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Lego CAD 114

BHS_Turf writes "Check out Lego's version of CAD , and give your kid everything you never had (like unlimited Lego)... or you may find that it's something cool for you to do in your spare time! "
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Lego CAD

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I always hated losing pieces, especially those helmet visors. I would take one off and switch it with one of a different coler and lose it. Hey the pieces won't get stuck together either. Like when you have two of those long, flat ones stuck one on top of the other. Now you won't have to bite them to separate the two!!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Im in geek heaven!

    I pulled my LEGO bricks out the other day (all 4 boxes of them *G*) and went to town. I thought how cool it would be to design my own instructions, print them out, and finish building my space-pirate and anime robots some other day.

    Like grits? [unlimitedcontrol.com] Who doesn't!
  • I *OWN* it man. It's pretty cool....except that it doesn't *QUITE* roll up. Oh well. It's at least a foot tall and supposedly you can put some kind of automation into it. Don't get the battle droid though....it develops this drunken forward lean after a month ;)

    Who am I?
    Why am here?
    Where is the chocolate?

  • "Getting kids excited about learning
    is the wave of the future!"

    But getting kids excited about the Windoze environment, IMVHO, is not a healthy trend.

    The Lego CAD is but a subset of autocad, which, incidentally, don't run in Linux or FreeBSD or any other OSS environment. The Autodesk product runs on Mac and M$ Windoze.

  • This site has not only legos in 3d but some other models as well. I wonder if the cad station is on the web or something. I heard of this company a while back, they're some fellow mit people doing 3d streaming over the internet. The technology sounds pretty cool
  • the link is here [realitywave.com]
  • Thanks for the info. I saw this book at Borders and flipped thru it. It looked interesting although I didn't buy it. Maybe I'll look at it again.

    BTW, MS was never socially acceptable.:-)

    One book that I really liked was A Few Good Men From Univac by Lundstrom. This book gives you a good impression of what it was like to work in the computer industry back in the 50's and 60's. Wonder why computer cards (and hence, why some default terminals are set at 80 columns) are 80 columns wide? It gives you an appreciation of how far the industry has progressed from the days of programming in machine language. And there is a great recollection of Seymour Cray, the god of computers IMHO. Univac to CDC to Cray.

  • You can purchase a copy of LegoCAD at Pitsco LEGO Dacta. (LegoCad Info [pitsco-legodacta.com])

    LEGO CAD (Macintosh / Windows)
    #NP900033 $49.00

  • ... any model you design will require slightly more pieces than you actually own, making you buy more real-world lego if you actually want to build it.

    They've really got this one sorted... :-)

    Are there any similar packages for Linux? I seem to recall something involving Postscript, although I'm probably imagining things again.

    Ford Prefect
  • Finally! I will be able to design and build my giant Lego Mech of Death with which to take over the world! Seriously though, I remember as a child having these great ideas for different lego creations, but not haveing the correct pieces to make it work. This software can fix such problems in that you can just design it into the software, and wen you have the cash just buy the peices to make it. Now if they only GPL it and port it to *nix

    Ah, but they do already have it for Mac
  • I never had a problem with pieces getting stuck together. I figured out that you can stick one of the tall block pieces onto the stuck together pieces and then sort of use it as a handle to pry the pieces apart. No biting required. Works reasonably well, occasionally it would take several attempts as you loosen the stuck pieces.

    I have a bunch of the old space lego, used to make big space ships and have battles, I would throw one against the wall to simulate a spectacular crash, pieces would go flying everywhere, it was fun!
  • And then I took it to school...

    Sorry, horrifically bad joke, but I wish kids would make more lego machine guns than play with real ones.
    I eat dog. Free DVDs [opendvd.org]. Horray!
  • My friend and I used to build Lego "Rocket Sleds"... we used to build up this lego device which would contain a model rocket engine. We then stuck a playing card on the bottom of the sled so that it would slide easily across the snow.

    They never worked quite right, mostly becuase the snow was fairly uneven and they would bounce up and then shoot off into wierd directions.

    We also built Lego rocket cars, which worked a little bit better when there was a good concrete surface.

