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Studs-out tops
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Studs-out construction opens up many possibilities in LEGO top design, but expect =shrapnel= if you spin a studs-out top too fast!
About this creation
The good news: Studs-out construction opens a world of exciting design possibilities in LEGOŽ spinning tops -- including several new purist-friendly tip solutions.

The bad news: Expect shrapnel if you spin a studs-out top too fast.



And how fast is too fast? Well, twirling by hand will generally be safe, but each top's maximum safe speed will be different, as it will depend on (i) the number of studs you've recruited in the name of centrifugal integrity, and (ii) the centrifugal loads those studs will have to resist.

The studs-out tops presented here have held together much better than expected, but I've had some catastropic failures with tools that can spin them faster than I can by hand. Hence this dead-serious friendly reminder to test carefully before letting down your guard:

Warning! Always wear eye protection when working or playing with high-speed LEGOŽ rotating machinery and keep valuables and bystanders (including pets) a safe distance away -- especially when testing new designs. Really.

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Studs-out cores

Every top on this page is built around one of two studs-out "cores". Most grow outward from a central "die" element (64776, officially the Die 6 Sided Rubber Frame with Red Center with Studs).



But one uses a "half-cube" assembly made entirely of interlocking "headlight bricks" (aka "Erling bricks", either Brick, Modified 1 x 1 with Headlight or Brick, Modified 1 x 1 with Headlight and Slot)...



That's pretty much the extent of my SNOT (studs not on top) building skills, but I'm learning.

Most of the die tops...





The only half-cube top so far...



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Teetotums (gambling tops)

The traditional teetotum is a spinning top with 4 or 6 flat sides marked for use in various games of chance. Like dice, teetotums have served in this capacity for centuries all over the world. The 4-sided Jewish dreidel and the 6-sided Latin American perinola are the most common modern examples.

Basic dreidel...



The letter markings here have been transliterated from the Yiddish. When "N" comes up, the dreidel spinner does nothing, and the next player spins. The lucky player spinning a "G" or an "H" takes all or half of the pot, respectively. And when "S" comes up, the spinning player puts a token into the pot.

General-purpose 4-sided teetotum...



Outcomes (here marked 1-4) derive their meanings from the rules of the game.

Studs-out construction opens up exciting new purist-approved tip possibilities. One of these is the Slope 45 1 x 1 x 2/3 Quadruple Convex seen above. Among the few LEGOŽ elements suitable as top tips, this is by far the sharpest. Spinning smoothness doesn't seem to suffer from point's faceted geometry.

If all the game needs is a yes-no decision, a binary teetotum will do.



Short spin times are desirable in teetotums, as they quicken the pace of the game. Good thing, too, as all of these LEGOŽ teetotums fall within 10 seconds.

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More die tops

Madonna top...





Covering the lateral sides of the die with 2x2 plates before putting on the, um, protuberances improves spin time by increasing the top's AMI/TMI ratio, where "AMI" refers to the axial moment of inertia, and "TMI" to the transverse moment of inertia about the tip.



This 15 g beauty is my longest-spinning die top by far (~33 sec) -- in part because it has cleaner aerodynamics than the others.





Studs-out construction brings another purist-friendly tip element into play -- the conical hat. Among the few LEGOŽ elements suitable as top tips, the conical hat offers the 2nd smallest tip radius of curvature (~0.5 mm). As you might imagine, small radius of curvature generally translates into longer spin time via reduced tip friction, but only on hard surfaces with no sinkage.



Bubbles!



This highly reflective top doesn't stay up long, but the bumpy landings get pretty interesting.



Blacklight die tops...



I improved the smaller one on the left over the video version, but it still falls down within 4-5 sec. The yellow here comes from additive color mixing.



Sputnik on the right spins about as long.



More blacklight-based MOCs here, here, and here.



Black-nosed shark, with side ornaments from small panels...



Lousy aerodynamics limit spin time to under 10 sec.



Color effects (see video)...





Additive color mixing rules apply row-wise here.





Not sure what to call this color effect, but there's some additive color mixing involved here as well.

More color-mixing tops here, here, and here.

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Half-cube top

The larger half-cube core has even more design potential than the die, but you have be safety-conscious here, as two of its lateral sides present only 2 studs to potential side-ornaments!



Warning! Don't even think about spinning a half-cube top with anything other than your hand!









This 35 g top has the highest AMI on this page. That gives it a very nice hand feel during spin-up and contributes to a middling spin time of ~15 sec.

Flipping the asymmetric red side-ornaments on one pair of opposing sides reduces the top's mass and color symmetry from 4-fold to 2-fold, but it spins just as smoothly and almost as long (~13 sec) as before.



