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LEGO Engineering + Science

It’s always fun watching people push LEGO to the limits.  Here you can get a crash course in gear reduction and how to generate torque.  It’s interesting to see the differences in weights that can be lifted.  And it soon becomes apparent that the limitations aren’t in the gearing, or the motor, it’s the other materials which are failing.

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LEGO Bridge Girder Builder

It will never cease to amaze me with the ingenuity of people when it comes to LEGO contraptions. I’ve never seen one of these full size bridge girder movers, but watching this LEGO version makes me amazed at how humans have been able to make machines to make life easier. Especially since this machine is meant to make other amazing engineering feats easier. Tie it all up within LEGO, and it’s even more impressive.

Really, watch the video, it’s worth it.


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A Crap ton of Marbles.

11,000 according to the video description to be sure.  I’m sure there are more there, that large trey at the end seemed like the markers were past the 10,000 point before it flipped.  There weren’t that many different paths for the marbles to go though.  I think it would have been more interesting if there were a couple extra paths, or some more advanced engineering tactics employed.

Oh well, take a listen, and a watch, and be amazed!

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I do Nothing

For a period of 15 years starting in 1948 Lawrence Wahlstrom, the retired clock maker and by all means armature engineer, added many gears to a old WW2 bomb sight.  The actual number of gears is unknown, he stopped counting, or lost count, or both.  It’s over 700 though.

What do all these gears do?

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Wooden Engineering Equipement

Japanese woodworker Kinohaguruma makes some of the the coolest works of wooded engineering I have ever seen.

Here’s the first video that introduced me to him, a wooden excavator:

See how the entire thing is made of wood.  There’s a bunch of different gears, and different transmissions and gear boxes that change what is actually being moved.  All through two leavers.  This is more a feat of engineering then it is wood work, but it’s both!

Here’s another wooden marvel, a crane that rotates 360 degrees, has an articulating arm with a claw!

His works of engineering art aren’t limited to just earth movers, here’s a wooden wood pecker that’s spring wound:


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Controllable Bubbles

Part of the fun of bubbles is not knowing what you’re going to get.  Not knowing how many, or how large, or how long the bubbles are going to be.  They are unpredictable.  Gordon Kirkwood decided to take the unpredictability out of them.  He made what he calls the CNC Bubble Iris.  The entire thing is so overly-complicated that you will wonder what it is if you didn’t see it in action.  He has a whole 19 step Instructable on his build.  I’ll give him credit for making it very detailed, but still, it’s bubbles.  Why does this much effort need to be spent on it?

Giant Bubble Maker

Here’s a video of the Iris in action:

All that being said, I have to admire the engineering behind this.  This is very well thought out, and very well made.  Professionally made.  I just question the necessity of it.  But then again, many of the greatest things have no practical use, they are just cool.  And with as much negativity I have had towards this, I think it’s cool.


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Gear reduction is pretty basic mechanical engineering.  It’s used everywhere and in everything.  It’s a great way to give a person an introduction as how various machines work, and how to increase torque, or speed.  The above contraption, made by Oskar van Deventer, has an astonishing gear ratio of 11,373,076 to 1.  That means, the you would need to turn the crank 11.3 million times in order get the red gear to make one full rotation.

How does it work, well take a look at the exploded view of the contraption:

Gears exploded

The red & green stages are what he calls grinder gears, the inside gears have one less tooth then the outside, so they spin rather slowly.  Stack a few of those together, and then control it all with a regular planetary gear, and you have your 11 million to 1 ratio.

Now comes the important question.  What practical purpose could this solve?

At the moment, nothing.  But the theory exists, and now it just needs to become  more precise, and eventually, in space we’ll need things super crazy like this.  Or, you could reverse it, and get insane RPMs out of slow moving items.  Something like that would work well in space I think, where there’s no friction, and tons of slow moving things.



Over-Engineered Door

door 1

How can you over-engineer a door you might ask?  Well, that’s a question answered by Matharoo Associates.  They’ve designed, and built this interesting door above.  It’s made of 40 individual sections of Teak, with 160 pulleys, 80 ball bearings, and a wire rope connected to a counterweight.  Opening the door happens with a wave of each piece of Teak.  It’s an elegant door, but completely over-engineered, for sure.

{MAKE|Design Milk}

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How a Jet Engine Works


Engine Core

I featured Animagraffs before, that time it was how a gun works.  Now we see how a Jet Engine works.

The Afterburner is the important part.  It’s what allows the F-15 to be such an effective fighter.  Not just the F-15 though, all fighters use it, but the F-15 is the best fighter ever made.


Highly detailed gifs like this are the one of the great benefits of computers.  It’s way easier to learn how things work when you can have these types of diagrams.  It also allows young kids to get more into science, and interested in wanting to make these things.


Rings of Saturn Ride

I’m not one for amusement park rides, in fact, outside of Rollercoaster Tycoon, I hate amusement parks.  I wouldn’t even think of going near this ride, but I would love to see it in full sized action.  It honestly looks like the inventor, Thomas Casey, knows exactly what he’s doing, and is some strange cross between Mechanical Engineer and theme park enthusiast.  I wish him the best of luck in marketing this new ride to the Six Flags of the world.  As well as all those smaller theme parks.