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8-bit Atari meets LEGO’s Maxilos and Spinax #001



blog-0573190001423350065.jpgI’m assuming that everyone has hooked up an LED to their computer and made it blink. I’m also assuming that most everyone said, ”That’s cool. Now what?” I'm going to be running lights to a LEGO Bionicle and then using the Atari to control the light show. This could be accomplished with any programmable controller but, since this is an Atari Age blog, an Atari 8-bit computer seemed to be a logical choice.




The Bionicle kit #8924 is the embodiment of Maxilos and his four legged friend, Spinax. The plan is to start putting the lights on Spinax and then get it connected to the computer. There is a bit of a learning curve so I’ll try to make my mistakes on Spinax. Right now the plan for Spinax is to:


a. Run fiber optic cables from its eyes to a light source.

b. A blue LED in its skull cavity should give an eerie glow.

c. Eight small lights between the spines on its back to sequence in various patterns






The eyes of Spinax are red translucent part #4497493. A 16” filament will be routed from the LED to the eye. The LEGO eye piece will defuse the light.


To fulfill my obligation for free shipping, a couple of sizes of fiber optic filament was purchased. I ordered size 060 mils and 030 mils. The 060 seemed thick but gave some reasonable light transmission properties (of course I didn’t know this until after some experimentation).


An insertion hole was drilled about half way into the back of the LEGO part #4497943 using a 1/16” drill for the 060 Fiber. No glue. Then one of two methods were used to attach the LED.


1. A hole was drilled partway into an LED. A fiber optic strand was then inserted into the holes to transmit the light. Super Glue was used to hold the Fiber in the LED.

2. A smaller LED had its top sanded flat and then the end of the fiber was surface glued to it.




Two 1/16” holes were drilled through a support area on the underside of the skull. The fiber was run through these holes and then into the eyes. The fiber will run along the back into control box that will contain the controls.




This last photo is the finished eye lights powered with 2 volts from a DC power supply. The LEDs are from a variety pack so I’m guessing they won’t blow out at this voltage. Not all the LEDs were so lucky.




Now I have to clean up the bench, get the glue off my fingers and shovel the snow before I can get back to what I was doing before I started lighting my LEGO. I want to (I should) clean up at least 100 old disks before I mount my next LED.


Note: Imperfections on the surface of the optical fiber will create diffusion sites. Keep cats from chewing on the fiber optics.



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