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LEGO peg top thrown with a string!
To get a LEGO peg top capable of doing tricks after being thrown with a string, I had to team up with a former world champ.
About this creation
Please feel free to look over the images and skip the verbiage.

Last week, fellow spinning top enthusiast "ta0" (his screen name) stopped in Denver to see my LEGOŽ top collection on his way home from the spintop world championships in Iceland.



Now, you should know that ta0 generally plays with "peg" (aka "throwing") tops like the ones below.



In fact, he was the world champion peg top trick performer in 2009 and 2013. This year, he was a judge. In addition, ta0 founded the ITSA forum and has a substantial collection of modern and historical tops of all kinds.

But his collection had no LEGOŽ tops, and I intended to fix that with a little kit I made just for the occasion. In exchange, ta0 gave me the custom black and pink aluminum peg top above.



We had big plans for this visit. First, we wanted to see if ta0 could help me along in my own 6-month quest to learn some key peg top tricks. And it worked: I made more progress in 2 hours with the master than I had since I started.



We also wanted to work together on a LEGOŽ peg top that ta0 could "boomerang" -- i.e., throw with a string, pull back in mid air, and land spinning in his hand without ever touching the ground. This would be an important step, as the boomerang is the gateway to most other peg top tricks.

And that worked, too: ta0 ended up landing several boomerangs with the top just shown.



For a LEGOŽ top-maker and would-be peg top player like me, it just doesn't get any better than that.

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LEGOŽ peg tops

Between what ta0 knew about throwing peg tops and what I knew about making LEGOŽ tops, we arrived at a top he could boomerang pretty reliably in a couple of hours.



∨ First try: Our first LEGOŽ peg top was a partial success in that ta0 could at least throw it with a string and get it to spin on the ground for a while. That may have been a first in the LEGOŽ top realm in and of itself.





But a peg top needs to be wrapped tightly before the throw, and ta0's wraps kept pushing the black ball tip right off its axle. In the end, the only way we could prevent that was (gulp!) with a dab of superglue between ball and axle.



Finally, a workable wrap!



∨ Second try: Once ta0 could wrap and test the first top, we concluded that it needed more axial moment of inertia (AMI) and a narrower, lower-friction tip to prolong spin time in the hand.



So I added a 2nd motorcyle wheel and replaced the ball tip with a black "antenna tip" in a small orange cone serving as tip holder. Yes, this tip holder also had to be glued to its axle, but at least ta0 could boomerang the top now, though not very reliably.



∨ Third try: To get reliable boomerangs, ta0 felt he needed even better wraps and even more AMI to get and keep higher spin rates.



So I added an old motorcycle tire to the lower wheel to boost the AMI.

The LBG parts here add even more AMI, but they also bind the DBG wheels into a more rigid unit. This final top weighs 61 g, which is toward the lower end of the range represented by the peg tops in the 2nd photo on this page.



Improving the wrap in part meant sliding the rest of the top upward along the central axle to get just the right bare axle gap above the orange cone.



This is what a good wrap looks like.



And this is what a really good top player about to boomerang a LEGOŽ top looks like. I would never have known to concentrate on getting a good wrap without ta0's expertise.



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A LEGOŽ top kit for ta0

I sent ta0 home with our first peg top, a dozen or so LEGOŽ finger tops, some spare parts for experimentation, and my favorite wind-up top starter.



The selection partly reflects the fact that ta0's an engineer used to peg tops not well suited to the kind of ready experimentation that LEGOŽ tops allow.

This colorful plate top based on a 10x10 octagonal plate with center hole (89532) stays up ~30 sec with a good twirl.





The air gaps between the light bright orange round corners produce some nice transparency effects in motion.

Another plate top based on a 7x7 hexagonal Technic plate (64566). The yellow 1x2 liftarms add some much-need AMI and color.



Yet another plate top designed to mix color additively (orange + lime = yellow) while generating a virtual white well around the center at speed.





This "centrifugal top" spins quite smoothly considering that the peripheral arms are completely free to swing to and fro in the plane of the rotor. It also stays up ~30 sec.



Other examples of centrifugal LEGOŽ tops here and here.

The black and red small Znap top at lower left is one of my all-time favorites. It has a nice feel in the hand during spin-up, stays up for 60-70 sec, and makes a great pocket top.



The green and red "underhand top" at far right is started with a palm-up snap of the fingers on the ball tip.

Spare parts selected to allow experimentation with the top parameters most strongly affecting spin time and top behavior, including center of mass (CM) height and tip radius of curvature.



Experimenting with these wheel tops is as easy as sliding the wheels up or down along their central axles. The center one is another underhand top, this time with a bare axle for a tip. This makes for more lively action during spin-down.



These "gyrophonic tops" can behave very strangely during spin-down, and their tips make rather interesting sounds on favorable surfaces in the process. The exact sequence of behaviors and sounds observed is very sensitive to tip radius of curvature and the positioning of the wheels and disks along the central axle.





Adding tires to some or all of the wheels greatly increases AMI and the ratio of AMI to transverse moment of inertia about the tip (TMI). This has its own effect on spin-down behavior.

Unlike most LEGOŽ tops, you can the manipulate the TMI of a gyrophonic top without affecting AMI or CM height simply by spreading the wheels and disks out along the axles in a certain way.

I also sent ta0 home with a pair of my best LEGOŽ battle tops. Battle top games have been played around the world for centuries, and ta0's quite familiar with most of them.





All but one of the tops in ta0's kit are "finger tops" in that they spin well with just a twirl of the fingers on the stem. But a high-speed wind-up top starter based on the TLG's latest pull-back motor (12787c01) only adds to the fun.





This baby can accelerate the color-mixing plate top, for example, to well over 2,000 RPM.

Our boomerangable LEGOŽ peg top (not part of the kit) isn't a finger top, as it needs either a string or a starter like the one above to go fast enough to stay up.



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Specifications (3rd peg top only)

Overall dimensions:84x84 mm (DxH)
Mass:61 g
Modified LEGOŽ parts:Tips cut from 4L antenna, tip holder glued to central axle
Non-LEGOŽ parts:Top strings
Credits:Original MOCs with ta0's help
See also:LEGOŽ spinning top folder, ITSA finger top kit

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Comments

  September 1, 2017
I don't exactly remember if the engine I built was powered by a PF motor or a buggy motor, but I do recall having a PF M motor in an old dusty box covered in yellow particles (the shreds of the cooling fan drive belt) and for sure that was the drive motor. I don't know how it managed to best 16,000 rpm. Imagine it with an R/C Buggy Motor!
 I made it 
  August 31, 2017
Quoting Angelo Filipelli Cool Idea! If this goes 2,000 rpm, then that is nothing compared to this Technic engine I built years ago. It was a v-8, and I don't know how but I managed to get the thing to go 16,000 rpm. I am not joking. I geared it so high and fast that I had to pump water onto the gears and engine since it would overheat due to the extreme speed and friction. In fact, I even built a belt-driven cooling fan for it since it got so hot. Eventually the belt snapped, and the engine started MELTING through the cylinders. Yup, If you could make a cool top like the engine I made, that'd be cool! (You just gotta make sure that it doesn't drill through the ground)
Sounds like a cool engine. This starter can take smaller, lower-drag tops to well over 4,000 RPM. I have a starter powered with an RC Race Buggy motor capable of of spinning some of my tops to over 9,000 RPM. The tips tolerate this quite well on smooth counter tops.
 I made it 
  August 31, 2017
Quoting Clayton Marchetti Wow! That's amazing!
Thanks, Clayton!
 I like it 
  August 31, 2017
Cool Idea! If this goes 2,000 rpm, then that is nothing compared to this Technic engine I built years ago. It was a v-8, and I don't know how but I managed to get the thing to go 16,000 rpm. I am not joking. I geared it so high and fast that I had to pump water onto the gears and engine since it would overheat due to the extreme speed and friction. In fact, I even built a belt-driven cooling fan for it since it got so hot. Eventually the belt snapped, and the engine started MELTING through the cylinders. Yup, If you could make a cool top like the engine I made, that'd be cool! (You just gotta make sure that it doesn't drill through the ground)
 I like it 
  August 31, 2017
Wow! That's amazing!
 I made it 
  August 31, 2017
Quoting Didier B Nice tops and nice photos and videos.
Thanks, Didier!
 I like it 
  August 30, 2017
Nice tops and nice photos and videos.
 I made it 
  August 30, 2017
Quoting Doug Hughes Fantastic! Always great to learn from a master!
Very kind, Doug! I was very fortunate here.
 I made it 
  August 30, 2017
Quoting Nils O. Very cool! It's amazing to see that for almost every type of spinning tops it's possible to build a Lego version. Great job! :-))
Thanks, Nils! I believe that LEGO makes possible many new top designs that I've seen in no other medium.
 I like it 
  August 28, 2017
Fantastic! Always great to learn from a master!
 I like it 
  August 28, 2017
Very cool! It's amazing to see that for almost every type of spinning tops it's possible to build a Lego version. Great job! :-))
 I made it 
  August 27, 2017
Quoting jds 7777 I went on a missions trip to Costa Rica last year, and saw several kids playing with wooden tops like these. Pretty awesome, but I wasn't able to figure out how to get it to work right in my time there.
Yes, throwing tops are still very popular skill toys in many parts of the world, including Central and South America. I'm picking it up very slowly.
 I made it 
  August 27, 2017
Quoting Elk Guard Nice work!
Thanks!
 I like it 
  August 27, 2017
I went on a missions trip to Costa Rica last year, and saw several kids playing with wooden tops like these. Pretty awesome, but I wasn't able to figure out how to get it to work right in my time there.
 I like it 
  August 26, 2017
Nice work!
 I made it 
  August 25, 2017
Quoting Oliver Becker Very entertaining, my friend! It has s.th. of a JoJo until the string drops down... Out of wood this incredible thing maybe could make fire on a wooden surface... ;)
Thanks, Oliver! OMG, you're right! What if it started your hand on fire?!
 I like it 
  August 25, 2017
Very entertaining, my friend! It has s.th. of a JoJo until the string drops down... Out of wood this incredible thing maybe could make fire on a wooden surface... ;)
 I made it 
  August 24, 2017
Quoting gene 3S Amazing tops! Great action video intro!
Thanks, gene! I needed video proof.
 I like it 
  August 24, 2017
Amazing tops! Great action video intro!
 I made it 
  August 24, 2017
Quoting Werewolff . Wow, looks like you had a good time with the master. Amazing what can be done with a few bricks and a few top-spinning skills. Nice!
Thanks! Two heads are better than one, I always say! Except when one of the heads belongs to my wife. Then one head is apparently sufficient, and it isn't mine.
 I like it 
  August 24, 2017
Wow, looks like you had a good time with the master. Amazing what can be done with a few bricks and a few top-spinning skills. Nice!
 I made it 
  August 24, 2017
Quoting Nick Barrett I bet you had a great day with ta0, and it looks like you both benefited. He'll be unstoppable now!
A good day indeed!
 I like it 
  August 24, 2017
I bet you had a great day with ta0, and it looks like you both benefited. He'll be unstoppable now!
 I made it 
  August 24, 2017
Quoting Nirds forprez Collaborating or colluding on string theory.... hmm..... :) Great stuff here. I may even borrow an idea of yours and merge it with a past project of mine.....
Hmmm, I like "colluding" -- sounds like much more fun, and it's all the rage now in Russia and certain parts of Washington, DC! Can't wait to see what you have in mind here.
 I made it 
  August 24, 2017
Quoting J Raab Your tops are fantastic.
Many thanks, J!
 I made it 
  August 24, 2017
Quoting Gabor Pauler This is the real string theory (and practice...)
Really excited about this result, as it finally puts LEGO tops on the map for the majority of spintop enthusiasts, who tend to focus much more on throwing tops rather than finger tops. Of course, even a cheap non-LEGO peg top would vastly outperform mine, but it's a start.
 I like it 
  August 24, 2017
Collaborating or colluding on string theory.... hmm..... :) Great stuff here. I may even borrow an idea of yours and merge it with a past project of mine.....
 I like it 
  August 24, 2017
Your tops are fantastic.
 I like it 
  August 24, 2017
This is the real string theory (and practice...)
 I made it 
  August 24, 2017
Quoting Seaman SPb Great!
Thanks, Seaman!
 I like it 
  August 23, 2017
Great!
 
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop LEGO peg top thrown with a string!


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