(Image: James Brown)If you’ve been putting off finishing that $700 LEGO Millennium Falcon, here’s the motivation you need: you can now pop a “computer” brick with a working OLED display into the cockpit. James Brown, a developer and 3D printing enthusiast, has custom-made a tiny computer terminal brick with a screen that imitates the user interfaces from your favorite sci-fi films.
Brown began with an OLED screen about the size of your fingernail—the likes of which he used just last month to build a mechanical keyboard where each key had its own display. He powered the screen with a custom-made PCB containing an ARM Cortex M0 series microcontroller called STM32F030F4P6TR, which has a 32-bit single core and provides 16KB of flash. Both are powered with a LEGO 9V system with conductive strips built into the studs. (LEGO no longer makes 9V systems for safety and marketability reasons.)
Very happy about this. pic.twitter.com/1FofmKbqJP
— James Brown (@ancient_james) June 7, 2022
The LEGO computer is modeled after a 2×2 slope brick, but Brown opted to create his own casing for the system instead of using a standard-issue piece. He 3D printed a mold, which he used to cast a brick made to fit the necessary electronic components. The resulting brick is a semi-translucent blue, which allows the light from the OLED screen to shine through. So far, it appears the two major animations shown are scrolling code and a search wheel.
The tiny computer is anything but high-res; at less than half an inch across, the OLED screen Brown used for the project has a resolution of 72 x 40px. But that’s not really the point, either. Brown’s homemade computer terminal brick displays nostalgia, not your favorite 4K console game. Plus, electronic LEGO bricks are few and far between. While the brand used to make Power Function bricks that allowed makers to give their creations moving parts, those have been discontinued. That has left mostly light-up bricks and simple vehicle motors in their wake.
Brown shared his progress via Twitter as he pieced together the electrical components and built the surrounding brick. If a computer sticker is no longer enough for your Han Solo minifig, you can follow along and create your own—provided you have the dexterity to handle the tiniest computer screen of all time.