Saturday, December 26, 2009

Is it a joystick remote, at the new 8043 Excavator?

One of our readers (mpj) drop a very interesting comment into the post about the "First comments" to the new 2H2010 sets, which I didn't realize before.

" it the same Remote Control? Look carefully..."
I zoom the image immediately to 800-1000% and Uauuu!!! Much likely it isn't!
Lets take a look side-by-side...

It looks we have here a kind of joystick in a new PF IR Remote type.
This is something we all have wished to have before, evaluating by the number of contraptions many have developed around the original remote...
Somehow I thought LEGO would never do such thing, preferring to restrict the increase in parts diversity and leaving us with the "responsibility" to push for our own creativeness, with the already existing elements.

From the image we can suggest to see a joystick handle in the upper side of each remote, but I'm not so sure about the lower part where it uses to be the channel selector. Can it be a different channel selector?
The thumb over the remote on the right, suggests some more interactive function.
On the sides, it looks we continue to have the polarity switches.

The immediate questions that come into my mind, are:
  • Are this the same kind of bang-bang levers in a joystick setup?
  • Or are they proportional and control speed at the same time they allow to control two functions simultaneously?
Well... whatever it is, it looks promising!

Now the implications of this couple of new remotes, into the new 8043 (Excavator) operation.
I guess each remote still handles one PF channel and two motors simultaneously.
So, 2 remotes, still 4 functions and 4 motors.

This definitely has some impacts on the model playability and changes the logic we have been thinking till now, for the way this Excavator can be controlled.
The fact is that I'm not imagining th three sections from the Excavator arm (boom, dipper and bucket) being controlled independently by joystick remotes...

So the only way I can imagine it now, is:
  • The first remote (joystick) to control the drivetrain.
    It could be 2x M, 2x XL or 1x M + 1x XL in case of DDD.
    Despite the box image to suggest that all the motors are from the same size, which doesn't mean it can't still change at the current stage.
    As this is the kind of machinery that moves slow, the M-motors might still be an option.
  • The second remote (joystick) to rotate the superstructure and control the arm, where all the sections would move tied together (arm opening and retracting).
Thus this would be the first scenario described in the "First comments" post, above mentioned.
This would open also the possibility to place two motors on the drivetrain, and thus avoiding the need to deliver 2 functions through the turntable and associated complexity.

Of course the blurred image can still hide some secrets, which may still change the way we see how this model could be operated.

Share your thoughts.

Humm!... somehow I still "see" four levers, protruding from those two remotes...
Despite one much sharper, in each remote. But the resolution is really low and the image augmented.

Quite confused at the moment!!

Last Update: 2009.Dec.26 20:00 CET


Junkstyle Gio said...

Good find! And so there will be various other options on how to operate the excavator!

I do hope to read some of them here real soon.

And ofcourse the way it's going to be in the actual model!

Anonymous said...

2 motors to drive, and 1 for the structure. Well.
So, you mean that there is only one motor for the arm (the 3 LA's were not independent anymore) ?
That were very disappointing. :/


arezey said...

What a plot twist. I'm feeling actually that there's some sort of motor unit in the base rather than motors... - I have no proof, am only speculating.

I fail to see the new remote being a joystick one but whatever it is, it definitely is a new device.

TechnicBRICKs said...


I don't know Regis!
It is just my best guess for the moment. :-/

arezey said...

... from which you can probably note that I don't trust the orange band in images this early. :)

Anonymous said...

3 motors to drive 6 functions using 3 drive rings to switch between arm functions and tracks+rotation combo. The fourth motor switches the functions (all 3 tranmission rings at once).

That could work, no?

TechnicBRICKs said...

Yes, it can still work, but as I've wrote in the post, I just can't imagine such switching function and 3 arm independent sections, being controlled by joysticks.

It would be extremely weird.
Real hydraulic excavators are not operated also with joysticks, rather something closer to bang-bang levers.

TechnicBRICKs said...

