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Introduction to motors and machines


jmdt
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My son is pretty good at building lego sets (he is 6 and has built the death star and sand crawler). However, we want to introduce him to motorized lego. So far his exposure is to lego trains. What is a good way to introduce him to lego motors and which ones would you recommend buying? The ones from lego education seem great (with the necessary pieces and curriculum) however, they seem pricey for the number of pieces. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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Guest brickcrazyhouse

only motorized sets I own are the Ferris wheel and Fairground mixer.  Had to buy the motors separate but would work for his introduction to moving parts.

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20 minutes ago, jmdt said:

My son is pretty good at building lego sets (he is 6 and has built the death star and sand crawler). However, we want to introduce him to motorized lego. So far his exposure is to lego trains. What is a good way to introduce him to lego motors and which ones would you recommend buying? The ones from lego education seem great (with the necessary pieces and curriculum) however, they seem pricey for the number of pieces. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

What I take from this.  Damn, my kid is lazy.

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I would assume that at 6 yrs old the EV3 programmable sets might be a bit much. I would start with the basic motor ones (non programmable), and let him work his way up.

Search Educational & Dacta, and then Mindstorms, RCX, NXT, & then EV3.

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I would assume that at 6 yrs old the EV3 programmable sets might be a bit much. I would start with the basic motor ones (non programmable), and let him work his way up.

Search Educational & Dacta, and then Mindstorms, RCX, NXT, & then EV3.

Thanks! I think programming is beyond where he is right now but playing around with basic pieces and seeing how they move with motors would be really interesting. Are there basic motor sets you suggest?

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Guest brickcrazyhouse

just remembered building a small fan with the one motor I had as a kid.  you may want to check this book out

 

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My son started building motorized Technic LEGO sets when he was 7. Built the 42009 Crane on his own when he had just turned 8. Just look for any Technic set with motor and your son will have fun, then let him take it apart to build his own machines - or spend some time with him explaining gearing ratios and mechanical stress on gears to void him damaging the moor or stripping gears. The rest will come automatically over time. The 42042 Crawler crane is a great set to get started with for example.

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My son started building motorized Technic LEGO sets when he was 7. Built the 42009 Crane on his own when he had just turned 8. Just look for any Technic set with motor and your son will have fun, then let him take it apart to build his own machines - or spend some time with him explaining gearing ratios and mechanical stress on gears to void him damaging the moor or stripping gears. The rest will come automatically over time. The 42042 Crawler crane is a great set to get started with for example.

Thank you! It's great to have the perspective of a parent that has gone through something similar with their kids.

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1 hour ago, jmdt said:

Thank you! It's great to have the perspective of a parent that has gone through something similar with their kids.

In terms of advice: make sure your son understands the motor needs to be stationary and equipment needs to turn - my son thought it was fun to hold the battery box and have the motor (with gears and stuff) spin around fast at the end of the cord; as a result daddy had to get the soldering iron out to resolder the cord back to the motor as it broke internally due to overtwisting ;-)

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In terms of advice: make sure your son understands the motor needs to be stationary and equipment needs to turn - my son thought it was fun to hold the battery box and have the motor (with gears and stuff) spin around fast at the end of the cord; as a result daddy had to get the soldering iron out to resolder the cord back to the motor as it broke internally due to overtwisting ;-)

I think my son would also find that amusing. Thanks for the heads up!

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You don't need more than a couple m-motors if you have some trains. :)

Do you have either the Fairground Mixer or Ferris Wheel? Those are great sets to use an introduction to motorizing ... If you have a train set, I also highly recommend you "borrow" the infrared sensor and remote control to use as a way to turn the motors on. With the way it steps through the speeds, you can teach them about torque:

- At the lowest speed, the M motor doesn't have enough power to spin them very well.
- At the highest speed, it's way too fast to be realistic but the sets can handle full speed unlike a train that will jump the rails.

It also prevents the problem Phil B described since they won't be holding the battery box, they'll be holding the remote!

Then from a lesson on torque and how easy it is to motorize something, you can move on to building a vehicle. Start with building a stand to motorize a single axle, and let them figure out how to mount it to vehicle chassis. The lego bricks with technic pin holes are great for this - better than the technic beams - since they can mix and match regular LEGO in their designs. These technic bricks are excellent for building a basic chassis.

40345.jpg?1

From there you can do lots of fun stuff...

- Try to build a vehicle that spins both wheels on an axle.
- Make a vehicle with tracks.
- Build a different kind of amusement part ride.
- Get them to pick something that moves to see if they can figure out how to motorize it.

After that, if they are still engaged then the Mindstorms stuff is great since it allows you to use servos and motors! But it is far more advanced than basic motor with on/off and different speeds.
 

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You don't need more than a couple m-motors if you have some trains.

Do you have either the Fairground Mixer or Ferris Wheel? Those are great sets to use an introduction to motorizing ... If you have a train set, I also highly recommend you "borrow" the infrared sensor and remote control to use as a way to turn the motors on. With the way it steps through the speeds, you can teach them about torque:

- At the lowest speed, the M motor doesn't have enough power to spin them very well.

- At the highest speed, it's way too fast to be realistic but the sets can handle full speed unlike a train that will jump the rails.

It also prevents the problem Phil B described since they won't be holding the battery box, they'll be holding the remote!

Then from a lesson on torque and how easy it is to motorize something, you can move on to building a vehicle. Start with building a stand to motorize a single axle, and let them figure out how to mount it to vehicle chassis. The lego bricks with technic pin holes are great for this - better than the technic beams - since they can mix and match regular LEGO in their designs. These technic bricks are excellent for building a basic chassis.

