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LEGO Techniques - A Frames

Happy New Year!  With a new year comes new parts and I've got a small slew of part based technique posts planned.  We'll start off the year where everything else starts off, at the very beginning.  With the alphabet that's with the letter 'A'.

A is for A-frame.

Thanks to the keen eyed Caperberry and the trigger finger of BrickOwl, this part was brought to my attention before release of any sets featuring it.  I had to obtain a few for my angling pleasure.

It's a very odd part.  It's like a fixed 1x4-1x4 plate hinge.  With struts in the middle.  And no hinge knob.  And it's at exactly 45°.  While 45° makes a lot of sense, I sincerely hope that a similar 60° plate is in TLG's future.

My first thought was to connect 8 of them together.  Sounds legit, right?  The result is a very fine crosshair, spider web, or basis for an octagonal SHIP component.

Overlapped A's
Adjacent A's
There's also the possibility of reversing them.  I remember how cool I felt when in third grade I was the first kid who had learned to draw an 8 pointed star without lifting my pencil from the paper.  I taught my buddies and we created a secret society out of being able to draw octo-points.  There's a lot of geometric potential here.  Paging Katie Walker...

The inherent problem with 45° is that the hypoteneuse will never be an even number.  Thankfully we don't have to go TOO far before we get within a relatively acceptable tolerance.  With 5 stud legs you can force a 7 stud hypoteneuse.  To wit, 5² + 5² = 25 + 25 = 50.  √50 = 7.071.  Pretty close tolerance at 1%.  Theoretically you could do legs of 10 studs.  But while the tolerance is still 1%, that's about 1/7 of a stud in distance or near 1mm.  Another sweet spot (known to roof framers for creating hips) is that 12² + 12² = 144 + 144 = 288.  √288 = 16.97.  This is even closer at 0.1% off, or about 1/34 of a stud.  That's 1/4 of 1mm; hardly even noticeable!  Other variations are possible though the size of your built up brace is going to get very large.

You might also stagger them to get a nice little spacing effect.  Mathematically speaking there should be space enough for a sideways tile.  Practically speaking, there is.

Then I wondered what could result if they were connected in 3-D.  I get a little lost with 3-D angles myself.  Advanced Trig was not my best subject.  Mostly I go off of trial and error with a pinch of gut feeling.  Nonetheless, I was able to make a nice little stand for half of Bespin.

These parts may not be earth shattering in the job they can do, but they certainly offer a lot of stability not seen in parts like plate hinges.  I can see this being the next big thing in 2014.  Not always a featured part, but a highly utilized structural part.  If you'd like to play around with a few, I've got 16 shiny new ones available for sale in my store.  Make an offer on multiples.

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