Humm!... somehow I still "sse" four levers, protruding from those two remotes...


Anonymous said...

@ Conchas : I know you don't know !
Actually nobody knows ! ^^


Unknown said...

Looks to me like 2 of the standard remotes side by side w/ levers stuck into the 4 control holes. No new joystick needed that way.

TechnicBRICKs said...

Strange enough, is that we can't see sign of any of those orange elements we have on the standard IR Remote.

Despite the low resolution and small size, they should be visible to some extent if compared to other elements visible in the box. :-/

Anonymous said...

...while you are buggling your minds whit " joystic " problem, I'm wondering how on earth the single battery box is going to power the 3 or even worser 4 motors simontaniously ( worst carse scenario )...there is going to be some serious voltage drop, and frequent battery changing...???...:P

Anonymous said...

Nah, 4 M motors is something the batterys can handle... Remember its made for max of 8 motors!

Andre said...

Here are my thoughts (if the orange band is correct like arezey said):

This type of excavator moves so slow and so few times that one driving ring in each of two motors might be the solution to move the tracks

If this is the case there is no need for new IR remote control, because or are the tracks moving or is the arm plus main body moving

I think this is the most realistic cenario because:

If the tracks aren´t moving then two motors could be placed in the boom (to move dipper) and the other in the dipper (to move the bucket) and we wouldn´t find any complexity in this type of model.

Again, just my 2cents...

Andre said...

oh I forgot one thing... in either way two motors could always be placed in the arm.

It would also save some space in the main body:

4 m-motors plus battery box plus all the gears (driving rings mechanism, etc...) is almost impossible...

only 2 motors in the main body is the best solution :)

Anonymous said...

This excavator is REMOTE CONTROLLED, and there is no point in a remote controlled excavator if the functions have to be switched using driving rings!

Either there are 4 motors controlling rotation + arm movement, or there are 6 motors controlling everything.

I also think that the arm movements will be controlled independently, so if there are only 4 motors in this set, there will be no track motorization.

I don't think we can tell anything about the IR remote until higher resolution images appear! The front joysticks may still be orange, but this image is too low resolution to tell much about the lighting in which the photo (or computer generated image) has been taken.

Hyperblade said...

Real hydraulic excavators are not operated also with joysticks, rather something closer to bang-bang levers.

Actually a lot of the more modern ones do use joysticks.

But the remote's shown in the picture don't have joysticks, they look like they have a new larger channel selector...

Another point i think people are forgetting is that an excavator does not need to drive straight and turn at the same time, they normally move a few meters turn towards where they want to go next then move straight again.

I see one motor driving the both tracks, being switched to force the tracks in opposite directions (rotating whole model) and then also being switched to rotate the superstructure.

The big question i see is how the switching is done, as you would expect the 3 functions of the arm to not need switching, for playability, but its looking like only two motors provide those functions, which are switched...

Parax said...

At first glance it looks like I'm seeing an up/down and a left/right lever...and a new selector switch

This would also make more sense for the PF Racer models.

Could just be my eyes though! will have to wait for higher resolution.

danogo said...

I agree there are still 2 levers on each IR remote, but I think the channel switch has changed (more then just the color...and I might have missed this if prev stated in other comments) -- there appears to be a bley element protruding from what was the orange channel switch. Could now be an axle hole with an element inserted like the levers and on the PF Pole Reverser, or just a modified channel knob/switch thing to make it easier for kids to switch between functions (sounds like a good idea to me).

What do you guys think, because I also might be imagining things and see something totally different next time I zoom into the blurred mess (I think it's contagious) :-)

danogo said...

"...and a new selector switch"

Parax beat me to 1 minute. next time I'll write a shorter comment :-)

TechnicBRICKs said...

I was chatting with one of you, and now the pair of LAs on the boom, look longer and thinner.

Low-res pictures can be really misleading...
This one is driving me crazy. :P

Loader said...

