front axle beside the fake engine. I would prefer it to be a little more stiff, but it works. As I built the front of the tractor, I found myself adding an implement attachment point. I thought, maybe I should make another implement for the front.

9393 Engine

This is where the project grew, and grew….

Now, only the mower implement was not enough. The tractor needed a plow, counterweights, a furrow, a harrow, a tiller, and a grain cart. All of a sudden this project became much bigger. I started with the snow plow. It is a simple design with a little worm gear lift attachment. Using this type of mount, I constructed a simple furrow implement as well. The multiple wheels are meant to smash larger clumps of dirt, and push stones down under the soil. I added a basic group of curved liftarms for front counterweights. All three implements are attached by removing two axles.

9393 Snow Pusher

Most tractors have a three point attachment on the rear. The base 9393 has a two point attachment, which does not allow for a parallel movement as the impliment is raised. I went back and forth on changing this attachment point. In the end, I decided adding a parallel linkage would require a another PTO universal joint. I was not willing to add this, as it would put the implements too far behind the tractor. As such, I kept the stock 9393 motor implement the same. Using the same attachment point, I build a small harrow. The harrow is driven by the PTO shaft. Finally, I build a tiller with the fun little claw parts. I added a drawbar and a pivot, so this impliment would stay parallel to the ground.

9393 Tiller Rear

Because I still did not think this was enough, I added a hitch to the tractor, and built a grain cart. It is a simple single axle design, with sloped sides. There is a conveyor on the bottom, and a folding auger for grain extraction. Both are geared together and can be opperated by a rear HOG gear. OK, I realize it is not an auger, but rather a chain. At this scale, I could not figure out a good auger solution that did not look clunky.

9393 Update Grain Cart

Before I could think of more implement, I said “I’m done.” I was please with how it turned out. All the implements were fun, and give the MOD much more playability. The grain cart was fun to build, and made the tractor look grand. I wish the chassis of the tractor was a little stiffer for the front suspension. I had a lot of fun with this build. I am going to build another tractor before this year is done.

Until next time, Happy building!

Kalmar DCG180-9


After doing a lot of non powered builds, it was time for me to do something motorized. I very much enjoyed doing a forklift a couple of years ago, so it was time for another one.

See the full gallery on Flickr and Brickshelf.

Kalmar 180

The JCB930 that I did a couple of years ago was non-motorized and had some great features. I wanted to build something with all the same features, and since I would need more room for all the electronics, I decided early to model the forklift after the Kalmar mid-sized 180 model. The model would have drive, steering, a two stage lift, and fork tilt. I did not realize how hard this would be. I wanted to keep the  boom clear for visibility, and the forks not more than two studs in front of the wheels to keep integrity of scale.

Kalmar 180 Front

I set the scale and I went to work. After setting the chassis measurements, I went to work on the fork and boom. I knew I wanted to have a two stage boom, and I wanted to keep as much of the boom open as I could. The forks connect through the middle of both the first and second stage booms, and pinch both together. The middle boom is has a gear rack on both sides to lift the forks. This boom has two gears at the top, to route the chain over the top to move the forks. The outer boom is connected to the chassis at the bottom, and two mLA connect to it operate the tilt. After some working, I was able to get the boom to be thin, and just how I wanted.

Kalmar 180 Up

I decided early that I want to keep the motors out of the boom. So I had to route the lifting function out to the forklift body through the bottom pivot. This required routing the lifting axle under the drive differential. The lifting axle then move rearward, and connected up to a PF L motor. On top of the lifting axle was the drive axle. The PF XL motors was mounted transversally on the right side, and drove and axle forward to connect directly to the differential. To give me some additional space at the front, a portal axle was mounted on its side to move the differential rearward. A PF Servo was mounted in the rear, over the steering axle, and drove the steering function. The steering uses some 2×4 liftarms mounted at an angle to allow for a better steering angle. Finally, a PF M was mounted in front of the Servo, under the cabin to drive the tilt function. None of the mechanics were difficult, but the packaging required a number of drafts.

