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World Record LEGO Train Layout in Seattle 61

The Dev writes "The Pacific Northwest LEGO train club is attempting to break the world record for the longest LEGO train layout. They are setting up in the Seattle center right now, so you if you are in the area you might want to check it out. There are of course some Pictures on Brickshelf and a live webcam at the PNLTC website. The original announcement is here on Lugnet"
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World Record LEGO Train Layout in Seattle

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  • IP-over-Lego-Train protocol...

    I believe you are thinking of RFC #1217 [], "Memo from the Consortium for Slow Commotion Research (CSCR)." From the RFC:

    The basic unit is the M1A1 tank. Each tank is labelled with the number 0 or 1 painted four feet high on the tank turret in yellow, day-glo luminescent paint.

    If you find that one to hard to use, you may wish to instead attempt to use RFC #1149 [] which has been updated by RFC #2549 [] to send IP information using little scrolls and swallows. (Actually, the bird type is unspecified and is left to the implementation.) Unfortunately, the latter types do not work under Linux implementations, since they have had troubles getting the penguins to fly.

  • If you are the type of person who programs for 12Hrs a day then you probably aren't going to have much of a sex life. But it would probably go under the 6Hrs of web surfing, Cyber-Lovin'.

    Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?

  • Actually, we have the longest line of Pez Star Wars dispensers here where I work.

    It's Seattle, we're better at everything ... unlike those guys in Redmond across Lake Washington ...

  • by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @09:52AM (#844841)
    1- It's Haiku, not Hiku.

    2- There's a lot more to Haiku poetry than a meter scheme. It's subtle, simple, and yet it transcends the words themselves.

    Sorry, but no cigar. A better haiku would have been:

    Tiny Lego train
    Where do you go today?
    Hello there Bill

  • Put a motor on the plunger which charges a compressed air tank so it charges continually. Have two lines running from the tank to the firing plunger controlled through a SPDT switch, when air is put in at the bottom of the firing plunger, it shoots out and knocks the brick down the barrel, when I throw it the other direction, it will allow the compressed air to flow into the upper input on the firing plunger and retract it, allowing another brick to fall into the firing chamber from the clip.
    Don't use air pressure to retract your firing pin - you'll have enough problems with running out of air - load the pin with a weak spring for return. If your really want to save yourself a lot of #$%^ing about, go have a look at a pneumatic nail gun. The amount of punch you get is a function of the surface area of the piston at the back of the firing pin rather than the air psi. Enjoy : )
  • It's 5-7-5!
  • I wish /. wasn't so damn crappily coded, or I could use some ASCII art to demonstrate this...

    You can use the TT tag to format your text as monospaced for your ASCII drawing, no?

    I'd love to see the design when done. Great project.

  • Now how about some real competition we all can get in on, building stuff out of AOL CD's.

    My son's making a Forgotten Demigod of Pokemon outfit from them. Painted half flourescent red and half brilliant white to make poke balls.

    The rest I just use for coasters.

  • I know I'm gonna be modded down for this, but you're right!
  • Yeah, I'll get to it after I make that train out of turd logs.
  • If you toss me an email, I'll forward some pics to anyone that asks, how's that?
  • What would the fesabilty be of having a case for a computer made out of lego? Would their be a great chance of hit melting the case into a big mess of goo? Also unless extra metal parts were added there would likely be no magnetic shielding and the case wouldn't be grounded..... But the thing is... would any of that matter... it would be wicked indeed to have a Legt ATX form factor case... with loads of little windows you could open if it ever got to hot =:-) and you could put people in it.. and build seesaws... and make castl.... Idimmu
  • The /. effect is easy enough to avoid...that's why they invented geocities. Now lets see some pics!
  • Lego is not an English word in any normal sense. Adopted into the English language, it is most commonly used as either a trademarked name (if you ask a lawyer) or in reference to a small plastic interlocking brick (if you ask nearly anyone else).

    Since the word doesn't exist in the English language, I think its fair to pluralize it any way we choose.