After the danogo´s comment and another look at the image it might be an axle hole yes...

I also dare to say with two 1x2 liftarms inserted in an axle...

But if this is the case it´s needed different IR receivers isn´t it?

Efferman said...

I think it is the same old IR Remote. Only the shadows and the very low resolution are confuse us. I hope we must not wait until the Nuremberg Toy Fair, to see the truth.

Anonymous said...

I also believe it's the same remote, with added parts to switch between channels. Looks to me that the main boom is quite "thick" so I would guess that there's a M-motor inside, and the final part with has the bucket is covered with side panels, so this is very easy to hide another motor.

Loader said...

Yeah like Andre said in the begining there´s that possibility.
The arm is also very dense at the top with some parts being darker than the overall yellow arm collor...
Does it hide some sort of mechanism there?

That´s quite intriguing...

NagyO said...

Will there be a new turntable also, which can handle the weight of the Excavator?

mpj said...

"gt-vince said...

I also believe it's the same remote, with added parts to switch between channels."

Yes, when I told to look carefully the image, I referred to this new channel selector.
I still see 4 levers, so no joystick, but my point is:

4 levers -> 4 functions

so why do you need to switch channels when playing?

In the bulldozer, you had only 1 remote, with 2 levers, to control 4 functions. But here there are 2 remotes... and if they made a new channel selector, it could mean that you have to use it frequently, and this means more than 4 functions. I hope so!

TechnicBRICKs said...

With the old channel selector, it was not possible to attach any parts to it.
So it is now the case, the remote must have got a new design indeed.

We will see what will come out of this...

Anonymous said...

@ mpj

4 levers -> 4 functions... indeed
eg lifting the complete arm, tilting the second part of the arm, tilting the bucket and rotating the superstructure

...and then switch to move the entire excavator

this leaves 2 possibilyties -> switching 1 remote, or switching 2 remotes, depending on wich motor drives the tracks
the 2 levers on 1 remote, or 1 lever on each remote (so you could use the 2 outmost levers) wich in my opinion is easier when holding the remotes
i hope you understand what i mean to say, my english isn't perfect ;)

Anonymous said...

I think the 2 levers on the 'new' remote are still orange, and they only look brown/gray because the image is too low resolution to tell anything about the lighting in which this photo has been taken. Zooming in to see the color of a single pixel does not give you any better impression of the color of the whole object (the base of the lever).
Look at this picture of a chess board with only some squares in shadow:

If you zoom in to a single pixel of the white square which is in shadow (B) (so that you can't see any other square), and ask someone for the color of that pixel, they would say something like 'dark gray', whereas from the whole picture it is easy to tell that this color represents a white square in shadow.

If you zoom into this IR remote image so that you are left with a couple of brownish squares, it does not tell you more about the color of the IR remote, but rather it tells you less about the lighting in which the photo/computer-generated-image has been taken.

I don't believe the pair of LAs underneath the boom are of a different length to normal LAs. Obviously, the two LAs under the boom are not fully retracted (a real excavator arm can go down much further - so it can dig). I think it's a combination of the low resolution image and 'confidential' watermarks which blur the distinction between the LA plastic and the LA metal parts, therefore not revealing the length of the LA when retracted.

For now, I am sticking with my prediction that the tracks are not motorized, the two IR remotes are basically the same as older IR remotes (including PF orange parts), and that the four linear actuators are the same size as original linear actuators.

There is one thing that still puzzles me, and that is the large white arrow underneath the excavator suggesting track motorization, despite only 2 receivers, 2 remotes and 4 motors being shown on the box!
I don't think anything else can be told about this set until new images appear.

mpj said...

@ gt-vince

Thanks for the explanation, basically you said the same thing I told: if you have 4 levers with the possibility of switching the channels, it means that you will have more than 4 functions.

The bulldozer had 4 functions controlled by 2 levers.

This excavator could have more than 4 functions controlled by 4 levers.

The only dubt is the number of motors (4) and receivers (2).

