Sorting Lego

February 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm (interesting, kids, odds) (, , , )

Lego.  Can you have too much?  Possibly.  It appears at least to be a question that my family is slowly attepting to answer …

Of course past a certain critical mass, you get to the point where it is almost impossible to build anything, as you have just too much to sort through to find a piece.  Couple this with the trend for increasingly specialised parts in a much wider range of colours and you get to the point where you know you have the part in question, but you also know its just one or two of … well … quite a lot, so you tend to give up before you even start.

Hence sorting Lego is kind of mandatory.  But it takes a long time and when all is said and done you are basically attempting to reduce disorder and chaos (and everyone knows how fruitful that is!)

So what do to … can Google help?  Hmm, maybe.  Here are some examples.

This shows some promise – it sorts based on size and shape.  It seems quite accurate too.  But it is very slow! At this rate bricks would never be sorted faster than they were used, so this really isn’t likely to solve the issue.

This ones a little faster, but doesn’t look like it has a huge range of bricks it recognises.  Still sorts on shape and colour – thats quite impressive.

Now the concept behind this one shows some promise.  Its not sorting lego, just beads presumably based on colour, but it looks like the kind of design that might scale up.

This is probably the most comprehensive one I’ve seen yet – but with 7 NXTs, 28 motors and 37500 bricks … well, it still only really sorts a subset of bricks.  Still its quite amazing to watch.

But you know what?  This one is just a work of art.  One motor.  No programmable brick.  Just cogs, gears, differentials and bands … its the kind of creation that one just stares at in wonderment.  By far the simplest, most elegant lego creation I’ve seen in a long time.  So what if it only sorts 2 by something bricks.  So what that it only sorts on length.  So what that you have to align bricks to load it.  This is pure lego mastery.

So.  Can anyone do better? Or are we doomed to resorting to trained chimps (sorting monkeys?) and bribed children?

Kevin.

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