BusterHaus

WeDo 2.0 - The future of PF

Recommended Posts

I can't believe that Lego is going with this new, incompatible with anything else connector. This is going to piss off a lot of people. I'm not talking about fans like us. I'm talking about educators, which is what WeDo is aimed at. Everything about this system is baffling, and it seems more like a gimmick than anything. Oh, you already have WeDo 1.0 kits? Too bad, they are not compatible with this new system, at least not without an adapter cable. We've also lowered the voltage, so now models will have even worse performance than before. Also, you are still limited to 1 motor and 1 sensor per hub. And, it's more expensive. Because of the above, I think several people are going to balk at the new system. When I first heard about this, I was hoping, praying that this was just a prototype, but no, its the final system, available for sale. If this is the future of the Power Functions system, I am extremely worried. If they indeed use this connector, you can say goodbye to running more than one motor off a port without an adapter cable. Why even use this connector? Why couldn't they just make an adapted version of the current PF connector with two extra wires? That way, you could have both encoders and backwards compatibility, and stackable connectors. The only reason I can think of for them to have these connectors is that they are worried about kids stacking sensors and confusing the control modules. Well, in that case, the sensors have a different connector, maybe like the EV3 plug, or maybe like the standard PF connector, but with the top port blanked off. Also, they had no problems with the last iteration, so why is it a consideration now? Why even have new sensors with new plugs, why not just use the EV3 hardware? Also, why make it 3 volt? Why not make it run of a 9 volt battery, or, I dunno, the standard PF battery boxes? Why not make it so that you have the option of using either the standard PF batteries, or a small battery pack?

Good grief, this new system seems like a step backwards in almost every way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought about this and the state of power function during last couple hours.

If I compare it to the development of digital controls for model railroads, I must say LEGO Power Functions and Mindstorms are still kind of analogue. The motors are connected to the controllers by cable ports. Of course the need power. But in order to controls he motors independently each motor has to be physically assigned to a specific port. Why? The motors should be able to receive a unique address from the controller, stored on a small chip within the motor. The motors always have full power, only the chips tells them run at speed x. The power cable could be stacked on top of each other. This would allow to reduce the controller size. You would need 2 or 4 ports. Just one control brick sized 2x2x6. The PF cables should be able to transmit those signals, they've got 4 wires.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the thought of there being a new wave of PF makes me hope that they might release another, newer Micromotor. but, that is the one thing that interests me. everything else just seems like it'll be a pain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you think Lego hardware is expensive, wait till you see the price of the software....2000GBP for site wide!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought about this and the state of power function during last couple hours.

If I compare it to the development of digital controls for model railroads, I must say LEGO Power Functions and Mindstorms are still kind of analogue. The motors are connected to the controllers by cable ports. Of course the need power. But in order to controls he motors independently each motor has to be physically assigned to a specific port. Why? The motors should be able to receive a unique address from the controller, stored on a small chip within the motor. The motors always have full power, only the chips tells them run at speed x. The power cable could be stacked on top of each other. This would allow to reduce the controller size. You would need 2 or 4 ports. Just one control brick sized 2x2x6. The PF cables should be able to transmit those signals, they've got 4 wires.

The problem with this type of system is that you would have to have some way of assigning the motor to a specific control on the actual controller. And you would want it simple so you would use a 1-2 digit identifier. Which means lego would have to have multiple versions of each motor to reduce the chances of a set have 3 motors with the same ID. This would drive cost up. Having individual physical ports keeps cost down and makes it more intuitive to match the port to a control.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The problem with this type of system is that you would have to have some way of assigning the motor to a specific control on the actual controller. And you would want it simple so you would use a 1-2 digit identifier. Which means lego would have to have multiple versions of each motor to reduce the chances of a set have 3 motors with the same ID. This would drive cost up. Having individual physical ports keeps cost down and makes it more intuitive to match the port to a control.

The unique identifier is not really needed, it can be done also with an enumeration process at startup, like VEX Robotics did on their VEX-IQ system. The downside of this system is that motors/sensors can't be hot-plugged, but that's a relatively minor annoyance.

I can't believe that Lego is going with this new, incompatible with anything else connector.
Different, incompatible connector makes sense since there is another major difference: voltage used! Wedo 2 runs off 3V while EV3/PFS are 9V based.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In their FAQ Lego is not exactly straight forward and somehow contradicting.

The new plugs shall come as well for PF V2 and on the other hand they write "Education only". Time will tell.

As written above the three systems, WeDo V1, WeDo V2 and PF(exist) use different voltages, 5V (off USB), 3V - 3,7V and 9V

I cannot imagine that we will see 3V gear coming to Technic, may be as a new Micro-Motor but not for M, L and XL. Here power is needed and power is P = U x I. Having less voltage would require more current and thus draining the batteries really quickly. Just listen to the compressors of the AROCS and the Unimog... Imagine them on 3V...

-> My guess: If there will be a new PF V2 it will still be 9V for Technic applications.

This leads indirectly to a guess on the 6 wires that we see. Two speculations here, as four wires would be fine for thoese applicatiosn as we see it in Mindstorms.

A) either they split the input and output. i.e. 2 wires supply, 2 wires control and 2 wires Input.

B) or they use two supplies, 2 wires 9V, 2 wires 3V and 2 wires control.

What is definitely a downside is the inability of stacking those connectors. For the Education purposed this is not really relevant but in Technic MOCs we still want to connect two motors to one output for whatever reason.

