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"Hydro Hound" Sand Sled - Silicatron - CSPMCII
A fusion-powered long-range scout, built for hunting subterranean glaciers deep under the endless sandy dunes of Berdeen.
About this creation
Unitron deep-space surveyors tagged the planet that would be called Berdeen as a prime terraforming and colonization target. Gravity was acceptable. Spectral analysis and long-range sensing described an atmosphere present with free oxygen and some liquid water. Most importantly, rich deposits of ta$ty mineral$ riddled the barren brown razorback mountain ridges like blue veins on a vintage stilton.

"Prime Target" didn't mean easy. The Unitron colonists found that the reality of Berdeen was not so rosy as the brochures made it out to be. The atmosphere was thin and - though oxygen was technically present - the levels of CO2 and a few other nasty elements made it poisonous. There were only three kinds of terrain on Berdeen; Mountain, icecap and an endless sea of sandy silica dunes which covered over 90% of the hot, dry world. The water promised by the probes was locked up in the icecaps and in massive, fractured subterranean glaciers buried deep in the Silica Sea.

On Berdeen the view was either of barren rock, or a pale whit sky or, mostly, of sand. And so the settlers jokingly named their sub-faction "SilicaTron."

The Hydro-Hound

Part of the terraforming division, the Hydro Hound is a Sand Sled converted for surveying subterranean glaciers. Sandstorms, shifting topography and the insulating effects of the sand itself makes orbital scanning spotty for mapping out glacial deposits - boots on the ground are a must. Fitted with deep-probing ground scanners and equipped for self-sustainability, the Hydro-Hounds spend weeks at a time on their own deep in the trackless wastes.

The sand Sea is no obstacle to the Hydro-Hound. Macro- and micro-flexible runners make for a smooth ride over burning sands in the cab while the massive triple-shielded electric motors - driven by twin mini-fusion reactors - propel the craft over the giant powdery dunes. The Monkeybot rides on top, maintaining and adjusting the primary scanning array.

Secondary scanners on the cab provide finer, though less powerful imaging or the world below the sands.

Split missions - 3d mapping!

When a Hound finds sign of a good water deposit, data collection begins in ernest. The Sand Sled splits. The tractor section with its powerful scanners stays put and keeps on probing through many spectra, building a data-rich image of the glacier deep below over the course of a few hours. The Monkeybot holds the tractor section level when it periodically rotates.

Meanwhile, the cab - now a rocket-propelled sled - is free to scoot off over the dunes with its narrower-focus, higher-precision scanners, adding definition and highlights to "hotspots" picked up by the tractor module. They're not just trying to find the size and shape ofthe glaciers. they're looking for flaws - cracks where burrowing bots can plant explosives, or dark muddy or rocky inclusions which can be targeted by bots with high-yield lasers (the resulting steam explosion is as good at cracking a glacier as any conventional explosive). The whole goal of the Hydro Hounds is to give a target for the big operations to follow - to shatter glaciers, raise them to the surfece, and put them to work. Some ice will be melted to form surface-level aquifers and develop a water cycle on the hot, dry planet. Some will be broken down - oxygen to enrich the air, hydrogen to be sold off-world as fuel to further the Unitron/Silicatron colonization and exploration efforts.

The rocket-sled mounts some handy-dandy handheld equipment, like this sample collector/analyzer probe.

Then there's the probe cannon, which fires burrowing sensormites, transceivers, and all manner of nifty microbots deep into the shifting sands. Monkeybot should be wary, that thing's got a...


...mighty kick.

The Cast

Hydro Hound explorer and Monkeybot.

A different take on the CS spaceman. Berdeen has an atmosphere, even with some oxygen! It's just thin, and packed full of all kinds of nasty besides. So he doesn't need air tanks, just a filtration and concentration system. The cape helps protect the wearer's suit from the ever-present windblown sand. That and the wide-brimmed helmet were adopted early on by the Silicatron settlers because, as good as your suit's climate control might be, it's just a little better with some shade. The wide helmet and cape are both packed with nano-solar-cells to power the environmental suit.

The Monkeybot, a powerful helper, has an experiemntal powerpack on its back to supplement its traditional batteries. Racks of custom-mutated algae catalyze with the more common poisonous elements in Berdeen's atmosphere, creating electric current and cleaning the atmosphere a little at a time and extending its time between recharges. Many Silicatron machines incorporate this new technology.

Alternate 1: Silica sifting station.

The sands of Berdeen aren't just silica. All kinds of valuabe trace elements can be found, but sorting them out is tedious work.

This lonely sifting station whirls tons of sand through centrifuges, spectral sorters and numerous other gizmos, to sort out a few ounces of rich stuff each day. It's not a fast way to get rich, but for someone who'd be a lonely desert rat anyway, one might as well get a setup like this to rake in a few credits.

The control shack. It's best not to be out in the open when the sifter's in full swing. Lots of big mving parts, high energy, questionable maintenance history. Just to big of a chance for things to go boom.

The Clawhopper, handy assistant to any gruff and rusty sifter. With the head flipped up in this pose, it fills the hopper with heaps of amazingly exciting sand, which it then dumps into the sifter.

Or it can pop its head down, look the other way, and use its claws to hoist around big stuff as needed. Never know when you might need to lift and carry a few tons around. Seriously, you should go get yourself a Clawhopper, pronto.

Alt 2: "Condor" Sky Crane

An aerial craft with massive lift thrusters and a big claw on bottom, for hauling hefty whatsits across the desert sky.

With the cockpit forward, it has a natural tendency to tip forward. Smaller thrusters on the nose give it balance, stability, and a mite of maneuverability.