    Language derives from those that use the words. It isn't decreed first, and enforced later.

    Also, about being pedantic. It can mean either rigid and formal, as in a proof (I assume you mean it that way) or as being overly concerned with minutiae (which is the way you sound). Or, maybe you we're just trolling and I bit.

  • Using AOL CD's would be good. I swear I must have 100's of them....

    but then I microwaved most of them..

  • I think unicorn is about to discover the power of the slashdot effect on his email inbox. ;]
  • A notice printed on the back page of Lego catalogs circa 1980. as quoted in the Lego FAQ at " [] ".

    Dear Parents and Children

    The word LEGO® is a brand name and is very special to all of us in the LEGO Group Companies. We would sincerely like your help in keeping it special.

    Please always refer to our bricks as 'LEGO Bricks or Toys' and not 'LEGOS.' By doing so, you will be helping to protect and preserve a brand of which we are very proud and that stands for quality the world over. Thank you!

    Susan Williams
    Consumer Services

  • Hello!

    Just a quickie to let everyone know that NWCN has insterted a news clip of this into their story rotation today.

    NWCN = NorthWest Cable News and can be found on Channel 55 on the State of Oregon cable system (you get this at state govt facilities).

    73 de Joseph
  • Hmm, good suggestions, wish I could use them :(.
    Short answer: I don't have control over how the piston is constructed.

    Long answer: Here's the deal. I'm trying to stay completely Lego here, nothing you can't go to Toys 'R' Us and buy. The pneumatic sets(at least the modern ones) have a double input plunger and a single output pump. In my experiences, once there is pressure in the lines, you don't really lose it, the pneumatic nail guns don't keep the air pressure, they release it so the spring can pull the piston back. The Lego pneumatic cylinders, once charged, will keep their charge unless you break the circuit fully.

    I wish /. wasn't so damn crappily coded, or I could use some ASCII art to demonstrate this, but basically, once I throw the switch, the pressurized air in the tank is just diverted, not released, into the other input on the plunger and the shaft is forced back down. Since I opened the circut on the other loop(by throwing the switch) the pressurized air on the other side of the piston head is released and the plunger is forced back down pretty quickly. Then I can throw the switch into a neutral position and let the air I wasted(which was the amount of air in the line to the bottom input on the cylinder when I threw the switch to the "retract" position plus the amount of air in the line feeding the upper input) re-charge then I can fire again.

    Basically, I don't lose all that much pressure when I fire and retract. It's the slow pumping that's killing me. The only way I have to get the charging pump repeatedly up and down is with a spirograph type action, a long piece tied to a gear at one end and the top of the pump at the other. Unfortunately this only moves the pump the diameter of the gear each rotation, so it's not a full stroke. I can't use a large gear or it puts too much lateral pressure on the pump and bends it instead of pulling it straight down. Grr, it takes forever(on the order of 15 minutes) to charge primarially, but sucessive charge times are much faster(3 minutes or so)

    I'm going to switch to a different type of plunger, one with just a single input and figure out a way of re-directing the airflow to make it both suck and blow at different times, the single pin plunger is an older model and has a larger diameter piston head so it'll hit harder.

    Wish me luck.

  • Hopefully the offer is sufficiently buried in this thread, that I won't get slammed too badly.
  • They do something like this here in Seattle every year around the holiday time. They've always had big lego constructions in the Centerhouse (its a big pavilion-type place next to the Opera House and the Space Needle for those not around the seattle area). . .they had a huge statue of liberty made out of legos one year. In addition, they always have HUGE train layouts. . .And yes, in response to an earlier quote, the train systems are COMPLICATED! I used to be interested some in the HO model trains, and talked to the guys who run this a bit. Aside from the artistic work, just the wiring alone is a serious engineering project.

    If you live in the WA or OR area and haven't seen the Centerhouse at christmas time, come up and visit! It's just plain great.


