|Other names||Expert Builder
Technic is a line of Lego interconnecting plastic rods and parts. The purpose of this series is to create more advanced models with more complex movable arms, such as machines with wheels, in addition to the simpler brick-building properties of normal LEGO.
The concept was introduced as the Expert Builder series and originally Technical Sets in 1977, and was renamed Technic in 1984.
Technic sets are often characterized by the presence of special pieces, such as gears, axles, pins, and beams. Some sets also come with pneumatic pieces or electric motors. In recent years, technic pieces have begun filtering down into other Lego sets as well, the power miners, and others, but mostly notably the Bionicle sets (which were once sold as part of the Technic line), as well as a great many others.
The style of technic sets has been changing over time. Technic sets produced since the year 2000 use a different construction methodology, described as "studless construction" (Studs are the small circular knobs which appear on traditional Lego bricks). This method utilizes beams and pins rather than technic bricks.
Mindstorms, a Lego line of robotic products, also uses a large number of Technic pieces, although it is sold as a separate line of products. The latest generation of the Mindstorms range, the Mindstorms EV3 range (released September 2013), as well as the Mindstorms NXT sets (released August 2006), are based on the studless construction method.
"Studded" versus "studless"
Although studless beams (studs are the bumps traditionally associated with Lego parts) have been present in Technic sets for many years, the change from primarily studded to primarily studless construction represented a major paradigm shift and has been quite controversial.
The primary advantage of studless construction is the addition of new construction methods that were previously unavailable. The new studless beams are exactly 1 unit width high, in contrast to studded beams, which are a non-integer multiple of one unit. It can be awkward to use studded beams in vertical structures because it is necessary to insert plates between the studded beams in order to get the holes to line up. Studless beams allow greater flexibility when building in multiple dimensions, while remaining compatible with "classic" studded beams. Some builders also believe that models constructed with studless beams look nicer than their studded counterparts.
However, studless construction also introduces disadvantages. Studless construction is not immediately intuitive, requiring the builder to think five or six steps ahead. While studded construction follows the classic bottom-to-top building pattern, studless construction requires building inside-to-outside.
Lego Technic components
Lego Technic system expands on the normal LEGO bricks with a whole range of new bricks that offer new functionality and building styles. The most significant change from normal LEGO is that single-stud wide bricks ('beams') have circular holes through their vertical face, positioned in-between the studs. These holes can accommodate pins, which enable two beams to be held securely together, either side-by-side, or at an angle.
LEGO Technic system has always included a variety of different electric motors. Broadly, these divide into those powered by batteries, held in a connected battery box, or by mains electricity, via a transformer. Battery-power is the most common.
The very earliest motors (p/n x469b) were 4.5 volt, and consisted of a modified "Electric Train Motor" (p/n x469) and along with the 4 driven bushes for wheels added an axle hole enabling axles of different lengths to be used. While these were released in kits with Technic parts they were not sold as Technic motors.
The first dedicated Technic motor was a 4.5 volt rounded brick (p/n 6216m) released in 1977 as part of the Expert Builder Power Pack (960-1) and Supplementary Set (870-1), this output via a small protruding axle that would rotate when the motor was powered. The motor was not geared, resulting in high-RPM, low-torque output. Gearboxes and a square casing were available.
The 4.5 volt motor was replaced by a similar but square 9 volt motor in 1990.
Recent motors contain an axle hole enabling axles of different lengths to be used.
In late 2007, a new motor system was released called Power Functions; it was included within Lego set 8275 Motorized Bulldozer. It comprised a set of motors, two IR receivers, remote control and a battery box, thus resulting in a remote-control model.
With these sets it is possible to build or convert manually-operated mechanical movement to motorized using electric motors which are controlled via switches or IR remote control. Future plans for this set include more parts which will add even more functionality/control possibilities. Lego has already started to design and sell Lego Technic models (sets) which can be easily retrofitted with Power Functions blocks. For example models like the 8294 Excavator, 8295 Telescopic Handler or 7645 MT-61 Crystal Reaper are sold like classic Lego Technic models with manual motorization but are designed with free space for the Power Functions components with factory instructions on how to perform the conversion to an electrically operated model.
|870||Lego Technical Motor, 4.5 V||1977 (discontinued)|
|960||Lego Expert Builder Power Pack||1978 (discontinued)|
|8881||AA Power Functions Battery Box||2008|
|8882||Power Functions XL-Motor||2008|
|8883||Power Functions M-Motor||2008|
|8884||Power Functions IR Receiver||2008|
|8885||Power Functions IR Remote Control||2008|
|8886||Power Functions Extension Wire||2008|
|8869||Power Functions Control Switch||2009|
|8870||Power Functions Light||2009|
|8871||Power Functions Extension Wire 20”||2009|
|8293||Power Functions Motor Set||2009|
|8878||Power Functions Rechargeable Battery Box||2009|
|8887||Power Functions Transformer 10 VDC||2009|
|8879||Power Functions IR Speed Remote Control||2009|
|61100c01||Windup Motor 2 × 4 × 21⁄3 with Orange Release Button (Power Functions)||2009|
|88000||AAA Battery Box||2011|
|88002||Lego Power Functions Train Motor||2011|
|88003||Power Functions Large Motor||2012|
|88004||Power Functions Servo Motor||2012|
The Power Functions line-up also includes a Linear Actuator currently not sold separately, but already used in many models like the 8294 Excavator and the 8043 Motorized Excavator.
Gears have been included within Lego Technic sets as a way of transferring rotary power, and of gearing-up or down the speed. Gears come in several sizes: 8 tooth, 16 tooth, 24 tooth and 40 tooth spur gears; 12 tooth, 20 tooth and 36 tooth double bevel gears; and 12 tooth and 20 tooth single bevel gears. The double bevel gears are cut so they can also be meshed as spur gears. There is also a 16 tooth clutch gear, and a 24 tooth friction gear that slips when a certain amount of torque is put on it to prevent motors from damaging any parts or burning themselves out.
In addition to standard gears, some kits include a rack, a clutch and even worm gears and differential gears. The original differential had a 28 tooth bevel gear, designed to be meshed with the 14 tooth bevel gears (replaced by the 12 tooth gears) to give 2:1 reduction. They can also be meshed with the newer double bevel gears. It was replaced by a newer design incorporating 16 tooth and 24 tooth gears on opposite sides of the casing. The casing holds three 12 tooth bevel gears inside.
As of 2008, an updated version of the original differential has been released, optimized for studless construction.
Chain links were also introduced as an additional way of connecting gears. Tension (resulting from the correct number of chain-link parts used), along with the combination of gearwheel-sizes used, is critical to reliable operation. 8-tooth gears are not recommended for this purpose.
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- The Unofficial LEGO Builder's Guide by Allan Bedford