Connect with us

Technology

China set vs unofficial Lego fan design • The Register

Voice Of EU

Published

on

NASA’s Perseverance is currently trundling around Mars. In the absence of an official Lego version, your hardworking vultures had a crack at a pair of recent designs for the nuclear-powered rover.

We have a bit of a chequered history when it comes to the plastic bricks. Sure, we had fun building the International Space Station and Apollo Lunar Module, but those were genuine kits containing genuine Lego bricks.

Our other excursions were less successful. The crawler transporter for the Saturn V launch tower was a bit of a beast and the less said about the launch tower itself the better. (Glue. Glue.)

But Perseverance’s successful landing has given us the construction itch once again. We missed the boat when Curiosity was all the rage (although remain tempted by the Descent Stage and Sky Crane in the Lego Ideas model) so opted to try the model retailing at $43.99 from Vonado.

To be clear, this is not an official set by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it made of official Lego parts. Like our crawler and tower, the 661-brick beast comes direct from a vendor in China.

As a comparison, we also picked up a design from SkylabBricks, which cost us £4.52. (Although one must supply one’s own bricks. More on that later.)

We started with the Vonado model, the design and modelling of which is credited to YCBricks (you can pick up just the PDF instructions for $6.99 at Rebrickable.)

Compared to the pain of the Saturn tower, the build was relatively straightforward, although we’d have to caution that skipping ahead in the PDF instruction file is highly advisable since some steps aren’t particularly clear.

Vonado Perseverance set

Click to enlarge

The bags of parts come numbered, although as with the crawler, those numbers have no bearing on what is needed when. More than one leap of faith was needed, to the point where one couldn’t help but wonder if anybody had actually tried to follow the steps before flinging the kit up for sale.

That said, the resulting rover was satisfyingly large even if its proportions seemed subjectively a little at odds with its inspiration. It does, however, feel a little fragile and not something that one would want to handle too much, which is a shame. One benefit of models like the Saturn V and Apollo lander is the ease with which one can use them to explain how spacecraft work. Not so much with this.

The SkylabBricks version was an entirely different beast. The cost of a London pint of beer gave one a link to PDFs detailing how to make the rover and Martian landscape. Parts files are provided to submit to the Bricklink site for ordering up components and spending, as Joe Chambers of SkylabBricks succinctly put it, “lots of money.”

SkylabBricks set

Click to enlarge

This is most definitely not the cheap option. The plans are helpfully split into rover and surface, but doing both with new Lego parts will come in at about £90 depending on the vagaries of the Bricklink marketplace (and what you already have in stock).

Cost of parts aside, the PDF instructions from SkylabBricks are streets ahead of those for the Vonado rover. As well as the expected step-by-step assembly instructions, a good few pages are dedicated to documenting the rover itself, its mission, payload, and the Ingenuity helicopter.

The instructions also give a nod to Lego’s original (and discontinued) Curiosity set, although this is considerably more detailed. It also comes in at 323 pieces for the rover and 370 for the display stand.

As for those pieces, we used the Bricklink site and the .xml parts files supplied by SkylabBricks. We allowed Bricklink to select the stores to supply the bricks (from a variety of geographical locations, including the UK, Europe, the US, and Malaysia). Over the course of a couple of weeks, little parcels of Lego joy arrived.

Saturn V not included

We bought a knockoff Lego launchpad kit from China for our Saturn V rocket so you don’t have to

READ MORE

As with the Vonado rover, the packaging of the parts had no bearing on the order of assembly. However, since careful auditing was needed to ensure what was delivered was what had been ordered, putting together the SkylabBricks rover was a good deal easier (although we can understand why one might want to have one’s bricks arrive in one, big package).

The difference between the rovers is surprising. While smaller, the SkylabBricks version is considerably more “play-with-able” and feels a good deal more solid. Bits did not fall off when a small child decided to take it for a spin over an imagined Martian surface consisting of dirt, gravel, and a lichen-encrusted paving slab. Parts dropped from the Vonado version just moving it from shelf to shelf (and resulted in more than one glance at the dread bottle of glue).

The Lego recreation of the surface of Mars was also a hoot to assemble, and made for a handy display stand.

The Register spoke to SkylabBricks’ Joe Chambers about the designs and the effort involved. Each design takes between three to four months, depending on the size of the project. “My instructions,” he said, “are somewhat unique in that I do a technical writeup of the subject and put it into the PDF.

“That is more for me, to be honest, but sometimes that takes a couple of weeks alone. I overdid it on my Delta IV, I must admit, writing something about all seven versions, but I love the stories and the technology of these things.

“The main focus of my designs, if you haven’t noticed, is space exploration and rocketry. I design things that I like or that I want to display.

Lego ISS

Vulture discovers talons are rubbish for building Lego’s International Space Station

READ MORE

“For lack of a better description, I make models of things through the design constraint of Lego. I may be weird in that I want to make something look as accurate to the real thing that Lego will allow. I even try to hide studs behind tiles as much as possible. I am not building with mini-figs in mind or that it will be a playset. With all respect to people who enjoy that, my mindset is 100 per cent on the side of form over function, and, sometimes, over structural integrity.”