  • I was looking at the site and saw some kind of control system for the trains. Is this a DCC system or something else? It has a cool LCD touch panel it looks like and some old equipment in a crate.
  • Sorry for the crummy formatting, I'll try again. Let me try those links again. [] [] []
  • Wanna have some more fun? (Caution, suggestion about to come from person with hick-likeness) Take those lovely AOL CD's, especially those carrying AOL 5, microwave them for a short while, then drill a little hole in the top and in the bottom, and then thread them together with some monofilament line (fishing line, for all of you who dont know) and then hang the lovely chain like thing up in your window. now you have a lovely waste of time hanging in your room. Or hang it outside, with several disks at the same level, and then make it a windchime. whoohoo!

    now dont have too much fun with this one!!

  • Where does sex fit in this?

    I hope that doesn't go along with peeing....

  • They should find a way to have the webcam ON the train. Then you could get a perspective of the Lego minifgure conductor.
  • Who wants to help me make the longest train made with Lincoln Logs??

    -- "Almost everyone is an idiot. If you think I'm exaggerating, then you're one of them."
  • Other 3 hours are for taking a pee and sleeping, but hopefully not both at the same time!

    why? Everyone knows doing both at once is more efficient :)

    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Friday August 18, 2000 @08:16AM (#844866) Homepage Journal
    Isn't the record held by British Rail? I mean, the trains -look- like they're made of lego, -sound- like they're made of lego, and get smashed up just like lego.

    On the other hand, if they implemented an IP-over-Lego-Train protocol, and had the trains transfer packets between controlling computers, they'd have a really cool setup! (Trains that tell the controllers what to do! Just like in Real Life! :)

    It'd be cool if they provided open extensions, though. Can you imagine a decent train service in the US?

  • It is no Secret that LEGO is an acronym stands for "Let's Expedite God's Obsolescence", an obvious call for Children everywhere to ignore their Traditional moral teachings and instead embrace the Liberal view of the world. By encouraging children to Create, liberals and atheists are trying to Trick children into believing that they have the power to create. Only God has the Power to create, as we know, but the Liberals want to brainwash our Children into their Godless viewpoint. To this end we must Ban LEGO and everything LEGO-related. Our Children must be brought up in a world where they are provided with a strong Moral Center. LEGO does not provide that.
  • by cowboy junkie ( 35926 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @08:05AM (#844869) Homepage
    A club in Walla Walla tries to break the record for the longest conga line made up exclusively of Star Wars action figures...
  • No it's not. "Lego" is technically an adjective which has no plural. If you want to be pedantic, say "Lego bricks" or "Lego system". If you're not being pedantic, then it doesn't really matter what you say.


  • by jayhawk88 ( 160512 ) <> on Friday August 18, 2000 @08:22AM (#844871)
    Now how about some real competition we all can get in on, building stuff out of AOL CD's.

    Because any device built entirely out of AOL CD's would eventually gain consciousness, grow powerful beyond imagine, and destroy us all. Don't believe me? It's in the Bible, somewhere near the back. Really.
  • When they said the longest layout, I assumed a straight shot going from Seattle to Miami or maybe just as far as Portland.

    But this track is in a large room. Sigh! It would be fun to go help them for a day and get to play with trains on such a fun layout :-)

    the AC
  • Isn't that just slightly dangerous? I mean, I've always been one of those people who avoids putting metal in a microwave.

  • Wow, one could get a very complicated system going on here. Some of the model railroads i've seen are incredibly detailed, and IIRC some even use Steam Locomotives. I always thought that it was just the rail was electrified and you could only change the direction of the Train only. But that signal modulation thing sounds quite spiffy, I might just have to look into that.

  • I think Lego Trains ARE fully operational. They are powered just like any other toy train I believe.
  • by tsangc ( 177574 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @09:36AM (#844876)
    Hi folks,

    Finally something I can comment on with some degree of expertise! :)

    Someone mentioned Mindstorms control of the layout. First off, Lego 9V train systems run off of a single power source controlled by what appears to be a crude stepped power supply (the 4548 Regulator). DC is fed into the entire track, and the Train Motor pack picks up that DC and drives its wheels. You can put as many packs as you like on the same track, but they'll all go forward and backwards at the same time because the entire track is electrified.

