Lego is one of the few toys that people never outgrow, having many fans that transcend the recommended age group. For those creative enough to think outside the preset castle, spaceship, and building designs, you get something like this automated film-processing contraption developed by Dutch photographer Jan van den Broek.
The system works by putting the film into a developing tank (a light-tight container that is used for developing film) that’s attached to a Lego-brick car that moves over and across over five separate containers containing the pre-soaker, developer, bleach tank, fixer, and stabilizer – placed inside a darkened container. The little car is programmed to dip the film into each tank.
Now, this unique system isn’t a simple boxed set you buy at Target. Van den Broek used Lego’s Mindstorms product to develop it. Mindstorms is a special kit that comes with sensors, motors, and other parts, as well as software, that lets you build robots, all programmed by a small computer. The idea of Mindstorms is to encourage people to build programmable machines using Lego bricks, which is what van den Broek did. He actually used the first version of Mindstorms (RCX 1.0) that came out years ago, and graphical programming environment called Robolab.
Van den Broek posted a video (see below) that demonstrates how his Lego system works, as well as a few samples from the rolls of film he developed (see above) using the DIY machine – and they aren’t bad for a first go. The photographer wrote in his blog that the project was fairly easy and affordable. Sure, it isn’t practical for most people, but it’s just fun idea that works.