    I remember never having the right tools to ignite those damn rockets... We ended up dousing the things with lots of lighter fluid or sticking tons of matches in the exhuast of the rocket engines. Hmm, I'm a pyro...
    I eat dog. Free DVDs [opendvd.org]. Horray!
  • I love lego!
    We need more toys like this, The idea of having a toy you can play with not just physically, but via software, you design it on software, you build it physically, you program it via software. This is great, LEGO not just for kids!

  • I built it, worked great, I motorized it and it rocked, I gave it a bigger ammo clip and my parents took it away :(
  • I looked on the web site of a distributor (shown on the LEGO site...) and the one in Pittsburgh lists it at $49. That's the single-user license, of course; they also sell site licenses, etc., for the school market.
  • I built a lego case for my 386 awhile back.

    Unfortunately I didn't have enough peices to finish the job (never mind doing it all in one colour).

    I also used one of the big grey baseplates as a bottom, so then I couldn't carry it anywhere.

    But it was still cool. and remember, a lego case always has room for extra hardware :)

    What I'd like to see are some really different cases. Nerf, Sheet metal, oak (I can just see the wooden cdrom drive).

    Maybe I'll work on something like this over the summer. If I do, I'll be sending it in to /.
  • I heard about Autodesk and Lego cooking somethgng up. Finally glad to see some real results here. I've been waiting for ages for an 'official" CAD program for Lego. I tried a few of the homebrew packages, but many didn't even come close to working, giving me THOUSANDS of files, but not functioning. Now I can finally draft some of my projects sitting on paper for years.
  • There's an article in the current issue of Pro/E The Magazine [proe.com] about using Lego models as a training tool to teach people the proper techniques using various Pro/E features (patterns, assemblies, family tables, relations, etc).
  • I don't think it's online yet, though.
  • At last, a mind on the same wavelength! I must admit that my lego houseboat did suffer a similar fate when it was first trial in the local duck pond. Interesting that the blocks were never damaged when the structures were explosively disassembled though....
  • If I was a school's purchasing agent. Why would I buy this software from Lego directly when I can just go to http://www.lugnet.com/cad/ [lugnet.com] to find a freeware lego cad program that works very well and has been tested for years? I would not be suprized if this is just another company trying who is now going to try and say well we have a program. Now you can't distro your own code because it infringes on our rights.

    I suggest those who are insterested in LegoCAD look at some of the other fine cad programs for free before paying for three diskettes. I bet the DOS Based BlockCAD would even run under dosemu.

  • If you follow the links at PitsCo-Dacta [pitsco-legodacta.com] you will find that it runs $249 single copy.
  • if youdve told me that kids would be using a CAD program to play with LEGOs a decade ago, I would have called you nuts.

    Not only that, but did you ever imagine seeing a neat software product box with both Autodesk and LEGO logos printed on it? :-o This is kind of surreal...

  • That book was good if a bit fanciful and optimistic about life.

  • On the one hand, I got a big kick out of actually building tangible things with a lot of trial-and-error and I can't see a CAD system capturing that... OTOH a CAD system would not (necassarily) be limited to a fixed number of pieces, and some of the things I always wanted to build but didn't have the parts for could at least be visuallized...

    On the gripping hand, I didn't so much outgrow Legos as I escaped one of many expensive and time-consuming habits. I really don't need this kind of encouragement...

  • Q3A MODers? Has anyone made a logo library?

    You bring up some interesting points. If you do all the design work ahead of time using virtual legos, and then make your finished solid part on a stereo lithography machine, it could work and here's why.

    When the UV laser fires down into a liquid bath of resin, it hardens that liquid into a solid (usually to a depth of appx. .010 of an inch). By programing the laser to move around and, changing the depth of the bath, you can harden the liquid resin into a hard plastic of any shape.

    The slicing software used in todays machines makes a series of "3D latices" in each layer that it cures. These cross-beams inside the part lower the curing time (by lowering the surface area that the laser has to harden) without giving up part strength.

    The end result is, if you ask the machine to make a solid brick, it won't make it solid. The inside of the brick will look like a 3D honey-comb.


  • When you were little, didn't you wonder how they made all those incredibly accurate manuals? Those things were incredible.

    I'm sure that with this program, you can make your own manuals with generic pieces. Then you distribute them over the internet.. VOILA! Instant new projects! You could have a whole catalog of new things that could be built with such and such set number.. with instructions!

