Today LEGO® released the Power Functions RC protocol, as open source. See below, the announcement in the transcription from the official communication.
Last year we introduced a range of products using our new electric building system: LEGO Power Functions. This new electric building system will open up a lot of possibilities now and in the future.
One of the new things we offer now is modular remote control. In the process of designing the Power Functions RC system we did a mapping of different RC functionalities. This mapping formed the basis of the Power Functions RC protocol and most of this is build into the Power Functions RC Receiver. The RC Handset launched now provides direct ‘bang-bang’ control, but the RC Receiver supports much more functionality like PWM speed control and single pin operation.
Now that the Power Functions elements are available at the LEGO Shop online we have decided to release the Power Functions RC protocol as open source.Please feel free to use any information from the protocol document for personal, non-commercial use only, provided you keep intact copyright, trademarks and other proprietary rights of the LEGO Company
Technology Product Manager
So the specification should allow custom remotes to produce more sophisticated behaviors. This opens the door for technically skilled enough individuals to customize their remotes, build new ones or third party manufacturers to develop their own products based on the published protocol (like it happened for the MINDSTORMS NXT specification).
And those fancy commands that many of us would like to have and most likely LEGO would never produce, have now a good chance to see the daylight from OEMs.
This RC protocol was designed with further developments in mind, that are now possible. Despite the limited existing capabilities of actual Bulldozer remote, which uses the 'Combo direct Mode' (see technical documentation below) and timeout feature for lost IR (commands sent keep the motors running for a bit more than a second), protocol would allow other features like:
- Remote control of several motors speed, in multiple modes.
7 speeds forward plus backward, are possible via PWM motor control, which will be also great for the new PF trains coming in 2009.
- Individual control (clear/set/toggle) of PF C1/C2 pins.
- Handling of extra 4 channels possible for future use, with new RC receivers.
See the full technical specification document, here.
With some luck we could even get someone who develops an RF expansion, that reproduces the same protocol, and brings more flexibility/freedom to the PF devices.
The ability control step motors would be also a very interesting possibility to add into PF. However even if possible, that would require a much more 'intelligent' remote brick to control it, like an RCX or similar!?