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Electronic train 118/138 and 139, anyone have one or have seen one?


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#1 Sinner

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 05:55 AM

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I was browsing though my collection of digital instructions the other day (I have over 2000) and I ran into the cool whistle controlled train from 68/69. For those, like me, who have never heard of it, I mean this one;

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Aside from sharing this with the fun fellows at Eurobricks, I wanted to know if anyone has actually seen one of these working. If so, how good were they? Should I sell my soul and try and get one? It is interesting that Lego, even in the late 60s, were trying to add electronics to their toys.





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#2 Asuka

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 01:01 PM

Hey, thatīs great.... I`ve never heard about that pretty baby....  *wub*
Hmm.... a whistle, a microphone, very nice indeed, should work with
any loud sound, I guess.... So whatīs up in the year 2050, TLC?
A mind-controlled maglev train, perhaps....  8-|

#3 Sinner

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 01:12 PM

View PostAsuka, on Aug 24 2007, 10:01 PM, said:

So whatīs up in the year 2050, TLC?
A mind-controlled maglev train, perhaps....  8-|
I seriously wonder!  8-°  I used to think that Lego was out of it's field when they brought out the Mindstorms sets (I eventually changed my mind but I still haven't bought one), but in reality it seems that Lego have been in this field for a while.





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#4 Steve-the-lego-fan

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 12:55 AM

View PostSinner, on Aug 24 2007, 05:55 AM, said:

I was browsing though my collection of digital instructions the other day (I have over 2000) and I ran into the cool whistle controlled train from 68/69. For those, like me, who have never heard of it, I mean this one;

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Aside from sharing this with the fun fellows at Eurobricks, I wanted to know if anyone has actually seen one of these working. If so, how good were they? Should I sell my soul and try and get one? It is interesting that Lego, even in the late 60s, were trying to add electronics to their toys.

I've got one. As a child my parents bought me one in 1969, I got rid of all my lego when I got older but kept the train because I'd heard it was really rare and they didn't make many. I'm now married and have an 11 year old son who loves lego. We've build a huge Lego City with a train line and suddenly the other month I remembered the train I had as a child. I phoned my dad and asked him if he knew where it was, he found it in the loft where it had been for 40 years, still in the box with all the instructions. When I went home last month I brought it back to Scotland with me where I now live. I tried to build it but there where a few minor pieces missing, I managed to get them off e-bay and complete the build. Just looks exactly like your photo. Tonight I put the batteries in and the motor worked right away. The electronics didn't work to start with, but eventually I found a loose connection on the microphone and got it going. Short whistle starts and stops and a long whistle make it go backwards. A lego whistle is supplied, but if you're good you can get it to work by whistling yourself!

#5 Sinner

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 01:02 AM

View PostSteve-the-lego-fan, on Mar 12 2010, 10:55 AM, said:

I've got one.
I've waiting almost three years for this answer!  :cry_happy: Thanks for sharing your story. So is it just whistles or will any sound do? Clapping?

Now you've got to do a review!  :grin:





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#6 lightningtiger

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 08:12 AM

I have only heard about this train, but I have heard how much a replacement whistle is .......over $200 USD.
Also I would love to know how it worked ?
Keep on bricking everyone ! :sweet:

#7 patje

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 10:58 AM

It is a dream, to have once a set like these in my collection
But I think that it will remain a dream  :cry_sad:

There are a little of that set and as a result, very expensive.

what a pity!
:hmpf:

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#8 Fugazi

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 03:33 PM

Ha! While this train is a wonderful collectible, I kind of remember from the old catalogs that is was very expensive compared to the regular train sets. Moreover, as a parent I would never make the mistake to buy my kids a whistle-operated train, unless I need constant headaches for next 5 years!  :wacko: I wonder if this has anything to do with TLC eventually withdrawing this concept.  :hmpf_bad:
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#9 Mark Bellis

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 05:26 PM

I have one of the 4x8x2 electronic units, which I was given when someone found it in their garage.
Years ago I had a go at reverse-engineering the circuit but I'll have to look up where I got to with that.

Basically it's a switch that turns the motor on and off every time the whistle sounds.
To do this it must have a high frequency tuned circuit on the front end, to detect the whistle frequency, followed by a flip-flop to switch the state, followed by a power transistor to connect the battery power to the motor.
I think there are 6 transistors in the unit.

