LEGO beantwoord vragen over nieuwe LEGO Powered Up systeem

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Vragen over nieuwe LEGO Powered Up

Als Ambassadeurs hebben we de kans gekregen om vragen te stellen over het nieuwe LEGO Powered Up systeem dat uiteindelijk de Power Functions gaat vervangen. LEGO heeft de vragen over nieuwe LEGO Powered Up beantwoord en je leest ze hieronder.

Vragen over nieuwe LEGO Powered Up

De vragen en antwoorden zijn in het Engels. Hoewel er veel goede vragen zijn gesteld geeft LEGO niet al te veel prijs m.b.t. de toekomst van Powered Up. Desondanks worden er wel wat zaken duidelijker gemaakt en hieronder vind je alle info die we tot nu toe hebben bemachtigd.


Physical product/platform details:

Is “Powered Up!” the collective name for all things electric with the new connector (and thus includes Boost and WeDo 2.0), or is “Powered Up!” just the name for the new train engines and the ones in the new tumbler?

Powered UP is the name of the new LEGO electronic building platform. This new platform has 2 main connectors: The new plug used for wired connections and a wireless RF connection using Bluetooth LE. The wireless connection is both used between physical Powered UP elements and to mobile smart devices. Current products using elements from the Powered UP platform are: WeDo 2.0, Boost, CITY Trains, DUPLO Trains and the App controlled Batmobile.

Seeing that this new system has also been incorporated into the App-Controlled Batmobile set for the DC Comics SuperHeroes theme upon its debut, has Powered Up been designed in mind in any way to be more easily utilized by many other themes than before with Power Functions?

The Powered UP platform is being designed to replace the Power Functions platform. It is offering a more intelligent wired connection with broader usability, a wireless BLE connection with better possibilities than IR and link to mobile smart devices opening a new range of App connected possibilities.

Wouldn’t it have been possible to incorporate more than 2 outlets in the battery box? For many applications more than 2 options would’ve been great (especially technic, eg cranes where you need one motor each for rotating the crane, raising/lowering the hook and moving the hook)

Moving ahead with the Powered UP platform development we will design elements for different model and product purposes.

Will the new system roll out to the Techinc line and if so, has consideration been given to the frequent use of more then 2 motors in many Technic MOCs?

Without disclosing how we are going to develop and launch the Powered UP platform we can say that it is the future LEGO electronic building platform to cover products across both DUPLO, LEGO and TECHNIC building areas.

LEGO DC Comics 76112 App-Controlled Batmobile

Is there any way to stack the new connectors like the PF 1.0 ones?

The new plug is not stackable like the Power Functions plug. Sensors cannot be stacked and in most cases you want to control one output function at the time and not more together. This was done to enable more intelligent interactions through the wire.

An example of this is that all elements can now be electrically identified, so when attaching e.g. a train motor, the Hub and the App can now recognise it is a train motor. This allows us to help younger users put things in the right place. Another benefit is that we can optimise functionality based on particular elements, for example when using a train motor or the add-on light, the handset increments/decrements power (good for train / setting light) but when using the medium motor, the handset sets 100% power when a button is pressed down (good for RC vehicles).

What are the electrical characteristics of the system: max current at the outputs, minimum and maximum voltage at the outputs?

More technical details will follow later this year

What type of batteries and how many will the pack hold? And the remote?

The LEGO Smart Hub 2 I/O (used in the CITY Trains and the Batmobile) hold 6 AAA batteries and the Smart Controller hold 4 AAA batteries.

Can you use rechargeable batteries? (Lithium, NiMh, …)

Yes, you can use rechargeable AAA batteries.

How does the battery life compare to the old PF system? How did power consumption changed since switching from Infrared to Bluetooth?

The power consumption is comparable between the two platforms.

Will the hub be eventually programmable and/or use sensors?

The Powered UP Hubs will support all components that can be plugged in (such as motors, sensors, light etc..). The firmware of most Hubs can be updated to ensure support of new functions across the platform (the WeDo 2.0 Hub is not firmware updatable).

Where is the logic? In the hub, on the Hub Smart Device or on both?

You can say it is a bit of both. The mobile smart device can receive information and send control commands to the hubs. Logic links can then be programmed on the smart device. Apps to support this will be developed over time.
Naturally there is enough logic/functionality within the Hubs to support handset control without a connected app. We are doing some functionality local to Hubs as needed, for example speed regulation on the tacho motors of the Smart Move Hub in Boost as this needs to function faster than control over Bluetooth LE can provide.

How reliable is the system in an environment with many active controllers?

The Powered UP platform is designed to be used in a classroom environment with many active devices (products such as WeDo 2.0).
With WeDo 2.0 we have seen over 45 active independent networks working OK without noticeable impact to model action/reaction.

