Back in April this year we stumbled across a very cool, OK, massively nerdy project. LEGO have produced a vast array of pieces over the years, everything from a flaming sword to a Deadpool duck head. No, we don’t know why either. Most of LEGO’s pieces however, are rather useful, but with so many made how do you know what it is you have (and need more of)? Piqabrick have the answer.
“Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, Piqabrick instantly identifies Lego bricks’ code, simplifying the long-lasting operations of searching and sorting.
Piqabrick easily and quickly identifies any Lego brick providing you the ID code and color code. How? Thanks to our proprietary computer vision technology. Piqabrick “looks at” a brick to identify it, just like we already do… but better!”
Sounds cool right? OK, not cool – massively nerdy again, but really bloody useful. Better still, Piqabrick has no monthly or yearly fee: it’s free for a lifetime.
If you’d like to find out more about how Piqabrick works and pledge so that the tool can become a reality then visit the Piqabrick Kickstarter campaign via the link below!
LEGO have released literally thousands of brick designs over the years (anyone know how many?). Some of them weren’t even bricks either (take a look at this, this, and even this monstrosity…).
That can make identifying one a real pain, but good news! Cue the nerdiest thing we’ve ever posted (ok, since this at least) – PIQABRICK!
PIQABRICK is effectively a 3D scanner that can identify any LEGO piece, even the oddities above, revealing the part code that can be dropped into third-party brick marketplaces such as BrickOwl and Bricklink.
Now obviously you have to own the piece that you want to identify already, but for those more seriously into the art of LEGO model making, or the few that do it professionally, PIQABRICK could save hours of research.
The fridge. Famed for its ability to look after cheese and various meats, and for many also a glorious blank-canvas for those little magnetic letters used to spell out messages, display children’s artwork, or – if you’re in a student house – communicate extreme profanity. However, for all the fridge’s merits, it has been a resolutely LEGO-free appliance. Until now…
We were recently sent some prototype products that could change the fridge forever (and a bit more besides, but we’ll come on to that). They’re called Mbriks, and they are – simply – a magnet inside a brick, compatible with LEGO, Megablocks and the other various LEGO imitators available around the world. And they’re brilliant.
Our four Mbriks arrived in a very professional-looking box, complete with a small instruction booklet and the usual health and safety warnings such as ‘Do not eat’ (sorry Elves). Each ‘Mbrik’ measures two studs by two, but aren’t quite a direct replacement for an equivalent LEGO piece as they are fours plates tall, rather than LEGO’s three.
Inside each brick is (we think) a small bag, which contains a loose and surprisingly powerful magnet. This freedom allows the magnet to orientate itself to face whatever is magnetic, and thus means the ‘Mbrik’ can attach to something whatever direction it is placed. A clever trick, and one that is crucial too, as it allows the complete freedom of design of the model in which it will find itself.
Multiple Mbriks can be used in larger models, and whilst they won’t hold a Technic Bugatti Chiron set (although we assume if you had enough of them they might), they will happily hold a Speed Champions scale car. We think parents (and their kids) will love the ability to attach their creations to the fridge, Mbriks’ magnetic picture frames, the car door, or anything else magnetic! But what about you lot reading this?
Well we think Mbriks have two equally useful alternate uses. Firstly, for photographing creations. We always advocate clean neutral backgrounds (in fact we won’t blog a creation, no matter how good it is, without decent presentation), and Mbriks open up a world of possibility for bespoke backgrounds. As shown in the picture above, any background could be printed and then used in-between the magnetic surface and an ‘Mbrick’ equipped creation, instantly giving the creation a perfect custom setting for taking photos.
Secondly, Mbriks may open up building possibilities for creations themselves. We love LEGO’s old magnet system from M-Tron and the LEGO Trains lines. They’re super-powerful, compact, and have been used to great effect by builders such as Mahjqa. They are however, a bit tricky to work with, featuring no studs at all, and requiring a unique part to attach them.
