mostlytechnic

Review: Powered Up! 88006, 88007, 88008, 88009, 88010, 88011

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Lego 88006, 88007, 88008, 88009, 88010, 88011 Powered Up! components

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Thanks to Lego and EuroBricks for making this review possible! Since Lego is switching to a new system instead of Power Functions, they wanted people to check out the new parts. 

Name: Powered Up

Set Number: 88006, 88007, 88008, 88009, 88010, 88011

Pieces: n/a

Price: varies, see below

Minifigs: 0

Theme: Technic, Train, Boost, and Creator

Year of Release: 2019

These sets are technically new, but the parts aren't. They've been available in the Boost and Train sets for a while now, so lots of people have already looked at them. Sariel did x-rays of all the PF and PUP devices (and older too!) JopieK did a teardown of the PUP parts and posted it here on EB. treczoks is putting together documentation on the protocols and others are doing similar. 

This review will be different than my normal ones, since it's not a standard set. It's not really a "set" at all. I want to compare the new parts to the old PF system, both in function and design. So first, here's all the PF and PUP sets:

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A couple of them don't have any prices that I've seen online yet. The highlighted prices are ones that I saw listed on the Lego US site, but they're not online now (12/20/2018). Obviously, all the Lego electronics are pricey. But for comparison, to get a full train setup (speed remote, battery box, motor, IR receiver) you'd be at $55. The equivalent PUP setup (motor, remote, hub) would be around $90 (guessing at the train motor price). The bluetooth electronics are much more complicated and expensive than infrared is. A simple motorized set (something like the new Vestas windmill, or the Roller Coaster, or similar) would be very expensive in the PUP ecosystem, since there is no "dumb" battery box. It's possible that Lego will add one at some point for those set types, or they'd need to keep PF alive. 

There's also a few gaps in the lineup. The WeDo motor, which is PUP compatible since it's in the Batmobile set, is not available standalone. I'm actually really curious why they used that motor in that set instead of the "PUP Medium" motor. 

Also, there's only the one motor so far. There's no XL or other "big" motor, so we'll have to see if the PUP Medium motor is powerful enough to handle the XL's loads. 

The switch is not really needed anymore, since the hub has controls built in. I can see extension wires coming - I'm sure builders will want them, and it'd be simple enough. As for the much-desired adapter wires, that's a bit tougher. It'd be great to control PF motors from a PUP hub. However, the PUP system identifies the motors, so the adapter cable would have to identify to the hub that it's a PF motor. The hub would not know which motor it was. 

Enough of the talk, let's look at the parts.

The Box Bags

44585089970_84a3f4a215_z.jpgIMG_4289 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr

These parts come in individual bags. Anyone who's ordered PF components individually will be familiar with them. These aren't sets that you'll find on a store shelf (except maybe a Lego store), so the outward appearance and extra space taken up isn't worth the cost to box them. 

The Contents

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Here are the parts themselves. 

The Interesting Parts

46402034951_ff9e0ac611_c.jpgIMG_4291 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr

I always have an "interesting part" section in my reviews to highlight new molds, colors, rare parts, etc. But here, they're all interesting so I just repeated the photo. If that annoys you, just keep scrolling and see new images below. :tongue:

The Manual

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For a company that normally has zero text in their manuals, wow. Here's some of the paperwork that comes with these, because they have electronic parts. Each document is in THIRTY FIVE different languages, so each paper is only a couple sentences. Each of the battery-powered parts has a "how to put the batteries in" flyer. Every item had a paper saying "Protect the environment by not disposing of this product with your household waste. Check with your local authority for recycling advice and facilities." Yes, every single item had that included. 

Battery Boxes

44585090490_88d9cf4805_c.jpgIMG_4307 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr

Here are the current Lego battery boxes. From left to right is the 6 AA box, mostly used in Technic, then the Boost Hub, currently only used in the Boost robotic set which holds 6 AAA batteries, then the PUP Hub, also holding 6 AAA batteries, and finally the PF 6 AAA battery box, commonly used in trains. The new hub is the exact same size as the 6 AAA box, and it has the green power button in the same location. However, the new one has the connections on the end instead of on top.

