LEGO Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines

The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines

by Yoshihito Isogawa
October 2010, 168 pp.
Full Color

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The LEGO® Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines is a collection of hundreds of working examples of simple yet fascinating Technic models that you can build based on their pictures alone. Each project uses color-coded pieces and is photographed from multiple angles, making it easy to see how the models are assembled without the need for step-by-step instructions. Every model illustrates a different principle, concept, or mechanism that will inspire your own original creations. You’re encouraged to use these elements as building blocks to create your own masterpieces.

The Technic models in Simple Machines demonstrate basic configurations of gears, shafts, pulleys, turntables, connectors, and the like. You'll learn how to create small, elegant machines like cranes, operable doors, motorized cars, a rubber band-powered rocket launcher, a hand-cranked drag racer, and even musical instruments.

This visual guide, the first in the three-volume LEGO Technic Idea Book series, is the brainchild of master builder Yoshihito Isogawa of Tokyo, Japan. Each title is filled with photos of Isogawa's unique models, all of which are designed to fire the imaginations of LEGO builders young and old.

Imagine. Create. Invent. Now, what will you build?

NOTE: The LEGO Technic Idea Book series uses parts from various Technic sets. If you don't have some of the pieces shown in a particular model, experiment by substituting your own parts or visit the author's website for a list of the special parts used in the book.

Check Out Some "Simple Machines" in Action!

Check out the other books in the series!

Wheeled Wonders

Fantastic Contraptions
Author Bio 

Yoshihito Isogawa is a LEGO luminary with 42 years of building experience. He began writing computer manuals while at the Tokyo University of Science and founded Isogawa Studio, Inc. soon after. He has twice won the grand prize in the Japan Manual Contest held by the Japan Technical Communicators Association and he has won outstanding performance awards many times. He currently lives in Tokyo. Visit his YouTube channel at

Table of contents 

Part 1

What is a gear?
Counting teeth
Different kinds of teeth
Even more gears
Pulleys are gears without teeth

Shafts and Connectors
Measuring gears
Measuring shafts
Pegs and connectors
Various shafts and connectors

Gear Combinations
Going from small to large gears
Going from large to small gears
Combining gears in different ratios

Gears in a Turntable
Using gears inside the cogs of a turntable

Gears in Series
Many gears in series
Attaching different gears to the same shaft

Angled Gears
Using gears to change the angle of rotation

Worm Drives
Using worm drives

Part 2

Chains and Treads
Transmitting rotational power with chains
Transmitting rotational power with caterpillar treads

Rubber Bands
Various rubber bands
Transmitting rotational power with rubber bands

Rack-and-Pinion Gears
Changing rotational motion into linear motion with rack-and-pinion gears

Moving To and Fro
Translating rotational motion into reciprocal motion

Moving Freely
Transmitting rotational power in any direction

Going the Distance
Transmitting power over distance using many gears
Using chains
Using rubber bands
Using shafts

Part 3

Motors and Gears
Combining motors and gears

Building in Any Direction
Combining pieces so you can build in any direction

Strong Combinations
Making strong combinations!

Two Simple Chassis
What can we make with a simple chassis?
A car with windows
A Formula One racer
An paneled car (with tiles)
A hot rod
What can we make with another chassis?
A car with pipes
A rocket car
A monster car—with claws!
A car with a hood and a trunk

Part 4

Two doors opened by turning a handle
Swinging doors
A door opened by pushing a plate
An automatic sliding door with a motor and rack gears
A little garage door
A vault door
A door that closes itself
A door with a key
A door that catches like a “real” door
Little car doors
Gull-wing car doors

Pulley Systems
Lifting a load with thread
Various winches
Making your own winches
Simple cranes
The mysterious crane
A crane using chains
The mysterious crane using chains

Rubber Band Power
Launching a rocket with a rubber band
A windup car
A hand-cranked drag racer

More Uses for Gears
Changing the speed between two parallel shafts
Increasing power between two perpendicular shafts
Increasing power between two parallel shafts
Using two crank shafts to move pistons
Always rotating in the same direction
Something like a bug foot
Something like a bird feather
Linear motion with worm gears
Growing and shrinking with worm gears

Making Music
A xylophone
A little guitar
A music box


"These are an invaluable set of books to have as a reference to build mechanisms."
BrickJournal (Read More)

"I can emphatically state that no self-respecting LEGO fan should exclude this series from their library."
Bricks in my Pocket (Read More)

"These are excellent books showing a lot of great ideas for LEGO mechanisms. Even if you're an experienced builder, there are surely some ideas in here you've never seen."
Brickpile (Read More)

"For those new to Technic building, the Simple Machines book is indispensable."
The NXT STEP Blog (Read More)

"What I like about these cool little models is that they can be used to teach various science concepts such as gearing, Newton's Laws, and Potential & Kinetic energy—to name a few."
The Robotic Realm (Read More)

"This is an eccentric but seductive book."
;login: The USENIX Magazine (Read More)

"For anyone who loves Lego, prototypes in Lego, or loves mechanical assemblies, these books are definitely required viewing, and we're not sure how we lived without them for so long."
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories (Read More)