Monday, May 28, 2012

Monorails!

For the past year, I have been working on what is now called the Monorail Project. Kinda neat name with the idea of bringing in LEGO monorails back, with a twist. Instead of bringing back the old classic monorail, the Monorail Project is about creating a new system using off-the-shelf parts.

This approach was first pioneered by Masao Hidaka in Japan, and you can see his work here:


Besides the monorail, he has designed track and switches also:

 
Very clever building here. Masao bends bricks to make curves and switches, which means that the parts needed to make the track are no more than 2-wide bricks, plates, and tiles.

For those who are monorail junkies, you might recognize Masao's model as resembling the monorails at Tokyo Disneyland. I spotted that and started thinking about building my own monorail last year based on Disney World's Mark VI monorail:

Here's video for Red and then I built Blue:
and then a Mark VII from Disneyland:
All three have head/taillights and use the same track as developed by Masao.

Meanwhile, at the same time, Steven Walker in Washington was developing his own monorail, using the airliner fuselage and a different drive system:

A Flickr video can be seen here of his monorail. His track is much the same as Masao's, but his curved track is a stiffer design. One important thing that Steven's monorail has is a rear wheel caster that allows the monorail to take curves much smoother than my original design. Since then I have revised, and what was a pretty slow monorail has become a consistent moving train.

So there is an active research effort being done with the monorail. Brickbuilt monorails have been created in New York and in Florida.  However, a monorail that was presented at BrickMagic 2012 went a completely different direction.

Nathaniel Brill of PENNLug built a suspended monorail.

Using 4.5 v track (which are separate rail parts), Nate created a track that was light and strong. From there, he built a train that hangs from the track and runs on two contact points, reducing friction. And he did this in only a couple of days.

Here's a video:

video

Amazing and elegant work. And this appears to only be the beginning.

1 comment:

Ashton said...
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