    A Mindstorms RCX 1.0 could be used to power up these tracks in place of the 4548 and execute control on one of its motor ports. The other two ports could be used to drive cranes, scenery, gates etc or another isolated track system. That's kinda boring though.

    The first option is to use what's called cab/block control. Fans of model trains (HO etc) will recognize this as powering on sections of track from a cab, or one power supply/regulator. So any given section of track could be fed separately by Cab A or Cab B, effectively meaning two motor packs are independently. As a train approachs a section of track, you power it up with the given Cab you are controlling, and unpower the section you're coming off of. But this means only one motor pack can be travelling within that section.

    If you wanted to use Mindstorms to automate here, there's probably some cool application of using one motor to do the switching of block sections, and one output to power the track.

    Another option is to isolate the motor pack from the track and power it solely using an onboard RCX. This has been tried by Matthew Bates and others. However, the draw of the motor pack soon drains the 1.0/1.5 RCX's six AA's. This would be one way to have a "ghost train" drive by itself without any connection to the 4548 powered track. You need to hack the motor to remove the pickups from the metal wheels.

    A third, and much more elegant option is inband signalling, or DCC . Model train fans have long enjoyed the NMRA DCC (Digital Cab Control) standard, which sends a coded pulsewidth modulation signal along a powered common track. DCC motorpacks pick up power and pick up the control signal. When they get a command intended for itself, it powers the wheels. In effect, the track becomes a common bus where power and signal come from but the operation of the motors is dependent on the commands issued in the signal. What's also cool is that switches, scenery, etc can be latched into the track bus and controlled with automation or remotely.

    Attempts have been made to put DCC into Lego trains-some experiments to isolate the track pickups/motors, then solder in a DCC decoder/controller into the pack have been successful. However, problems with voltage (9V vs normal 12V model train power) have hampered this. The cost is also hard to deal with-you're looking at least $400USD, when most people have tons of spare 4548's from trainsets.

    There's also a lot of other cool stuff you can do with Mindstorms-using the IR, you can have a proximity to set something off (like gates on a road) and play a warning bell when a train nears. It's a $110USD track crossing, but... :)


  • AHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAH Oh wait, you're serious?
  • This statement is still around today, in the Lego Company's Fair Play [] document.


  • Actually, Slashdot had an article [] about a bunch of guys who videotaped doing just that. They used "cheesy MS-DOS software," not AOL CD's.
  • Ah yes, a wonderful argument. Why don't you ask Lego [] and see what they think?


  • Except of course New Years Eve

    Yeah, but that was cause the Mayor of Seattle is from Vashon Island and thinks that Redmond is a part of Seattle. So, we're canning his ash now that he's been found responsible for the WTO fiasco, and shipping him off to live in France in exile.

    Anyone want to buy a used billionaire while we're at it? He's a bit of a megalomaniac, but he's into tech ...

  • by Hairy_Potter ( 219096 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @07:46AM (#844882) Homepage
    Look at the amazingly detailed model of the Space Needle [] they made.

  • by .sig ( 180877 )
    Now this is cool :-)
    How about doing it with Mindstorms, and actually have the train fully operational? Forget the bullet train, I'd rather take a ride on the Lego Express!!!!
  • Lego rocks. I've always liked castle lego the best. Except its gotten kind of lame the last 5 years. Too many big pieces.
  • Oh, yeah! Just imagine a Beowulf cluster of these!


    I'd rather have a play house made of these, but always thought the structural integrity was somewhat lacking in these larger builds. Do they get to file or make any adjustments?

    Vote [] Naked 2000
  • It's indoors. Last time I was at Seattle Center is was open-air.
  • Is there any world record Brio train setups anywhere? I had lego and brio as a kid. Probably the best combination anyone could ask for.

