9 Posts
I'm a first-time user of MecaBricks. I've been using both LDD and MLCad up to this point. As a consequence, I started using MecaBricks with a LDD/MLCad mindset. That mindset needed re-tuning. It is possible that other new users will have a similar mindset when they first use MecaBricks. I have put together a short primer (see below) for new users to get them going with using MecaBricks. It's purpose is to get people interested in using MecaBricks so is consciously not an extensive "how-to" guide. The primer begins after this paragraph.

This primer provides a brief introduction on how to use the MecaBricks Workshop. It is a simple "how to get started" guide. As such, it describes only a small amount of the MecaBrick workshop's capabilities - enough to whet your appetite and want to come back for more. The primer is presented as a sequence of 10 steps, with each step assuming the previous step has been undertaken. Each step is formed by some descriptive text and one or more screenshots.If you are used to using either Lego Digital Designer (LDD) or Mike's LEGO CAD (MLCAD) to design your model, note that a slight mindset shift will be required when using MecaBricks. It's not a big difference but it may be enough to have you scratching your head to begin with. Attention will be drawn to the difference at an appropriate point in the primer.

The MecaBricks workshop can be trialed without the need to create an account. This primer assumes that you have you browser opened and are already in the MecaBricks workshop. If you aren't, please navigate to http://www.mecabricks.com/en/workshop. So without further ado, here are the 10 steps that make up the primer for first time users.

1) Pick a colour
Figure 1 - Pick a Colour

The lower part of your browser window is where you select the part that you want to add. There is a pop-up list which categorizes the parts. When you pick a category, the list of available parts will change to reflect the chosen category.

Begin by picking the colour that you want the part to be, Click on a colour in the bottom right hand side of the window (see Figure 1). Note that if a part is selected when you choose a colour, the colour of the selected part will change. When you are looking to add a part which is different to the colour shown on the colour palette, ensure that no part is selected prior to selecting the colour.

2) Add a Part
Figure 2 - Part Loading

Use the forward and backward icons on each end of the list of part images to view the parts available within the selected category. When you see the part you want, click on it. You may see a "progress" indicator displayed while the part loads (see Figure 2).

3) Part Placed at the Origin
Figure 3 - Part placed

The first part will be placed at the origin (X, Y and Z co-ordinate of 0, 0, 0). Notice the three differently coloured arrows near the brick. Each part will have one of these and it will be displayed when the part is selected. The red arrow points along the part's X axis, the green arrow points along the part's Y axis and the blue arrow points along the part's Z axis. You will see the impact rotating a piece has on these arrows in step 9. It is also worth noting that in the bottom left hand corner is a similar (but smaller) red, green and blue axis indicator. These are used to indicate the current orientation of the view of the model being built. When you rotate the view, this indicator will rotate correspondingly.

4) Moving a Part
Figure 4 - Moving a Part

LDD/MLCAD mindset shift. The way a part is moved in the MecaBricks workshop is different to that for LDD and MLCAD. You move a brick by moving the mouse onto the axis for the direction which you want to move the brick (see figure 4). The arrow will change colour to yellow. Click and hold the left mouse button down and drag the part in the direction which you want it to move.

5) Select the Next "Target" Point
Figure 5 - Select First Target Point

The currently selected brick is drawn in red. When you move the mouse over the selected brick, it will turn blue and display some orange points. One use for these points is to determine where the next part will be added. When you position the mouse over one of the points, the point will turn green. Clicking the left mouse button will "lock in" the point as the target point.

6) Add the Second Part
Figure 6 - Add Second Part

Pick the next part to be added by selecting an appropriate part category, scrolling to the desired part and clicking on the desired part. The part will be added to the model using the target point of the currently selected part. If a part on the model is not selected when the new part is picked, the new part will be added at the model's origin (0, 0, 0).

7) Select the Next "Target" Point
Figure 7 - Select Second Target Point

Just as with step 5), a target point is selected on the newly added part. Notice that a target point has an X, Y, Z orientation, just like a part has. The axis orientation for a target point may differ from that for the part (see Figure 7).

Add the Third Part

Figure 8 - Add Third Part

Pick the next part to be added by selecting an appropriate part category, scrolling to the desired part and clicking on the desired part. The part will be added to the model using the target point of the currently selected part (see Figure 8 ).