Exploring half-cube top designs is going to be fun.

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Optional: Performance

Spin times for the tetotums and other die tops are generally poor (under 10 sec) due to various combinations of (i) high aerodynamic drag, (ii) large (center of mass (CM) height to diameter ratio, and (iii) lower than average AMI/TMI ratio, at least as LEGOŽ tops go. The most notable exception is the conical hat top.

Half-cube tops have the potential for longer spin times via higher AMIs and AMI/TMI ratios, but their likely dirty aerodynamics will keep spin times well below those of my average LEGOŽ top.

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Specifications

Overall dimensions:Generally under 80x80 mm (DxH) including stems
Masses:10-35 g
Spin-up method:Hand only for safety reasons!
Typical spin times:4-33 sec
Typical release speeds:n/a
Modified LEGOŽ parts:Some tips cut from 4L antennas
Non-LEGOŽ parts:None
Credits:Original MOCs

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Comments

 I made it 
  December 13, 2016
Quoting Oran Cruzen Very nice as always, you just have a spin on these! LOL
Thanks, Oran!
 I like it 
  December 13, 2016
Very nice as always, you just have a spin on these! LOL
 I made it 
  December 11, 2016
Quoting Nick Barrett Taking your life in your hands in the name of science! I salute you :-)
Thanks, Nick! I feel a lot safer now that I have a Kevlar vest. That all of these tops manage to survive spin-up by hand, even with just 2 studs per side at the core, is a real tribute to LEGO clutch power. Faster than that is flirting with mayhem. If you try this at home, and I hope you do, just remember: Embedded LEGO shrapnel doesn't show up on X-rays.
 I made it 
  December 11, 2016
Quoting Oliver Becker Haha, just bought some of these "rubber framed cubes" I only know from LDD before! These solutions are so much entertaining, Jeremy: "So this, then, was the kernel of the TOP!" quoting old Goethe! ;) Forgot: best is the Madonna- top LOL !!!
Thanks, Oliver! Now that you have some dies, you should try some tops. I know you'll come up with something good. Can't believe the Madonna top escaped comment from Gabor. Goethe was a man of great insight.
 I like it 
  December 11, 2016
Taking your life in your hands in the name of science! I salute you :-)
  December 10, 2016
Haha, just bought some of these "rubber framed cubes" I only know from LDD before! These solutions are so much entertaining, Jeremy: "So this, then, was the kernel of the TOP!" quoting old Goethe! ;) Forgot: best is the Madonna- top LOL !!!
 I made it 
  December 9, 2016
Thank you, Adam!
 I like it 
  December 9, 2016
ooo i like that!:D
 I made it 
  December 9, 2016
Quoting Nils O. That's another very cool but quite dangerous idea, I just have to like it ;-)) I suggest eye protection when you play with these tops and your pull-back accelerator :-)). The colour mixing effect on your color cube top might be a Doppler effect, but I'm not sure if a spinning top is fast enough for that...? Great job! :-))
Many thanks, Nils! Couldn't agree more about the eye protection with these tops -- at least until you know which ones are safe. But as you can see in the video, all of them managed to stay together when twirled by hand, and I can probably spin them faster than most people could due to all the practice I've had over the last 2 years of top-making. If it were a Doppler effect, which I doubt at these speeds, we'd see it in other tops.
 I like it 
  December 9, 2016
That's another very cool but quite dangerous idea, I just have to like it ;-)) I suggest eye protection when you play with these tops and your pull-back accelerator :-)). The colour mixing effect on your color cube top might be a Doppler effect, but I'm not sure if a spinning top is fast enough for that...? Great job! :-))
 I made it 
  December 8, 2016
Quoting Gabor Pauler Your next top could be about spinning naked pole dancer figures. Always these rigidly disciplined geometric forms... It is an interesting scientific question in wich position the pole dancer could resist higher rpm.
The "asymmetric whirling dancer on a top" problem is one that Disney animatronics researchers happen to have solved. I think you'll enjoy their article at https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/disneyresearch/wp-content/uploads/20141125154949/Project_SpinIt_SIGGRAPH14_paper1.pdf. They didn't address pole dancers specifically for some reason but could easily have done so. Their balancing approach could easily be applied to mostly studded LEGO tops with diameters upwards of 300 mm or so. Glue would probably have to come into play for studded tops that large to spin fast enough to stay up without flying apart.
 I like it 
  December 8, 2016
Your next top could be about spinning naked pole dancer figures. Always these rigidly disciplined geometric forms... It is an interesting scientific question in wich position the pole dancer could resist higher rpm.
 
By Jeremy McCreary
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop Studs-out tops


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