The Hub

46402035601_61b5616f86_c.jpgIMG_4302 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr

First, we have the basic Powered Up hub. This is the 6 AAA box, which is 3 parts. The batteries go into a "cartridge" which snaps into the base. It might be possible for a rechargeable module to become available at some point, but there's no external charging port like the PF rechargeable box, so it'd require taking the box apart still. 

The Boost Hub

44585089040_10bf6943c1_z.jpgIMG_4293 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr

Likewise, the Boost Hub uses a battery "cartridge." However, it's part of the base so it would be possible to have a rechargeable battery module with a port in the bottom.

The Motor Lineup

46402034891_90222304b1_c.jpgIMG_4295 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr

The new PUP motor (sometimes called the Boost motor since that's where it's currently available) is almost as large as the PF XL motor, but it's studded. The only pin connections are on the face of it. The PUP motors do have a big feature that the PF ones don't. They have built in rotary encoders, like the Mindstorm motors do, so programmable systems can see how much they've turned. The motor can actually be used as an input sensor too - put a tire on it and have a dial control! This only works with the Boost hub though since you need the programming capability to do anything with the information. 

The Train Motors

46402035371_d1da66f897_c.jpgIMG_4308 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr

The new train motor is identical in shape and size to the PF one. The only outward difference is the cable- it's shorter and wider. 

The Plug

46402035701_54d7db61a1_z.jpgIMG_4298 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr

As you can see, the new plug is smaller, but the cable is wider. Overall it takes up less space, since once it's plugged in, the hard plastic sticks out one stud. The old connector was fully exposed all the time. It'll take a little different building design though, since the new plug sticks out from the battery box. 

The Sensor

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This, to me, is the oddest part of the inclusion in this shipment. This sensor comes with the Boost robotics set. In that setting, it makes sense, and I understand why people would want to buy it alone (to add more sensors to their design). However, without the Boost set, it's usefulness is limited. It does nothing useful when connected to the regular Hub. When it's connected to the Boost Hub, it's a great color and distance sensor with lots of usage. I'm actually now trying to piece together a Boost set out of my parts collection to try all the Boost designs, since I have the Hub, Sensor, and Motor here. But to the majority of people using the new PUP system, they won't see any use for the sensor. Yet. What if, down the road, Lego sells a train set that includes the sensor and some software updates to the basic Hub? It'd be trivial then to have some colored tiles on the train tracks so that the train could be programmed. Make noises at certain locations, stop, etc. The current Duplo trains do that! So why not bring that functionality to the older kids and AFOLs? This DOES need a software update from Lego though, since like I said, the smaller Hub does not allow any programming or recognize the sensor, as far as I can tell. And the Boost Hub is too big for a standard 6 wide Lego train.

The Remote

46402035521_4d55eb016c_z.jpgIMG_4304 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr

Speaking of trains and controlling them, here's the new remote. It is TINY! Granted, I'm a big guy (6 foot 3) with big hands, but this is small. It's certainly smaller than the PF speed remote. And personally, I'm torn on the functionality. If you're not aware, the Hub can detect what motor is connected and act differently based on that. If you connect the Medium motor, this remote acts like the old small PF remote - the buttons give you 100% power for as long as you hold them. Release the button, and the motor stops. If you connect the train motor, this remote acts like the PF speed remote. The + and - buttons step through speeds and it keeps running. The red button stops it. This makes sense for kids and keeps the line of parts simpler, but it removes advanced functionality. What if I want to run the medium motor at lower speed? I can't. 

The top center of the remote is an RGB LED. It lights up the same color as the hub to show what units are paired together. The PF system allowed 4 "frequencies" with 2 channels each. The PUP system has 5 "frequencies" with 2 channels each. 