    Does anyone remember when the first motors were brought out? I made a robot that moved and had a grabbing arm. All that from one motor. Then came the lego with the little lights and the sounds. God the memories.

    Even the samurai
    have teddy bears,
    and even the teddy bears

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @07:54AM (#844888) Homepage Journal
    Look at the amazingly detailed model of the Space Needle they made.

    Yeah, impressive...

    Now how about some real competition we all can get in on, building stuff out of AOL CD's.

    Vote [] Naked 2000
  • Ok, I REALLY want to know if these guys are accepting memberships. OF course it's /.'ed so now I may never know :-(

    "You'll die up there son, just like I did!" - Abe Simpson
  • Seattle Center is very large, many blocks big, containing EMP (Paul Allen's Blob On Acid), the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, the Seattle Center House, the Opera House, Key Arena, and more.

  • I bet I had the world record for that when I was a kid. I'd set up huge cities in my room .. it would take weeks. (only took a few minutes to wreck and start over when I got bored.)

    Aah, brio and legos, that takes me back. I still have a good big bucket of legos in my apartment. I play with them when I'm sick of life, work, homework, and my computers.

  • This is pretty neat; but would anyone care to speculate how much money was paid to lego for this sort of construction, and how much money lego stands to make from such publicity?

    legos are great, but they cost so much.


  • Be carefull what you say....
    You did mention star wars, so it might show up as a rumor tomorow.

    (Title for EII - The Congo Empire?)

  • A friend of mine is nearing the finish line on building a desk for an executive of a company, oddly enough located in the Seattle area. The whole bloody thing is lego's. He's even got nice touches like a hole in the top, for passing cords through, with a movable cover. It's pretty insane. Apparently fairly stable tho (the desk, not the artist or the patron).

    Pic's will be forthcoming, once he figures out how to avoid the /. effect.
  • Yeah, it's friday, cut em some slack.

    I guess some of us have more time than we know what to do with. This is on top of programming 12 hours a day, browsing the web for 6 hours and drinking coffee for 3 hours each day :)

    Other 3 hours are for taking a pee and sleeping, but hopefully not both at the same time!

    Vote [] Naked 2000
  • If nothing else somebody will set the record there for loudest obscenity uttered after stepping on said longest legop train with bare feet......

  • by Mtgman ( 195502 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @08:42AM (#844897)
    arghhhhh, stop the juices... *gasp* ok, ok, I give in. Warning, incredibly useless creative stuff follows.

    For some reason I looked back through the archive of Lego topics on /. and saw the post about bulk ordering. There was a comment about a Lego machine gun which fired 2*4 bricks. I looked at it and saw that it used rubber bands and a hammer mechanism and some kind of hand crank. Suddenly the inspiration hit me. I'll redesign the thing! I'll motorize it and use a pneumatic plunger as a hammer to fire the bricks!

    Basic idea. Put a motor on the plunger which charges a compressed air tank so it charges continually. Have two lines running from the tank to the firing plunger controlled through a SPDT switch, when air is put in at the bottom of the firing plunger, it shoots out and knocks the brick down the barrel, when I throw it the other direction, it will allow the compressed air to flow into the upper input on the firing plunger and retract it, allowing another brick to fall into the firing chamber from the clip. And I can even build the switch into the housing so it looks like a trigger.

    The only real problem I see is getting the air chamber compressed to the point where there is a decent velocity imparted to the brick when the plunger strikes it. Those motors don't have near the amount of power the old Robotix building set motors did. I'll have to build gear ratios to allow the mechanism to push the compressing plunger down once there is a fair amount of compressed air in the tank already. Of course my upper limit is the working pressure in the rubber lines, I can make the gear ratio something ungodly and put tons and tons of pressure into the chamber, it may take forever to re-pressurize after firing, but that's the only way I can see to get decent velocity out of the firing plunger.

    Now I'm going home and build this stupid thing, my kids will love it. I'll post the design when I get it completed.

  • Or are they the ones made after the kids poked his eye out, without the missile?

A man is known by the company he organizes. -- Ambrose Bierce