Lego Digital Designer is very simple to install and download.
Find it here: https://www.lego.com/en-us/ldd. Make sure you download the version appropriate for your device. All Windows 7+ PCs are supported, and so are Macs from 10.10 (Yosemite) to 10.14 (Mojave). Note that macOS Catalina and Big Sur are not supported by the version to download from Lego.com, but I have made a Wine port to Mac from the windows, allowing it to be run on 64bit systems. Download here (it is safe, I promise 🙂 ~600MB). Make sure that you choose “offline mode” when it says it cannot connect to the internet.
LDD is quite simple to use once you get the hang of it. First, you are presented with a popup asking for action. When you want to make a new file, click the “document +” button which means “Free build.” Click the folder icon if you want to open a file or click on a recent one it proposes for you.
On the left, you have a palette with all of the Lego pieces in the library. They are sorted by category, though you can search by part number and name in the top search bar.
One can add pieces by clicking on them in the left side bar, and then moving the mouse pointer to the main area and clicking where you want to drop the piece. Use the arrow keys to rotate the piece until you find the orientation you want. Note that if you dragged instead of simply moved, the piece will not drop until you click the trackpad/mouse again.
For moving the plane around, use the right click to rotate the plane, and shift-right-click to pan. On a trackpad, similar except using control to imitate the right-click if on mac. Note that the middle mouse button does not do anything.
As a challenge, try making a small stack of 2x2x1 bricks to look like this: (try and also imitate the colors)
More lessons on the capabilities of the software are on the LDD homepage.
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© The Robo Mentors (Marc and Anne-Sarah).