Kalmar 180 Open

The final hurdle was the body work. I spend a lot of time early in my MOCs working on packaging placement, so I do not have many body work problems later in the build. Still, some simple SNOT work was needed on the side sills to fit about the battery box, and the XL motor. Oh, and the wires. The cab was pretty straightforward, but still took a little bit of time. Finally, I had some trouble with the rear engine cover and counterweight. In the end it was a simple design that I settled on, but I tried many designs. Again, this took a lot of time.

It took a long time, but I am pleased with the final product. The functions worked smoothly and consistently. The control that was afforded by the fork functions was great. It could lift three AA battery boxes at a time. The steering was quick, and had a great lock which gave great maneuverability. The XL motor provided adequate power, and moved the forklift well. Finally, the bodywork represented the original Kalmar well. I hope you enjoyed as well.

Until next time, Happy Building.

K-Tec 1233 Scraper


I find myself on diecastmodels.co frequently as it inspires many of my future builds. Most of the time the site gives me reference pictures, and sometimes it shows me something I have never seen before. This is the result of one of those late night browsing sessions.

See the full gallery at Brickshelf and on Flickr. Instructions may be found here.

K-TEC 1233

I wanted to make a scraper, and once I was browsing this site, I came across the K-Tec. It was a different set-up that I thought looked fun. I was hooked. Early I decided the MOC would be perfect for the newer 49.5×20 tire, so the tire set my scale.

I started with the suspension for the tractor first. I did not have too much room to work with on the rear, so I set two differentials together, and connected them via two 20T gears. The rear one connects above to a 12T gear, which transmits rotation to the fake motor in the front. The two axle assembly pivots at this gear connection and connects to the rear wheels, so no u-joint is needed. The middle axle connects to the rear assembly through the differential connecting axle. This simple set-up allows for all four wheels to move freely, and independently.

K-TEC 1233 ADT Suspension

I then added the front cab. It is not too complex with a differential fixed for the front axle, and a two-cylinder fake motor above it. A HOG gear is above the cabin which pulls a liftarm for the steering. A turntable is used to provide articulation between the cab and the rear chassis. Then a simple body was made, and off to the scraper.

K-TEC 1233 Tractor

I then worked on the scraper part; kind-of. I knew when I started this project I would need a bunch of 1×6 arch bricks in yellow for the front gate. There are not many of them, so I started ordering them over the course of three months. As each would  arrive, I worked on the scraper. I first set the dimensions and worked on the lifting mechanism. It was a little tricky to find the correct geometry while not taking too much room, and keeping the upper pivot point small while using to mLAs for the movement. I found a good solution, but a little more stiffness in the assembly would have been great. I added an extraction plate at the rear driven with a worm gear assembly resting between the rear wheels. Another stud of travel would be great, but it was not worth adding another four stud gear rack to make that happen. Finally, all the parts arrived for the front gate, so I installed it. Because the walls of the scraper are only one stud thin, I did not want to mess with the thickness of the sides to much by adding a mechanism for the gate movement. Each assembly I tried with a mLA or a worm gear set-up looked clunky or bulky. I ended up with a friction pin with a gear to move it. It is not very fancy, but it works well. At this scale, it is all that needed.

K-TEC 1233 Gate

All in all, the MOC turned out OK. It would have been better to have a stiffer hitch arm, and I would have liked a different solution for the entry gate. I was pleased with the size, and I enjoyed packing a number of features into the small (but long) MOC. Finally, for some reason the MOC does not please my eyes as much as those first pictures I saw on diecastmodels.co. Maybe it just needs to be a little bigger.

Until the next one, Happy Building.

Snowblower/Tractor


I participate in only some of the contests that are available in the online LEGO community. I generally participate if it meets the following criteria: Is the challenge within my competencies? Does the contest align with other responsibilities/projects to which I have already committed? Can I be competitive? Frankly, it is the last question that often stops me. The preceding two questions determine my limitations, and considering how good many other builders are it is not often I participate. With this in mind, I decided to enter the Eurobricks Technic Challenge 9 (nine already!?).