I think the unit I have is the unit from set 118, an earlier version of the whistle train.  I think the 138 unit might have allowed the train to go backwards too.

One reason TLG didn't continue with this is that all the plugs are the same.  The user only knows which one to connect where by the coloured dot next to each port - blue for microphone, red for power, with the motor connections underneath.  There was potential for the user to connect things up incorrectly, which might damage the unit.  Something TLG considered in the development of Power Functions was trying to get rid of the ability for the user to easily mis-connect the electrical elements.  That's one reason why the extension lead has a 9V plug on the bottom - if it were a PF plug it could short out two PF output ports.

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#10 Steve-the-lego-fan

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 09:50 PM

Yes, I have the 138 and it does backwards too if it hears a long whistle. One point is that if it is going forward, you have to stop it with a short whistle first and then make a long whistle to go backwards. Same the other way round. You can whistle youself without the lego whistle and it works, but it won't respond to clapping etc..

At the moment it's part of a Lego City layout so it looks a bit dated next to the other lego trains. What I'm going to do is build a lego train museum with a branch line for it to go into. I'll post some pics when I get the chance.

How much to you think it's worth in the box with the original instructions and whistle?
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Edited by Siegfried, 13 March 2010 - 12:20 AM.


#11 Sinner

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 12:21 AM

View PostSteve-the-lego-fan, on Mar 13 2010, 07:50 AM, said:

How much to you think it's worth in the box with the original instructions and whistle?
About $400 USD.





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#12 Beej

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 12:38 AM

View PostSiegfried, on Mar 13 2010, 09:21 AM, said:

Actually the complete 138 set is much more...

This is an awesome little train, congratulations to anyone that has it in their collection. I'd be interested to see how far you got with working out the circuit Mark, a whistle activated train would definitely be something different these days. :thumbup: If you raised the frequency of the tuned circuit maybe you could use a dog whistle instead of an audible one.  :wink:

Edited by Beej, 13 March 2010 - 12:41 AM.


#13 peterab

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 10:54 AM

This is one of the sets I remember from the catalogues of my childhood. I was intrigued by it but never really wanted it because the electronics brick detracted from the realism of the train.

I still hope to one day own the 343 ferry from the same era.

#14 Sinner

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 12:07 PM

View PostBeej, on Mar 13 2010, 10:38 AM, said:

Actually the complete 138 set is much more...
Oh my.... :oh:





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#15 Captain Zuloo

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 12:24 PM

Good grief! I had no idea this existed, but what a lousy price to pay for it. :tongue:
I'm not surprised that LEGO didn't make many copies of this, I personally can't think of anything more annoying than a sound controlled train, and I certainly wouldn't buy one for anyone other than myself. :grin:
Still, nice to know that LEGO really stepped outside the box with this, hats off to them! :sweet:

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#16 TheBrickster

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 01:50 PM

Never saw this one Sieg.  It's definitely going way back.  I had no idea LEGO offered a train with whistle.  Neat! :classic:

#17 johanb

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 02:26 PM

Yes, that is a really special train! Another similarly rare set from same period is the Remote controlled car http://www.peeron.com/inv/sets/311-5
and http://www.bricklink...tem.asp?S=311-5 . I would love to own either the whistle train  or the remote controlled car, but they are definitely out of my price range...

#18 Mark Bellis

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 05:55 PM

View PostBeej, on Mar 13 2010, 01:38 AM, said:

This is an awesome little train, congratulations to anyone that has it in their collection. I'd be interested to see how far you got with working out the circuit Mark, a whistle activated train would definitely be something different these days. :thumbup: If you raised the frequency of the tuned circuit maybe you could use a dog whistle instead of an audible one.  :wink:

I've reverse-engineered the 118 unit and drawn up the circuit diagram (when moderated).
As I suspected, there is a high frequency tuned circuit on the front end, to detect the whistle frequency, followed by a flip-flop to switch the state, followed by a power transistor to connect the battery power to the motor.

