Jim

BuWizz - High Performance LEGO Power Functions Controller and Battery

432 posts in this topic

Recently we have seen quite a few PF Controllers popping up. Some more interesting than others. This project was launched on Kickstarter today and I think it's worth sharing.

Since we are not fond of people promoting their Kickstarter or LEGO Ideas on Eurobricks, I have taken the liberty to promote this project myself.

Kickstarter description

A compact, high performance remote control system for LEGO® models. With embedded battery, precise servo control and huge power.

Technical information

BuWizz is a four channel high performance controller for LEGO® Power Functions, with embedded battery and a Micro-USB charging port. Paired over Bluetooth with smartphone or tablet, BuWizz is compact yet powerful.

BuWizz:

  • has 4 channels
  • can be charged with any Micro-USB charger - even with a powerbank while you drive your model.- has several speed modes:
  • in fast mode, the motors receive 2x more power than other solutions with LEGO batteries - enables great speed or better obstacle climbing - in slow mode, the PF servo motor can move very slow - for realistic motion of railway crossing gates, convertible roof, etc.
  • can drive 2 XL motors on each channel in high speed mode- delivers 8 times more power (4 channels combined) than any solution with LEGO battery- is compact: 8x4x3 bricks size, 2x IR receivers footprint
  • replaces battery box + 2x IR receivers
  • can be embedded deep into your model - all you need is access to Micro-USB charging port
  • powerful enough for large models, yet small enough to build a very compact model

Dimensions

It has the same dimensions as the rechargeable battery, which is quite convenient.

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Controls

27802045976_478a5169ac_b.jpg

Example implementations

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Kickstarter

Check out the project on Kickstarter

Reviews

Sariel has received a copy and he is quite enthusiastic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdPduWEk7H4

I will receive a copy soon, after which I will share my thoughts.

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I like it but I'd hate to end with a paperweight once the batteries die.

User replaceable 18650 batteries would be awesome.(not sure if that is what it uses).

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Wowwwwww! That's insane! I really like it, specially for it's size and the power it seems to deliver!

on the "fast mode" how also faster it drains the battery?

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Hi guys,

I've had a chance to test a prototype of a BuWizz - an interesting device that combines remote control unit which allows controlling stuff with your phone AND a power supply which is surprisingly powerful.

My video test is below, keep in mind that this is a prototype and you can make the finished product happen by supporting it at Kickstarter: https://www.kickstar...for-lego-models

Project website: http://buwizz.com/

I like it but I'd hate to end with a paperweight once the batteries die.

Well then stick any power bank into it and keep going. Something you can't do with the Lego 8878 battery.

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A couple questions that pop up right away:

1) What type of battery will this project use? NiMH? LiPo?

2) What is the capacity of the battery?

Overall it looks like a great product, but I don't want them to cut corners by putting in a cheap battery. I suppose I should be asking this on their project page.

Edit - more questions:

3) How many volts is the fast mode? KS page say 2x the power, so maybe the question should be what is the base voltage?

4) Any chance of app compatibility between the BuWizz and the SBrick?

Edited by BusterHaus

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I suppose I should be asking this on their project page.

The developer has EB account, so he will most likely answer your questions here. So keep them coming in this topic as well.

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Well then stick any power bank into it and keep going. Something you can't do with the Lego 8878 battery.

That is ok when batteries have run dry, more concerned when batteries reach its EoL and no longer can hold a charge.

Anyways it looks like a tinkering friendly design. and pretty convenient.

Is latency that much good versus SBrick?

Also is the Android app running Ok? SBrick wan't great in that regard.

Edited by aol000xw

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I think it is great combining both; however, I also have concerns with the type of battery and usage when the battery dies.

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Sounds really good. One question: can the fast mode damage any of the PF motors? If I know well, maximum 10 voltage can be given to them. Is it under that? What about the maximum current? I think this device needs a test from electrotechnical engineering viewpoint.

Edited by Mbmc

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I'm a little bit unsure about having only the battery/receiver combo. On the one hand, it is great for small models, because one need only fit the battery, but for larger models with more than four functions, it is ultimately bulkier, because each receiver is also a battery box. Sariel, out of all the alternative receivers you've tested, which one is your favorite, or are they good for different things?

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Cool. This can be great for LEGO trains. All self-contained unit is really useful and handy for those small shunter engine MOCs.

I suppose you could pry/cut open the case to desolder the battery and solder in a new one when battery replacement time comes. :wink:

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It looks useful for smaller applications, but I don't exactly like that it's limited to 4 outputs, is there any mention about the application supporting multiple controllers? Any idea how many volts it pushes out in the x2 mode, as that could be detrimental to lego motors over a long time period. Is there any difference in the response time between the phone, and it. How does it compare to the Sbrick in terms of response delay?

I guess if the battery fails, you can just connect a portable power source, like for charging phones.

What next, with all of the competition, I bet Lego will undoubtedly make their own version of a controller.

