Ah, Lego, the plastic toy enjoyed by adults and children all over the world. While we’ve previously written about amazing Lego Mindstorms projects, are you out of luck if you don’t have sets like Mindstorms EV3?

There are many great projects you can build without Mindstorms. Here are some of the best.

1. Large contraceptive

This amazing contraption is the work of YouTuber akiyuky. Featuring pneumatic pumps, conveyor belts, robots, trains, lifts and more, it’s a great combination of engineering and ingenuity.

What’s even cooler about this car is that it feels completely mechanical. There is no Mindstorms computer or brain to control functions, it is controlled by motors, gears and timings.

Although this is a Rube Goldberg machine, as it serves no real function other than looking cool, it is still a brilliant piece of Lego building.

2. Coin pusher arcade game

This neat arcade game came to us thanks to the Let’s Do This YouTube channel. With a simple motor and gearbox, you only need a few special parts to do it yourself.

Not only does this machine work like a fully featured arcade game, but the video will guide you through the different parts of the machine. Once again, this project is purely mechanical and requires no programming at all!

3. Drawing machine

This amazing pattern drawing machine was built on the JK Brickworks YouTube channel. This model, available in quantities of around 100 pieces, looks simpler, but the results are still impressive.

Using just a motor and some gears, you only need a few non-Lego supplies like a pen and a rubber band. Detailed detailed building instructions are available for free and are so well written that they could have been written by Lego itself.

Simpler is always better, which is why this machine should be on the list for design purposes only.

4. Steampunk Pleasure Boat

This project also comes to us from the skillful hands of YouTube’s Lego channel JK Brickworks. Based on Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest, this amazing Lego machine requires no brains to operate.

Although this model is purely mechanical, it requires special parts such as motors and batteries.

This build is certainly tricky, but once again the creator has provided clear, detailed instructions on their website. While the build guide doesn’t show how to build the entire model, it does cover the walking mechanism — the hardest part!

5. Tank with remote control

Okay, so this project is a bit of a cheat. This project uses Arduino like his brain. While it may go against the idea of ​​Lego, it still makes for an incredible project.

With live video streaming, suspension, working rubber band weapons, headlights and more, this model looks and sounds as real as its full-size counterparts.

This project involves some soldering and Arduino programming, but help is at hand as the author has provided basic schematics and code.

Created by YouTuber Ishaan Gov, we think this is one amazing machine!

6. Full size air powered car

This project from YouTuber Steve Sammartino is one of the most impressive projects we’ve seen. Not only did he build a life size working machine, but it runs on the air and he funded it all with a single tweet!

Built from standard Lego parts, this incredible contraption uses 256 pistons and over half a million pieces. The fact that it rides at all is amazing, but this «model» can reach speeds of up to 18 miles per hour!

Next time someone tells you Lego is for kids, show them this project!

7. Working power plant

This fully working Lego power plant comes from YouTube engineer Hans 56. Using compressed air to move a pneumatic cylinder connected to a motor, this project generates electricity.

While we’re not sure how much electricity is generated, in theory you could create your own power grid to run your Lego city. Admittedly, you’ll need a constant supply of compressed air, but this project only wins points for creativity, even if it’s not that efficient.

8. V6 air motor

This V6 engine design comes to us from YouTuber DrDudeNL. Running at 800 rpm, this motor can certainly generate enough torque for basic Lego engineering tasks.

Once again, this design runs on compressed air, so it’s probably cheaper and easier to use an electric motor, but as an engineering design, it’s a good one.

Maybe you could fit this into a sports car model to give it a realistic look.

9. Automatic air compressor

Built on YouTube channel 896gerard, this machine compresses air. While this may not sound very cool, it is more useful than you might think. As we saw above, Lego Pneumatics can be used for a huge number of projects. However, pneumatic cylinders require a source of compressed air.

What could be better for your other projects than building a Lego air compressor.

While a little on the weak side, this machine has enough guts for simple Lego tasks. However, you may need a real non-Lego compressor for things like a life-size car.

10. Mini lathe

Our final Lego engineering project comes to us from YouTube channel mawemaggi0815. What better way to end up with a working Lego lathe.

Lathes are a staple product used to produce a wide variety of useful things. This design features adjustable gearing, automatic lead screw, miniature handles and more. It was even built in engineering green!

While this machine isn’t powerful enough to handle anything more than Lego bricks, it’s still a great example of what can be achieved with multiple gears and a motor.

What will you do?

We’ve shown that you don’t need to have a Lego Mindstorms brain to create interesting projects — perhaps as a LEGO gift for someone. Whether it’s purely mechanical gear or cheaper home electronics like the Arduino, the possibilities are endless.

If you want to create your own project but don’t want to splatter the Mindstorms brain, consider Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or another Pi alternative. You can use something like Scratch for Pi. to program your project without writing one line of code!

Image credit: Ishaan Gov / YouTube

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