Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book Review: The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide 2nd Ed.ition...

If you have the 1st edition of The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide by Pawel “Sariel” Kmiec (No Starch Press), you know that it s an excellent book that  focused on LEGO technic building; an area that was not really covered in the old The Unofficial Builder’s Guide by Allan Bedford making this an excellent guide to building with Technic elements. The 2nd edition of The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide by Pawel “Sariel” Kmiec (No Starch Press) is now available with four new chapters and many updated chapters, which if you have the 1st edition you might want to add the 2nd edition, as well, to your LEGO® library. If you do not have the 1st edition, then The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide (2nd edition) is a must have book.

The first section covers the fundamental engineering concepts of speed, torque, power, friction, traction, efficiency, and vehicle concepts. Ever wonder what was the name of an element and ways that it can be use? Well, there is a summary of basic technic elements which illustrates how they can be combined. Beginner and seasoned builder will find this informative. Be sure to check out the Tricks with Bricks section.

Part 2 - Mechanics - “Why do we need gears? An intuitive answer is that we need them to transfer drive from a motor to a receiving mechanism. While true, this is not the complete picture.” (Kmiec , p. 55) The author then takes you into a through explanation of gears, pulleys, chains/tracks  (not one of my favorites elements), levers and linkages, with clear, beautiful illustrations and detail instructions for making various mechanisms.

LEGO® makes a differential element, this book shows you various ways it can be used and gives you instructions on how to make custom differentials, as well as instructions for making other types of mechanisms. According to the author, “While ready-made LEGO universal joints have a number of advantages, they are prone to failure when subjected to high torque. The author illustrates how to build a custom universal joint out of basic pieces that will act the same while being more robust,” (Kmiec. p. 115)


Also, under Mechanics - Custom Mechanical Solutions, there is a nice section on LEGO Flashing Lights; the 9-volt Brick Lights and Power Function lights.

If you are into building with or would like to learn how to use pneumatic elements, chapter 10 is a good resource on the topic. Finishing up Part 2 of the book are tips and examples for building sturdy models.
Part 3 of the book  covers all the different types of LEGO Mindstorms motors, Power Function motors, even the RC motor produced in 2005, and did you know there were watertight motors produced in 2003 and 2006? Not only do you learn how you can use the various Technic elements, but you learn a little history of the elements.

Today the Power Functions system is used by many builders, so there is a chapter on PF and tips in using it. If you happen to have a RC system, there is a chapter on that system too.

And if you are ready, there is Part 4 - Advanced Mechanism: Wheeled Steering systems - simple to complex, Wheeled Suspension systems, Tracked Vehicles, Transmissions, Advanced Gearing. Then Part 5 there are the author’s fantastic models.

If you are a Technic builder or even a Mindstorms robotics builder, The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide (2nd Edition) by Pawel “Sariel” Kmiec (No Starch Press) is a teaching and reference book you will want to have. It is also available at

My final word on this book - AWESOMENESS!