9) Rotate the Part
Figure 9a - Part Rotation #1

Having placed a part, the arrow keys can be used to quickly rotate the part by 45 degrees along different axes. Pressing the right arrow key once will rotate the part clockwise around the Y axis (see figure 9a) (assuming the viewpoint for the rotation is looking towards the part's axes origin).

Figure 9b - Part Rotation #2

Pressing the right arrow key a second time will rotate the part clockwise another 45 degrees around the Y axis (see figure 9b).

The key combinations to rotate a part around an axis are;
Left arrow - Anti-clockwise rotation around the Y axis
Right arrow - Clockwise rotation around the Y axis
Up arrow - Anti-clockwise rotation around the X axis
Right arrow - Clockwise rotation around the X axis

10) "Show Me The Edges"
Figure 10 - "Show Me The Edges"

It is possible to change the way in which parts are displayed. For example, edges can be added to the model (see Figure 10), which you may find will make it easier to see individual parts.

The MecaBricks workshop is a powerful CAD tool for LEGO. This primer has touched on a few of its capabilities. You are encouraged to explore and experiment further to discover more about it.
30 May 2015, 04:13
Edited 31 May 2015, 01:25
3192 Posts
Thanks a lot for this awesome guide to start using mecabricks. It is much appreciated! I think it is even more valuable to first-time users than if I would do it, as it is written by someone in the same situation.

I shared it on twitter and facebook and I will pin it.
30 May 2015, 23:36
561 Posts
Good job on writing this guide! Great to read and it does tell them exactly what they need to know!
31 May 2015, 07:12
62 Posts
how do you save a creation?
24 Jul 2016, 02:28
561 Posts
In the Workshop, just use "File" > "Save".
Then you can make your creation public in http://mecabricks.com/en/account/library
If it's public, it will get into the library.

(To answer any of the other questions in all the other topics:
You can mark your creation as a set in the library too. Just click the creation over there and edit the properties)
24 Jul 2016, 05:43
Edited 24 Jul 2016, 05:45
62 Posts
thanks alot Sim!
28 Jul 2016, 12:55
28 Posts
I'm making a garage door and I notice there is a commonly used piece came in the police station and the roller door goes into a 1x14x1 with a groove up the side, i seems as if the element isn't present in the catalog of part available. If you could figure out a way to add the part that would be great! Thanks, Kaleb

P.s. the Bricklink ID number is 4217
21 Oct 2016, 23:26
3192 Posts
4217 is already in the database: http://www.mecabricks.com/en/parts?q=4217
There is a special thread to request parts: http://www.mecabricks.com/en/forum/topic/50
22 Oct 2016, 01:46
28 Posts
My mistake i didn't know i could look it up by said number so i couldn't find it my mistake.
22 Oct 2016, 02:26
28 Posts
Btw hows the touch screen development for phones and tablets coming along when i first found Mecabricks month ago I could pull up the workshop page but I can't rotate and the buttons cashed and overlapped.
22 Oct 2016, 02:28
3192 Posts
It is not really usable with a phone but it works ok on tablets (iPad, Android).
22 Oct 2016, 04:34
62 Posts
22 Oct 2016, 12:33
62 Posts
22 Oct 2016, 12:34
62 Posts
22 Oct 2016, 12:35
3192 Posts
Yes. It does. I have an iPad and it works on it. Another user here is also pretty much exclusively using it on iPad.
It is not perfect but it is usable.
22 Oct 2016, 12:36
62 Posts
But then your Ipad has webgl?
22 Oct 2016, 12:37
28 Posts
Well thanks for your assistance Sir Scrubs, and once again what you're doing here is wonderful!!
22 Oct 2016, 14:52
28 Posts
I like to know how snap rims onto axles my LAPD PAtrol car when i figure out how to snap the rims to the axles and the tires to the rims, I've figured it out (or at least i think I have) how to position rims so they at least look like they're attached to the big Technic pin axles but for the smaller axles used mostly in Lego City sets I cant figure out how to position them so they're on right and with out that i cant attached the rubber tyres. Any help anyone or clarification anyone can provide will be helpful, please and thank you!
19 Jan 2017, 14:51
Edited 19 Jan 2017, 15:01
2 Posts
I am so cofused
20 Apr 2017, 02:21
1 Post
Yes this software seems to be overthought. It is not intuitive at all. I wish Lego would just update their part catalog. I have spent 20 minutes just trying to move a piece.
3 May 2017, 18:47
Page 1 of 10