Spaceworthy LEGO(TM) design-ahead

From: Michael M. Butler (
Date: Wed Mar 07 2001 - 08:55:45 MST

Adrian Tymes wrote:

> I was stressing that this need
> for design-ahead, and review by experts, and so forth, takes away the
> most significant part of the analogy to LEGOs, namely that complete
> amateurs can do their own assembly on the spot without review (very
> useful, since the hubris of some newbies in just about all fields keeps
> them from thinking they need said review, plus review means
> coordination with another party means more necessary complexity for
> even the simplest projects).

Seems as though you're neglecting to include how much engineering effort
has gone into *making* LEGOs and LEGO Mindstorms. :) Refer to Greg's
original post. It's all about design-ahead for (say) ten years ahead
tech. And the intention is that *relative*, not *complete* amateurs, can
do their assembly on the spot in ten or twelve years. Degree of
difficulty somewhere between building a Heathkit (memento mori) and
building an experimental aircraft.

As I see it, if the building block designs are sound, and the
mass-producible--and I do mean *mass* producible; MEMS or bulk nano,
maybe--elements are each set up with, say, as much self-description as a
PCMCIA card... most assemblies will "refuse" to work right on the ground
and flash a big old BITE indication. Lots of experimental assemblies
with LEGOs are buggy, depending on where you draw the line defining

(Note to list: BITE is short for Built-In Test Equipment, not an
insult--though I expect that hackers will add this meaning as an
overload to the expression "Your design BITES.")

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