Edit 2016.02.16 : The contest has completed, and this Model came in second! See the results page here, and all the votes here. Thanks to Eurobricks for the contest.

A full gallery with Instructions can be found here.

Snowblower

Tractor

What interested me in this contest was the constraints, and to a lesser extent the topic. the constraints stipulated that both MOCs had to fit within 10,000 cubic studs. I got out my calulators, and started playing with numbers. I was hooked. Additionally, building one MOC is hard, and building two from the same parts seemed very hard. It was something I had never done, and only a few builders can develop a good B or C model. The planning stage would be critical. Both models would have to be planned together right from the beginning. I toyed with a Combine/Tractor, and a Pipelayer/Crane, and even a Airplane/Boat. With each of these designs, I realized I would be using too much space with a long appendage, such as the Combine’s implement, or the Pipelayer’s arm. The cubic studs required something more…cube shaped. I eventually settled on a Snowblower and a Tractor. Both were a little more square and had similar components (wheels, engines, colors, chain links). I knew I would need to build both together, and multiple renditions would be needed. I was ready to start building.

Snowblower Rear

Pretty early, I settled on 17x17x34 studs for the Snowblower. I challenged myself to include steering, a working blower, and a working salt spreader. I build the basics of the blower implement right away, complete with rotation coming from the truck drive. On the rear, I added an implement lift using a worm gear setup, and a quick link to the truck . Next, I worked on the chassis of the truck. I added portal axles, because I could not get the 5L wheel axles to say connected to the differential. This also helped to clear the front PTO from the steering function, which was linked directly to a HOG gear on top of the cabin. The salt spreader needed a take-off gear for the conveyor belt, and the discharge plate would be driven separately from the rear differential. The mechanics were set. I then worked on the cab. I made sure the cab, the blower, and the spreader could be easily removed by removing up to four pins for each. It’s a fun modular function that allow for other attachments.

Snowblower Modules

I first made a pile of all the parts used for the truck while it was still built, and made a first draft of the tractor. Based on the parts of the Snowblower, the tractor would have four wheels, a 2 cylinder engine, and something with a whole bunch of 3×3 round, red, liftarms. I first modeled it after a John Deere 7R series, but realized this would leave me with too many left over parts. I then tried modeling it after a Claas Saddletrac. This seemed to be a better fit. I then took apart the Snowblower, making instructions as I went. I then used these parts to make the official model B. Over the course of a week, I made many revisions.

Tractor Rear

Both models worked well, as none of the feature are too complicated. I was pleased with the A model as everything functioned as it should, and it looked great. The tractor was simple, and it’s simple functions worked well. I was pleased with how it all turned out. It was great working with a limited number of parts for the B model, but I would prefer to clean up the look of the tractor a little better. This was a great little contest. I loved the restriction of the cubit studs, and I loved having to make a MOC with a defined group of parts. Now let’s see how the voting shakes out.

 

 

T-55A


The T-72 that a made a couple of years ago is still the most popular MOC I have made; at least in terms of internet analytics. This year, I committed to making another tank, so I figured keeping in line with old Soviet armor would be rather apropos.

The main gallery may be found on Brickshelf or at Flickr.

T-55

The T-54/T-55 line of tanks have been produced in greater numbers than any other tank. The MOC represented here is a T-55A, representing types that were assembled starting in 1970. This series included an updated NBC and antiradiation system, an upgraded engine, and also added back in the 12.7mm anti-aircraft DShK on the loader’s hatch that was part of the original T-54 spec.

As with most of my MOCs, I starting scaling the tank before any building took place. I knew I wanted to use the newer, larger track links, and I knew I wanted to use the old mid-sized wheels. This set my scale, so I got to work. Starting with the chassis and the hull I worked first on the driveline and suspension. I used simple 2×4 liftarms to connect the road wheels to a suspension axle which activated a shock absorber inside the hull. Each road wheel has its own shock absorber. Fitting them all in took some creativity, but they are all mounted inside on the left and right sides of the hull. In the end, each wheel has about 3 studs of vertical travel.