Edited by Tommy Styrvoky

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As another potential option to SBrick, it's good that they considered the battery. It's one of my main issues with SBrick: that it relies on LEGO batteries, which cut out too early when certain motors demand more juice.

That said, I still don't know what the maximum current output would be for their battery and how many motors the unit could power. It seems to handle 4 XL's on the Maus which is a great start. I would personally want the current limitation to be similar to the unit that came in the 8475 and 8366 RC sets: around 3-4A.

Their website says there is a turbo mode after the fast mode. Is this still the case?

In terms of the units physical design, making it the same size as existing AAA/rechargeable boxes is great for compatibility into train sets etc. I wouldn't mind seeing some pin holes on the narrow sides as well.

Best of luck for the campaign!

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I would be happier with a new remote control unit. I mean something in my hand that has actual tactile sensation. Or touch screen really becomes the norm and someday the only input device? Then I'm doomed because I have clumsy fingers.

Edited by Lipko

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This looks like a very cool project, and I hope it gets enough support to become a product. This seems like a worthy competitor for the SBrick.

Also, I wonder if a L-Motor in fast mode could reach a speed close to a buggy motor...

Edited by Offroadcreat1ons

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Costs only slightly more than the LEGO rechargeable battery, so thats a plus given all of the added enhancements. You need a smartphone/bluetooth device, so thats a negative. Will need to watch this one, especially in regards to durability and robustness. But, I am thinking that TLG is also moving in this direction as part of the upcoming??? PF2. Also, almost all of this functionality is already in EV3, although the EV3 brick is larger and only controls Mindstorm motors at constant voltage. EV3 is bluetooth controllable and customizable with its own Android or third-party apps.

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I would be happier with a new remote control unit. I mean something in my hand that has actual tactile sensation. Or touch screen really becomes the norm and someday the only input device? Then I'm doomed because I have clumsy fingers.

You may want to check out imurvai's work on an Android Game Controller for the SBrick.

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I'm a little bit unsure about having only the battery/receiver combo. On the one hand, it is great for small models, because one need only fit the battery, but for larger models with more than four functions, it is ultimately bulkier, because each receiver is also a battery box.

I think it's a good compromise, because with more than four motors you might be considering putting in another standard battery box along with the receiver. Not in all cases, but in many.

Edit: Just noticed that you can actually drive two XL motors with each channel.

I would be happier with a new remote control unit. I mean something in my hand that has actual tactile sensation. Or touch screen really becomes the norm and someday the only input device? Then I'm doomed because I have clumsy fingers.

Agreed 100% that te tactile feel is essential. On the other hand, nothing stops them from opening an API so that someone can connect to the software with a BT game controller. At least in Android, as I'm not sure the controllers work with iOS.

Edited by Beard

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It shouldn't be too hard to program a microcontroller to communicate directly with a BT game controller. Hmm, is that USB port power charging only?

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It shouldn't be too hard to program a microcontroller to communicate directly with a BT game controller. Hmm, is that USB port power charging only?

Hsrd to say... The connector will be wired to the chip, but whether they listen to it or not, cannot tell.

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Looks good! Thanks Sariel and Jim for pointing this out. I just backed at Early Bird. I hope it makes it, I have a hard time seeing how they will get the backing they at asking for, but I hope they make it!

Andy D

Edited by Andy D

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It looks useful for smaller applications, but I don't exactly like that it's limited to 4 outputs, is there any mention about the application supporting multiple controllers? Any idea how many volts it pushes out in the x2 mode, as that could be detrimental to lego motors over a long time period. Is there any difference in the response time between the phone, and it. How does it compare to the Sbrick in terms of response delay?

I guess if the battery fails, you can just connect a portable power source, like for charging phones.

What next, with all of the competition, I bet Lego will undoubtedly make their own version of a controller.

I don't know, most people don't know about sbrick, they just google "lego battery" and buy it.

I think this is better than SBrick for most cases because most models use less than 4 motors, and that models which need more than 4 motors should use SBrick.

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It's to see this coming to life. I tested prototype version on one of our shows and it worked really well. We tried it with 42043 and it performed similar to S-brick. First version was without included battery and X2 mode, but after talking to afols what would made it stand out from current offerings, there was a lot mentioning of passing the limitations of lego battery box and the possibitly to get as much as possible from motors.

I did not get any official information, but I suspect that X2 mode uses a bit higher voltage than standard and If this is true, they need to add disclaimer for X2 mode, othervise someone could blame them for ruinig their motors.

Application supports simultaneus control of several bricks (it's written on kickstarter page), so it should be ok for big machines too.

As was already written, project owner is also here and should clear out some things more accurately.

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In Sariel's video at 1:48 you can see the voltage and amperage: 4.17V and 650mA in normal mode. This would mean 8.3V in 2X mode, assuming they use the same batteries in the production units. I don't think there's much risk to the motors.

Please take these numbers with a grain of salt and wait for official feedback from BuWizz.

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