People have been building unique creations using LEGO bricks since Ole Kirk Christiansen (The Lego Group) began manufacturing the toy bricks back in 1949. Over the years, LEGO bricks have evolved into multiple revisions over basic blocks, including Duplo and Technic, which is the more popular among makers. One such maker took his Technic set and created a truly unique semi-autonomous train set that features a rotary dumper and cargo loader.
Graphic designer Paul Kmiec designed his Automated Rotary Dumper and Cargo Loader using various Technic pieces, which include the Control Centre (set 8094) that’s used for manual control during the Belt Loader sequence (more on that in a bit). Paul designed his Automated Rotary Dumper using a LEGO WeDo movement sensor and SBrick Plus that begins the automated rotary process with a ten-second delay (to allow for uncoupling of the train engine) when tripped.
The SBrick takes the sensor information and begins the dumping process by locking the cars in using an overhead bar system. A pair of motors then engages the rotary gears and conveyor belt, which empty the cars of their cargo and then rotate the cars back to their upright position. The train then embarks on a journey to the Belt Loader.
Paul’s Belt Loader was designed around the Technic Control Centre, which is used to activate the platform before it can follow an automated routine. Once activated, it engages a pair of motors that positions the loader over the cargo cars and actuates the dump bucket for filling them. The Control Centre can also be used to control the Belt Loader manually using the d-pad to control the gantry and buttons to activate the dumper if the need requires.
To program his setup, Paul used the SBrick Profile Designer app, which allows you to program in different function profiles for different tasks as well as using your mobile device in the same fashion as a gaming controller, complete with joystick and coin-cell buttons. Paul designed his platform, as a “proof-of-concept” to see if he could recreate every detail from its real-world counterpart, which it does with reasonable precision.