This remote also removes the need for the PF switch. You can turn the button sections of this remote. So if you want one motor running reversed, just turn that set of buttons upside down. If you want to steer left and right, you can turn the buttons sideways. 

One thing you cannot do is modify the remote, the way the PF remotes would be modified, with addon parts. Lego themselves has done this - like the 9398 Crawler set: image.png.e25bc89255e05bcd989ed493cdf1efe5.png The new remote has some pin holes on the sides, but no way to attach to the buttons.

The App

44585090170_6ecde5556a_z.jpgIMG_4311 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr

The big new function with the new system is the app. There's the Boost app, which allows programming the Boost Hub, and the PUP app, which controls the basic Hub. This app is very limited. You pick which set (currently the Batmobile, Freight Train, and Passenger Train), and then appropriate controls appear. It's all preconfigured and not modifiable. It doesn't allow you to design your own controls the way SBrick and others do, so if you want to make a new vehicle, you have to control it like it's a train or Batmobile (using those particular motors, since the hub knows what is connected!) I strongly suspect Lego will come out with another app (or a major update to this one) to control custom builds, and frankly, I don't know why they haven't yet. 

The Performance, Speed

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I mounted a tire on each motor (both PUP and PF) and checked the RPM at full speed. Here's the results:

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As you can see, the PUP M motor is closer in speed to the XL than the other PF motors. The PUP train goes slightly faster at full speed than the PF train motor. I checked all the speeds, and it ranges from about 500 to 1800. 

The Performance, Power

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I also checked the force each motor can generate. As I don't have a proper torque meter, I made my own rig. In the photo, it was trying to lift a heatsink from a computer. That was too easy, so I moved on to a heavier weight. The XL motor was still able to lift that, but none of the other motors could. 

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The measurements on the train motors were at full speed. One thing I noticed - the PUP train motor would cut out after a few seconds at a stall. When I hit stop, it would be immediately ready to run again, so I don't think this was the internal thermistor cutting it out. I think the hub is monitoring the speed and shutting it off when it wasn't rotating. I should try having an actual train drag a load and see what happens...

 

The Conclusion

So, what's my conclusion? Overall, I see what Lego wanted to do with the new PUP system. It eliminates the IR weakness, removes the need for a separate receiver, and updates the system to be "app-enabled" like all the cool toys are now. I think that also brought some new limitations that Lego CAN remove, but hasn't yet. I'm looking forward to seeing the PUP system appear in Technic sets to see how Lego handles that. That will be a while though, since the only motorized Technic set in the first half of 2019 is the Stunt Racer, and it still uses the PF system. That COULD have been a great set to use PUP in, similar to the Batmobile, but for some reason they chose not to. I'm guessing the M motor doesn't have the speed for the stunt racer and they didn't want to put the WeDo motors in? That doesn't seem like great logic to me, and I really hope there's more motor options to come. The PUP M motor is too big and too slow for a lot of Technic applications. 

Right now we're in the transition phase and I hope Lego is listening to the various categories of users. AFOL train users want to connect multiple motors on the same channel to run big trains. Technic users need smaller motors. Creator needs a simpler, cheaper system. And almost everyone needs customizable app interfaces :grin:

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Thanks for this. Speaking as some who has only very limited experience with any sort of motorized LEGO but has long wanted to fully explore this area, this whole post looks immensely useful to me.

:thumbup:

Edited by Blondie-Wan

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Nice review, thank you.

In my opinion, motors from Batmobil (currently marked as WeDo motors) will be more used and above tested PUP Motor will remain limited to robotics sets.

 

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Thanks for the review! Great work. I am really wondering what the future will bring for Technic. I would not be surprised to see a big 2H Flagship with new PUP parts. Most likely a big Excavator or Bulldozer, given the new sprockets.

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On 12/26/2018 at 5:24 AM, Jim said:

Thanks for the review! Great work. I am really wondering what the future will bring for Technic. I would not be surprised to see a big 2H Flagship with new PUP parts. Most likely a big Excavator or Bulldozer, given the new sprockets.

