The Gear Train of Doom

Sometimes it's fun to create something completely and utterly pointless. Then, after you create something pointless, you want to share it with the entire world, right? Maybe not. In any case, I want to properly display one of my great feats of uselessness: The Gear Train of Doom. The principle is simple. It consists of lots of sets of gears stacked against each other, such that the gear reduction reaches ridiculous levels.
This gear train uses seven 40-tooth-to-8-tooth pairings, and nine 36-tooth-to
12-tooth pairings, with a few 24-tooth gears in there for some reason.

Here are some stats:
  • The gear ratio is one billion, five hundred thirty seven million, seven hundred thirty four thousand, three hundred seventy five to one, or 1,537,734,375 to 1.
  • When driven by a Lego RC motor, which can operate at 3000 RPM, it would take two years and four months nonstop to finish one rotation of the output.
  • When driven by a Lego RC motor, the output has 20 million, 755 thousand, 396.46 foot pounds of torque, which approximately equals 27,131 Chevy Silverados. With that kind of power, one could easily snap the Empire State Building in half. (It would take decades, though).
  • When driven by a Lego NXT motor, it takes an abysmal twenty five years to complete a rotation, but has nine times as much torque as the RC motor.
  • Under no circumstances would you need to use this. EVER.
I built the Gear Train of Doom when I had spare time in shop class, out of the forgotten remnants of a few Mindstorms NXT's. I pretty much raided every gear in the box to build it. My gear train became quite popular among my classmates, and my teacher even mentioned it at a meeting once. (My shop teacher is awesome, by the way. You can find his YouTube channel here). The conversation went something like this:

Other Teacher: "I wrote this great new assignment to make students calculate gear ratios!"

My Teacher: "I have a student who does that for fun, except REALLY OVERKILL."

I think he almost passed out when I showed him all the numbers I calculated. In spirit of this, I encourage everyone to build something completely useless, as time well wasted is not wasted at all.

The Asteroid Raider: A Blacktron II MOC

The Asteroid Raider
As I sat in front of a pile of recently dismantled Blacktron II pieces, I wondered what to build. Then, thinking of a vehicle from Star Wars, I got to work. The ship that popped into my head was a B-Wing, an advanced fighter used by the Rebellion in Return of the Jedi. The B-Wing's cockpit is mounted on a complex system of gyroscopes, which keep the cockpit level no matter where the rest of the ship is. This allows for some very impressive maneuvers, if the pilot can withstand the strain. The idea of the gyroscopes is what got me started on my newest creation, the Asteroid Raider. This ship is built according to the Blacktron II color scheme, and it includes the signature globe cockpit of that theme. Rather than make the entire cockpit swivel, (which probably would have been much easier), I decided to make only the pilot move. That doesn't seem too hard, but it took a few hours' work to get the minifig pilot to spin without hitting anything.
Released this past year, set 10227 is the largest and most
detailed B-Wing Lego has ever produced. Note that the
cockpit is mounted on a turntable.

The Asteroid Raider employs all signatures of Blacktron II, incorporating the colors, shapes, and the famous cockpit. I even took care in naming it according to the Blackton/M-Tron title formula, a two-word name with the second ending in -er/-or. Unlike actual BT2 cockpits, which are detachable, the Asteroid Raider's cockpit is fixed, so that its main mechanism can operate uninhibited. The pilot's seat is mounted on an axle, which runs through the length of the ship. The axle is weighted at the aft end by a magnetic coupling. (I know that belongs in M-Tron, but it was the best available weight). The weight keeps the pilot's seat level at all times, rotating freely within the round cockpit. The main body of the ship is built around a 9V battery box, so I threw some blinking lights on it just for fun. The wings are mounted on hinges, so they can be bent down when the ship is upside-down to create an entirely different design. In an effort to make the bottom of the ship look interesting, I accidentally prevented it from sitting level on a landing pad. I'm currently working on some retractable landing gear to even out the front end, but until then, enjoy!
In this picture, the ship is at a diagonal to the pilot,
demonstrating the rotation capabilities.
The body of the ship can be flipped over and the wings
bent to create a different fighter. The pilot reliably follows
the movement.

I put a makeshift jack under the ship so it would stay level.

