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How does I make Lego?

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Tenure
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If you search for Lego info online, you will find a wealth of manuals for Lego products, you will find sites to buy said products from, you will find lots of videos and pictures of interesting things people have built, and you will find some fun little things in between (like the Brick Testament).

The one thing you will NOT find online, or at least I haven't found, is a guide for how to build Lego. It seems obvious enough - stick one block into another - but I have come to understand that Lego is quite intricate, and that there are principles and rules in Lego building.

If you go through a manual for example, it goes through a careful step-by-step process, no step requiring you to take off one piece, stick another in, and then put it back together (as is required when building off your imagination). There are no weak points - each product is tested to make sure it balances, the wheels don't fall off, wings don't collapse when folding, etc.

What I want to know is HOW to do this. There are people who have practised alot and intuitively picked up skills. There are people who are knowledgeable about other building materials and just apply that to Lego. I want to know what those skills are and how you can learn them.

Now am I wrong? Is there not a single site online that collects this info? You'd think someone would have created such a site by now, considering the huge potential for people to write in with their tips, to have people comment on those, to have videos on basic Lego techniques... a kind of 'Lifehacker' for Lego.

So, am I wrong?

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I am simultaneously so sorry that you never learned how to build Legos as a kid, and amused that you are learning now as an adult. Hah! I used to love building Legos; we had huge tubs full of miscellaneous and I would build houses with rooms and space ships and tools to hit my brother with...

So my quick search yielded this book on amazon. Use Google! There has got to be a site with videos that is a lot less dry than that book looks.

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When I bought NXT for my son, I subscribed to a feed from this NXT-related blog. Many of the posts have links to sites of other enthusiasts, so you might find something you're looking for. There's even a CAD-like program (I think it's ML Cad) that is set up specifically to plan LEGO building!

Edited by softwareNerd
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When I was younger, I loved Lego Mindstorms. It was the greatest toy ever made. Building Legos is just something you have to learn. There are certain instances where things seem like they should match up, but they don't. For instance, if you stack the long pieces with holes in the middle, the axle holes often don't line up well enough to accept certain gears. My guess as to why there's no website explaining all of this, is that there are just too many possibilities.

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What I want to know is HOW to do this. There are people who have practised alot and intuitively picked up skills. There are people who are knowledgeable about other building materials and just apply that to Lego. I want to know what those skills are and how you can learn them.

The way any 5 yr old learns them: intuitively through trial and error. Kids don't need manuals.

That's what makes the darn things appealing!!!

Build it. If it breaks easily, you did something wrong.

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The way any 5 yr old learns them: intuitively through trial and error. Kids don't need manuals.

Kids also don't have as many preconceptions of what's the rigth and wrong way of putting things together. I'm amazed how often my 6 year old nephew does better than his dad at putting things like lego or toy car tracks together.

There was no lego when I was growing up (we had somethign similar but vastly inferior), so I also never learned about it. I did have a mechano set and, even better, a large chemistry set. Instead of using the chemistry set manual, I'd look through my cousins' chemistry textbooks and try to come up with something different. these days I'd be looking stuff up in the net :lol:

BTW, if you like Lego and Escher, look this up. It's very nicely done: http://www.andrewlipson.com/escher/relativity.html

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I am simultaneously so sorry that you never learned how to build Legos as a kid, and amused that you are learning now as an adult. Hah! I used to love building Legos; we had huge tubs full of miscellaneous and I would build houses with rooms and space ships and tools to hit my brother with...

So my quick search yielded this book on amazon. Use Google! There has got to be a site with videos that is a lot less dry than that book looks.

Oh no, I have an ass ton of Lego from when I was kid (most of which is Lego inherited from my brother before me). What inspired me on this quest was that I was playing around with them the other day and I realised that my method of construction and my way of building is exactly as it was when I was 5. I never really learned anything new - and it's still full of the same mistakes and short-sightededness which lead to overly complex solutions to very simple problems (e.g. how to fit an axle into a car).

Also, yes, I saw that book, but noticed it's quite expensive to get and looks pretty damn dry. But, my library does carry it, so I'm going to check it out tomorrow to see if it can help me.