We can, however, confirm that the Perseverance model is excellent for playing with as well as being impressively detailed. The cost of assembling all the parts when compared to the alternative might however be a bit much for some.

As the name implies, a Skylab design can also be picked up from the SkylabBricks site. After this week’s announcement of a new official Lego Space Shuttle set, Chambers mused: “It suddenly hit me that it is about the same scale as my big Skylab. Ever hear of the Skylab Rescue mission? I think that might be a quick one to do…”

If only NASA had been able to do the same. ®

Source link

Technology

I can’t charge my electric car cheaply because I’m too close to an RAF base | Money

Voice Of EU

Published

on

A few months ago I decided to switch energy supplier and moved to Octopus Energy’s Go tariff, principally because it offers cheap electric car charging overnight at a rate of 5p/kWh.

I applied to have the required smart meter installed. But after being given a date, I was later declined on the basis that smart meters cannot work at my address because they interfere with the missile early warning system at RAF Fylingdales.

Initially, I thought this was a joke. I have been involved with the construction of hundreds of new homes in Teesside, all of which have had smart meters installed.

Smart Energy GB, the body responsible for the rollout, has confirmed that this is very real, and smart meters installed in the area will not have had their smart capacity turned on.

I was told that a new meter is being worked upon and will eventually replace those already installed.

Meanwhile, I am having to charge my car at a premium rate of 16.76p/kWh which is costing me about £26 more a week than it would be on the Go tariff.

AM, Guisborough

Given that your house is more than 20 miles from the RAF base in question, I, too, was amazed that this could be an issue, but it is – and also in other areas close to bases.

Smart Meter GB has confirmed this is the case and says it is working on a solution – a communications hub that will enable people living near sensitive RAF sites to use smart meters.

It says these will be offered to customers “in the coming months”.

It adds those in the affected area, who had already had smart meters installed should be able to have the hubs retrofitted.

Meanwhile, Octopus has come up with a solution for your problem. It has offered to add you to the trial of these new meters, which, in turn, will allow you to go on the Go tariff.

It says it hopes to install your new meter before Christmas. It has also said that if you get the log from your charging firm, showing how much electricity you have used for the car since the switch took place, it will retroactively apply the savings that you would have gained had the smart meter worked from the start – a generous offer.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include a phone number. Letters are subject to our terms: gu.com/letters-terms

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

China’s Yutu rover spots ‘mysterious hut’ on far side of the Moon

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Cube-shaped object is probably just a rock. Yutu will check it out anyway

China’s Moon rover, Yutu 2, has sent images of a strangely geometric object.…

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

Strikepay struck gold at National Startup Awards 2021

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Strikepay, founded by fintech entrepreneurs Oli Cavanagh and Charles Dowd, scooped the top award for its fast-growing cash-free tipping tech.

Irish fintech company Strikepay has scooped the top prize at this year’s National Startup Awards.

The start-up, previously called Strike, was founded in 2020 to enable cash-free tipping without the need for a payment terminal or a new app on a customer’s phone.

Its founders, fintech entrepreneurs Oli Cavanagh and Charles Dowd, raised €625,000 in seed funding earlier this year and said they intended to seek a further €6.5m in investment by the end of 2021.

Strikepay has already begun acquiring and collaborating with other companies to bolster its product offering. In June, it acquired UK payments rival Gratsi and in April it appointed former Just Eat exec Edel Kinane as its chief growth officer.

Earlier in the year, it teamed up with Camile Thai Kitchen to enable contactless tipping for food delivery drivers and partnered with mobility company Bolt to bring its cashless tipping technology to taxis in Dublin.

Strikepay was one of several winners at the awards ceremony, which was livestreamed last night (2 December).

Other winners included health-tech start-up Stimul.ai, customer analysis tech business Glimpse, and sheep monitoring start-up Cotter Agritech, which has been participating in a new accelerator programme at University College Dublin.

As well as taking the top award, Strikepay also won Best Fintech Startup.

This year marked the 10th year of the National Startup Awards. The event was sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, Microfinance Ireland, Sage, Cronin Accountants and McCann Fitzgerald.

Last year’s top award was given to drone delivery service Manna. The start-up had been working with companies such as Tesco, Just Eat and Camile Thai to test its drones, and has seen further growth since then.

The full list of winners at the 2021 awards, in order of gold, silver and bronze, are:

Startup of the Year 2021

Strikepay

Early Stage Startup

Imvizar, CyberPie, The Fifth Dimension

Emerge Tech Startup

Xunison, Helgen Technologies, LiveCosts.com

Fintech Startup

Strikepay, ID-Pal, Itus Secure Technologies

Food and Drink Startup

Fiid, SiSú, Thanks Plants

Social or Sustainable Startup

Altra, Peer, Fifty Shades Greener

Product and Manufacturing Startup

Cotter Agritech, Orca Board, Filter

E-commerce and Retail Startup

FinalBend, The Book Resort, Nufields

Tech Startup

Glimpse, LegitFit, Examfly

Medtech Startup

Stumul.ai, SymPhysis Medical, Bonafi

Covid Pivot or Response Startup

Zoom Party/Find A Venue, KSH Group, Streat School

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!