When I was young, I often tried to create a LEGO hoist. I’d attach a Lego motor to an axle and wind a string with it, trying to lift a heavy load. I was especially interested in the Lego brick structure supporting the hoist.
I knew there was a right and wrong way, based on basic physics, to build the structure. I could find the best solution by thinking about it, or by testing different variations. Often I used both ways, a combination of intelligence and hard work. In hindsight, the creations were not spectacular, but I remember once being able to lift a 5 kg dumbbell in the air, powered by a single Lego motor (the old square Lego motor from the 90s, part id 5114-1).
Twenty years later, as an adult, I decided to try that once again. I had just bought a new camera and there was a lot to learn with the camera features, lighting and editing. I’d better start shooting with something simple, like Lego.
Lego is great for a beginner video creator because it doesn’t move, as humans and pets do. You can take your time and try out different shooting angles and lighting compositions. As a studio, you need just a small table and a little space around it for your camera, lights and a microphone. I found a perfect place for that in my clothes/storage room. It’s quiet and the clothes dampen reverberations so that a microphone catches all the important Lego building noises. Also, I learned that you can buy LEGO parts individually from a website called bricklink.com. Great, I can choose exactly what parts to buy and in what colors.
So the video objective was to lift the heaviest possible weight. I was going to use only Lego parts and one Lego Medium motor. I figured out all the parts I’m going to need and ordered them from bricklink. As the main color I chose red, since it represents enthusiasm and because red bricks are easily available. I also bought a weight scale to measure my progress.
Shooting the video was straightforward with building and testing, continuously improving the machine and getting bigger and bigger numbers to the scale display. I was surprised to see how well those little Lego gears withstand high torque. The bottleneck was mostly the Lego axles that deformed under string pressure. In the last test the generated force momentarily exceed 55 kg, which was the max limit for the scale. The scale printed “E” on the scale display for a second, and then the test bench exploded. A metal part had bent and disconnected the string from the scale. That was a great end to the series.
Here is the finished material, split into two videos. First video for testing pulleys and the second for gear reduction.
The original plan was to do a third video that combines the two engineering methods, but I got tired, so I just uploaded the videos to YouTube and forgot about it. They had served their purpose in teaching me about video creation.
About 6 months later the second video started to get a lot of views and positive comments. It got 20 thousand views in three weeks. That was interesting. I was surprised to see such a demand for this type of material. Was it because I concentrated on building and testing instead of the end result? Or the lack of background music that many other Lego YouTubers use? Whatever the reason was, I decided to make a run with it. I took down the videos and created a new YouTube channel called Brick Experiment Channel, re-uploaded the videos there and started making similar videos.
That was three years ago. I’ve been creating LEGO videos since and now I have 1.4M subscribers – I’m glad so many people appreciate my videos.