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VLUG Brickworld 2013 Wizard of Oz Tornado! . . Last summer our Virtual Lego Users Group decided upon The Wizard of Oz for this year's collaborative display at Brickworld. Here's Chris' excellent recap As you can see, I volunteered for the Tornado portion of the project. Much needed advice was sought along the way from the other group members via email and video conference. Thanks, Gang! The house was integrated into the structure. Made entirely in grayscale, the build was designed to mimic the scene in the original movie. The mean old lady on her bike, with Toto hidden in the basket. The Wicked Witch! The Path of Destruction. The tractor and hay wagon that will soon be airborne. The Build: I was motivated right from the beginning to get started on this project. One reason was to get the engineering aspects squared away. The other was to give me enough time to scrounge up the parts through Bricklink and Lego Store visits. The mechanics: Two motors with worm drives. The weight of the tornado was designed to press down to keep the gears from exploding. I learned this the hard way in an earlier version. Close up of the drive section. The motors were rigged to run in opposite directions so that the gears would run the same way. And the main bearing/turntable. The pins connected to the first layer of the tornado which would cover all of the black tiles shown. Top of the Tornado: Each layer was made of two halves, studs out in both directions from the middle. Technic pins and axles connected the two sides. Removing the top layer reveals the guts of the construction. Other than the top couple of layers, the tornado was built in sections of three levels. Each successive two stud level was offset by just a few degrees to create the illusion of motion even when standing still. The back of the house was snapped into position. In spite of its hollow appearance, the weight was still significant. Colored round plates indicated where the pins were supposed to lock. As you can see, the internal structure was infuriatingly complicated. I had to connect the opposing halves with this sort of Technic rig. At the same time I had to line up the centers while rotating each level. Finding places to make a pin connection took a fair amount of trial and error. Sliding the center axis along the Technic axles allowed for some maneuverability. The lower, load bearing levels were more symmetrical, and therefore much simpler to connect. Here's a shot of the whole collaboration! Two videos I took at home of the tornado in action. One Two A few other nifty links: Lee's Interview with Beyond the Brick. A TV news spot. Brothers Brick And a posting on Electronic Engineering Journal, of all places. Who knew? I must say, I had no clue what I was getting myself into when starting this project. Lots of trial and error, designs, redesigns, and redesigns of the redesigns. And the huge challenge of building it to be safely shipped to my little buddy Tyler (six foot nine and three quarters). Around November I realized, and my wife and son agreed, that we really needed to go Brickworld in person and see this thing through. Thousands of axle pins on shifters, you can imagine. So we booked it! What an amazing experience! The scale of the event was way beyond what I had imagined, even after seeing pictures from previous Brickworlds. It was great to finally meet the VLUG gang in person as well as the other builders at the show. The fans were incredibly enthusiastic and curious, full of compliments and questions. Many thanks to my fellow VLUGers, in particular, Tyler for handling the tornado logistics, and Dave for being the HMFIC getting it all together! Thanks, Heath for donating your Olympic Swim fig to my son's collection, he was really psyched! It was an honor and a privilege! The VLUG Flickr Page, for more pics and information.

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