12V Style Control Buttons for PF/PU Trains

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We got our control buttons out! You can see them in action in the video below.


We got a fair amount of feedback on our initial design of the control buttons. One to the main requests that came up was the possibility to use the buttons in combination with our nControl software. That was not part of the initial plan and the buttons were not designed for that. However, there are indeed applications where it makes sense to link the buttons to the software. Now that we have a web interface this would, for example, allow you to control the layout with the buttons but monitor it on a tablet. As such we decided to redesign the control buttons so the same buttons can be used:

  • in a stand-alone way like our initial design

  • in combination with nControl™ through a WiFi or USB link with the computer running the software (the buttons are ready for that, but the WiFi/USB brick still have to be finalized)

Another major question was how many buttons could be linked into a control panel.  The limiting factor is the power consumption of the buttons and that’s tricky because the power consumption depends on the type of button and how it’s used.

The original power brick also had two PF1.0 connectors but as The LEGO Group is moving towards PF2.0/PU that doesn’t make much sense anymore. As such we redesigned the power brick:

  • remove the PF1.0 connectors

  • add a power sensor that drives a variable color LED. The color of the LED will change in function of the power consumption: green > red > red blinking.

The following bricks / buttons are currently available:

  • power brick

  • servo motor control button for switches, boom barrier, decouplers, monorail switches.

  • light control button for traffic lights and level crossing lights.

The next step will be to create:

  • WiFi Brick or USB brick to link the control panel with nControl™

  • a ‘Throttle Button’ to pilot the trains. This would control the trains through nControl™ and support our WiFi controller, LEGO PU controller and SBrick.

Let us know what you think!

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I truly believe that you guys at 4DBrix simply "feel" the tasks and potential of various train control elements. Tracks, switch drives, switches, automation, multiple access to the electronic automation elements (USB/WiFi/BLE ...). This is outstanding. Your beautiful software goes along that line.

Just one more comment: TLC can do what they want. For me "PF1" is the one and only PF: A powerful, very nicely designed system. "PF2" is not PF as it is (officially) not compatible with PF - it is PuP. A new system they try to sell to us. They nice thing about 3rd party suppliers is that they don't have to move along with TLC every time they come up with new stuff to make us buy their new stuff. I am aware that a company has to do that because people may refuse to buy old stuff - but the PF community is still very large, >I believe<. As is the 4.5, 9, 12V community. Not buying PuP that is.

In my view, you guys are leading - in a comprehensive approach (track hardware, electronic hardware, software) - the 3rd party LEGO train supply market!

And I find it highly appealing and the "right LEGO train approach" to use the 12V look and feel for the new switches.


And all the best,

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Thank you; that's very touching what you wrote...  I'll certainly pass it on to everybody in the team.  

Concerning the PF1 connectors.  The fact we removed the PF connector from the power brick should not be interpreted as us abandoning Power Functions.  It's just that with both PF and PU devices available, it didn't make much sense to have a power brick with 2 outlets for one of those systems.  The control buttons are still powered with a 9V adapter to have 9V power available and distribute it to each button.  As such we can, and are planning to, make a PF motor control button.  Unlike the outlets on the initial power brick design the speed and direction of the motor will be controllable.  Those control buttons could be used to power the Ferris wheel, carousel, roller coaster, etc.



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Thank you very much for clarifying that! I really like that approach. As usual, when you come up with new stuff!

All the best,

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