Introduction: CAMLU 2010

This instructable will describe how to create an updated LEGO CAMLU (Computer Activated Motorized LEGO Unit).

My students and I built literally hundreds of radical variations of the LEGO DACTA 1038 robot. The original plans date back to 1985, and I have not constructed the model for years- certainly not since the tsunami of new LEGO components.

I attended BrickCON 2010 in Seattle, and observed the robotics competition. Most of the robots with modern LEGO servos and components did not move much faster than the original LEGO 4.5v robots of the late 1980s. It occurred to me there is no updated version of the CAMLU, using any of the succeeding motor systems. I thought it would be fun to resurrect and update the original CAMLU. It would be fun to enter it into a competition with a Mindstorms bot. 

This particular CAMLU uses the LEGO Technic 9v motor. I have constructed variations using the 9v mini-motor and the Power Motor systms.

Note: The CAD images were generated in LDraw/MLCAD . The avi file was captured from LDView . The nice rendered images were created with L3PAO, LDView and POV-RAY.  Additional editing performed in GIMP.

LDraw software available at
POV-RAY available at
GIMP available at

Philippe Hurbain's Comparisons of LEGO Motors:

I play with different educational manipulatives for a living. Visit

Step 1: Gather Your Parts

You will need to gather your parts. These components are available from BrickLink ( - my preference), and often come up at Craig's List or ebay. I haunt yard sales! Elements can always be purchased from LEGO or one of their retailers.There are a variety of robot controllers on the market (The PCS Brain is available on the web).

2 -Brick 2 x 6 x 2 Weight with Plate Bottom
2 -Electric Technic Motor 9V
4 -Axle 6
4 -Beam 4
3 -Beam 6
4 -Beam 8
2 -Beam 12
4 -Bushing
2 -Gear Spur 24
2 -O-Ring
4 -Peg 3/4
12 -Peg Friction
2  -Plate 1 x 2
1  -Plate 1 x 6
2  -Pulley Medium
6  -Pulley Small
7  -Technic Plate 2 x 4
2  -Technic Plate 2 x 8
2   -Worm Gear
2  -Plate 2 x 10
2  -Technic Axle Joiner
1 -Single Wheel Holder with Wheel
1  -2x2 Turntable
1 - Robotic Controller (In this example the PCS Brain)

Step 2: Begin Assembly

Connect two #8 beams with two friction pegs. Set this assembly aside.

Step 3: Assembly Continued

Fix one #4 beam to a #12 beam using two friction pegs. Fix another #4 beam to the  same #12 beam using one friction peg. Insert a #6 axle through both the #12 and #4 beam and secure in place with a small pulley and a 24 spur gear. Add a small pulley to the axle next to the gear.

Step 4: Assembly Continued

Create a mirror image of the previous assembly. Fix one #4 beam to a #12 beam using two friction pegs. Fix another #4 beam to the same #12 beam using one friction peg. Insert a #6 axle through both the #12 and #4 beam and secure in place with a small pulley and a 24 spur gear. Add a small pulley to the axle next to the gear. Note that a small part of the axle should extend out from the small pulley on both assemblies.

Step 5: Assembly Continued

Insert the axle end nearest to the gear of the side assemblies into the third hole of the connected beams created in the first step.

Step 6: Assembly Continued

Carefully flip the assembly over. Fix plates underneath the beams to provide further support. 

Step 7: Assembly Continued

Carefully flip the assembly back over (with studs oriented upwards). Add two 1x2 plates to the end of the central beams. Add medium pulleys with O rings to the two extended axle ends.

Set the assembly aside.

Step 8:

Place two 9 v motors side-by-side and fix axle extenders on the motor shafts. Add (in order) to each axle extender: bushing, worm gear, bushing. 

Step 9: Assembly Continued

Add a 1x6 plate on a #6 beam, and slide the beam onto the two #6 axles.

Step 10: Assembly Continued

Fix the motor assemblies onto the model. The #6 bream should fix to the 1x2 plates. The motors should fix on to the #4 beams. The worm gears should mesh with the 24 spur gears.

Step 11: Assembly Continued

Fix two weight bricks on top of  the #6 beams.

Step 12: Assembly Continued

Support the two halves of the CAMLU by adding a 2x6 technic plate on the end of the motors. Connect the two weight bricks with two 2x8 bricks. Add two #8 beams on the 2x8 plates, and above the weight bricks.

Step 13: Assembly Continued

Insert friction pegs into the first hole of each of the upper #8 beams.  Insert a friction peg in the fifth beam hole of the #12 beams, directly below the first pegs. Connect each set of pegs with a #6 beam.

Step 14: Assembly Continued

Center two 2x4 technic plate on the first 2x8 plate. Insert two 3/4 pegs into the end holes of the plates. Center a 2x4 technic plate on the 2x6 plate, and insert two 3/4 pegs into the end holes.

Step 15: Assembly Continued

Fix a single wheel holder with wheel onto a 2x2 turntable. Fix the assembly onto the bottom and center of the two 9v motors.

Step 16: Finish

Add a robotic controller to the top of the model. In this case, I used the PCS BRAIN, which has peg holes that fit onto the 3/4 pins. Connect the interface to the motors with 9v leashes, and hook the interface up to a power supply.

The CAMLU can serve as an awesome robotic base in different competitions. I used a variation of this model in the Boise Bot Competition!  There are many places to attach sensors and other mechanisms.

Video of the finished CAMLU