Powered Up - A tear down...

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On 3/29/2021 at 9:49 AM, kbalage said:

I'm sorry but I disagree. There's a huge crowd out there who does not want to touch Powered Up because it requires coding and understanding coding principles like start blocks, loops, variables, conditions etc. A straightforward step by step configuration in the app is fundamentally different from coding, even if the latter has examples and error messages. 

The basic user experience needs to be simplified to a level that becomes comparable to the physical assembly of a Power Functions motor/controller/remote combination.

I'm taking my first steps in opening up the hardware.  Using the official route (not cutting cables yet), I opened my 51515 Robot Inventor Kit Distance Sensor with a Torx T6 bit (not T7 as I read previously).

To begin with I'm emulating the simple devices, which will allow the PU hub to control my own devices using the standard control patterns from the handset or software (train motor, gearmotor or light brick).  Philo's page shows the connections to make to set the device IDs but there is another step to connect to the Distance Sensor rear half 8-pin connector.


The Distance Sensor port has 2 unused pins separating the 2 motor pins on the right from the 4 control pins on the left (Gnd, +3V3, ID1 and ID2).  The port is very small, too small for 1/0.6 wire, so I found some smaller stuff from an old electronics kit.

The connections shown on the breadboard (green & black links) are for emulating a train motor, allowing variable speed control; ID1 to +3V3 and ID2 to Gnd.  The leads to the multimeter measure the motor output voltage.


I have just tested a PF M-motor successfully, connecting it in parallel with the meter leads, using a 9V to 12V lead with 1/0.6 wires attached and a 9V to PF lead.  This allows the PU handset and hub to drive the PF motor with variable speed.  I know a 3rd-party lead is available for driving PF motors but I will be doing more varied experiments, some including a PF power supply (LiPo or mains source likely) so that the PU hub batteries are doing only the Bluetooth communications.  If only TLG had made a Bluetooth Receiver like the PF IR Receiver!

I hope this goes some way to keeping it simple, in order to drive PF or 9V devices from PU, using the non-phone-dependent handset and standard motor drive protocols.  I hope this will make PU a bit more useful.  I find the 2-Port hub and handset useful because they are not phone-dependent.  I also find the 6-Port hub useful because it can have downloaded programs from a PC or other device and can operate independently.  I have more problem with the 4-Port hub because the phone controls are not as precise as the train handset; I don't get the play value out of the Technic sets that use them.  If only the firmware would understand 1 or 2 train handsets without a phone being needed to connect them.

I just found the train sets and Robot Inventor Kit on discount and bought some more - more 2-port hubs, handsets and another Distance Sensor to open up!


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On 9/28/2020 at 3:35 PM, biasedlogic said:

Hi gals and guys...

I'm new around here and after reading this extremely interesting and useful thread I registered to add my own $0.02 to it.

I have worked out a way to 3D print a very usable plug that fits the Powered Up connectors and can provide a way to connect Power Functions motor to a Powered Up hub (it will pretend to be either a WeDo motor or a train motor).

I have posted an article about it on my microsite


This is how it looks like.

I'm a bit cautious about releasing the design files on a publicly available site as I'm not sure if/what parts of the connector are somehow protected by TLG IP. Beyond that, to actually print them right you do need a very well tuned printer, which my experience on Thingverse indicates, seems as rare as hen teeth.

Anyway, if someone is interested in this approach, comment or drop me a message.

Best regards and thanks for this informative discussion!

I like that design, can you send it to me?  I want to put lights on my trains.

Thank you

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10 hours ago, teran said:

I like that design, can you send it to me?  I want to put lights on my trains.

Thank you

I believe I've sent it to you via email already?

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