A plus is the advent of Bluetooth in PF, a new PF Receiver (not the Smarthub) will be a very nice addition. I would expect four ports and and may be up to four controllers to be controller by one "remote"

now the new remote. Will there be another dedicated remote? In my view there needs to be. Even if every kid now has a mobile phone, a stand alone remote would make sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting aspect is that the control/receiver unit is separate from the battery/power supply unit. I would not be surprised if we see something similar in a new PF2 9V system, and maybe this will use the same control unit, but then attached to a 9V power supply. Likely will be plug adapters to use PF motors on the new PF2 control unit, or maybe the 9V power supply will have additional, controllable (and stackable) I/O for motors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WeDo has always used low voltage. It used to drive from 5V USB, now it seems 3V AAs or 3.7V LiPo would be enough power to turn an M-motor. This is OK for kids in school, a nice, safe, low speed and no serious loads for the motor.

I did manage to interface WeDo with NXT on both the motor ans sensor ports so that the NXT could communicate with the WeDo software in both directions. However, WeDo is fairly primitive in line with its age-related educational purpose.

The WeDo tilt sensor sets different resistance values depending which way it is tilted (4 orthogonal directions). In a sense it's a bit like what could connect to an RCX sensor port or NXT sensor port pins 1 and 2 for an analogue sensor. Possible to make a circuit to control a PF motor in response to it but that might be a bit bespoke. I did once do an RCX/NXT switch multiplexer of a similar type but different values:

switch_mux_circuit.jpg

I think the idea of 6 wires for PF2 is that PF, WeDo and Mindstorms can have common cable format. Other people have said the Mindstorms cables are not flexible enough; the new ones will fix that issue by being as flexible as current PF cables.

The stackability (or not) of the cables is an issue - I want to hear more about that. I don't like the idea of having to hack around with a device containing a socket; cutting a plug-to-plug lead for PF and adding 12V plugs for custom connections was easy but going inside a block would be more difficult. If it's a plug-to-plug system then there are still incompatibility issues such as plugging an NXT sensor into a motor port. The pins would have to be assigned to input and output in the protocol, just as PF has a protocol that I have followed when designing circuits for it.

There is the opportunity to increase the functionality of PF with 6 wires. Obviously 2 wires will still be 9V and 0V but there could be 2 motor drives or 4 LED drives on one cable; a future PF multi-colour RGB LED in a 2x2 brick could do all the colours, if we persuaded TLG to make one. I tried hacking with some Christmas lights but the LEDs were 2-wire with a colour rotation chip in the LED package, not the 4-lead devices I had hoped for; those are more expensive and not in Christmas light sets. Not making further PF LED bricks like an alternate one for a police car or railway signal was poor IMHO; it would have needed only a different-colour 2x2 brick to differentiate it from the original both-on LED brick.

I hope TLG will facilitate some backward compatibility with PF and with NXT/EV3 cables, or I will be doing a lot of this:

pf_lead_mod_9vpp3bb_ir_9vmtr.jpg

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We could also look at it from another perspective: maybe Lego is indeed phasing out all current PF parts, but we haven't seen any of the new Technic parts. We've only seen the WeDo parts and they might be different than (alhough compatible with) other PF2 parts. I mean, the old WeDo also had different PF parts than other Technic sets, while maintaining compatibility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am a little more than concerned.

If there is a new form factor for PF2 connectors, then...

1. TLG will likely make a PF2 - PF1 adaptor, as they did for PF1-9V power plates.

2. At worst, it's likely that fabricating a connector means cutting and stripping 10 wires, and re-connecting 8 of them, this can be done with small snips, a connector block and a screwdriver, doesn't even need soldering.

So eh. Also, it's only toy bricks :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The WeDo 2.0 is hopefully a small subset of what PF 2 will be. Since stacking motors on one output is common, maybe there will be a extension/multi-port hub.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I fully expect a 9V version, perhaps with the same receiver/controller? And maybe an add-on to allow additional devices on the same port?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you think Lego hardware is expensive, wait till you see the price of the software....2000GBP for site wide!

Looking at the US website, it appears that license to the software is included with the kit. With WeDo 1.0, the software had to be purchased separately (though you could also use Scratch for free). So, the new version is actually cheaper than purchasing a kit + software.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see a couple possibilities

PF2 and PF1 will both exist, PF2 for small/and or educational sets, PF1 for non smart sets that need more power, but have a relay type device that can use the PF2 controller, to control PF1 devices in place of an IR receiver/switch.

- HAve an 9v and 3v version of PF2, with each using different pairs on the 6 wire cable to stop stuff blowing up.

- Have all PF2 stuff be 3 v but drawing a much higher current than PF1, and release a second larger control box/battery that uses 3 pairs of 2x1.5 batts in parallel for more current, and with more connectors.

A big downside to a low voltage, high current system, is that cable length will start reducing power to a connected device, so I'm hoping an 9v PPF2 will exist, or that PF1 will still life on for appropriate sets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The mold was made in 2014 ... and we have not yet seen a single PF/WeDO on the mass market yet. Except the education products, but that is a much smaller scope (I think).

This begs another question: what is the goal of the EDU division? Is it not to get kids hooked on Lego early on to boost sales in the general consumer division?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the Education department makes plenty of profit in it own right apart from just the future goal of getting kids hooked. The Education sets are crazy expensive and they are sold primarily to schools. It helps to have a big government budget in which no one looks at the expenses too closely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the Education department makes plenty of profit in it own right apart from just the future goal of getting kids hooked. The Education sets are crazy expensive and they are sold primarily to schools. It helps to have a big government budget in which no one looks at the expenses too closely.

In my experience it is not the government funded schools who have the big budgets, it's the privately funded schools who are able to afford the expensive stuff. Public school often don't even have a budget to hire decent teachers. But perhaps its different in the USA.

Edited by Kelkschiz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.