    This idea is public domain now, anyone wants to do it, can.. a Lego builder's wet dream. (Well, that and infinite pieces..)

  • Now most larger Lego kits come with a piece designed for that. I don't know what they call it, I usualy just call it the Lego-Wrench. It looks like a shoe-horn and on the end is a brick-sized thingy with two bumps and two holes. It works a lot better then using an ordinary block, and if it slips your gums don't bleed.
  • And there is also BlockCAD [tninet.se], which is, unlike LeoCAD, based just on Lego pieces and it's made in Delphi so it's Win-only but you get the source code!

  • That, my friend, is from a previous slashdot story about legos-- the automatic machine gun built entirely from legos..

    Who ever made it had some[body|thing] make the instructions in postscript.

  • Play-do CAD would cool too!

    ...except that it would require complex Finite Volume routines in order to determine plastic deformation and viscous flow. --fun but tough.

    I bet that just sqeezing Pla-Do through the "star extruder" would tie up that new IBM Beowulf cluster for 2 days!!! ;-)

    I'll just be happy with Lego CAD.
  • Come on (void*),

    There will be just as many, if not more constraints in a LEGO CAD system.
    With CAD, we're still limited by the number of bricks. If you use too many, your lego creation is going to bog down the computer.

    I've worked for a year on both Unigraphics and Catia, and if you think that no mental planning goes into building something complicated using simple parts, then you are flat out wrong. The most fun of that job was planning just how to build up a complicated intake manifold from simple shapes.
  • My problem iwth the lego I still have is that if there are only so many red and black peices to go with my technics.

    BTW, anyone here have Mindstorms? Mind giving a mini-review?
    Don't underestimate the power of peanut brittle
  • With this, I wont be able to drop that big thing that I had built for months and then lose a peice and forget how to put it together again!


    Don't underestimate the power of peanut brittle
  • Hmmm...yeah, I see your point. I've seen some of the stuff you are talking about, including the 3D printers that are around that are used for rapid prototyping. I guess I was more focused on the virtual aspect of this, meaning constructing virtual lego worlds, for show more than for directions to be assembled later. I want to be able to build entire worlds made from lego and be able to navigate around it. I want to be able to play Q3Arena in a lego world, dammit!

    I want something that can take virtual lego objects/worlds and produce VRML or any kind of similar files, or to produce DWG or POVRAY, 3D Studio, etc., so that I can render them. Is this so much to ask?

  • News headline: 14.0857 geeks orbiting earth in home-made spaceship.
  • I think what it's for is not to simulate Lego, but design for it and you can build it after you're done...I could be wrong and you have full rights to hit me if I am.

    I used to make catapults in Lego and attack my brother's castles to try to knock his guys off the walls...those were the days...

  • Your mother never gave you a hammer? You turn the stuck piece on the side and hit it briefly. It loosens up quite a bit and you can pull it apart with you fingernails (if you have them).
  • and yes, I meant to say


  • Plus it'll help them ace their college entrance exam [slashdot.org]!!!
  • I know it is /REALLY/ bad form to reply to your own post, but the point, plain and simple.

    Should an "adult" male be judge as a bad person, and the sum of the earth, just because he enjoy the /pure/ joy that lego's can provide?

    I wasn't even making the "gun shoot" or "whooshing" sounds with my mouth like when I was a kid, I had a very adult and professinal apperance towards my lego experince. I was in a suit and fucking tie for God's sake.

    Fucking kill me, anyone that enjoyes lego's should fucking die.

  • Well, the idea isn't original thou. Does anyone remember my favourite book "Microserfs" by David Coupland ? The guys there left their posts in Redmond, and headed to Sillicon Valley. They made a "Virtual Lego" start-up, with possibility to download some packages".