40345.jpg?1

From there you can do lots of fun stuff...

- Try to build a vehicle that spins both wheels on an axle.

- Make a vehicle with tracks.

- Build a different kind of amusement part ride.

- Get them to pick something that moves to see if they can figure out how to motorize it.

After that, if they are still engaged then the Mindstorms stuff is great since it allows you to use servos and motors! But it is far more advanced than basic motor with on/off and different speeds.

 

Excellent suggestions - thanks gregpj!

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Thank you for the suggestions everyone provided! I'm going to try to implement them and have him explore the possibilities. The books by Yoshihito Isogawa (suggested above) are great. The only concern I have is finding (and identifying) the pieces for the various models. Given my son's age, parents (my husband and I) will probably be the ones looking for pieces.

As another possibility, the lego education options I am looking at are below. They both sound like they would be what we would be interested in but they are pretty pricey. Does lego education ever go on sale?

 

Option A (both items below with shipping is $294.90):

$165.95

https://education.lego.com/en-us/products/simple-powered-machines-base-set/9686

$129.95

http://education.lego.com/en-us/products/introducing-simple-powered-machines/2009692

 

Option B (has the elements above but x2). More cost effective if I can find another local parent interested in this.

$481.45

http://education.lego.com/en-us/products/simple-powered-machines-intro-classroom-packs/prod120005

 

 

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29 minutes ago, jmdt said:

Thank you for the suggestions everyone provided! I'm going to try to implement them and have him explore the possibilities. The books by Yoshihito Isogawa (suggested above) are great. The only concern I have is finding (and identifying) the pieces for the various models. Given my son's age, parents (my husband and I) will probably be the ones looking for pieces.

As another possibility, the lego education options I am looking at are below. They both sound like they would be what we would be interested in but they are pretty pricey. Does lego education ever go on sale?

 

Option A (both items below with shipping is $294.90):

$165.95

https://education.lego.com/en-us/products/simple-powered-machines-base-set/9686

$129.95

http://education.lego.com/en-us/products/introducing-simple-powered-machines/2009692

 

Option B (has the elements above but x2). More cost effective if I can find another local parent interested in this.

$481.45

http://education.lego.com/en-us/products/simple-powered-machines-intro-classroom-packs/prod120005

 

 

I've never seen the educational sets go on sale... and honestly, they are over priced. I'm sure the lessons are good, but you'll get far more out of that suggested book than you will the extra material in the education packs.

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35 minutes ago, gregpj said:

I've never seen the educational sets go on sale... and honestly, they are over priced. I'm sure the lessons are good, but you'll get far more out of that suggested book than you will the extra material in the education packs.

You pay for the curriculum that comes with it. There are only 2 places where I have seen benefit in buying from LEGO Education:

1. The unique set bundles such as the minifig packs and the baseplate packs (see Amazon) - those do have sales sometimes if bought via Amazon

2. LEGO Mindstorms EV3 - for $50 more than retail (note: you pay for shipping when buying directly from LEGO Education) you get a nice storage box and the LiPo pack plus charger, plus a better sensor selection (2x touch, 1xUltrasonic(not included in retail), 1xgyro, 1xcolor). Slightly cheaper than buying the retail EV3 plus battery plus charger from LEGO Shop at Home (perhaps equally priced if you factor in VIP or slightly more expensive if you buy during double VIP).

Note that I have considered (and still am considering) buying LEGO Educational sets for my non-LEGO-investing business.

Edited by Phil B
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You pay for the curriculum that comes with it. There are only 2 places where I have seen benefit in buying from LEGO Education:

1. The unique set bundles such as the minifig packs and the baseplate packs (see Amazon) - those do have sales sometimes if bought via Amazon

2. LEGO Mindstorms EV3 - for $50 more than retail (note: you pay for shipping when buying directly from LEGO Education) you get a nice storage box and the LiPo pack plus charger, plus a better sensor selection (2x touch, 1xUltrasonic(not included in retail), 1xgyro, 1xcolor). Slightly cheaper than buying the retail EV3 plus battery plus charger from LEGO Shop at Home (perhaps equally priced if you factor in VIP or slightly more expensive if you buy during double VIP).

Note that I have considered (and still am considering) buying LEGO Educational sets for my non-LEGO-investing business.

And what I'm saying is that I don't think the curriculum is worth it for a home interest/hobby. Even for a school where this could be useful, they should already have curriculum and with some creative googling you could adapt LEGO to it.

But I'm not saying it's bad or not useful!

Personally, I'd take the extra money and invest in extra parts. Plenty of free curriculum out there if you look!

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Hey @jmdt, a cheap alternative to the above suggestions is this book, which comes with all of the pieces required to build the "contraptions". This stuff is way more basic than what others have suggested, but I think the book works well as an introduction to the idea of incorporating gears/motors in in LEGO models, and at the current price of $13, you get a good selection of technic pieces (105 in all). At the very least, it'll occupy your son for an afternoon.

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10 hours ago, tjj1984 said:

Hey @jmdt, a cheap alternative to the above suggestions is this book, which comes with all of the pieces required to build the "contraptions". This stuff is way more basic than what others have suggested, but I think the book works well as an introduction to the idea of incorporating gears/motors in in LEGO models, and at the current price of $13, you get a good selection of technic pieces (105 in all). At the very least, it'll occupy your son for an afternoon.

What a great suggestion - thank you!

 

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