There are no technical updates to the software or the site, but there are many new models in the “Small”, “Large”, “Super” and “Lego” galleries.
There are two major updates in this release:
I have added a new manual in the “Manuals” section: the original 1935-6 version. (Unfortunately there are a couple of pages missing.) Also included are many of the blueprints that went with this manual.
I have replaced all the manual images (not just the new 1936 manual) with high-resolution ones. They will still display the same reduced size within the web page, but if you open the image itself, or download it, you will get a file suitable for printing to the full size of the original manual.
This release just consists of a small update to the parts library:
Small corrections to three of the parts
Addition of the 10 types of half-roof section (what you get if you split a roof along its ridge).
This process can be used to upgrade any previous version of Virtual Minibrix. It is very easy. Just overwrite your current installation with the contents of the version 4.2 release, and make the added parts known to MLCad. All the changes will be automatically applied to any existing models the next time you edit, view or render them.
Virtual Minibrix is packaged as a single self-extracting Zip file. To download it, right-click on the following link, and save the target file to any directory of your choosing.
Run the downloaded file, either using Windows “Start” / “Run”, or by double-clicking on the file in Windows Explorer. In the dialog box that pops up:
Change “Unzip to folder:” to the path where you installed the LDraw package
The files will all be extracted to the correct subdirectories, overwriting any old versions.
Start up MLCad. Select “File” then “Scan Parts” from the menu. After a short while a pop-up message will ask: “Write new Parts.lst file?”. Press “Yes” and the new Minibrix parts will be added to MLCad’s parts browser. Close MLCad.
This step is only required if you are updating directly from version 1.0
Because the dimensions of the No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 roofs changed slightly in version 2.0, you might need to make some small adjustments to existing models. This will only be necessary if you have placed a roof with its edge next to a wall, or placed two roofs side by side. If you have, simply open the model in MLCad, and move the offending roof to fit properly, using the Fine grid setting.
Changes in this release:
Updated parts library
Updated colour and texture definitions for POV-Ray (ld_color.inc)
Some new models, especially in the “Large” and “Super” galleries.
Most of the part changes are internal. Many of the parts have been rewritten, as has the colour definition file, to make them more future-proof if converted to POV-ray source. One difference that you will notice, however, is that all the edge colours have been redefined to be more visible. This should make the building of models in MLCad easier.
The big news, as you will have noticed, is that we have moved to a new site! In fact, Virtual Minibrix and the re-born Minibrix.com are now consolidated in one place.
Do not forget to update any bookmarks you may have to this site – I don’t know how long the old address will be around to redirect you. My service provider (BT) has decided to close the hosting service that is (still) included in my contract with them “in a few months”, unless I start paying them an extra monthly fee that is way over the market average. So I am voting with my feet. (End of rant!)
In the process of moving the site, I have taken the opportunity to update the “Getting Started” section. The LDraw web site, on which much of the installation process depends, has recently undergone a major restructuring. As a result, many of the links into their site have changed.
Also available is a new release of of the colour definition file (lg_color.inc) with a better definition for the wooden (purlin) textures, and with a minor fix to one of the part definitions. (Part x_2001 was functionally correct, but a stray non-printable character in the last line raised an error message in LDView.) Therefore there is a new version of the installation package, now version 4.1.
Following on from November’s news, and the rescuing of Minibrix.com, I am delighted to announce that it has now been restored to its original site, http://www.minibrix.com. Malcolm Hanson and I have been able to re-register the original domain name, and put all the contents back where they belong. The next step is to give it a much-needed update, with loads more information that has accumulated over the last few years. So give us a few weeks, then pop over and take a look around.
Sometime during 2011 the most extensive and comprehensive website devoted to the history of Minibrix went “off-air”. This is the site written by Fred Smallbone and Malcolm Hanson, and originally published at Minibrix.com. It is far too valuable a resource to disappear, so I have taken the liberty of rehousing a copy of the contents here, at http://www.minibrix.btinternet.co.uk/minibrix.html.
There are a few new models in the “Small” Minibrix gallery, but the main update is a whole new gallery of “Bayko” models. These are as near as I can get to reproductions of the Bayko originals using standard Lego parts. There are models representing the the three different styles of Bayko: the Oak series, the classic red-and-white Plimpton series, and the later Meccano series.
There are no program updates, just lots and lots of new models, in all of the galleries. The additions include:
All the remaining models from the 1960 manual, in the “Small” gallery
Some Set 5, and most of the Set 6 models, in the “Large” gallery
A couple of new buildings in the “Super” gallery that were inspired by some “Anker Stone” designs
A Lego model of my home
Another of the Tudor Set 3 models.
There are three groups of changes in this release:
Tweaks to many (most) of the parts to fix a small rendering problem
Some new parts, that were designed but never released by Minibrix
More models in the “Small” gallery.
Here are the details of the changes.
In “real world” Minibrix, if a door or window is placed against the studs of a brick, it is pushed very slightly outwards. Since the bricks are made of rubber this is completely natural. In Virtual Minibrix, however, no such distortion takes place. If you look very, very closely at the rendering of such a construction, you will see that a little bit of the stud appears to break through the door or window. To fix this I have made the studs and holes very slightly smaller (which, of course, affects every part in the library) and also made a tiny adjustment to the positioning of the doors and windows. Both adjustments are too small to change the appearance of the models. Here are “before” and “after” pictures showing the problem:
In 1939 the Premo Rubber Company (the manufacturers of Minibrix) took out a couple of patents on some new parts. These were never put into production, but as a bit of fun I have added them to the inventory of Virtual Minibrix.
