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Where to get more parts.

This is the follow-up to “Not Enough Parts” published here on December 23, 2009.

Many of you are content and build some interesting and wonderful things using just one NXT kit. There are numerous books published (like the ones listed over there on the right side of this page) about constructions requiring only one kit and web sites that also concentrate on building with just the parts included in just one NXT set (like nxtrograms.com). Some folks like to see just what they can do with the limited quantity parts included in one set, others just want to save a few dollars (euro, whatever) by only using one kit. But for others, this is enough.

It is my contention that the commercial NXT kit (either the original 8527, the newer 8547) or the Education Base set (9797) are just starter sets. You can build many things with one NXT kit, but if you want to build to the limits of your imagination (assuming your imagination is bigger than a standard set) you are going to need more parts. The question is… Where do you find more parts? Believe it or not there are lots of places to buy more parts!

Start with a little research. What do you want? What do you need? The first place I go is peeron.com (http://www.peeron.com/). I look up a set that I know has the part I want/need for example a 15 bean in the NXT 2.0 set number 8547. When you select the link for the part you will be presented with a new page that lists LEGO sets that have the part, and on the right hand side of the page you will see a box with listings of places that have the part for sale and the country where the vendor is located, some different colors for the part and even some estimated prices for the part. You know the drill, just select the link of the price and you will be transported to the vendors store. Many of the stores are on an unofficial LEGO Marketplace called Bricklink (http://www.bricklink.com/). I understand that you can buy almost any LEGO part currently in production and some no longer in production from Bricklink. You can scour Bricklink for any part you want and find multiple vendors for the same part. Choose your part, choose your vendor. Some vendors charge a shopping charge for each part you order, but most will combine parts orders for multiple different parts an give you a break on shipping.

Another place to find parts is the auction site we love to hate, eBay. eBay has gotten a bad reputation because of a few unscrupulous individuals who will take advantage of others. I use eBay all the time, for different things, but I (now) always, always, always check the seller ratings. If they have a low rating, I buy from someone else. I bought from a person with no rating once, got burned, but not as badly as I could have. Moral, check the seller ratings. Lastly, make sure you know prices. Sometimes folks on eBay will charge outrageous prices just because someone will pay them. Sometimes the item has a low price, but the shipping is outrageous. Compare the full price including the price of the item and shipping charges.

There are several ways to find parts on eBay. You can search for LEGO NXT, LEGO Mindstroms, or LEGO Technic (and several others) and you will be presented with a list of parts and sets for sale by various individuals and vendors. You can find sets and packets of parts for almost any part you want/need. I like the “Buy It Now” option because I know what I am going to get and what I am going to pay. Bidding on popular items often gets out of hand and you can wind up paying much more than an item is worth if you get caught up in bidding. Some folks like the thrill of the bid, some folks get good deals, I seldom get good deals with bidding.

Also on eBay there are eBay stores from several vendors, some items are “Buy It Now”, some are up for auction. One store that looks like it has many parts at what seems like reasonable prices is Specialty Bricks & Robotics (http://stores.ebay.com/Specialty-Bricks-and-Robotics); they look like they have a good selection and good prices.

Another very good resource is the online LEGO Education store at: http://www.legoeducation.us/store/ from there you may search for parts and purchase single motors, sensor or multipacks of sensors and almost anything LEGO has for sale. I find the store not the easiest to use, but I did find one link to a section of the store one link to a section of the store from which you can browse many NXT parts. Frequently you need to buy packages of parts. For example if you want some beams, you may find a package of beams. You can buy individual parts from Bricklink. For example at the LEGO Education store you can buy packages of beams that includes 5 beams each in sizes from 3 to 15 studs in length. A total of 35 elements for $12, a good price, but if you only need a few 15 length beams you might want to try Bricklink or eBay instead.

I have bought a few individual parts, but I prefer to buy a Technic set to get parts. The advantage is that I get a variety of parts, and a model to build before I use the parts to build other things. You can get sets from eBay, Amazon, LEGO and many other places.

If you buy from eBay, Amazon or any place that other than the LEGO store, make sure you know what the retail cost (and shipping) is before you buy. On eBay, if you are bidding you can get caught up in the moment and overpay just to get the item, or some of the “Buy It Now” options are listed for more than retail prices. On Amazon, if the item is sold directly by Amazon you can usually get it for less than retail or no more than the retail price. Be careful with Amazon Marketplace vendors, as some of them sometime sell for prices I feel are way out of line with the retail price. If you find the price is too high, just go elsewhere. The key here is to do your research in advance so you know what is a reasonable price to pay for the item.

These are just a few places to find more parts; I am sure there are more places. Do your research.

Research is the key to finding more parts!

If life gives you LEGO®, build ROBOTS,

Andy

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