Tribute to Blacktron

Today, I have taken the time to pay homage to one of my favorite Lego space factions: Blacktron. This faction covered two themes, one in the late eighties and another in the early nineties. The Blacktron have been defined as theives who steal technology from other factions, helping to secure their own domination. The first of the two themes, simply titled Blacktron but usually referred to as Blacktron I or BT1, revolutionized Lego space and has been named the first truly "themed" series of space sets. Blacktron I featured intimidating minifigures, sleek shapes, and interchangeably modular designs, all glued together by a striking color scheme of black, yellow, trans-red and trans-yellow. Many ideas pioneered by Blacktron I are still used today, such as smaller vehicles detaching from larger ones, etc. To this day, Blacktron I sets are very popular and therefore expensive and hard to come by. Regrettably, I do not own any as yet but I plan on collecting them all eventually. Pictured below are the Battrax, the Renegade, and the Message-Intercept Base, some of the most acclaimed Blacktron I sets.
The Message Intercept Base features a dome that
can open using a mechanism similar to that of the
Futuron Cosmic Laser Launcher.
The Battrax features a steering joint in the
middle, great mechanical details, and a
detachable flying vehicle at the rear.
The Renegade could be broken into multiple smaller vehicles.

Blacktron returned in 1991 with Blacktron: Future Generation, which is usually referred to as Blacktron II or BT2. Unlike Blacktron I, its "sequel" had a color scheme of black, white, and trans-neon green, which added to the notion that it was an "upgrade" of Blacktron I. This newer series is often slandered as a set-by-set rehash of its predecessor, but I think this theme needs to be appreciated for what it is, not insulted for what it could have been. Blacktron II shared the idea of interchangeability, since some vehicles had futuristic, spheroid cockpits that were very similar and compatible with one another. Unfortunately, only four of the dozen sets had these cockpits, making the others incompatible. Blacktron II minifigures wore a new logo, a green letter B inside an octagon, emblazoned on their chests. While the new logo and design made the minifigures seem slightly less formidable (you can see their smiley faces through their visors), they still have a great design and excellent play value. Unlike Blacktron I, Over half of Blacktron II sits upon my shelves, hopefully to be joined by the rest of both themes. Two of the most popular Blacktron II sets, the Aerial Intruder (I have that one) and the Spectral Starguider (I really want that one) are seen below.
The Aerial Intruder features two spheroid cockpits
and a deployment ramp for two small buggies.
The Spectral Starguider features suspension, steering, and an
alternate vehicle made from the front cockpit and the small
laboratory module on top.
The Blacktron Intelligence Agency

The Blacktron Intelligence agency is a monstrous Blacktron I layout built by Brian Darrow in Indiana. The BIA was a massive undertaking, being under perpetual construction for almost a decade. At its peak, it included at least 78 trans-yellow quarter-dome panels,(worth 20-30 dollars each) and over 1600 minifigures from various themes (mostly Blacktron). It measured almost forty feet long and had over 245 feet of monorail track. Each one of those numbers is amazing, as the quarter-domes, vintage minifigures, and monorail tracks are all very expensive. I cannot go in-depth enough to do this project justice, so you can visit the creator's MOCpages site here for additional information and images. I have also included a video tour done by Joe Meno in 2007. It effectively captures the scope and grandeur of this amazing piece. Regrettably, the BIA no longer exists, as it was dismantled and auctioned off in chunks almost two years ago. This means I will never see it in person, but it has been immortalized on the internet. In fact, it has inspired me to build my own layout of epic proportions, which is already four years into the design process. It will likely be posted in the distant future.

Evidence of Blacktron
Both Blacktron themes were released in conjunction with a "civilian" theme and a Space Police theme. Unfortunately, with the release of Space Police III in 2009, there came no Blactron III. This does not mean there were no hints, however. The minifigure named Rench, who was included in the Raid VPR (5981) wears a modified BT1 uniform with a BT2 logo on it. The "Space Villain" minifig from Minifigures Series 3 also wears the Blacktron II logo, whilst his armor and weapons match the BT1 color scheme. Most interesting of all is the upcoming "Evil Mech" minifigure from the new Minifigures Series 11, which wears a Blacktron I logo (not the BT2 logo) on its armor. Be sure to look out for it upon its release. While it is uncertain as to whether there will ever be an actual Blacktron 3, we can always enjoy the classics.
The upcoming Evil Mech minifig. Note the Blackron I logo on its armor.