    Lovely book anyway, IMHO a must-read for a computer geek :-)

  • Lego isn't just a children's toy anymore. With some of the Technic parts available (I'm not just talking about the electronics.), pretty much anything can be built using Legos. The prototyping capabilities are enormous. I've built automated robotic soldiers and a robot that could assemble Legos (yes, I know the plural is really Lego), to name a few. My most recent project got complicated enough to enter (and win) in the Science Fair. Suffice it to say that the final device contains almost 500 gears (that's a lot) and is fully modular so it can be expanded easily. The engineering aspect of this thing is incredible. I'm working on a nice webpage with all my notes and drawings and (hopefully) building instructions. No, I won't tell you what it is. You'll find out soon enough. Just leave it to say, you can do pretty much anything with Legos. If you don't believe me, check out MIT's page. They use Legos too : )
  • ...you would model your own in Pro/E.
  • The point of Lego is to use your hands. Save your mind for Open Source. People who can't read (generally kids, for whom the product was originally targeted, although US schools are getting worse every day) can still build things with Lego -- like Square Ferris Wheel That Doesn't Turn or Discombobulated Space Cruiser or Big Blocky Thing To Be Blown Up With Firecrackers (all my former specialties; send $5.95 incl. P&H for instructions)


    "Calling atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair colour."

  • I seem to remember seeing a Leggo machine gun on /. a few months ago. Perhaps this will aid in more development of leggo mischief...
  • Sure you didn't mean
  • The primary subject of Douglas Coupland's book Microserfs was this very program. It was called OOP, and the characters in the book founded their own start-up, all quitting their jobs at microsoft to do so. Hilarity ensued... It was supposed to be made into a major motion picture. Does anyone know what became of that?
  • I saw the an early beta of this at my old job about 2 years ago, I used to work for PITSCO, and they have a joint venture with Lego-Dacta, you can visit their site (and see more lego stuff) at www.pitsco-legodacta.com/ [pitsco-legodacta.com]

    The world just seems to shrink smaller and smaller every day!

  • Do any of the packages support the technics pieces? Speaking of which: If you've been to a toy store you've seen the technics destroyer droid. It's a bit pricey but easily the coolest lego thing I've ever seen. Thats the first time I've ever been really impressed by the technical skill of a lego designer. It's well worth it.
  • Is it me (living in the void of America's Bible Belt) or can anyone else find the original Legos that were cheap, simple, and didn't have more 'special' parts then the classic bricks? My supply is dwindling and I can't find any decent ones. All I see at the toy stores is the Insect theme and some other weird theme. How the hell am I supposed to make a model of the Enterprise-E from that crap?! :-)

    But really, I'm tired of seeing the spinoff themes becoming prevalent in the toystores. Maybe it's where I live or maybe Lego needs to go back to school and put out the stuff of our collective childhood. I don't think they realize the market for bored 20 and 30 somethings....

    Just my opinion...

  • Lego CAD came out way before the iMac. Didn't they ever hear of floppies?
  • You know though.. It was stated in the FAQ that the renderer wasn't very good, Lego has marketed Lego building software before, perhaps they are just working on this one still to improve rendering (Perhaps add DirectX/OpenGL support) before they put it on the public market..
  • Hmmm...Cool...Lego CAD...Maybe I can finally do some 3D rendering of the $250 I spent on the new Star Wars Legos. Now with the Mindstorm Dark Side kit coming out and all, maybe I can push an ATST out of the PC before I spend muchos dineros building it. Hmmm...WHAT?! Two Lousy stinking sets? And they're not Technic or Mindstorm? What the heck is that? Who are they targeting this to? Undergrad engineering students, or genius 6 year olds? Er...Are they going to do a Java emulation of the RCX? Why don't the Lego group simply license LDraw or LCad and do an open source Lego thing? Mmmm...Maybe one day I can order a customized set with my list of Lego parts and post the instructions online. CGI Forms thingy...Point out how many of each piece ya need, submit, get them in plastic baggies...Maybe If I spend enough money I can build a rack for the Linux box with Lego blocks. Heheheh...Open Source Lego. "I'm into procedural bitmap manipulation." "Really? Photoshop?" "Solitaire"
  • leocad [gerf.org]

    Pretty good too!.
  • Q: But LEGO CAD isn't even optimized for 32-bit Windows 95 operation. Why not?
    A: As a LEGO Dacta product, LEGO CAD was developed primarily for the educational market. As developers, we were faced with producing a program which would run on everything from MAC 68040 machines to Windows 95 and beyond, in a limited amount of time, on a fixed budget.

