A Weta Workshop engineer has created what seems like a dream for any Lego fan. James Brown has indeed integrated a complete computer into a very small brick… screen included!
The famous tilted Lego brick with a computer image rocked the childhood of many construction game enthusiasts. James Brown, who works at Weta Workshop (the famous New Zealand company specializing in special effects), had the idea of taking up the idea but integrating a real complete computer!
A mini computer that does the most
To achieve this, he got his hands on the smallest possible OLED screens (72 x 40), which he hooked up to an STM32 microcontroller equipped with a Cortex-M0 processor clocked at 48 MHz and 16 KB of flash memory. . Everything has been thought out to fit into the reduced size of the bricks. Power is provided by a 9V battery and bricks with electrical contacts, which Lego sold in the 90s.
Very happy about this. pic.twitter.com/1FofmKbqJP
— James Brown (@ancient_james) June 7, 2022
As for the brick-computers themselves, they had to be 3D printed in resin to give this translucent effect. As the tests progressed, he managed to give a real Lego “patina” to his bricks. The software part was developed by the tinkerer, it is procedural images… and of course, a video of Doom.
I finished off another brick from the initial batch of pcbs – the last one I’ll do until the new revision arrives. I got the surface layer just right this time, and the contrast against black is lovely. pic.twitter.com/eLysAnXgqe
— James Brown (@ancient_james) July 8, 2022
And he didn’t stop there. James Brown has thus installed a touch sensor in its bricks in order to be able to control the display of the screens! In view of the success of the DIY, he is working on a second generation equipped with a USB port, contacts for a battery, a better touch sensor and above all a new motherboard equipped with a Raspberry Pi RP2040. This microcontroller allows you to play Doom!
How’s this one? pic.twitter.com/3vzNWVLEVQ
— James Brown (@ancient_james) August 22, 2022
Of course, he is bombarded with requests to market this brick-computer. But the inventor first wants to make sure that Lego will not put a premature end to this adventure. Unless the toymaker decides to take over the idea.