Wednesday, July 11, 2012

UPCORE G1 - Bluetooth receiver for Power Functions, on the way

If you have seen this previous post here at TBs , you won't be surprised to see a 3rd party Bluetooth receiver for Power Functions System arriving.

This is a development from COREDevelopersTeam, in Czech Republic.

UPCORE G1 (in short CORE) is a new Bluetooth receiver designed specifically to interwork with the LEGO Power Function System.
Just as matter of curiosity, UP means "improved", CORE means "core of your fun" and G1 means "first generation".


As per the advertised specs, CORE will offer:
  • 9 PF interface connectors 
  • 3 proportional outputs
  • 5 non-proportional outputs 
  • 1 power input via PF power source (8881 PF Battery Box, 88000 PF Battery Box AAA, 8878 PF Rechargeable Battery Box or any other older 9V source via one PF Extension Wire (8886 or 8871).
    This port is equipped with reverse polarity protection. 1A and up to 16V input. 
  • Can drive up to: 2 PF XL-motors, 4 PF M-motors or 3 PF Train Motors simultaneously. CORE has overload protection, so attempting to drive too many motors will not damage anything. The power a motor consumes depends on what load it handles.
  • Gyrosensor ±2G
  • It can detect collisions,falls, blows or XYZ axis tilt, just to give a few examples.
  • Micro USB B port - For firmware upgrades
  • On/Off button - Also serves as a command to reset the UPCORE G1
  • LED - Used to indicate: power on/off, searching drivers, low battery status, signal loss, hardware failure
  • Bluetooth 4.0 - 10m range, but possible to go up to 100m if control device is equipped with Bluettoth Class 1
  • Dimensions: 11 x 6 x 3 modules
  • And last but not the least, a 2 year warranty is also being advertized!


As far as I can tell, CORE molds and plastics will be also up the own LEGO quality products.


UPCORE G1 is currently planned to sell at 69,99€


I just can't wait to get my hands on this sweet...


Below you can see a demo where a LEGO 8043 Motorized Excavator, equipped with a CORE Beta-version prototype, is used for the proof-of-concept.




It is not yet clear from this video which kind of functionality the remote interface will provide, namely in terms of customization or tailoring to your specific LEGO model.
One can think about remote control layouts with a customized combination of linear "sticks" (full FWD/full REV or proportional),  X-Y proportional, jog dials, etc...

And that's exactly how it will work. The application will be fully customizable!
  1. The user sets the individual controls according to the required function (e.g. proportional connector 1 and 2 to control car chassis, the app automatically generates the control icon, it's the "circle" on the smartphone on the box).
  2. Users positions the "circle" on the control pad, by dragging it anywhere.
  3. Once finished the driver is saved in a file, which can be copied and shared.

A specific application for trains control is also being prepared. With this app train fans will be able to program a timeline with train speed, acceleration, deceleration, railway switches, drawbridges, platform lighting or even the other buildings in your LEGO village or town.
User will program the intended actions into table with a timeline (on the X axis) and a list of  8 connectors (on the Y axis). The user sets the connector to a specific action at a specific time in this table, which will translate in a signal (9V or PWM according to the connector) being delivered to the PF element attached (motor, lights and whatever LEGO will come up with in the future).

The CORE website mentions that currently hardware and firmware are not open source, but in the near future, hardware and firmware will be released for free creation. However as far it seems the source code for iOS, Android and Windows drivers will be available from the beginning so that one can develop his own customized remote control applications as well.



10 comments:

Menno Gorter said...

A NXT follow-up could be something like this. :-)
The build in gyro-sensor for example is a very good addition!
(Hopefully there will be some NXT-blocks written for this?)
At least I hoped for a while these kind of developments would be available soon.
And I have some ideas for version G2 too. ;-)
( look at the We-Do sensors for instance.... )

VKTechnic said...

This is going to be a great replacement for the NXT IR Link sensor! It's going to provide some great opportunities for NXT Remote controls for PF models. Cannot wait to get my hands on one of these! :)

Ian said...

Have you heard any word as to when these might be available? What an awesome idea!

santi said...

I'm getting one of these as soon as they are available!

Fernando Correia said...

@Ian

Still no idea when it will become available.
For now I just added it to the bag and left my e-mail to receive news.
Guess it might help to determine the production run size.

AVCampos said...

For the quantity of stuff it has and does, I think 69.99€ is a very reasonable price indeed!

I consider myself somewhat of a LEGO purist, but I'm seriously tempted by this.

Lénárd said...

Maybe this project can make this real:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sbrick/sbrick-smart-way-to-control-all-your-lego-creation

Fernando Correia said...

@Lénárd

This looks really promising Lénárd!
I'll write an heads-up post tonight. ;)

Eagerly waiting to play with one. :)

Lénárd said...

Wow, I looking for read your post! :)
If you have any questions I am here (as SBrick team member) to answer it!
Thank you!

Fernando Correia said...

@Lénárd

Yes I noticed from Kickstarter you're in the project team.

The explanations given at Kickstarter are very complete and interesting.

A few questions:
- I see you support EV3 Large motor (guess with an adapter cable). Do you also support the EV3 M motor?
- Do you have any table or info about motors combinations that could be handled in one SBrick?
- It is said you control motors power, so I guess you implement PWM. How many steps in each direction?
- Do you also support float/coast/break?
- Do you have modes with and without timeout?
- Do you have modes to support incremental and absolute speed setting?
- Do you plan to publish the protocol you use, to open app development to 3rd parties?

And finally, do you have my e-mail address, if some of this questions could not be answered in public at the present time? :)


Best of luck for your project!
Fernando

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