Are you planning to make over the air updates possible? If the answer is yes, how about making the controller software Open Source under some conditions?

Most Powered UP Hubs have updatable firmware. It is the aim to make interface specifications available for open source use. More technical specification will follow later this year.

Elements

Can we stack different elements on the same port?

The Powered UP plug cannot be stacked. This architecture is chosen to enable more intelligent interaction through the wire. See previous notes.

Motors used for PowerUp system look to be similar to PF ones. Are there any
improvements of similar type motors compared with PF?

We are always aiming to improve quality and performance within the frames possible.

What is the Nm (torque) for: The train motor, the medium motor & the Boost motor? Is the internal train motor the same as the PF train motor?

More technical specification will follow later this year.

Connectivity

How many Powered Up hubs can I control with a single remote?

You can link up to 5 devices (Smart Hubs or Smart Controllers) together.
To create a network you first need to connect a Smart Hub and a Smart Controller.

How many hubs can I control with a smartphone/pc?

This will to some extend be device dependant. On iOS devices the current limit is 10 hubs and it may change over time.

LEGO DC Comics 76112 App-Controlled Batmobile

Can I synchronize the hubs using the remote or the app? How?

You can have multiple Hubs on the same channel color and control them simultaneously.

How many motors can you control with a single hub?

With the “Smart Move Hub 2 I/O” used in the Boost product you can control up to 4 motors – the 2 internal and 2 external. With the “Smart Hub 2 I/O” you can control 2 external motors.

Does that mean a Technic set with more than two features will need multiple hubs?

Without disclosing how we are going to develop and launch the Powered UP platform we can say that it is the future LEGO electronic building platform to cover products across both DUPLO, LEGO and TECHNIC building areas.

The range on the remote has been reported to be only 3-4 meters. What range is Powered Up supposed to have? Why is it so small?

The range of the BLE connection can be limited by different factors such as electromagnetic interference. Under normal circumstances the range should be well above 10 meters.
We are looking into the specific case giving only 3-4 meters range.

LEGO City 60197 Passenger Train

How does the train motor behave when the controller goes out of range? Will it continue to run or stop? How long does it take to re-establish connection when the controller comes back in range?

When the Hub and Controller go out of range the connection is lost and both Hub and Controller will enter advertising mode (LED blinking white). If a motor is running it is turned OFF. If Hub and Controller get inside range again while advertising they will link again.

Is it possible to select what happens when the transmitter goes out of range? (e.g. choose between “keep doing what you’re doing” which is useful for trains and “full stop” which is useful for many other applications)

You cannot select to keep the motor running. After advertising without connection established the Hub and Controller will turn OFF.

Can the controller work as directional ‘bang/bang’ (hold to drive) or only accelerate/decelerate? Or do you need a different controller for that (like the PF Train and Technic controllers)?

The default function of the direct link between Controller and Hub will depend on the component controlled. The Train motor will be speed controlled with the “+” and “-“ buttons and stopped with the red button. A Medium motor (used in Batmobile) and the Tacho motor (used in Boost) will be “bang-bang” controlled with “+” and “-“ buttons. When releasing these buttons the motor will coast and pressing the red button will brake it.
Note: The Smart Controller can also be connected to a mobile smart device and then you can make the buttons do other functions through an app (not available from LEGO by now).

Can you simply connect a motor or lights to the power hub and turn it on without needing a remote or an app?

The Hubs of the Powered UP platform are connection points for wireless link and control.

Can the hub or future product in the line be used as a static power source (turn on and run, without connecting to a controller)?

Currently the Hubs can only run input and output actions when they are connected.
Note: Most Powered UP Hubs have updatable firmware so new functionality will be added in the future.

Do you get more range with the phone vs LEGO controller?

The wireless range from a smart mobile device will depend on the device. The range from Smart Controller and mobile device should be comparable.

With the new phone app, what happens to the motor when the phone goes to sleep/standby? (Does the train motor keep running?)

When connection is lost the Hub will enter advertising mode and motors will turn OFF.

What platforms will the control app be available on?

This will develop over time and will be communicated together with the app information.

What are the required minimum specifications for iOS, Android and any other platform the app will be released on? Will there be a list of android devices on which the software will work available?

This will develop over time and will be communicated together with the app information.

Is there any way to “nail a pairing down”? Imagine I have a Controller C(A) and a Receiver R(A) to control my first train, and another set C(B) and R(B) to control my second train. Now I restart the whole layout on the next day, can I be sure that C(A) still connects to R(A) and not to R(B)?