T-55 Chassis

In between each suspension bank are the remaining mechanics.  After the suspension was set, I worked on the turret functions. Right from the beginning, I knew the tank would have a rotating turret and an elevating gun. It was clear having the elevation mechanics for the gun in the turret would be tight, so I decided instead to have the functions placed in the hull rather than in the turret. Using a vertically mounted mLA, connected directly to the breach of the gun, I was able to develop a method that would elevate the gun throughout the full turret rotation. The turret rotation was driven by a 8z gear connected to the turntable, and reduced by a worm gear. Both motors for the elevation and rotation are placed directly in front of the turret.

T-55 MechBehind the turret are two PF L motors mounted transversely side by side. They drive a 1:1 gearbox which connect directly to each rear drive sprocket. The IR receivers are placed above the gearbox. For those keeping score at home, the internals are (f to r) the battery box, the turret motors, the turret mechanics, the drive motors, and finally the IR receivers.

Working on the exterior of the MOC is what took the most time. The hull came together pretty quickly, with the exception of the details over each track. Most of the finishing time came with the turret exterior. Most Soviet tanks have the distinctive mushroom turret, which considering LEGO’s cube orientation presented some challenges. The turret of the T-55 also has a slight triangle orientation when viewed from the top. Like the T-72, I designed the turret with four side orientations (left, right, front, and rear), and one top orientation. Starting from the rear, I added a basic curved structure. The sides each had a couple levels of slopes, each tapering in toward the gun. The front was a little more complex. There are two “slope blocks” made of 4 curved slope bricks, and a supporting structure. One slope block is mounted on each side of the gun. The support structure is a mess of bricks with a stud on one side, headlight bricks, and plates. The top of the turret is plates on the front, and two sloped plate sections under each hatch. The two hatches are mounted to the turret support under the sloped plate sections. The AA machine gun is placed on the top, and various external mountings are placed in various ways around the turret.

T-55 Turret Detail

After making a lot of non-powered MOCs, it was nice to get back into Power Functions. I was pleased that everything worked flawlessly. The drive had adequate traction and power. The suspension worked well, and provided good floatation and travel. The turret rotation was smooth and allowed for precise directions changes. The gun elevation worked great, though I had to limit turret rotations to under four before the clutch on the mLA would snap. After a number of smaller builds, and frustratingly long builds, I was nice to finish something that worked well, provided constant entertainment throughout the build, and turned out quite nice.

Happy building.

Audi allroad


There are not many projects I start that I do not finish. I can count a couple. But, sometimes there are projects that take a long time to complete. I either loose motivation, lack parts (read budget), or find something else to do. If I were wise, I would toss the project, and move on to something better. But there is value to trudging through the slog and completing something difficult. The Spitfire is a great example of this. The Audi Allroad has been on The Queue for about 16 months, and it’s finally done.

The full gallery may be seen on Brickshelf or on Flickr.

Audi allroad

After completing the OCTAN F1, I thought I could use the suspension for an all-wheel drive car. I was sure I could make the front suspension with steering work at this scale.

allroad Suspension

I wanted it to have another fun feature, so using a bunch of differentials, I developed a simple three speed transmission. Three power functions motors are connected via two differentials which connect to the drive axles. Each differential acts as a subtractor between each motor. When one motor is running, the power moves through two differentials, and the car moves slowly. When two motors are running, the power moves through one differential, and it’s a little faster, and when all three motors are running the car is running the fastest as no differentials are splitting the power. I got it to work, and within a day, I had a working chassis.

allroad Driveline

Once this was done, the MOC sat on my desk for a long time. This past fall, Thirdwiggville welcomed another citizen to the village, and this gave me lots of time late at night to get back to working on this project. I spent a couple of weeks working on the body work with the perspective of “finish this.” So the body work could use a little more polishing; doors, mirrors, better lines, maybe an interior. But I was happy to finally get this done.

The MOC worked well. The suspension functions quite well at this scale, and the transmission was simple and effective. It could be a little quicker, but I was not going to make a substantial gearing change after the MOC was built.