When I bought NXT for my son, I subscribed to a feed from this NXT-related blog. Many of the posts have links to sites of other enthusiasts, so you might find something you're looking for. There's even a CAD-like program (I think it's ML Cad) that is set up specifically to plan LEGO building!

Thanks for the link, but on reading through and following through to other blogs, they all only deal with Technix lego and not Classic Lego - hinges and technical structures and such. As cool as Technix is, it's the classic brick stuck I'm interested in (although, that said, the proper application of Technix might be the way forward for me).

I've seen that CAD stuff (actually, I still have my old 'Lego Creator' CD knocking around somewhere) - but that stuff doesn't help. It lets you theorise new models, but it's actually worse than building by hand in terms of testing structural integrity.

The way any 5 yr old learns them: intuitively through trial and error. Kids don't need manuals.

That's what makes the darn things appealing!!!

Build it. If it breaks easily, you did something wrong.

Yeah, see, that's what I've been doing and I've not found it very helpful for coming up with principles for Lego building - plus I don't have THAT much time, that I can spend it on enough hours of trial and error.

JASKN: That was just plain hilarious. :lol:

Also, one last thing, I was reading an article about a guy who designs prototype lego products before they go into final production. The prototypes look way cooler than the final product, since he has to improvise in building what he wants; the final product has a bunch of new pieces which are made specifically to serve the purpose of some part that he improvised - it looks more polished, but less skillful, and just less.... less cool. It's like a sexy new Motorbike compared to a juiced up Indian ala 'World's Fastest Indian'.

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Also, one last thing, I was reading an article about a guy who designs prototype lego products before they go into final production. The prototypes look way cooler than the final product, since he has to improvise in building what he wants; the final product has a bunch of new pieces which are made specifically to serve the purpose of some part that he improvised - it looks more polished, but less skillful, and just less.... less cool. It's like a sexy new Motorbike compared to a juiced up Indian ala 'World's Fastest Indian'.

This is my complaint about the Lego trend of the last decade or so. When I played with Legos (1980's), there were not many specialized pieces - mostly bricks, some slanted pieces, and a few specialized pieces like aircraft canopies, etc. Maybe the toy you built didn't look exactly like a Tie Fighter, but you could build hundreds of original imaginative creations after getting bored with the intended build. Now, when you buy the Pirates of the Carribean Black Pearl Lego kit, it's dominated by specialized pieces with specialized decals - good luck creating anything on your own.

Luckily, you can still buy boxes of 1,000+ bricks on eBay and directly from Lego. That's what I plan on doing for my soon-to-be-born son.

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I have bad memories of spending days upon days constructing my "perfect" spaceship from Legos, only to return from school to find that my 4-year-old sister had dismantled it.

I could never put it together the right way again.

Now I'm all grown up and live on my own, and make more money than my chore allowance ever made me, so I'm reoppening the Lemuel Orbital Lego Shipyards someday soon! :)

Edited by Lemuel
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If you search for Lego info online, you will find a wealth of manuals for Lego products, you will find sites to buy said products from, you will find lots of videos and pictures of interesting things people have built, and you will find some fun little things in between (like the Brick Testament).

The one thing you will NOT find online, or at least I haven't found, is a guide for how to build Lego.

Do a search on Google putting in [lego +"how to build] and you will get over a million hits on how to build things using Legos. It's probably true that you have to do it inductively, by building with Legos, to learn the principles of conceiving of something and then building it from your imagination.

Though there weren't Legos when I was a kid, I used to love explore things and to build things. We had something called Lincoln Logs, and could build all sorts of houses with them; and then there was the Erector set (no David, no Erection set :pimp:, but we didn't get many pieces with the first set and we didn't get any more; then there was the car tracks, which were fun. I also had a microscope, a telescope, a chemistry set, and a physics set. But I think the most fun thing as I got older was an electronics set that had components on a board and springs for making connections. After making everything in their booklet, I decided to try things on my own. I combined their radio with their amplifier, and came up with a much better radio than theirs, and then unplugged wires until it didn't work and got it down to the bare basics, and then diagrammed it out. What I wanted, but didn't get for Christmas, was a sort of combination electronics set and Legos, where the components were encased in plastic blocks, so that one could build things and carry them around without having to lug around a large board with the radio. Eventually, I realized it was easier to just get the components and solder them together, so I did that; and I was even going to build a robot when I was 11 years old, but the computer parts were very expensive (this was back in the early 1970's). I still have the plans, though I'm sure they are way out dated by now :P

It's basically very fun to learn to become a creator; and if I had kids, I would definitely encourage them to do that. As an adult, I stuck with electronics to some degree, but after coming across Objectivism, switched more to putting words together into poetry, stories, and essays -- and it's still fun to be a creator!