When a network (one or more Controllers to one or more Hubs) is established this network is remembered when turned OFF (press and hold the Hub button to make it leave the network, press and hold the Controller button to turn the network OFF). When you turn the members ON again the network is re-established. If you are running more networks (like described in the question) remember to turn members of the network ON together.
Note: Erase network memory by turning the Hub OFF, then press and hold the button for 5 sec, the LED blinks purple, release the button, done.

Does each receiver have a unique ID/address? E.g. can anyone with a controller set to ‘blue’ take control of a receiver on that channel, or is it limited to the controller that has been paired with it? If I have multiple receivers set to ‘blue’, will the ‘blue’ controller activate them all?

The actual network you make is running with unique addresses, so you can have multiple “blue” networks running simultaneously.

Why can’t we stack multiple motors/lights to one slot?

The new plug is not stackable like the Power Functions plug. Sensors cannot be stacked and in most cases you want to control one output function at the time. This was done to enable more intelligent interactions through the wire.

Is there any way you can add programmed behaviour into the hub to respond to sensor inputs, etc? Will the smartphone app allow to trigger pre-programmed sequences?

Currently the Hubs can only run input and output actions when they are connected.
Note: Most Powered UP Hubs have updatable firmware so new functionality will be added in the future.

Can the behaviour of the outputs (bang-bang, increase/decrease, or something in-between) be configured in the app?

The Smart Controller can also be connected to a mobile smart device and then you can make the buttons do other functions through an app (not available from LEGO by now).
Note: Most Powered UP Hubs have updatable firmware so new functionality will be added in the future.

Will it be possible to pair a controller with two receivers for multi-engine trains?

See below.

How can one single BT remote be used to control multiple receivers or switch among them? Will this be possible in the app?

You can link up to 5 devices (Smart Hubs or Smart Controllers) together.
To create a network you first need to connect a Samrt Hub and a Smart Controller.
First Hub connection: Turn Hub and Controller ON by pressing their green buttons and they will link. The LED will blink white and then shift to same channel color e.g. blue. You can now change the channel color by pressing the green button on the hub and toggle through the 5 channel colors. When turning OFF the Hub or Controller the last connection is remembered and re-established when turning both ON.
Adding Hub to network: With the first Hub and the Controller ON and connected you can add extra Hubs to the network by turning the new Hub ON and then press both green buttons simultaneously on the new Hub and one of the components in the network (Hub or Controller). The new Hub is now added to the network with the same channel color as the currently selected channel. Again toggle to another channel by pressing the green button on the Hub. When more Hubs on different channels are added to the network you toggle between the different channels by pressing the green button on the Controller.

Note: The current Powered UP app supports control of a single train.

LEGO City 60198 Freight Train

Is the system bidirectional? That is, can information be sent back to the controller?

The network communication is bidirectional. The Controller send information about button actions.

Compatibility

Is there any kind of backward compatibility with Power Functions?

The plugs in Power Functions and Powered UP are not compatible.
Note: The 2 power control wires of the 9V system, Power Functions and Powered UP have the same function across the 3 platforms.

Will it be compatible with the 9V system?

See above.

If not, why? What happened to “all LEGO bricks fit together” paradigm?

With the Powered UP platform our aim is to reach broader possibilities including integration with mobile smart devices.

Will all different Powered Up components (Boost, WeDo, Train, etc) be able to communicate and control each other, e.g. running a Boost program sequence using a Powered Up hub or using sensors with Powered Up hubs?
· Can I use the Powered Up remote with the WeDo hub?
· Can I use the Powered Up remote with the Boost hub?
· Can I use Boost/WeDo sensors with the Powered Up hub?
· Can I use the Boost/WeDo/Powered Up app to control (any of) the other platforms?

It is the aim that the Powered UP platform will work together across both with the wired and wireless connection.
Some of these connections are not implemented yet and will come through firmware and app updates.

Is Powered Up compatible with MINDSTORMS?

The plugs in MINDSTORMS NXT/EV3 and Powered UP are not compatible.
Note: Some cross over can be made through modifications.

Is it possible to control MINDSTORMS motors with new system?

See above.

Will Powered Up be rolled out in other themes (e.g. Technic)?

Without disclosing how we are going to develop and launch the Powered UP platform we can say that it is the future LEGO electronic building platform to cover products across both DUPLO, LEGO and TECHNIC building areas.

Is it possible to upgrade older sets with powered up or is a lot of rework to be done?

This will very much depend on the product in question. For trains it should be very easy since the Powered UP hub has the same shape as the Power Functions battery box and the train motors are also same shape.

Control

The Boost motor only stays on as long as I press a + or – button on the remote (bang-bang remote). This makes sense as it is a servo motor. However, the M motor (WeDo) might need either graded control (if used on a train) or bang-bang controls (if used in a car). Will we be able to define the behaviour of motors depending on our needs?

