Tips & Tricks: littleBits + Lego®

Bits + Bricks = Epic Projects

Now you can connect littleBits to LEGO®! With the Brick Adapter and motorMate, we’ve made it easy for you to integrate the two systems.

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> With brick strip studs, your littleBits’ modules will defy gravity! Simply snap strip underneath your LEGO® bricks and press the feet of your littleBits’ modules into place.

> With sockets, you can mount your littleBits’ modules on top of LEGO® bricks. Simply snap the brick strip on your LEGO® bricks, and press the feet of your littleBits’ modules into place.IMG_6953LR

 

For this set of tips & tricks, we collaborated with two LEGO® superstars, Philip Verbeek and Arthur Sacek. We also drew inspiration from Community Pro, Hitoshi Takagaki. Philip, Arthur, and Hitoshi have built amazing projects that combine littleBits and LEGO®. As experts, they’ve shared their insider techniques for working with the two systems. You will also find some of these tips & tricks on Philip’s Building with littleBits and LEGO page. Be sure to check out Philip’s PCB Pinball Machine, Arthur’s Spinning Replicator, and Hitoshi’s sound machines for more inspiration.

 

Build Vertically

If you want your littleBits to sit vertically in a project, you can build a pillar out of LEGO® parts that will hold the brick adapter perpendicularly. Philip discovered that 2 hole-beams separated by 4 normal LEGO® blocks fit the brick adapter perfectly. You could also use 2 thin LEGO® Bricks as spacers in between.

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Provide Extra Support for littleBits that Experience Force

When working with the DC motor, it takes a considerable amount of force to turn an LEGO® axle or system of gears. If the motor isn’t flanked on both sides by other modules, you may notice that your DC motor (or even heavier modules like the speaker) lift up on one side. In order to strengthen the connection and hold them in place better, you can use the bitsnap on one side of a wire module. You can remove the wire part by gently disconnecting the JST connection. Another option is to just add a bitsnap connector.

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Working with LEGO® Axles and Gears

littleBits and LEGO® work well together with the help of the brick adapter and motorMate, but the two systems aren’t based on the same grid [hence the adapter :)]. Because of this, connecting with LEGO® gears and wheels is not always exact. However, you have a few options to ensure smooth a smooth rotation.

Arthur suggests connecting a universal joint to the axle in the motorMate to allow for some flexibility in the movement translated from DC motor. He was able to power the whole gearing system for his spinning replicator this way.

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Another option is to use LEGO® bricks to center the axle and provide support.

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Use LEGO® to Activate lnput Modules

Here are few ideas!

Make an exterior button out of LEGO® that presses the littleBits button module of on the inside of your project.

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Activate a roller switch by turning gearing mechanisms.

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Control your synth modules with LEGO® mechanisms to create the sound of waves crashing like Hitoshi did in his project, surfin. 

Turns out that the LEGO® hole fits perfectly on the slider part of the slide dimmer module. This allows you to create all sorts of mechanisms to control the voltage coming out of the slide dimmer module. Check out a few of Philip’s setups where he plays with angles and pressure.

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Use LEGO® to Focus the Light Sensor

Make a “LEGO® hood” to minimize the area the light sensor picks up at a given time. In Arthur’s project, he needed the light sensor to pick up only a very small area of light on a piece of paper, so he used a LEGO® connector peg to limit the area that the light sensor reads.

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Activate Mechanisms with the Servo

Make a small encasement that holds both ends of the servo arm and is able to rotate. Then you can use the movement of the servo to activate LEGO® mechanisms. See steps 282-287 to see how Arthur did it.

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Long LED + LEGO®

Use the holes in LEGO® parts to position the long LED and hold it in place. This is especially helpful when you are trying to focus the light on a light sensor.

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Semi translucent LEGO® bricks diffuse light quite nicely. They also happen to fit around the top of the long LED.

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Build In littleBits Speakers

The synth speaker box (when detached from the board, but still tethered) fits perfectly in a 4×4 LEGO® grid. See how Philip embedded speakers in his pinball contraption.

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DIY Socket-side Brick Adapters

If you are short of socket-side Brick Adapters, but have some extra stud-side Brick Adapters laying around, Philip has a trick for you to convert studs to sockets. Hint: He uses LEGO® :). See pic!

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