So, Tenure, best of premises when it comes to your second childhood ;)

Actually, speaking of putting words together, I don't don't know that anyone has come up with a kind of spelling and grammar for Legos. Their are principles of electronics, but I've never heard of principles of Legos; but I haven't been looking for that, either.

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Study architecture if you're super interested. I'd imagine the principles of architecture of buildings, etc. would be much similar to those of Lego building. However, if you're thinking one day you'll finally master the principles and build structures with perfect integrity in one try, you're wrong. Probably it will only get a bit easier for you to discern structural problems before putting the blocks together. Most of it will still be trial and error, however.

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Do a search on Google putting in [lego +"how to build] and you will get over a million hits on how to build things using Legos. It's probably true that you have to do it inductively, by building with Legos, to learn the principles of conceiving of something and then building it from your imagination.

Well this is exactly my point - there are thousands upon thousands of guides about how one may go about building this or that, but none about translating an idea into a creation, or about the proper rules behind building.

Now, as to that, I picked up that 'Unofficial Guide to Lego' at the library today and it's proving rather good. His categorisation of bricks is solid (if scant) and he makes good points about paying attention to geometry in regards to the bricks. Everything he has pointed out so far as to concrete rules however are things that I've figured out long ago (Don't build on top of your house until you have the details inside worked out; overlap bricks like you would in brick laying; if you don't have the perfect brick you need, improvise).

Nothing so far about general principles in how building works - I reckon it may turn out a lot of it is just common sense + general architectural rules. Even when designing planes and cars and such, you're still building with bricks here, so architectural rules still apply to some extent.

It's basically very fun to learn to become a creator; and if I had kids, I would definitely encourage them to do that. As an adult, I stuck with electronics to some degree, but after coming across Objectivism, switched more to putting words together into poetry, stories, and essays -- and it's still fun to be a creator!

Indeed, indeed. It encourages improvisation, creativity and patience. One must be prepared to deal with not having the right bricks, be able to translate ones ideas into reality and be patient enough to not give up when the first try fails.

So, Tenure, best of premises when it comes to your second childhood :pimp:

Cheers!

Actually, speaking of putting words together, I don't don't know that anyone has come up with a kind of spelling and grammar for Legos. Their are principles of electronics, but I've never heard of principles of Legos; but I haven't been looking for that, either.

Perhaps it is up to me to do it - unless this Allen Bedford chap has gone and done it already. For the record, the book isn't dry. It's not exactly a riot, but it's interesting and not a slog at all to read.

Study architecture if you're super interested. I'd imagine the principles of architecture of buildings, etc. would be much similar to those of Lego building. However, if you're thinking one day you'll finally master the principles and build structures with perfect integrity in one try, you're wrong. Probably it will only get a bit easier for you to discern structural problems before putting the blocks together. Most of it will still be trial and error, however.

This reflects a lot of my thinking thus far.

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This is my complaint about the Lego trend of the last decade or so. When I played with Legos (1980's), there were not many specialized pieces - mostly bricks, some slanted pieces, and a few specialized pieces like aircraft canopies, etc. Maybe the toy you built didn't look exactly like a Tie Fighter, but you could build hundreds of original imaginative creations after getting bored with the intended build. Now, when you buy the Pirates of the Carribean Black Pearl Lego kit, it's dominated by specialized pieces with specialized decals - good luck creating anything on your own.

Luckily, you can still buy boxes of 1,000+ bricks on eBay and directly from Lego. That's what I plan on doing for my soon-to-be-born son.

I noticed that same thing but thought that I must be remembering wrong. They're big, single-purpose, pieces. Defeats the entire point of legos. I suppose they are just responding to a market by children with progressively less critical thinking skills, but I can still be annoyed . Good to know about the online stuff though. Thanks!

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