Two final thoughts. I need to stop building supercars because they take a lot of time and effort for me, and I find little motivation for the body work; I do not think the body work looks good, and I lack motivation to work on it. Second, I needed to test the driveline earlier in the build process. I spend too much time fiddling with gear ratios after everything was build. But this project is done, and I am happy it is.

Happy building.

2045 Mercedes-Benz Athane


I enjoy participating in LEGO contests, but I cannot join all of them. Sometimes the timing, my build interest, and the available parts all line up in a way that I can submit an entry. I was able to submit something for the LEGO Technic Mercedes-Benz Future Truck Competition hosted at Rebrick.com because everything fell into place. I hope you enjoy the submission.

The full gallery may be seen here (flickr) or here (brickshelf).

Mercedes Benz Athane

While I would love to see us progress to flying and fully autonomous vehicles, a complete technological and transportational paradigm shift needs more than 30 years; see where we were in 1985. I envision transportation in 2045 will be affected by a couple of features:

  • Cities will be more dense
  • Active transportation will occupy a greater share of road users
  • Electric charging options will be more available and more diverse
  • Vehicles will still have drivers, but the drivers will be heavily assisted with technology
  • Fossil fuels will still be used, but significantly reduced and not limited solely to petroleum
  • Cargo will not change, but storage will
Various loads to apply to the Athane via the SmartStack System.

Various loads to apply to the Athane via the SmartStack System.

 

With this is mind the 2045 Mercedes-Benz Athane has been designed to best fit within this context. While taking this context into account, the Athane prioritizes three values as most important: Safety, Sustainability, and Versatility.

Placement of the large methane tanks. ThermoCommLink on right rear bumper.

Placement of the large methane tanks. ThermoCommLink on right rear bumper.

Here is the Press Release-

May 22, 2045, for immediate release

The 2045 Mercedes Benz Athane prioritizes safety, sustainability, and versatility. The 2045 Athane is the most advanced and cost effective truck in our 150 years of truck building experience.

As cities become denser and multiple transportation modes are becoming more prevalent, road safety for all road users must be paramount. The Athane’s ThemoCommLink (TCL), located on the right front and right rear bumpers, allow motorized vehicles to communicate to one another. The TCL also detects the heat signature of pedestrians and cyclists. Identification and communication with other users, keeps all road users safer. The driver is seated in the center and forward in the cab to increase vision. Retention of a human driver allows for relational interaction at the job site, and helps the technology make good decisions about varying road situations. The TCL Technology assists the driver so fewer errors are made. The front bumper shaping and full length wheel guards lowers the severity of crashes with non-motorized users should they occur. The Athane uses eight steerable wheels to improve weight distribution and increase city maneuverability. While many manufactures are switching to floatation and hover type drivetrains, this setup allows for unmatched braking control, and removes disruptive air currents to those walking and cycling close to the moving truck.

The Athane’s Methane-Hybrid driveline continues Mercedes Benz’s prioritization of decreasing fossil fuel use. The Athane uses electric propulsion using energy stored in the batteries under the cab and bed. Battery charging is done by braking and by a small methane powered combustion engine behind the cab. Additionally, the Athane can be ordered with an induction charger under the cab to work with newly developed induction charging roadways being installed in many municipalities. Methane gas is clean burning, and a significant byproduct of the waste and recycling process currently in place with Octan Rubbish. A partnership with Octan Energy and Mercedes Benz has developed a standard way to reap, store, transport, and fuel the Athane’s regeneration engine using methane gas. Removable methane tanks are house behind the rear wheels, and in smaller tanks in the cab.

Today’s logistics companies are searching for ways to improve versatility and lower cost. The Athane’s SmartStack systems allows for interchangeable bodies, cargos, and applications all with one common truck. The SmartStack system makes it easy to change the load in just minutes. The connection fits the international container standard. Many body work designers are applying this standard as well. In one afternoon, you can ship a container, deliver a load of concrete, and pull a fifth-wheel with the standard hitch.

Welcome to the future. The 2045 Mercedes Benz Athane keeps all road users safer, decreases our harm on the planet, and supports all work tasks needed.

