LegoLamp follow-up

There are some issues . . .

It’s not going so well . . .

In a previous post, I outlined the plan for constructing the LegoLamp.  It was good theory, but not really workable.  This post will be a “what I learned,” rather than “look at what I built.”  The picture tells the story.

Legos are rectilinear, the cylinder is not.  Which means the contact between them is a line.  That’s not a lot of gluing surface.  Ideally, I would have cut the brick-end to match the curve of the cylinder.  But Lego are hollow.  Removing that much material would have removed the end of the brick.  I counted on the relatively thick hot-glue adhesive to smoosh, expanding the area of the joint.

The laser-cut template has very tight tolerances.  This was deliberate.  Making the template tight allowed it to serve, in theory, as a substrate for the next layer of bricks.  The tight fit to the current layer of bricks would hold the template perpendicular to the cylinder.

In the background, you can see the hot-glue gun has been retired.  There is a yellow, plastic-razor-holder next to it.  Hot glue was not the proper adhesive for this job.   I installed, removed, and scraped, 3 layers of bricks — twice — before abandoning the hot glue.  The template is so tight, it leaves no room for adhesive.  The glue gets scraped-off and smeared onto the cylinder as the brick is fit.  After the first layer, placing a brick is not merely a matter of fitting it into the template.  The template must be aligned with the lower layer of bricks so that the new brick will snap onto the one beneath it.  The glue is not-so-hot by the time the template is properly aligned and the brick is inserted.  The resulting joint is weak.

I switched to two-part epoxy, to gain a longer working time.  In short, it still wasn’t sufficient.  Five minutes was long enough to place the persnickety first brick of a row, plus 3 more.  Then the epoxy became unworkable, and I had to dispense more.  I wasted a lot of epoxy.  Adding insult to injury, the working time was 5 minutes but the minimum set time was 20.  That means 30 minutes per layer.  Sixteen layers is 8 hours of gluing.  That’s too long.  And, the epoxy had the same smearing and small-contact-surface issues as the hot glue.  Some of the epoxy joints are no stronger than the hot-glue joints (i.e., they fall apart if touched).

The template works as a substrate for the next layer of bricks.  But the etched outline is not sufficient to accurately place that next layer.  When the template is rotated & raised to lock onto the 2nd layer, it doesn’t fit.  The bricks are not placed within the tolerance of the template.  I can’t use the template to support the new layer as the glue sets.  Without that support, the bricks tend to fall out of parallel as the adhesive sets.  This makes the next layer even more difficult to place, stresses the lower layer’s joint in the process, and results in collapses like the one in the photo.  I created support structures from other pieces of Lego.  These work for the initial layers.  But they add to the difficulty of placing a brick.  They can’t be used after the first 5 layers, because there’s no space for them.

Clearly, it’s time to back away from the project and rethink it.

Makership Update


It’s been just under a month since we announce Frank as our first Makership recipient, and he’s been busy!

I just wanted to share these two great images of his work, featuring a “wing nut” and some skull rings.

Skull Rings

Pretty cool! Frank said he’s still getting the lay of the land at the Makerspace and figuring out who is who and what all the equipment does, but it’s good to see some progress being made.

And speaking of progress, if you want more updates, check out his blog, iFabr1kat3, where he’s documenting much of his work.

Future Makers


After the welding demo last night, and a successful run with the MakerBot, I came home and couldn’t sleep. I don’t know if it was all the new ideas running through my head, or something else, but I started to think about what Royce has said about being a “Skill Collector” and having a checklist of new things you’re able to do. I didn’t take a welding class when I was in high school (they did offer it, and lots of kids took it) but I did take woodshop for a few years, and my dad (and his dad) had a great basement workshop where things would get built, and taken apart, and repaired.

It’s been over 20+ years since I’ve been in high school, and things have changed. From what I hear many schools don’t have any sort of shop classes, and that’s a shame. Maybe they should have some sort of “DIY” or “Make/Craft” classes at least.

Anyway, while I couldn’t sleep, I came across this article: Why your teenager can’t use a hammer.

As a maker, and someone who loves to learn how things work, it’s a little sad. I remember teaching my kids to use a power drill when they were less than 9 years old, and while they haven’t used the saw yet (they’ve asked) that’s also on the to do list.

(Someone also posted the link to the Pumping Station: One mailing list. There’s some good insight there as well.)