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You Can Now Make a Drone With LEGOs

At-home drone technology might be a 21st-century invention, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make one yourself with 20th-century toys.

Flybrix sells kits that let you turn LEGOs (along with some key electrical components) into a fully functioning drone. While not affiliated with the legendary toymaker itself, the Flybrix flying robots are compatible with all your old bricks and minifigs, so you can put your own distinctive spin on a design—over and over again after each spectacular crash. You can also add motors to create a quadcopter, hexacopter, or octocopter, depending on your aviation aspirations.

Introductory kits are available for $149, and include everything you need to build a craft: bricks, motors, boom-arms, propellers, a pre-programmed flightboard, cables, a battery, and, of course, a pilot. While the minifig can’t actually steer the craft himself, you can with your smartphone using the Flybrix app (available for iOS and Android), or you can spring for the $189 deluxe version, which comes with a controller.

Maybe the most exciting thing about Flybrix’s kits is that they’re endlessly customizable. If you’re someone who likes to look under the hood and tweak the mechanics, physical properties, or even the software of a product, the Flybrix code is all open-source, so you’re free to run wild in (technically unsanctioned) LEGO Mania. Just like when you were a kid.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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New LEGO Set Lets Harry Potter Fans Apparate to the Hogwarts Great Hall
LEGO
LEGO

After reading the books and watching the movies, you may worry you've run out of ways to experience the world of Harry Potter at home. But soon, apparating to Hogwarts will be as easy as building a LEGO set. As Nerdist reports, LEGO is releasing their take on the Hogwarts Great Hall later in 2018.

LEGO revealed the first look at the magical structure at this year's Toy Fair in New York City. When fully assembled, the four-story set measures 14 inches tall, 6 inches wide, and 11 inches deep. Comprising 878 pieces, the set packs plenty of features fans will recognize. Minifigures of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Draco are included, as well as those of Hogwarts professors like Dumbledore, Hagrid, and Professor McGonagall. The Professor Quirrell piece looks innocent from one angle, but reverse his head and he morphs into Lord Voldemort. Susan Bones and Nearly Headless are also part of the set.

LEGO builders will have no trouble keeping their characters busy. There's a diverse collection of accessories to play with, like the Sorting Hat, Hagrid's umbrella, the Mirror of Erised, house banners, cauldrons, candles, and wands. There are even a few fantastic beasts hiding in the hall, like Hedwig, Scabbers, Fawkes, and a basilisk.

Fans looking to add the product to their collection of all things Harry Potter can purchase it for $100 when it hits stores on August 1.

LEGO set of Hogwarts.

LEGO set of Hogwarts.

[h/t Nerdist]

All images courtesy of LEGO.

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Melanie Gonick, MIT
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MIT Scientists Are Building Biomedical Research Labs Out of LEGO Blocks
Melanie Gonick, MIT
Melanie Gonick, MIT

When it comes to microfluidics, precision is everything. Researchers in this field—which analyzes the behavior and control of tiny amounts of fluids— can use a miniscule, flat chip etched with channels (a "lab-on-a-chip") to control the mixing of liquids at a microscopic level. Now, Co.Design reports that MIT scientists have invented a system that achieves the same results using material that most people would recognize: LEGO blocks.

In their study published in the journal Lab on a Chip, the scientists explain how LEGO fits perfectly into their research. They started out carving grooves into LEGO bricks about 500 microns wide—about the width of handful of human hairs—and sealing them with clear film. Next, they built pathways for fluids by interlocking the blocks so the end of one channel lined up with the start of another.

Assembling a custom microfluidics lab this way takes seconds, which is nothing compared to the involved and costly process of building a lab-on-a-chip from scratch. The same blocks used in one configuration can also be deconstructed and rearranged to create a whole new design. As is the case with the traditional chips, the LEGO-based lab can be used in biomedical research to filter fluids, sort cells, and isolate molecules.

The scientists didn't choose LEGO blocks just because they're fun—they're also practical. The plastic toy blocks are some of the most uniform materials available for building modular systems. The molds used in LEGO factories have to meet strict standards, so only 18 pieces of every million created are technically imperfect.

But LEGO toys aren't the ideal building blocks for every microfluidics study. They don't work for experiments performed on the nano-level, and their plastic structure isn't tough enough to stand up to some chemicals. The MIT scientists are looking into developing protective coatings and possibly molding their own LEGOs from stronger materials to open the door to even more research in the future.

[h/t Co.Design]

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