The RC tuned circuit has an input high-pass corner frequency of about 12.25kHz (a bit lower, subject to microphone impedance) and a feedback low-cut corner frequency of about 3030Hz.  The bistable flip-flop relies on capacitors discharging together, the 4uF one balancing the 10uF ones for each transistor.  The output stage has protective chokes and a large capacitor.

Now that I have a circuit I could probably make an electronic version of the whistle, or replicate the circuit with modern components.  In the 60s they used germanium diodes (0.2V drop rather than 0.7-1V) and the gain of transistors was a lot less at low frequencies, so some extra high-pass filtering might be necessary.  You can't just replace a 60s transistor with a 21st century one!  It was cutting-edge toy technology back then.

I see from the Peeron photos of the 138 unit that the bidirectional unit contains a 14-pin chip and 4 transistors in an H-bridge.  Still 5 electrolytic capacitors, so I suspect a similar technique is used for the bistable operation.  No surprise about the H-bridge for bidirectional drive but I'd like to know which IC it is.  I guess there are 2 flip-flops in there, one for on-off and the other for forwards-backwards.  Probably either two tuned circuits or two different capacitor sizes too, to separate the long and short whistle bursts.  Bricklink shows an adjustable whistle with a yellow bottom, so could it have used two frequencies?

Steve, is the lid loose on your unit, so that you could see the chip markings?  It could be a gate chip (7400, 7402), a pair of flip-flops (7473, 7476), op-amps (less likely as most need more voltage than 4.5V) or a transistor array.  Take care with the wires to the unit's bottom terminals if you open the unit.  I had to re-solder mine once!  Of course I would reverse-engineer the circuit if I had a unit handy!

Mark

Edited by Mark Bellis, 09 April 2010 - 04:11 PM.

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#19 Mark Bellis

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 01:37 PM

I've added a compilation of unit pictures in the folder, to go with the circuit diagram.
Folder when moderated.
Does anyone have a 138 unit that I could reverse engineer?

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#20 lar

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 05:50 PM

View PostMark Bellis, on Apr 11 2010, 01:37 PM, said:

I've added a compilation of unit pictures in the folder, to go with the circuit diagram.
Folder when moderated.
Does anyone have a 138 unit that I could reverse engineer?

Mark

Talk to Abner.

I was present in Conan's basement one night, when he opened one (as in, tore the shrink wrap off a sealed package) and showed it to us... it was one that he had bought I think from eBay. None of us could believe he'd actually open it till he did.
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#21 Mark Bellis

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 05:06 PM

View Postlar, on Apr 11 2010, 06:50 PM, said:

Talk to Abner.

I was present in Conan's basement one night, when he opened one (as in, tore the shrink wrap off a sealed package) and showed it to us... it was one that he had bought I think from eBay. None of us could believe he'd actually open it till he did.
I've not come across Abner or Conan.
I did post on Lugnet.Trains but no reply yet.
Is there another forum that they frequent?

I think, given the circuit topology, that the 118 unit is more likely to have silicon NPN transistors (earlier posts had suggested PNP Germanium ones), so I posted a second diagram.

I've also reverse-engineered the 7866 12V Level Crossing flasher unit.
It's an R-L Relaxation Oscillator, quite an unusual circuit nowadays as most oscillators use capacitors.
Circuit Diagram

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#22 Bricktrix

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 05:25 PM

View PostMark Bellis, on Apr 16 2010, 06:06 PM, said:

I've also reverse-engineered the 7866 12V Level Crossing flasher unit.
It's an R-L Relaxation Oscillator, quite an unusual circuit nowadays as most oscillators use capacitors.
Circuit Diagram

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Mark, thats interesting regarding the 12v flasher unit....it may explain why I could only ever get 3x 12v lamps to work off it rather than 4?

#23 Mark Bellis

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 10:45 PM

View PostBricktrix, on Apr 16 2010, 06:25 PM, said:

Mark, thats interesting regarding the 12v flasher unit....it may explain why I could only ever get 3x 12v lamps to work off it rather than 4?

That's what the 18 ohm resistor is for - raising some voltage in the event of an overcurrent condition, and so preventing thermal runaway of the darlington transistor.  I expect this will limit the current, but I hadn't tried it with more and more light bricks to see where the limit was.  It would make more sense for me to draw the diode and 18 ohm resistor nearer to the darlington transistor.  The 4M7 resistor takes the feedback from above the diode and this makes the current limiting effective in the feedback loop, by varying the potential divider network for the BC547B transistor, raising its base voltage and biasing it a bit more ON, so cutting off some of the base current from the darlington.

