It’s been a Technic-filled day at TLCB, but are you looking at some of the models featured here and wondering how they work? From steering and suspension, to ratchets, walkers, gearboxes – LEGO Technic can be used to create any mechanism you can think of. And probably a lot you can’t.
And that’s where Jorge Moreno Barrios’ eBook ‘LEGO Engineering Fundamentals’ shines, as the first 3D interactive guide to creating incredible mechanisms (and the basics too) from LEGO Bricks.
We were given access to an early copy of Jorge’s eBook, which is available to purchase through Apple Books, to assess how it works. And how it works is rather brilliant.
‘LEGO Engineering Fundamentals’ is divided into five chapters, each of which features 3D interactive renders of the subject;
1. LEGO brick alignment (effectively the measurements needed to build)
2. A complete 3D catalogue of LEGO Technic parts, sorted by use (e.g. ‘steering’, ‘gears’ etc.) with part numbers
3. Simple machines, consisting of levers, pulleys, wedges and screws
4. Basic mechanisms, including gears, ratchets, cams, chains, and junctions and linkages
5. Basic structures
Each render can be rotated on any axis, allowing the reader to see it from any angle, with the moving components rotating/sliding/lifting on a loop as if they were built from real bricks. Rotating the subject also reveals Jorge’s explanation of the render in question, with key words highlighted to ease understanding. If that sounds complicated it isn’t, and it works wonderfully. Naturally we can’t share the interactive element here, but hopefully the static images we’ve included will provide some insight.
In the examples above the inputs and outputs turn on the screen, with all the components of each mechanism following suit. Many of these are very simple pulleys and levers, taking readers through the basics of both Technic building and machines in general, but some – despite the ‘basic’ in the chapter titles – delve into advanced physics, recreating the beautifully intricate designs by noted engineers and kinetic sculptures. Again, each of these is completely interactive, and is ‘alive’ on the screen running through its mechanised loop to demonstrate how the design works in practice, with some looking really rather incredible indeed.
It’s mechanisms such as these we think readers will find most useful, as ‘LEGO Engineering Fundamentals’ provides a toolbox of options for ‘I want my creation to do [this], but I don’t known how’.
So is the eBook perfect? – It is Version 1 after all.
Not yet, as there are a few of refinements we’d like to see for v2, chief among which is a contents page. The ‘How this book works’ animation also didn’t work on our copy, and there a few official LEGO sets rendered within the book that are – we think – used as examples of either parts or mechanisms in action, but without any explanation. A brief ‘Set No. [xxxx] uses pneumatic cylinders and a basic lever. You can find details of these on pages [x]’ would definitely help to explain their context. The same is true for a few mechanisms that don’t have descriptive text – often because it isn’t needed, but we would prefer at least a title for every render as a minimum.
Despite a few obvious improvements, the basics behind ‘LEGO Engineering Fundamentals’ are superb, and the first time you rotate a moving mechanism on screen to see the explanation appear you do go ‘Ooooh!’. Well we did anyway.
It’s also the first book we’ve received here at TLCB that has actively made us want to try creating new things, things we would never have thought of on our own, nor had the engineering capability to do. For that reason alone we can’t recommend ‘LEGO Engineering Fundamentals’ highly enough.
For now, this is a four star book. With a few tweaks for v2, it’ll be an easy five.