@ Daniel

The image is not clear, of course, but the point is not only the colours. I think there is something new in the centre of the remote, below the 2 levers, a protrusion...

Let's see :-)

Jetro said...

If you blow things up that much you'll end up seeing pretty much anything, even Nessy xD

I belive the remotes are the ones we know. As for the rest, happy guessing ;)

Anonymous said...

When I look at the box image again (without zooming in), it looks more like there is just a shadow underneath the thumb, rather than a joystick or new channel selector.
If you turn off smoothing when you zoom in, you can see how low resolution this image really is (the pair of remotes only cover an area of around 1500 pixels, around 50 pixels wide!).

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Daniel. ;)

Otherwise, Markus, who is probably the designer of the excavator, may laugh a lot by reading our messages ! ^^


TechnicBRICKs said...

I still believe all the six functions can be controlled remotely.
Other wise it would be a huge deception.
It simply doesn't make a bit of sense, in such a flagship.

TechnicBRICKs said...

I also agree there is a good a chance for this model to have been designed by MK.

On the other way, since he also designed the 8421 Mobile Crane, maybe he was the designer behind the 8053 slim down version.

But lets enjoy the snow! ;)

Loader said...

The box says the excavator moves forward and backwards. If it didn´t then why would they put two arrows to you move manually?

It doesn´t make sense like Conchas said

Anonymous said...

The box also says there are only 2 receivers, so I don't know which to believe! The box will probably change before the set is released.

TechnicBRICKs said...

But one thing doesn't go in contradiction with the other.

The remotes would just increase the set price.
Such model would require to have at least 3-4 functions simultaneously available.
The others could be perfectly switched, and we have already discussed at least two possible options to do it.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean the functions are switched using driving rings? I said 2 receivers (not remotes), which does contradict the usage of 6 motors, unless functions are switched using driving rings, which I think is very unlikely for a 'remote controlled' set.

TechnicBRICKs said...

Yes I meant the Driving Rings.

I think the 1+2x3 solution is quite elegant and an acceptable compromise for such set.

The current box image, seems to support the idea of just 4 motors and 2 IR receivers.
Even cost wise, sit seems the most reasonable approach.

But of course only better images, should allow to vanish all these doubts.

Anonymous said...

would the driving rings be switched remotely (by a motor), or by hand?

Anonymous said...

I just re-read the post including the 1+2x3 idea, and that sounds possible, but it still feels unlikely for an official Technic set to use motorized driving rings, where the driving ring is moved by the motor. (There has never been a set with motorized pneumatic valves).

TechnicBRICKs said...

Both options are possible:

- Motor: 1+2x3 (3 functions each time)
- Hand: 2+2x2 (4 functions each time)

May favorite would be the first option.

Loader said...

But this option:

Motor: 1+2x3 (3 functions each time)

when you are controling the arm you need to turn the main body to dump after digging.
In a playability side of view this option isn´t so efficient because, after a couple of switch turns (in the remote) to control the rotation you are tired...

but this option:

Hand: 2+2x2 (4 functions each time)

You need to approach the excavator (to turn the driving rings) each time you want it to move the tracks...

Quite a mistery we have here =S

TechnicBRICKs said...


Anonymous said...

I wonder if the 'NEW REMOTE" is bigger and maybe even rechargable..a lithium a mobile/mp3/ there a chargeing port at the bottom???would this help power this machine..,AJ.

Alex Campos said...

At first I too thought there was a joystick on the left remote, but indeed, after reading the comments, I now see two levers... it reminds me of that faces/vase optical illusion, where the brain chooses what to see. :D

I'm with the driving rings theory: two sets of three actions each, switched by the fourth motor. To me, one of the sets would be boom + dipper + shovel, the other would be rotation + left track + right track, and the fourth motor would switch between the two sets. I think there should be no problem using a motor to switch driving rings: just making sure it has enough gearing down and a Technic Gear 24 Tooth Clutch would suffice to allow shifting functions on a levered remote like one shifts gears on a car equipped with gear paddles on the steering wheel.