I agree, I expect a PUP Technic flagship for the second half of the year. Unless the price is sky high though, I don't think it'll be ultra complex. That's one drawback of the PUP system - there's only 2 outputs on the battery box, and so having more motors would require a second battery box and remote, so you'd be looking at $75 worth of parts, as opposed to PF where adding motors requires just a $15 IR receiver and $15 remote. Where the PUP system could work really well would be a very mechanically complex machine, using 1 motor through a gearbox, and using a second motor to switch the gearbox functions. (it could excel at this since the PUP motors have the rotary encoders, so with a software upgrade I think even the M motor could act like a servomotor and do something like "rotate 45 degrees per tap of the button on the remote") 

A "simple" big bulldozer (think 8275, which had 2 drive motors and 2 motors to run the blade and tines, so 4 channels of control) would be very expensive to do in PUP. Basically, a driveable machine takes all the capability of the PUP system, whether it's a drive motor and a steering motor, or dual drive motors like a bulldozer (or the Batmobile) 

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This is a great read - I bought the PUP hub 88009 and motor 88011 to retrofit a train for Christmas.  You *do* save money on the controller with the app, but the connection shuts down if you try to take photos/videos (at least on iOS).  Your write-up on the sensor is spot-on.  I don't have it, but need the possible features to repurpose the PUP hub/motor and train for a back-and-forth tram in my city, i.e., no loop.  Seems like a no brainer, but here we are.  Hope LEGO realizes this.

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Thanks for the review.

I'll wait and see whether there will be smaller and more-versatile PU parts like the PF parts, especially leads.  I have made much use of the PF switches, including in a control panel (which is why it has the little switch on the back).

As for PU in a Technic flagship, I would be put off unless PU demonstrates versatility and integration with the system.  The parts in this review a plug and play for a smaller range of applications, such as trains or educational robotics.  It is not as easy as PF was for a set like the 8275 Bulldozer.  I would be more enthusiastic if the simpler PF functions were replicated; the expensive "Bluetooth and app" philosophy works for the new generation but would add too much complexity to use it in all models.  I have many PF models with just a motor and battery; the trade for including those for £10 was favourable compared to adding the (now £35) 8293 kit separately.

The X-Ray video shows that the motor inside the Boost motor is the same as the one on the XL motor, which makes it a good powerful standard motor and easier to use than a large NXT or EV3 motor.  This is the most likely in a Technic set and would be an encouraging sign.  If more than two motors were used then the instructions on getting 2 hubs controlled from 1 handset need to be included.  I've done it but not always right first time.  Sometimes the 2nd hub is reluctant to sync with the handset.  However, recent Technic sets have tended to use fewer motors and more function gearboxes because of the cost.

A further encouragement would be if the Boost motor can act as a servo motor (if there is no Servo motor in PU).

Mark

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Posted (edited)

I would like to add a few remarks:
-the Boost motor has an encoder, so it's usable as a servo like in the NXT series, but there are no absolute positions, so the startup position will be treated as zero (this is why the robot should have its head centered upon hub boot)
-the drive of the train motor seems to be speed regulating, so the train doesn't seem to visibly slow down in curves at lower speed settings even when heavily loaded (classic backemf regulation used by many DCC decoders have one small problem, only one motor could be connected to an output)
-the Batmobile M motor has no encoder, but could be speed controlled with the right software (the current 2 port hub just defaults to on-off-on with the remote connected)
-you can switch channels on the remote on the fly by pressing the center button, so it's possible to control up to 5 hubs on each 5 colors at the same time (this allows using up to 10 independent channels with a single remote and 34 AAA batteries)

Edited by viktor_kovacs

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Thanks for those updates viktor - I had noticed the channel changing, but I hadn't tested out those other features yet. The speed regulating train motor looks like a GREAT feature, although it also makes wrecking easier :) 

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