    I really appreciate a company that would explain why the program is slow and un-optimized in the FAQ. Hopefully this program will sell pretty well so they can devote the resources to updating it. It definately looks worth the effort.
  • There's a community freeware version of this for Windows AND Linux called LeoCAD [gerf.org]. It looks pretty cool (although, I admit I haven't tried it). While the Autodesk/Lego one has 63 available pieces, LeoCAD has over 1000! I didn't see anything on the lego dacta page about purchasing (other than where to find distributors), anyone know how much it costs?

    On an offtopic side note, it's funny that they put this story up, but didn't think LeoCAD deserved mention when I submitted it a few months ago. I think there are just too many /. editors with different interests.
  • which is why you show them leocad instead. Runs on windows and linux
  • True, but did you look at the distributor list? In the USA, there are a whopping 8 people you can get those 3 disks from.
    I really don't understand that decision. I know it's supposed to be for kids, as an educational tool and all that, but with a little repackaging, they could have it on the shelves at every best-buy(tm), Wal-Mart(tm), etc. Every person who walked by who remembered playing with legos as a kid would be tempted...and more than a few would buy.
  • I've always been dubious about all this virtual stuff the entertainment industry keeps trying to foist on my kids. Seems like kind of a rip-off; we get a bunch of expensive synthetic images, they get all the waterfront real estate. However...

    You can't step on a Lego car on the stairs, have your leading foot fly out from under you as the toy car caroms off the wall, fall on your ass, bounce all the way to the bottom, and permanently fuck up your lower back, either. Whereas you CAN do all that with a real toy car, as I did.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • This really reminds me of Douglas Coupland's book, "Microserfs", when a bunch of geeks defect from MS to write "Oop!", an object-oriented lego style program.....if this CAD program is anywhere near as cool as that, I'm _very_ interested.

  • I love the part about...

    (warning, quote from memory, may not be right)

    "I always wondered about kids who build lego toys out of any color legos, mixing and matching colors, with no order or patterns. I'd hate to see the code that they program nowadays."
  • Java Virtual Legos. [pncl.co.uk]
    Don't underestimate the power of peanut brittle
  • All of you people had Legos?

    I guess I was the only one who was too poor to afford Legos... I often wonder how I would have turned out if I had had the chance to bend my brain around those ugly little blocks while I was a kid.

    Now I'm grown and have the money(those Legos are still dang expensive, though), but between the clothes strewn across the floor and the computer parts and ramen wrappers strewn across the tables, I don't have room for them.

    LegoCAD seems like the perfect chance to live the childhood I never had, but since it lacks the tactile portion, I don't think it will be same. Oh, well. Maybe in another 20 years.

    J. T. MacLeod, weirdo at large

  • For years, I wanted to create this, and now, they've put it out.

    Now if there's ever anything that should be Open Sourced, it's this.

    I don't mean the software, necessarily, though that'd be best too.

    I mean the blocks - people should be able to design and build custom blocks.

    Add behavior/dynamics

    Then add a repository, cvs or like SourceForge for these "Open Lego License" blocks that people can have access to, etc.

    It's be awesome.

  • I'm not so sure that this is going to be good for our children. The whole point of legos is to teach our kids about spacial orientation and design. They can have fun while learning basic skills that they will need to physically function as, not just adults, but humans.

    Besides - this seems to take the fun out of it all for kids...now they just be like their parents and sit on their asses all day instead in front of a computer. Oh well, i hope this is just a suppliment rather than a replacement for good old fashioned blocks. What's next? Play-do CAD???

    Your Ad Here!
  • VLML

    Should be able to use XML and a DTD to define your own Lego pieces:

    LEGOPIECES unit=pin
    LEGOPIECE color=##VAR## material=plastic
    LEVEL name=BASE
    FILLING NOHOLES=true/ !--otherwise must put coordinates for each hole--
    PIN l=4 f=4 type=male/
    PIN l=8 f=4 type=male/
    PIN l=12 f=4 type=male/
    PIN l=16 f=4 type=male/
    PIN l=4 f=8 type=male/
    PIN l=8 f=8 type=male/
    PIN l=12 f=8 type=male/
    PIN l=16 f=8 type=male/
    PIN l=4 f=4 type=female/
    PIN l=8 f=4 type=female/
    PIN l=12 f=4 type=female/
    PIN l=16 f=4 type=female/
    PIN l=4 f=8 type=female/
    PIN l=8 f=8 type=female/
    PIN l=12 f=8 type=female/
    PIN l=16 f=8 type=female/


  • Awww... Now that i'm too old for Lego, they bring out robotic Lego, and now LegoCAD. Oh well, at least now I have a reason to have kids.