Features:

  • 8 wheel steering
  • Sleeping bed
  • Aerodynamic cabin
  • In-cab Storage System
  • ThemoCommLink, front and rear
  • SmartStack System
  • Fifth-Wheel Hitch
  • Wheel Guards
  • Large/Low Bumper
  • Methane Tanks
  • Hybrid Motor
  • Induction Charger
  • Batteries
  • Passenger Jump Seat
  • Front and Rear Lighting
  • Video Mirrors on Each Side of the Steering Wheel
  • Visibility Focused Driver Placement

MD600N


One of my first memories of a helicopter was watching a Phoenix Police MD520 land in Roadrunner Park, a block away from my house. The high pitch whine of the main prop was incredible, but another sound was missing. I gathered all my seven year old courage, and asked the pilot, “where is the tail rotor.” I got a lesson in aerodynamics that day, and to this day I can still identify an MD520 by sound. It still remains my favorite helicopter, so I figured it was high time for me to honor this aircraft in LEGO.

Full gallery can be found here. Instructions may be found here.

MD600N Front

What excites me about building with LEGO Technic is creating functions that allow motor, movement, and control. Helicopters are mechanically complex, so I find myself drawn to recreating them. I learned about how they work when I built my first helicopter. With this new helicopter I started with the rotor head. I first built Effermans great swashplate design, and figured out what should stay and go. A four blade rotor head seemed not quite right, so after a little work, I managed to get a six blade head. It was with this decision, and discovering in the chosen scale there would be very little internal room, that I decided to switch to making an MD 600N.

MD600N Starboard

I then got to work setting dimensions, and getting the scale of the airframe correct. The length of the rotor blades dictated the scale, and the interior was going to be tight. The major challenge was getting the control functions connect to the cockpit. This is not a new challenge, as it seems to be the case with every large plane I do. I have a lot of experience with it, and so I came up with some solutions. The challenge with a helicopter is the collective. Every movement that is transmitted, must be able to retail its movement while also being effected by the collective. This works well with the swashplate, but at the controls is where this gets difficult. Using the basis of Effermans design allowed for a simple setup where the collective moves an axle on which the the left/right and fore/aft controls mount.

MD600N Cockpit

_MG_2539

Moving the collective moves the other two controls in a way that is independent from joystick inputs, and allows for complete swashplace articulation at any collective pitch. The controls connect to the swashplate above the main cabin and move forward. From there all three fuctions move down to the floor of the cockpit in between the pilot/copilot seats, and the second row seats. The collective is connected here to a lever on only the pilot’s side. The left/right controls connect via an axle to the joystick, and the fore/aft controls connect via a 9L link to the joystick. Both joysticks are linked together.

 

MD600N Chassis

The final control adjusts the yaw of the aircraft. The MD600N uses three methods to give anti-torque to the main rotor. In forward flight the 1)  tail planes give directional stability. The tailboom also has 2) two slits that provide a “Coanda Effect” from the main rotor downwash. Finally, at the end of the boom is a 3) movable jet direct thruster (all are nicely discussed here). This thruster rotates to force more or less thrust against the torque of the main rotor, much like the more common tail rotor. In this MOC, the thurster rotates on a small turntable, and has an axle running through the boom the controls the rotation. The axle connects to the floor petals by way of a flex cable, and a liftarm running below the cockpit. Both pedals are linked together.

Once all the controls were set, I could work on the body. I wanted the helicopter to be blue as I see it in my memory (almost). This presented some parts challenges, but not as many as I expected. The two suicide doors open to the main cabin, though I did not add any to the cockpit. Many liftarms and connectors were used for the rest of the cabin. I wish current Technic parts could facilitate the rather bubbly lines of the MD600N, but I was pleased with how it looked in the end.

As with many of my large aircraft, this helicopter suffered from gummy controls. The range of motion of the controls reflect the scale for the model, but do not allow for great playability or demonstration of features. For something like a helicopter, I am interested in powering the controls surfaces and inputs controls via Power Functions much like this. Next time I guess. But the Helicopter looks great on my shelf, and it brings me back to a great time in my childhood. I hope you enjoy.

Happy building.

 

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