I really dig this cockpit design, the way the windscreen fits so snug against the slope of the computer screens. I must use this in a more intricate model soon.

The parts

The minifig has three more parts than a standard spacemen, so he counts as 4 elements, not just 1. The Monkeybot is 15. If I counted right, it should be right at 100 elements.

Thanks to the Davids, and thanks to you for viewing!

I pulled a lot of inspiration for the story from this book. Any space fan - especially CS fan - should give it a read. Amazing builds, and the story's pretty awesome, building a beautiful story out of the progression from CS through the first few themes.

My first attempt at this contest is posted here - a subtheme of Blacktron I. It's kinda neat, but the Hydro Hound is way cooler.


 I made it 
  December 24, 2015
Quoting Jeremy McCreary Overflowing with imagination, ingenuity, and fun, Eric! Love the way the main model dissociates into specialized modules with plausible functions in context. The beautifully written back story ties it all up in a neat bundle. I have no doubt that the writing took longer than the building.
Thanks for the comment. I really did like this one, and had a hard time taking it apart. I tend to narrate to myself while I'm building, so by the time I actually post I tend to have more words to write than the bricks I've used.
  December 23, 2015
Overflowing with imagination, ingenuity, and fun, Eric! Love the way the main model dissociates into specialized modules with plausible functions in context. The beautifully written back story ties it all up in a neat bundle. I have no doubt that the writing took longer than the building.
 I like it 
  December 17, 2014
Wow ! A lot of great ideas and cool stuff ! 5/5
 I like it 
  January 18, 2014
A really interesting entry, full of invention and CSness. Nice work!
 I made it 
  January 18, 2014
Thanks everyone for your appreciation! this was a super-fun build, one that went from brain to brick really swiftly, with only a few edits over the next day or 2. Nice change from the usual. Honestly, I think I spent more time on the writeup than on the build. (wonder what my words-to-parts ratio is?) Not reading the rules made this moc happen, in a way; I started a Blacktron build, with the intent to use those yellow skis. Then I read the rules, scrapped the blacktron idea, but still had the claws on the brain. After that I tried to use the biggest, chunkiest bits I could to stretch the 100 part limit, and voila. Like many of you, the monkeybot is a beloved feature of this build for me. I remember the buildable bots from CS, before they made minifig androids, and wanted to include that in this build. Thanks again for all the commentary! Looking forward to CSPMCIII!
 I like it 
  January 18, 2014
The skidoo take on CS I love. Mixing in yellows with the classic 85 colours seems to work, especially with the styling of the figs. The bots, are really spot on. 8 A good variety of alternatives. Always good to see a base pulled out of the hat. 8 All those bots and the detachable skidoo seems to set things up for a whole host of adventures. 9 Although to my mind not quite CS, perhaps a touch to comic-book or dystopian (can't put my finger on why I get that feeling). Still very innovative. 7
 I like it 
  January 18, 2014
Hmmm. I've never been to THE Berdeen but I have been to Aberdeen and that wasn't as rosy as the brochures made it out be either! On with the contest... A highly practical looking desert travel vehicle. I like the contrast between the connected mode, with the big wheels pushing it steadily along and the rocket sled mode, blasting across the sands. The hinge/swivel between the two sections adds to the cross country feel of this vehicle. I think that the black/grey/yellow scheme works well and that trans-green would be great for killing off that desert sun. It's excellent that you've carried the colour scheme onto the custom minifig and monkey-bot. 8 Excellent alternatives. Firstly, they have functions different from each other and the main build. Secondly, they continue the theme. Thirdly, they look great and have some clever use of the parts. This particularly the case with the centrifuge. Big, solid wheels can be hard to for anything else (apart from engines on SHIPs) and I think that this is a superb idea. The clawhopper looks very good too. A practical and clean design. The Condor's wings are only connected via two studs, which seems a bit weak with all of kit on them. I wonder how swooshable it is? Nice to see an "illegal" connection on there too! 9 The modularity and the monkey-bot really help to up the playability score. I like the detachable tools on the sand-sled: essential CS. Perhaps the big scanner could have rotated too? The whole MOC looks pretty solid. I imagine that the sand-sled can skim across a tiled floor and its front skis will protect it from impact damage. The feet on the monkey-bot might make him a bit hard for kids to balance in a standing position but his cannon will work neatly as a walking stick. 8 Big wheels, big sensors and a detachable section all contribute to the CS feel of this MOC. The cute robot is a super little build too and echoes the robots in some the later CS sets. Great fun! 8 Total 33
 I like it 
  January 14, 2014
Your idea of a desert planet-focused faction is so good that it deserves to be a real sub-theme. I particularly like the main model here, it definitely looks like something Unitron would have developed, and the monkeybot on the roof is hilarious!
 I like it 
  January 12, 2014
Cool! I like the Condor!
 I like it 
  January 11, 2014
Good use of those yellow claw pieces and the monkeybot is great. Good playability too. Nice job.
 I like it 
  January 11, 2014
Cool alternatives + cool functions + cool colour schemes = Cool stuff! :-))
 I like it 
  January 9, 2014
Great stuff! I like the style and outfit of the astronaut - it really does fit with your theme very well. The amount of play options with not only the main model but also the alternates is very well done, as well.
 I like it 
  January 8, 2014
I like the storyline of this one, as well as the creative minifig design.
 I like it 
  January 7, 2014
That's very cool! Good job!
By Eric Landreneau
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop "Hydro Hound" Sand Sled - Silicatron - CSPMCIILand craft

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