    Seriously though, I think this is a great idea, and does have a point.
    In class, the kids would be givin a problem, certain restrictions. Then they would have to plan it out first on LegoCAD, before they are allowed to build it.
    This would teach the kid an enormous amount of skills, escpecialy in the field of engineering.
    It would be just like real engineering project.

    I have to say, out of all the toys on the market today, Lego is about the only thing that will keep ur kid ammused, and acctually do some good at the same time. I.e. they use maths and have to mentaly build the model in there head before they build something just to name a couple of skills.

    What does G.I.Joe, action man etc. teach ur kids? Guns are cool? Pokemon; buying things makes u happy?

    - - -

  • I am 21 (male) and my sister is 18 (female, duh!), anyways one of her freinds gave here like 3 10 gallon buckets full of legos. Now me, and my geek instances (and childish though pattern) though "WOW!" fucking lego's man, and 30 fucking gallons of them.

    I sit down and start going though them, and there are all these fucked up parts I have never seen when I was a kid. There was thousands of lego's, as a kid I loved these fucking things.

    So what do I do? I dump them all out and start building a full size coffee table. WTF man, there was like 30 gallons of freaking legos, start with something easy, but since there is so many legos I could build something big!

    Remember, this is a 21 year old kid^H^H^H adult smiling and really happy. (lego's are fun).

    Anyways I hold a steady job as a system admin, have my own apartment, paying on a car, what some might say as a "productive member of society". The point being, I have /atleast/ some education and /atleast/ some thought patterns moving though my head, it is not like I have the though power of a 2 year old kid, but the thoughts of an adult (on most issuses, besides legos). The point is, I can act professinal and like an adult, but sometimes enjoy playing with lego's when avaiable.

    There is nothing wrong with this! Stop judging my LEGO HABIT DAMMIT! It is not like I do it everyday, just once in awhile, and there was 30 fucking gallons of them, have you ever seen 30 fucking gallons of legos, man? Fuck, I bet %99 of slashdot would be atleast intersted in what 30 fucking gallons of lego's look like. Don't fucking judge me on my lego habit dammit, any of you would have done the same thing.

    Anyways one of my sisters college freinds (who is extremely hot) (19, female) came in. This chic thinks I am a geek, well because I sit at a computer for 16 hours a day. A loser, because I don't have a girlfreind. A a weirdo, because my social skills are less then par. A pig for referering to the Female gender as "chics" and "women". (She got offened over the word "women"!!!, wtf is the deal with that) And now she see's me on a "lego high" getting my kicks from toys that kids play with.

    Admittly it was fun, but it was kinda of embrassering. I seen links in this forum to lego cad programs for Linux, this is good on so many levels.

    I can have something that looks like a highly advanced engining computer sceince program on my computer screen, but when in fact I am doing nothing more than playing with lego's.

    The moral of the story is:

    Chicks don't dig geeks that play with lego's, no matter how many lego's are avaiable.

    Chicks don't see the art and science it takes to make a 15 foot battle ship with moving parts from lego's.

    Chicks dig complex look GUI 3D programs.

    So my question to the slashDOT crowd is; how the hell do you get a girlfreind with OUT compromising your "geek instances"?

    sub Rant() {
    Is it REALLY that fucking wrong to play with lego's? Is it that potically incorrect? Mark me with the fucking plague, I enjoy lego's under certain sisuations! Tie me up, nail me down, hang me, then sit me on a fucking cross and mock me, for the simple fact I enjoy plastic interlocking blocks! I should be fucking shot in the head for the simple enjoyment of colored plastic interlocking cubes. FUCK! kill me, I am ready to go.
    return; }
  • LDraw has been around since early 97. LDraw has several thousand parts available, and a lot of GPL add-on programs.

    LDraw.org [ldraw.org]
  • Legos in real life are great. Snapping two lego bricks together is very natural and they're not that hard to pick up. Positioning them with a mouse is another story.