The first patent is for the corbel, a support for a small overhanging balcony or similar structure:
The patent does not go so far as to define what colour(s) it should be produced in, but I have taken a guess that both black and white would have been the natural choices.
The second is for a set of channelled bricks and a
series of long, rigid beams that they clip over to form suspended beams, archways,
doorways etc.. Grooves run along the top (rather than small holes) to take the pips
of doors or windows. The slot underneath fits both the rigid beams and the regular
brick studs. Again, I have provided these in both black and white. The beams are
available in the same 7 lengths as the regular roof purlins, from 4 inches to 14 inches.
Half Channel Brick
Whole Channel Brick
For some ideas on using these new parts, see the Hints and Tips page:
The gallery of “Small” models has a number of additions. These are the all the Premier Set examples from the 1960 manual. Look for the NEW splashes.
The most significant change is a replacement for the colour definition file used in converting MLCad models into POV-Ray images. I have reworked the “clear” definition for the 1960-era windows and doors, which were far too transparent. This brings the version of Virtual Minibrix up to 3.1.
As well as re-rendering the models which used these affected parts, I have taken the opportunity to replace many of the other model images in the Gallery using better camera and lighting positions.
There is no change to the MLCad models. If you want to pick up the new format for the windows, just rerun L3P to convert the model into the POV-Ray input file (the *.pov file).
Another new and large model has been added to the “Lego” gallery. This is of Ordsall Hall in Manchester, reputed to be the most haunted house in Britain. The greatest challenge in creating this model was reproducing the large variety of windows. With the exception of the large, square bay at the front, all the windows have been built “sideways”, using windows, plates and tiles.
Two new and very large models have been added to the gallery. In the “Super” section is a model of Hursley House (now an IBM office – my office!) near Winchester. This model makes extensive use of the coloured bricks from the “Junior” Minibrix set: the green ones to create the flat roof and the blue ones for the dark grey stonework of the real building. In the “Lego” section is a model of Boscobel House on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border, famous for the Royal Oak in which King Charles II hid from the Parliamentary soldiers after the Battle of Worcester.
There are three major updates to the Virtual Minibrix site and package this month:
I have added a new manual.
I have added lots of new models to the gallery.
I have completely reworked the Minibrix parts library to provide better support for rendering engines other than POV-Ray.
I have added a new manual to the collection, the 1948 version. I have also taken the opportunity to replace the page images in all the other manuals with ones of slightly better resolution.
I have added ten new models to the galleries. You will find them in the “Small”, “Large”, “Super” and “Tudor” galleries.
This is really one for the purists, or for people specializing in graphical rendering software. All the parts and sub-parts are now “BFC certified”. That is to say all the surfaces are defined with a consistent definition of “inside” and “outside”, and their vertices are identified as running either clockwise or anticlockwise. If this means absolutely nothing to you then don’t worry – you’re not missing anything. Visually there is no change at all, and it will make no difference to your existing models.
As a result of lots of great feedback on the initial release of this site and the Virtual Minibrix package, version 2 is now available. Highlights are:
I have added all the “missing” parts to the set – the plain wood and the double-angled Purlins from the 1930s, and the new parts introduced in the 1960s.
Prompted by having to create the tiny No.0 roof, I have redesigned all the roofs to match their real counterparts much more closely.
Another set of parts that I have tweaked are all the doors and windows, to which I have added the tiny locating pips on the edges.
I have redefined the colour of the brown roof tiles to be a much better match to real tiles.
I have started a page of more advanced hints and tips for using Virtual Minibrix.
Here are the details of the changes.
Version 2.0 of Virtual Minibrix contains the following additional parts:
Plain-wood Purlins in 7 sizes
Plain-wood Double-angle Purlins in 7 sizes
Black Double-angle Purlins in 7 sizes
Black and white Half Bricks with dovetails (in case you need to show this detail for some reason)
Modern House Door, Garage Door, Fanlight Window and Picture Window
No.0 Roof in 12 combinations of pitch.
Many thanks to J.C. Tchang for creating the definitions of these parts for me.
To support the rendering of these with POV-Ray, I have added two new colour/texture definitions: one for the plain wood of the Purlins, and one for the clear panels in the modern doors and windows.
The design for the tiny No.0 Roof showed up where I had previously cheated in the roof designs – using too few rows of tiles in order to make the geometric calculations easier. I have decided to be good, and have redesigned them all properly. As a result, the dimensions of some of them have changed very slightly. They are no longer similar to the real roofs, but are now the same as the real roofs. (But you still can't make all the models look like their pictures in the 1960 handbook!)
I was a little uncomfortable with the colour of the brown Roof Tiles in the original Virtual Minibrix package. I have done a more thorough colour analysis of some real tiles, and redefined the brown colour accordingly. It is now much darker and much less red. I have set up the colour definitions for POV-Ray so that any existing models you may have will pick up the new brown automatically when they are rendered, without having to change or regenerate anything. I have also redone all the pictures in the Tudor Gallery pages to use the new colour.
Finally, I have decided to add the tiny locating pips to the edges of all the doors and windows. Although this generally makes very little difference to the final appearance it does show up if you set a window or door to an open position. Because it slows down rendering of large models even more, this is another feature that will now be disabled if you switch to the “simple” set of primitives.
Following on from the “Using Minibrix” page there is now a small collection of more advanced hints and tips. You can get there directly by following this link:
Page last updated 16 January 2018