Then, power could be passed down through the turntable to the tracks via a mechanism like the one used on the 8258 Crane Truck. I guess it would look a bit like the solution in Jennifer Clark's JCB JS220.

Of course, we all are straining our eyes looking at inflated pixels and our brains coming up with hypotheses about how this works, when we could simply wait around 6 months and let all the answers come to us... but it sure is funnier this way! Especially for the Technic team, who most probably is having a blast reading all our head-scratchings. ;)

As for real-life excavators, I may be dead wrong, but I think they are controlled by two joysticks and a pair of pedals: the joysticks control the three degrees of freedom on the arm plus superstructure rotation, and the pedals control the tracks.

TechnicBRICKs said...

In any case if we are going through a remote redesign, one nice option to consider would be a two stick remote like the original, but with speed control levers instead of bang-bang control. Even if we go through less speed steps (<7).

It would be a combination of the two previous ones, once the actual speed control remote is quite hard to control.
It could also allow a more deterministic operation, once the actual one easily slips. If you move N ticks right and the N ticks left, there is a good chance it won't return to the original speed.

Anonymous said...

It seems like the speed remote sends three different signals:

speed up
slow down

If the remote goes out of range, the vehicle does not stop, because unlike the original remote, it only sends the signal to speed up or slow down once.

Another thing which is really annoying about the speed remote is that when turning the dial slowly, it only takes 7 ticks to get up to full speed; whereas while turning the dial slightly quickly, it can easily take more than 100 ticks (over 4 rotations) to get the motor to full speed!

I think the speed remote only sends a fraction of each signal if it is trying to resend signals too quickly, which results in the receiver not recognizing any signals. If you turn the dial quick enough (at a steady speed), it will not send any signals at all.

The speed remote is way too simple. The main problem with it is that the sending of signals is too closely linked with the turning of the dials. Each time the dial ticks, it sends a new signal, forgetting about (and not completing) the previous signal. It should only prioritize sending a signal (cancelling the previous signal), if the first signal is different to the second signal. For example, if the stop button is pressed, it is OK to cancel all other signals in the queue; whereas if the dial ticks twice, in the same direction, the second signal should wait until the first (identical) signal has completed. If the dial is ticked once forward and then once backwards, the second tick should attempt to cancel the signal resulting from the first tick, altogether not sending any signal.

It may be possible to program an NXT IR link to use different methods of sending signals (I mean control the IR link from the NXT; no code written for the IR link itself!)

I totally agree, we need a new PF remote, preferably with the same design as the original 'non speed' remote, but with speed control and maybe an option for braking in the middle. There's no way of telling how different this 'new' remote is until we get higher resolution images.

TechnicBRICKs said...

Despite the Speed Remote to send 'Increment'/'Decrement' PWM commands, the protocol also allows for absolute speed commands. These could be used in a new lever command with fewer steps, it the complete range won't be mechanically feasible in a reliable manner for the remote scale.

- Brake
- Step 1
- Step 3
- Step 5
- Step 7

Or something similar.

arezey said...

Hmm. I don't have any IR here yet so I have no idea nor experience with these parts... but Daniel's post makes quite clear with the problems of the incremental remote, but what's the big problem with the binary (original) remote? Why we need a new one?

TechnicBRICKs said...

Simply to add speed control to this remote, as allowed by the LPF RC Protocol. ;)

Anonymous said...

It would be nice also to have something which could brake the PF motors continuously (fixing the position over a period of time), like the NXT can brake its motors. Although, to some extent, the NXT motors take advantage of the rotation sensor to keep their position fixed (if you manage to turn the motor by hand while it's in a breaking state, the motor moves back to its original position once you let go - this is not possible with PF motors).

Jetro said...