I have another small update to make to the diagram, as I got the other diode connection the wrong side of the 1Meg resistor.  The diode makes the light bricks come on solidly if the power to the unit is connected in reverse polarity.  This could easily happen in the 12V system if someone plugged it into the other output of the 12V level crossing panel as that reverses the polarity for the point (barrier) motors.  Same goes for the light output of a signal switch.

If the limit is 3 light bricks as you say, then the unit was designed for 2, as per set 7866.  It was therefore an early decision to go with just 2 light bricks in the set.  I wonder if it would drive PF LEDs just as well (~60mA per pair) if 9V were applied to the input, or whether it would be better to add a resistor to the output and run at 12V.  That would allow 4 sets of lights at the 4 corners of the crossing.

As we know, a proper UK level crossing needs 12 lights, 4 amber and 4 pairs of red.  It would be possible to use the 9V alternate flashing units for the red lights, but it would need an RCX to reverse the current to do the "both reds on at once before alternate flashing begins".  Just 2 RCX outputs would suffice though.

It's not easy to get these diagrams correct at the first pass!

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#24 Mark Bellis

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 09:18 PM

OK, I've uploaded the correct diagram.

I've also added a circuit operation description to the info file.  Correctness not guaranteed as I haven't done live tests on it with an oscilloscope!

From my estimate of how it operates, adding more light bricks reduces the resistance between the darlington transistor's collector and the 12V supply.  This shifts the voltage at the transistor's emitter during the cycle.  With 2 light bricks, a resistance of about 18 ohms, it should be about 6V, but 4 light bricks with a total resistance of 9 ohms would make it about 7V.

If you want to connect more light bricks, then I recommend you try keeping the total load resistance as near 18 ohms as possible.  If 3 light bricks will work (an overall resistance of 12 ohms) then adding a 12 ohm resistor in series with each of the 4 light bricks would make a total resistance of 12 ohms with four in parallel.  You would lose 1/4 of the voltage across each light brick though.  Depends if visibility is critical under exhibition lighting or not.  If' you're in simulated night time then it wouldn't matter.  The 12 ohm resistors would need to be 0.75 Watt rating because power = VxV/R and 3x3/12 = 0.75.  You might get away with 0.5 Watt rating because of the 50% duty cycle (spends only half the time on).

The single-resistor alternative would be 3.3 ohms in series with the four parallel light bricks, a total of 12.3 ohms.  Assuming 3V drop across the resistor, 3x3/3.3 = 3 Watt rating.  This would generate serious heat and its leads might be too big to shove between the four prongs of a 12V plug pin!  You might get away with 2 Watt rating for the 50% duty cycle.  Make sure you don't melt any LEGO bricks or burn yourself!

There is another way though, which might be simpler.  You could try putting a 4.5V light brick in series with each 12V light brick, and using red filter bricks.  This would save messing about with resistors but you would still need to re-wire a few leads.  Make sure you don't over-volt the 4.5V light bricks though!

Alternatively, adapting this for use with PF LED light bricks would be worth a try.  Let's say a white LED drops 3V.  According to the circuit of the light brick, if the bridge rectifier diodes drop 0.7V each and the LED drops 3V, the current is (9-4.4)V/4700 ohms, which is about 1mA per light brick.  You want four light bricks, so say 4mA.  Dropping (12-9)=3V at 4mA would need a 750 ohm resistor, so try first 820 ohms, then reduce to 680 ohms if the lights are too dim.  If they are still too dim, you might be able to reduce the extra resistance in stages to as low as 100 ohms, but don't let the flasher unit output voltage go above 9V or you could blow the LEDs (for which I could not take any responsibility).

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#25 roamingstudio

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 08:36 PM

This link should probably go into the buy / sell area - but it is so specialised for people here that I will link in now.
Lego Whistle Kit
It is being sold on Ricardo.ch - which is mainly for Swiss people. Prices in CHF are about the same as USD. Im not affiliated to the seller in anyway shape or form.



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