| Must say, I got amazed when I saw the thumbstick 8-Way Power Functions remote control from Jason Railton for the first time, this week at LUGNET (on the left).|
With the advent of Power Functions in 2007, it was launched the LEGO Power Functions IR Remote Control (on the right).
This remote features simultaneous control of two ports (A, B) for one of four channels at a time, from two 2-Way controls. Polarity is also configurable for each port, at the remote.
The way it operates, makes use of 'Combo Direct Mode' as described in the 'LEGO Power Functions RC Protocol' and which LEGO released for Open Source recently. This mode has timeout for lost IR.
After LEGO made the PF protocol specification Open Source, we got to know it is designed to handle up to 8 channels and that in addition to 'Combo Direct Mode', several other operation modes are available, like:
None of these is available from the current LEGO PF remote. So we can expect for news in this domain, either from LEGO with the new TECHNIC sets for the coming years, or any other OEM who may get interest to develop hardware for PF (actually there are still some constraints to this, as referred here).
Personally, I would expect to see new remotes with more capabilities, like:
Some of these modes/features, may never be released as of-the-shelf remotes, but left for MOCs or even integration projects with LEGO MINDSTORMS RCX or NXT (see ahead in this post).
Meanwhile several skilled builders, developed their own efforts to expand the standard remote usability.
A first development was made by Mark Bellis back in March 2007, with his Joystick-Controls (more photos here).
The idea was to keep the levers short, so that smaller hands
could operate them easily. In the end, 5L axles on the middle
handset give a lever length equal to the joysticks.
Later, several other Remote Control creations with similar or different functionalities arose. See them and chose/adapt the one that best fits your needs.
Steering Wheel remotes:
4 and 8-Way remotes:
And finally some examples for multi-channel expanded designs, from left to rigth and up to down:
- Mark Bellis (the same as above);
- LIEBHERR R964 model from Fabio Sali, at LEGOWorld 2007.
- A creation from Duku (LUGPol) with a real steering wheel. See more details at the respective Brickshelf folder.
- And to finish, Jason with an expansion from his great 8-Way thumbstick remote (2x 8-Way thumbstick + 2x 2-Way controls);
LPF protocol advanced modes with MINDSTORMS RCX and NXT:
Immediately after LPF protocol release, some experts started writing code to implement the new PF modes within existing hardware.
- Bob Kojima developed code for RCX and BrickOS, so that with his firmware it is possible to control LEGO Power Functions devices with a RCX.
The great advancement is that it can issue PWM commands, for the Power Functions IR Receivers and this way control motors speed (stop and 7 speeds forward/backward as allowed by the protocol).
- John Hansen together with Jason Railton, adapted the NBC and NXC API functions for the HiTechnic IRLink device, to support the newly documented Power Function modes as well as the RC Train IR protocol.
This way with a NXT and an IRLink sensor, it is possible to make use of all modes/commands that LPF protocol allows (Single Pin timeout or continous, PWM,...).
New examples added.
Last Update: 2008.Feb.25 23:01 GMT