You can brake PF motors, but not (to my knowledge) with a standard battery box. I have used the PF motors together with an RCX and it is very hard to turn the motors if the RCX is on.

For motors to return to their position after turning them by hand they would need to have an encoder that tells them what that original position was so that is no go.

TechnicBRICKs said...

PF RC Protocol also allows 'Break' and 'Float' commands.

However I'm not sure what does 'Break' means for PF motors and how it electrically works???

Anonymous said...

I just realized that the red button on the PF speed remote does brake the motors so that it is very difficult to turn them by hand (like on the RCX). I just didn't recognize it at first, because I was used to NXT motors, which also use the rotation sensor to keep their position fixed.

I think the recievers just produce an alternating current (a square wave) to keep the motor fixed.

TechnicBRICKs said...

Humm... it makes sense. Thanks!

Jetro said...

Well, that at least means you can do it with the Train remote and with the IR-Link sensor on the NXT!!

nxtinventor said...

well, it says that it can go forward, backward, turntable turn, and arm movement. and to me it looks like it has 2 xl and 2 m motors. 1 xl for te driving base if you use a simple forward backward, because it does not mention turn. 1 xl for turn table rotation, 1 m for raising the boom, and another m to switch functions from raising, bucket tip, extend. thats just what i think.

Ondra said...

If you look very closely you will see some interesting in pf motor photo.

I see xl motor, m-motor a something between those engines.Like mikro motor or something else...And what is the under the set number?It is battery not included sign?

Sorry for my bad english.

TechnicBRICKs said...

Yes it looks to be the "Batteries not included" sign.

Al said...

Thankyou for the pictures, but I must admit i'm not really interested in any of these new sets. Seems the tradition of a half decent flagship one year followed by a bland set the next year lives on, so I can't say i'm dissappointed. At least my wallet will be better off 8^)!

Alex Campos said...

@Conchas: The "brake" feature can be applied to any DC motor (not sure if AC too). Just connect the two motor terminals to one another and any rotation will induce a current that feeds back into the motor, making it have a tendency to move in the opposite direction.

TechnicBRICKs said...

Remains to know, whether this is the operation done inside the PF IR Receiver, when a brake comand is received ???

Anonymous said...

look @ this!A01044-prod.aspx?qwSessionID=76419324-4009-4e69-9a6d-51eccbc9df88

Al said...

Or this one with six motors, lights,etc perhaps:

Now it's too early to tell what kind of challenge or complexity is offered in the 8043, and I hate to advertise other products here I really do, but the point i'm trying to make to TLG is that with all the mechanical advantage already done for you within the PF motors and the linear actuators, I have a bad feeling there is gonna be nothing remotely complex left for me, as the consumer to build here. Just as a RC toy, it's great but there is alot of similar RC toys out there already. Without the added complexities of gearboxes for the tracked drives and turntable and/or pneumatics with on board compressors and such, it's just another RC toy and as a technic product, it's kinda pointless IMHO. I'm sure it's designed well and I hope it makes lots of money for TLG. It's just a shame that, at first glance at least, an excavator for a flagship could have been much better IMHO.

Anonymous said...

The IR receivers probably use the method of braking where the two terminals are connected to each other (I don't know whether applying a fast alternating current in order to brake a DC motor would work or not - but it would be a waste of electricity in any case).

Connecting both motor terminals also works for AC motors. Inside a DC motor, there is still an alternating current running through the coils, but the alternating current is produced as the motor rotates (the connectors of each coil swap terminals every 60 degrees or something). AC motors use a similar set-up of coils and magnets to DC motors, they just don't produce their own alternating current, so do not rotate with DC. An advantage of AC motors is that they can use a direct current to brake, which is a more powerful method of braking than connecting the two terminals.

Anonymous said...

Hello, if you look at the "orange" pf-section. I would say that this is the way they have designed it. Motor: 3x2 (3 functions each time)
So as the arrows are on the pictures - you can move the arm (3-functions)
- and you can drive the vehicle and turn the cab.

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