Not so with Mbriks, which can be built into a creation just like any other 2×2 brick, albeit one that’s a slightly annoying extra plate tall. Now an Mbrik’s clutch power and colour aren’t quite a match for genuine LEGO pieces, so their placement would have to be slightly more considered, but nevertheless the inclusion of Mbriks could offer builders a whole new way to build creations – not to mention builders at LEGO shows who want help with things, well… not falling over.
Whether you’re a parent whose fridge could do with LEGO-ising, a display-builder who’s fed up with things falling over, or a MOCer who’d like to add magnetism to their models, Mbriks offer an interesting solution.
As with many of the third-party products we see in models here at The Lego Car Blog, Mbriks are beginning as a Kickstarter campaign. If you’d like to get your hands on a set of Mbriks you can pledge your support via the link below, and before long they could be featuring in creations here regularly alongside BuWizz, SBrick and others!
In recent years several third-party electronic products designed specifically to enhance Lego models have reached the market. These include the SBrick Bluetooth controller which has appeared here in numerous models over the years, the BuWizz integrated battery providing 8x more power than LEGO’s own Power Functions system, and Brickstuff’s brilliant LEGO-compatible lighting systems.
Now builders may have the chance to combine all of the above (plus a bit more) courtesy of one in-development electronic brick!
The new PFx Brick and accompanying app allows not only the graduated control of LEGO Power Functions motors via Bluetooth (as per SBrick), but also lighting and sound, with up to twenty minutes (yes, minutes) of high quality audio able to be stored, and a huge array of lighting sequences available either pre-programmed or able to be custom programmed by the user.
All in all the PFx Brick looks like an exciting project, and with an expected retail price of around $120 for the base brick, it could be an affordable route to seriously customisable in-built electronics for Lego models.
The designers behind the project have launched their initiative on Kickstarter, you can also check out the full product specification via the PFx Brick website, plus you see what the product can do courtesy of the introductory video below.
Regular readers of The Lego Car Blog will know how popular LEGO’s Power Functions components have become – barely a day goes by without a model appearing here that utilises them. However, good as LEGO’s efforts are, there is room for improvement. Firstly the infrared control mechanism can falter in bright sunlight, and secondly power and variability of control is limited.
Third-party designer Roni Leben and his team think that they have the answer with this, the BuWizz integrated remote control and battery. Performing the job of a battery box and two IR receivers, the BuWizz is a totally LEGO-compatible product that brings bluetooth control, micro-USB charging and variable speed options to LEGO’s Power Functions motors. Plus it does all this whilst providing eight times more power than LEGO’s own set-up.
Controllable via Apple or Android devices the BuWizz offers a similar solution to the previously seen SBrick bluetooth control unit, but with the added benefits of a rechargeable on-board battery and a much greater power density than LEGO’s own battery unit.
The BuWizz remote control and battery brick is not yet available, however you can help make it happen! A Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign is live now, with a target of $50,000 required to bring the product to market.
You can find out more about the BuWizz brick, watch a video of it in action, and back the project to help bring it to market via the BuWizz Kickstarter Page – Click the link below to get involved!
Yup, that most exotic of materials usually reserved for racing car parts and expensive toilet seats could be coming to Lego creations! And unlike the farbon ciber residing in one of the cars in the office car park, this stuff is the real deal.
There’s a Kickstarter campaign underway to put Lego-compatible carbon fiber tiles into production, started by three boys and their Dad (nice one Dad!).
We loved The Lego Movie here at TLCB. In fact we quite like Lego movies in general – and there are some great short films made from little plastic blocks on the ‘net. Bricks in Motion aim to bring us another one, and in Inception-like ‘dream within a dream’ madness their Lego stop-motion film is about Lego stop-motion films.
You can wrap your head around it via their introductory video below, and if you’d like to support the Bricks in Motion project you can join them via Kickstarter – there’s just a few days to go!