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Monday, May 18, 2015

AV-8B Harrier II Replica built from Lego Technic.

One day, I decided to make a AV-8B Harrier II replica made of Lego Technic . The end result depicted in the various pictures has motorised landing gear and cockpit and a manually operated weapons deployment mechanism. I designed this from scratch and it took me about 2 weeks to fully construct.
I used a simplified version of the Lego 42025 Cargo Plane's gear system and integrated it with a deployment system of my own design. The weapons deployment system consists of a gear-operated system which, when activated, allows for up top four weapons stored inside the wings to extend outwards.
The landing gear consists of two pairs of two wheels, one pair at the front and one at the back. They are powered by two pistons connected to each other. When turned, the wheels simultaneously deploy or are raised.
I tried to make the end model look as much like a Harrier as possible, but one feature which I could not quite get right was the drooping of the wings, which, on my model, were quite straight. However, I did manage to incorporate wheels on the wings, like the real Harrier has. My favourite feature on this model was the design of the nose cone, which I made by sticking several gears, each one smaller than the one before it (to form a kind of cone), on a rod, and then attaching the whole thing to the fuselage. This gave it quite an authentic look.
Since I had no pieces to fill up the wings, I improvised with rods, which, when completed, gave the plane a surprisingly good look. In fact, I filled the tail in the same way too, and the result was quite nice.
Below are some pictures showing the plane and its various mechanisms.
A shot of the plane from the top, showing its full structure. The rods that fills up the wings are visible.
A side view of the plane. The rod-filled tail can be seen in this shot. 
A bottom view of the plane showing the internal structure of the wing as well as the various weapons attached to it. 
A sideways shot of the plane from the back clearly showing the deployed undercarriage. 
A front shot of the plane showing it nose cone made of gears, a feature which I am particularly proud of.
A back view of the plane showing the tail structure and the back of the wings, which are a little thicker than on the real thing.
A top view of the back end of the plane.

A close up shot of the gears and mechanisms inside the fuselage, along with the rod-filled wings of the plane. The gear on the left controls the weapons deployment while the right one raises and lowers the cockpit.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Iconic Spacecraft: New Horizons

Image result for new horizonsThe New Horizons probe was launched by NASA on January 16th, 2006. Its aim is to study Pluto, its moons and two other objects in the Kuiper Belt (the Kuiper Belt is a massive asteroid belt beyond the planets of the Solar System and is about 20 AU wide), if they are in the right position. Like most probes travelling beyond Jupiter, the New Horizons spacecraft used the planet's gravity to increase its speed by 4 km/second. During the flyby, the probe was  hibernation to gather data about the planet's atmosphere, magnetosphere, and numerous moons. The spacecraft began its approach to Pluto in January 15 2015, after a long 9-year flight. The first flyby of Pluto will take place in a month's time, on July 16th, 2015. (Above right): The Atlas V 551 carrying New Horizons on the launch pad.
The probe was launched at a speed of 16.26 km/s, making it the fastest vehicle ever to have taken off from Earth. It was launched on a Lockheed Martin Atlas V 551 rocket with 5 booster rockets and a extra third stage for increased speed. It was the first time 5 boosters have been used on this rocket. (Middle right): The Atlas V lifting off from Cape Canaveral.
New Horizons has 16 thrusters in total: 4 large ones which provide 1.2 N of force each and the smaller ones providing 0.9 N each. They are used primarily for altitude correction, while two star cameras provide finer altitude changes. The larger thrusters are used mainly for trajectory changes. Power for the various instruments on board is provided by a single radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), a common power source on satellites which are designed to go where sunlight is too weak for solar panels. A RTG generates electricity through the Seebeck Effect (conversion of temperature differences into electricity) and has no moving parts. It contains 11 kg of plutonium 238 oxide pellets encased in iridium and generated 250 W 30 V DC power at launch, which will deteriorate to 200 W by the time it flies by Pluto. (Below right): New Horizons' RTG.
The following is a list of the scientific instruments carried by New Horizons:
  • LORRI (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager): The LORRI is designed to take high resolution images at visible spectrums.
  • SWAP (Solar Wind at Pluto): This instrument measures particles of up to 6.5 keV (kiloelectron volt). It has the largest aperture of anything ever flown, due to the very weak solar wind near Pluto.
  • PEPSSI (Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation): PEPSSI does the same job as SWAP, but measures particles up to 1 MeV.
  • Ralph and Alice: These are two specialized cameras mounted on New Horizons.
  • SDC (Student Dust Collector): The SDC was designed by students and makes continuous dust measurements throughout the journey.
  • REX (Radio Science Experiment): The REX is an instrument used to conduct radio experiments on the communications channels.
(Below left): A picture of Jupiter and one of its moons taken by New Horizons during its flyby of the planet. (Below right): An infrared shot of Jupiter taken by Ralph.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Cargo Plane from Lego

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For my birthday this year, my parents got me Lego Technic 42025 Cargo Plane. This is the first Technic set I have received which actually builds into a fully functioning (but not flying) plane, and I am very excited. The finished cargo plane has a ton of features, including working ailerons, spinning propellers and a motorized front and back door. (Right): The fully completed plane.

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However, the most impressive feature of this plane is undoubtedly the ultra-realistic landing gear, which is the most awesome thing I've ever seen on any of the Technic sets ever. The plane has a tricycle landing gear, which means that it has one front wheel and two back wheels. All of them are powered by one shaft, and they all retract or deploy simultaneously. The back wheels have an extremely realistic cover, which even falls down the moment the wheels are fully stowed. This feature is undoubtedly the best one of the many things this plane has to offer. (Left): The back door of the plane being lowered.

Image result for lego technic 42025
The plane itself looks very nice and everything is very proportionate. A small joystick at the back controls the ailerons and the elevators while a second smaller lever controls the flaps, which can be pushed forward or back to extend the surface area of the wing. The wings themselves sit on top of the fuselage. The cockpit looks extremely realistic and even features two seats and a tiny control panel for the pilot and co-pilot. (Left): A description of the movement of the ailerons and the elevators.

This set rebuilds into a hovercraft.