The default function of the direct link between Controller and Hub will depend on the component controlled. The Train motor will be speed controlled with the “+” and “-“ buttons and stopped with the red button. A Medium motor (used in the Batmobile) and the Tacho motor (used in Boost) will be “bang-bang” controlled with “+” and “-“ buttons. When releasing these buttons the motor will coast and pressing the red button will brake it.
Note: The Smart Controller can also be connected to a mobile smart device and then you can make the buttons do other functions through an app (not available from LEGO by now).

Will it be possible to “sync” two or train motors together so that one or more locomotive can pull a long train? This occurs inherently with 9V track powered designs but has been tricky since then.

If you add 2 train motors to the same Hub on port A and B then you can control both from the same Controller, but you need to press the 2 buttons together to sync.
If you build 2 or more Hubs into the same train and give them all the same channel color then you can drive up to 5 train motors in sync by connecting them to the same output on each Hub.

How can I use two motors at the same time from the same controller where one motor needs its polarity reversed? (Old PF: putting two motors on the IR receiver was no problem and we have a polarity switch available)

“Polarity reversing” on the Powered UP controller is done by turning the button interface to the direction of control needed.
Note: This is also very handy for controlling vehicles where you want vertical control for fwd/bwd drive and horizontal for steering.

Can outputs be “mirrored”? (one controller, multiple hubs on the same channel, each linked to the same throttle)

See above.

Are there any limitations of the physical controller versus the app (apart from the sound effects)?

The current Powered UP app has a limited set of control directed to the trains. Look for future updates.
Note: The Smart Controller can also be connected to a mobile smart device and then you can make the buttons do other functions through an app (not available from LEGO by now).

Is it possible to program the physical controller, e.g. to assign outputs/hubs to the different buttons?

See above.

Will we be able to program the train to stop at the station for a certain time and then let it run again or get it to go forward, stop and a specific point, wait and then reverse?

See above.

Documentation

Will LEGO handle the protocols openly (Both the BT protocol and whatever is happening on the cable)?
(When) will we get an SDK?
Is the pin-out for the connector available?
What is the purpose of the extra 2 wires?
Can we get the source code of the firmware?

More technical specification will follow later this year

Miscellaneous

In designing the new system, did the team consult any LEGO train fans? If not, why not?

In the change from Power Functions to Powered UP we have had to balance many needs across all LEGO areas including LEGO Education. In the development of the Power Functions components also used for the LEGO trains we had a range of workshops with LEGO Train fans to ensure the best solutions. With the Powered UP platform the extra IR Receiver needing line of sight integration in the train is removed, we get better range, more channels and a link without need of line of sight. Moving ahead we will have dialogues with the LEGO Train fan community to see how we can improve and expand the possibilities even further.

Will the Power Function 1.0 line be discontinued and if so, when? / Are any product lines, such as PF, being phased out and if so, which ones?

Over time the Power Functions platform will be phased out as the Powered UP platform is further developed.

Will we have warning to stock up on specific components? Or will they simply disappear suddenly?

The Power Functions platform will not disappear from one day to the other and components will be available through shop@home in an overlapping period.

Can you use the battery box/receiver without the bottom cover? Or does it need to be screwed together to function?

Without the bottom cover screwed on the battery holder might fall out.

Is the socket and plug something cooked up and patented by LEGO, or are these parts actually available on the market?

The Powered UP plug is designed and patented by LEGO to best deliver to the needs across the platform. This has among other things given us a male and female plug that fits very well inside the LEGO building grid.

Will you help AFOLs with train MOCs and layouts converting to the new system, i.e. with a (limited) discount or offer of a special bulk order on motors or adapters, controllers, and receivers?

TBD

What will be the retail price for the individual elements?

Most Powered UP elements will be available through shop@home from beginning of 2019. Prices will be balanced across and will change over time.

What lessons from past “traumatic events” (to use Tormod’s term) were incorporated into the development and release of the new system?

We are always striving towards delivering LEGO technology solutions that will support our mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow and innovate LEGO system in play.

A list of wishes towards the Powered Up system was also compiled and this is the comment we received from the Powered Up Team:

Thanks a lot for all your ideas and wishes. This is really valuable input for further development of the Powered UP platform. We are always striving towards delivering LEGO technology solutions that will support our mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow and innovate LEGO system in play. Moving ahead we will have dialogues with the LEGO Train fan community to see how we can improve and expand the possibilities even further.
Without disclosing how we are going to develop and launch the Powered UP platform we can say that it is the future LEGO electronic building platform to cover products across both DUPLO, LEGO and TECHNIC building areas.


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