    If you've tried Gryphon Bricks, ZOI Blocks, Lego Creator or even leocad you can easily tell how clumsy it is to put lego pieces together with the mouse. It's not like a 2D paint program where you just point and click. Instead you point, click, move the arrow keys, click on something else, drag the mouse for a while and then maybe it's in the right spot.

    It's a pretty difficult problem, of course, since there's an inherent ambiguity when a 2D mouse coordinate is projected into a 3D world. I worry that this CAD program would be so clumsy it will turn kids off of CAD because they'd rather just use the legos. A cooler product in my mind is Cybones [cybones.com], which uses pieces that aren't so tedious to build with on a computer. And it's more colorful, too.

    You must applaud the authors for getting the minimum system specs right, though; most elementary schools don't have the kind of boxes slashdot readers do.

    Shameless plug: check out my 3D modeler for kids! [gollygee.com]

  • But you can't roll a virtual LEGO car down the stairs. Still, if youdve told me that kids would be using a CAD program to play with LEGOs a decade ago, I would have called you nuts. Still sounds plenty nuts (kids need something tangeable to play with), but it looks kinda fun for adults. Itd make planning a fully LEGO PC case a lot easier. Sharkey
    www.badassmofo.com [badassmofo.com]
  • Hey, anyone ever read the book Microserfs by Douglas Coupland? Wasn't the software that they were coding, a virtual lego building program, where people could build anything out of lego on their computer??
    With infinite numbers of any lego piece?
    I think they called it OOP..

    This sounds a lot like that!
    Yay Microserfs [edsbookreview.com]! Woo! This was the very first geekish book I ever read
    This was back in the days when Microsoft was socialy exceptible

  • This sounds like Oop! The software they were developing in the book Microserfs by Doug Coupland.
  • So true, the whole point of Legos is to build them up and break them apart. I especially liked positioning them around a room and putting pillows and blankets on the floor and building a cool little world....anyway...When you build something with legos, you have to make sure it's sturdy and will hold up to attacks from the evil aliens accross the couch with huge death rays build out of those neat little clear, colored cyclinders. When you build it in CAD, it won't tell you when a wall is about to fall over because you used a thin piece instead of a fat piece, or when one of those pulley wheels is going to some off because it wasn't anchored enough. These are things you have to physically do.
  • Great! When will the Lego CNC machine come so that I can prototype my lego creations!
  • Actually, that's the price for an educational site license. A single copy is $49.95!
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @03:03PM (#1181780)
    Oh, NOW you've done it. Have you NO idea what this is going to cause? You've just tempted some geek to use this program to design a jet propulsion engine using only legos...
  • by jabber ( 13196 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @04:53PM (#1181781) Homepage
    There's your answer. If it's an educational software, geared towards schools, it goes through 'distributors' and buyers and such... I bet it sells for HUGE bucks too...

    I worked in a middle school for a couple of years as a LAN tech (yeah, 50+ workstations, 2 labs, Novell 3.xx - lucky brats. :) We played Doom and Descent after school, for hours.). The software that the school system was buying was horrible. Buggy, badly written, amateurish and terribly expensive. It's like buying Aspirin at a Hospital.

    Now, if Lego was to retarget this software for public consumption, they'd sell MILLIONS at $39.95 at Fry's, E.B. and CompUSA.
  • by jawad ( 15611 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @04:40PM (#1181782)
    You can't do anything without plans [brickshelf.com]!
  • by bridgette ( 35800 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @03:20PM (#1181783)
    Just a warning, Lego Datca used to be for educators only and is still sold primarily through educational resellers (unlike Lego Technics). These resellers vary in their willingness to sell to non-educators. Quite annoying.
  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @03:17PM (#1181784) Homepage
    Why does the site seem to make it sound like this can only be used with a couple of Dacta sets (specifically 9630/9645)? No where does it mention using it for other sets, though it seems to imply you could "design" your own parts, hence building a Lego component library...

    But why should you? Why not just use LDraw [ldraw.org] or LeoCAD [gerf.org] for modeling your Lego creations?
  • by Jackster ( 55653 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @04:57PM (#1181785) Homepage
    Another popular win32 lego CAD is MLCad, which is compatible with LDRAW.
    http://www.user.xpoint.at/m.lachmann/MLCad/MLCAD .htm

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  • by Refried Beans ( 70083 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @03:06PM (#1181786) Homepage
    Wow, it's been a LONG time since I've seen a application that is shipped on floppy disks. Kudos to Lego for showing you can do something really cool without using hundreds of megs of storage.

