Friday, July 20, 2007

Brickshelf is Back!

No, this isn't some awful joke meant to ruin your day, Brickshelf is really back from the dead! The boys at Brickshelf had this to say:

"Notice: Brickshelf will not be shutting down!
We will be offering "featured" accounts for $5/month shortly.
We have received hundreds of supportive emails in the past few days including many who said they would like to contribute financially but did not know how. This has had us rethink the practicality of charging for enhanced features.We plan to do this without reducing current functionality for free users. Thank you for your enormous show of support. IMPORTANT: do NOT try to download the entire site, it causes major problems, slows things down for normal users and you will be permanently blocked."

Link to Brickshelf Status post on Lugnet

Edit - Saturday, July 21
Here is a post from the Lugnet user group explaining some more information:
I have not posted until now because there was too much uncertainty about how (or if) this was going to work out.

Due to financial reasons, Brickshelf was no longer in a viable position to continue operating. As our costs are billed monthly, any shutdown would occur at the end of a calendar month. I decided that 15 days was enough time for everyone to copy their files. Turning it off completely for a few days was intended to send the message that this is serious and get everyones attention so they could use the remaining time wisely. It also gave everyone an opportunity to see what would break when it did finally shut down.

In hindsight I should have handled this differently but it's too late for that now.

I had long ago written off various ides for charging recurring fees because AFOLs and geeks in general expect everything on the web to be free. What turned this around is the totally unexpected volume of email I received from what appear to be regular people. Many of these people expressed an interest in paying some modest fee to keep the site running, if only there was a way to do that.

In addition, I had underestimated the extent to which things would break on other sites with Brickshelf gone. It was clear after the "test" shutdown that some long lasting solution would be needed to at least keep old content available in some way or I would not be able to sleep at night.

So we are going to try something new and see if it works. The site will continue to work as it does now for free users. Paying users will have the opportunity to have greater visibility of their folders (that pass moderation and are not junk/avatars). Of course paying users would also not see ads nor have ads on their folders.

To those wondering why was unaffected: It has a tiny fraction (< 10%) of the traffic that Brickshelf gets While many of you are aware of it, many more brickshelf users are not and it is possible for me to run that site out of pocket at it's current size. This is one reason there were no instructions posted to simply move over there. For those wondering if this was some elaborate stunt: I have a very full time job and this distraction is the last thing I needed to deal with right now. I did what I thought was necessary given the financial circumstances. I am still taking a risk in continuing this but the tremendous show of support has convinced me it is the right thing to do. Final note: It has come to my attention that some people have been impersonating me on various forums. LUGNET is the only LEGO related forum I have ever posted on (other than r.t.l in the old days) and it's user authentication system should give you reasonable assurance that it really is me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bye Bye Brickshelf

You may have noticed a bit of news information that is making it's way around the Lego blogosphere in the past couple of days. That is: is closing.

Brickshelf has posted on the top of their home page in big red letters: "Notice: Brickshelf will be shutting down on 2007/07/31. Please save your files to your computer."

While at first the website was taken down with no prior notice, it has been reinstated until the end of the month so that users can download their content that they have hosted on Brickshelf.

In my opinion, this is a huge loss for the Lego community. I know that countless people have relied on Brickshelf in the past in order the host and share the files for their Lego projects. The question now is where to go with all of our images?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Get Inspired!

How many times have you found yourself sitting in front of a pile of Legos with not a single idea of what to build. Well, here are a few tips that can help keep the creative juices flowing and provide you with some inspiration.

Possibly the best method of inspiration I have ever heard of is the use of something called a "Morgue File." Originally it started out as a web designer's tool, but in my opinion it can also be used with Mindstorms NXT. The idea is simple, create a folder on your desktop called NXT Ideas. Whenever you are browsing the net and see an idea or robot that you think is cool, save that page or image in your NXT Ideas folder.

The idea is when your creativity "dies" you open up your morgue file and browse through all of the awesome ideas you have saved. One of these ideas is bound to inspire you and give you a great idea for your next robot.

A few creative sources include:
Youtube videos of NXT
The Official NXTLOG
Brickshelf NXT Galleries

So readers where do you get your inspiration from?
Leave a comment!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

NXT Log Challenge: Bug Bot

A few months ago in April, the LEGO Mindstorms website sported a brand new feature - building contests. The first two contests included a FLL robot and a quadruped walker. Now for the third challenge, LEGO wants to see you build your best bug bot! Your challenge is to design a NXT Insect or a NXT robot that can fight pesky pests.

Your insect creations are judged on a few different aspects including:

  • Design
  • Performance
  • Creative use of NXTLOG
You can check out the full contest brief including all the rules, inspiration, judging criteria, and commenting at the official LEGO NXTLOG Challenge page.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bluetooth Gravity Controlled Robot

Check out this cool find over at the nxtasy blog.

Ulli Kortenkamp has used bluetooth technology along with an Apple Macbook's internal gravity sensors to create a gravity controlled robot.

Ulli Writes on the You Tube page:

"In this video we show how to use the gravity sensor of a Apple MacBook Pro in order to remote control a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robot. They connect via bluetooth, and the Interactive Geometry Software Cinderella.2 is used as controlling software. It reads the data from the gravity sensor of the MacBook, processes it and then controls the motors of the NXT robot accordingly.

More info about Cinderella at, contact: Recorded at the University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany."