Awesome Home-Made iPhone Kit From The Place Where Lego And Macs Collide

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It rotates and everything

This fantastic rotating iPhone dock is made entirely of Lego. It’s the work of Steven Combs, a long time Lego and Mac enthusiast who runs web sites for adult fans of Lego and fans of technology generally.

Here’s a video showing the rotating mechanism in action:

I wanted to know a little more about hacking Macs with Lego add-ons, so I bombarded Steven with a few questions. And here’s what he said.

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Another Combs creation: iSight camera holder for a Powerbook

Cult of Mac: Is this your first Mac/Lego mod/hybrid? If you’ve done others before, do tell.

Steven Combs: At the moment, I have two others: an iSight holder for PowerBook G4 and this:

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A digitally designed Lego MacBook

At one point, Steve Jobs was going to demo LEGO Digital Designer during a keynote. There was a request for models and the attached image was one of my submissions. Sadly, Steve decided not to show LDD during his keynote, so I’ll never know if my model would have been used.

Cult of Mac: Can you explain how you built it? Was the rotate mechanism the most difficult bit? Did you have to go through several iterations?

Steven Combs: It’s really a funny story. I just decided one night to create this model. I hadn’t done any REAL LEGO building in a LONG time. All of the elements were in boxes and tubs and had remained there after a recent move into a new home. I had LEGO pieces spread all over my bedroom. My wife said, “I am going to be able to go to sleep this evening… right?” I told her I just needed a couple of hours, secretly thinking, there’s no way I can finish this in a couple of hours and would probably have to finish it at a later date. Within those couple of hours, I had the dock completed, the room cleaned up and the dock my desk. I’ve never completed a creation that quickly.

As for the rotation device, it is referred to as a 4×4 turntable and was the basis for my design. The design process was: here’s the rotating piece, now build around that. Similar to the Kohler commercial where the woman brings in a faucet to the Architect and says, build me a house around this. My biggest challenge was the base, which still needs a bit of refinement.

Cult of Mac: Tell us about Bricks in my Pocket. Who’s it for? Tell us a bit about the “adult fans of Lego” community. Are many of them Mac users?

Steven Combs: BimP began back in the days of Mazingo, the application for publishing content to PDAs. I would post the latest LEGO related news and Mazingo subscribers could sync their Windows CE or Palm PDAs and take the latest LEGO news with them in their pockets… ergo… Bricks in my Pocket. Mazingo folded so I moved on to creating a Podcast. The name still seemed appropriate.

I had a year of really strong programming and then life got in the way and the podcast went on hiatus for several years. This year, my wife and I tried to revive the show, but once again, we were unable to get back in sync due to new life events. It’s one of those things we wish we could do full time, but we are realists and have to pay the bills! :D

At this point, we are unsure as to what the future is for BimP. It’s morphed into so many things over the years, maybe we just haven’t found our niche yet. The attention I’ve received with the LEGO dock though, has me rethinking plans for BimP.

AFOLs are the adults who have never really out-grown their favorite toy. I like to think of LEGO as our creative medium. Some dabble in paints, charcoals, woods – AFOLs dabble in LEGO. AFOLs are extremely talented and creative individuals who are also students, engineers, artists, programmers, business folks, and entertainers. There are builders out there with mocs (my own creations) that make my dock look like childs play. The only reason my moc has been heavily featured, is because it is tied to a very high-profile and mainstream platform, the iPhone/iPod Touch.

As for the AFOL community being Mac users, if you had asked me that 4-5 years ago, I would have said, “not so much.” But as the Mac user base has grown, many AFOLs have migrated. Early on, the windows platform had the majority of the supporting LEGO software such as MLCAD and LPub. Now the Mac is blessed with Bricksmith and a Mac version of LPub with many other supplemental programs being ported over to Mac.

LEGO has both their LEGO Digital Designer and NXT software available for the Mac platform. If I were to guess, I would think the AFOL community is probably 40-50% Mac today… again, that’s just a guess based on my experiences with the community.

Many thanks to Steven for his time and permission to use his photos. If you’d like a set of instructions for building your own copy of Steven’s dock, keep an eye on this post.