    Now if they could just port it to Linux, I could play with Legos without losing the pieces.
  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @05:04PM (#1181787)
    I've personaly made some molds that make Logo, conectix (and countless other "toys of the year" that don't make it past prototype).

    The only missing link in your idea is a means to make the open sourced lego CAD data into an actual lego. Currently, they're running in 24 and 36 out Plastic Injection Molds . These machines are the size of a buss and the price of a few sports cars and not exactly a "desktop solution" for turning open sourced lego CAD data into a viable part.

    If you're interested, there is a process called stereo lithography that can "grow" your custom designed lego parts using a UV laser to cure a resin. This process can be had for a little better cost (~50k-100k). The definition and consistancy (they wouldn't snap together, they would 'mush' together) isn't nearly as good as you would get with the presure and heat being used in a PIM, but it could work.

    There is a similar rapid proto-typing process that uses a powder sprayed from a inc-jet printer nozzel that hardens after being sprayed. The kewl thing is, you just add water, and your lego crumbles, allowing you to re-use the powder. This makes for a rather weak structure, but it's even more cost effective. ~25-50k.

    If more work can be done to the Stereo Lithography process to bring the cost of ownership down, and some material research to increace rigidity, it could be your very own lego factory.

  • by Grant Elliott ( 132633 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @03:21PM (#1181788)
    LegoCAD, a joint venture with AutoDesk by the way, only features parts from the simple machines set. This set, used for teaching engineering principles, has a very limited number of components. Also, it doesn't do animations. (Well, if you want to keep moving the parts and rendering over and over...) Instead, I use LeoCAD or, the even better, MLCAD. Both are based on LDraw, but provide a graphical interface instead of a text based one. More parts than you'll ever need, including old versions of parts.
  • by Crazy Man on Fire ( 153457 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @03:05PM (#1181789) Homepage
    Just about every kid loves Leggo, so taking advantage of that in the educational arena is a perfect idea! Not only can kids learn about computers and CAD (and computer animation??) but they get to do it in a way that they will like. I think that applications like this will eventually help to eliminate alot of the apathy that is present in our education system (both in the students and the faculty) today. Getting kids excited about learning is the wave of the future!
  • by K8Fan ( 37875 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @05:22PM (#1181790) Journal
    Just about every kid loves Leggo...

    Ah...it's appears you've confused "Legos" with "L'Eggos", the snap-together waffle breakfast. I can remember many enjoyable hours making fun toys out of these otherwise inedible breakfast treats, asking my Mom to toast just a few more so I can finish what I was building.

    Or maybe it was just me.

  • by (void*) ( 113680 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @03:18PM (#1181791)
    I hate to sound so critical. After all, this is cool. One can really let one's imagination run wild, unlimited by the physical numbers of bricks available. But all CAD software is like that.

    The fun of Lego is to build, within the constraints of the number of bricks, and the constraints of physics and engineering, that cool toy you want to have! Half the fun is determining things like "What size of car can I build, since I have only x bricks?". Stuff like that. This teaches a kid mental planning. It's wonderful how such a thing can build tactile and physical experience for small kids!

    Not really opposed to this, mind you. Just wondering what it is for. The kid in all of us, I guess.

  • by Grant Elliott ( 132633 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @04:48PM (#1181792)
    If you want more information on CAD programs for Lego, go to lugnet [http] They have all sorts of stuff for Lego freaks (like me). You'll probably find the CAD section informative.
  • by sec ( 20916 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @03:13PM (#1181793)
    This might be a good time to mention LeoCAD [gerf.org], a similar program which has a Linux version.
  • by Matt2000 ( 29624 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2000 @03:15PM (#1181794) Homepage

    Or turn on frustration mode so that the kiddies have to search through 15 minutes of menus just to find the last damn bendy piece, then they find out its stuck to a little black flat piece and they have to wiggle the mouse, then bite one of the buttons for 7 minutes to get it off.

    Lego should be covering my medical expenses, I estimate I lost 70% of my tooth enamel as a child trying to free that last damn bendy piece, and there's no way my kids are going to have it any other way.

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