thic_trains

Help Me Save Power Functions!

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PU App updates can problematic.  Twice the PU App stopped working on my smart device after a new update.  Later PU App updates worked on it again.  Once I had to do a live demo and was SOL.  Turning off auto-updates on the smart device when I had a LEGO event would have been the smart thing to do. :wall: 

Maybe PF can be saved if you can get help from that Germany peace group who managed to stop the Osprey set.  Smart devices can run apps used for modern warfare like controlling remote armed robots, calculating artillery round trajectory, etc.  :wink:

 

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11 minutes ago, dr_spock said:

Maybe PF can be saved if you can get help from that Germany peace group who managed to stop the Osprey set.  Smart devices can run apps used for modern warfare like controlling remote armed robots, calculating artillery round trajectory, etc.  :wink:

LOL :D You'll have better luck with the Chinese manufacturers, there's now a pretty wide range of PF-compatible motors, batteries and controllers :) So technically PF is still alive, just not manufactured by LEGO.

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5 hours ago, kbalage said:

LOL :D You'll have better luck with the Chinese manufacturers, there's now a pretty wide range of PF-compatible motors, batteries and controllers :) So technically PF is still alive, just not manufactured by LEGO.

Man the stuff I seen there is bonkers. TLG gonna get a run for their money in the coming decade

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On 12/24/2020 at 12:22 PM, Aanchir said:

I'm confused. Did you not actually WANT to know why the BrickLink prices on those two listings were different? Why did you bother asking, then?

I asked because I wanted to ask. What is so hard to understand here? Also, my wants and intentions are off this particular topic

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On 12/8/2020 at 4:10 PM, Mechbuilds said:

EDIT:

If i base my comparison between PU and PF from this video, it seems like powered up is garbage compared to it's predecessor. 

The Power Functions may be better in some aspects, but I wouldn't say Powered Up is bad as the XL motor is certainly a huge improvement.

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Powered Up is overpriced trash imo, it doesn't seem to have any decent advantage over PF with Sbrick/BuWizz, PF is better than PU in almost every way, and cheaper. Fans may not be able to stop Lego replacing PF but I am sure most Technic builders will never 'switch' to the new PU system.

Edited by Tarix819

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3 hours ago, Tarix819 said:

Powered Up is overpriced trash imo, it doesn't seem to have any decent advantage over PF with Sbrick/BuWizz, PF is better than PU in almost every way, and cheaper. Fans may not be able to stop Lego replacing PF but I am sure most Technic builders will never 'switch' to the new PU system.

While overpriced, they could be found cheap on bricklink and brick owl. I also think technic builders may switch to Powered Up when LEGO produces a new controller...

Edited by JintaiZ

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I think we have to accept that lego is just not a tech savvy company. Hidden Side was an expected disaster and that whole range has been pulled after 2 years, some models just getting 6 months before EOL. Great shelf warmers in stores as people want them even less than the Friends Kart track sets. The money wasted on developing the APP and advertising thrown down the drain whilst  no one remembered to give a thought to designing a box where you can actually see the product or as to whether kids want to combine Lego with apps is astounding and smacks of arrogance. It might have worked if they had used Harry Potter or Star Wars as a base product but not a totally new line.

PU was an overdue replacement for PF but Lego overthought it and produced something that is clunky, barely moddable and overpriced with no real power output advantages over PF plus you have to supply the control device and there is no support for older iOS or Android.

People can defend PU/ control + all they want but the bare truth is that the connectivity and modularity between motors is worse than before and the only slight benefits are Bluetooth over IR to help give a bit more reception distance and some more practical holes on the motors to fit them in place. Compare it with any RC device and it is a joke, however. The flagship sets all move at a crawl and devour batteries. The smaller ones like Top Gear and Buggy are bare bones models to keep them light enough to move but are really only Technic by brand.

Initially we could give them breathing space but we are 2 years in now and still waiting for a rechargeable battery box and independent control device.

AS TLG have a history of being stubborn, we are going to be lumped with it for another ten years or more unless people vote in a meaningful way and stop buying PU products.

There is a huge window in the market for third party developes to create something really special but it´s sad that TLG don´t have the ability to do it in-house. The laziness of no longer making technic B models and the bloated range of new parts that seem to only have one use smacks of the problems that almost brought them to their knees at the beginning of the millennium, yet for the moment sales seem to be holding up maybe thanks to the spread in use of brand licences.

Edited by valenciaeric

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I'm heavily getting the feeling that many people are condemning PU as crap without even trying it out. Yes, it has issues and downsides in comparison, but there are also a multitude of new opportunities and advantages which PF couldn't offer. PU is also new and will surely get a lot of development in the future. One should remember that PF was released in 2007 with only M and XL-motors, battery box and IR remote control. Lights and a switch were released next year and another (the most useful and common) motor size and the servo motor only five years after the initial release. Where will PU be in a few years?

The botched release of the dumb hub of course is a problem considering it is something that is sorely needed (and in my opinion, should've been the first thing to be released along with the motors) and Hidden Side is a commercial failure (reasons analyzed in depth elsewhere) so obviously TLG has had some problems adapting to the digital age, but overall I see no reason to insist that everything used to be better with PF.

As for the MOC makers, I'm guessing that many people haven't really tried out all the features of the PU system and it will take some time to learn how to make a proper use of it. Give it a year or two, and I'm sure we'll be seeing more of the interesting stuff, the kind that were very difficult or impossible to achieve with PF.

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For me the main mistake they made was thinking they were Apple and designing a hermetic system with bespoke connection points (and them limiting the number of device you can connect).  About the only thing that is standard is the size of alkaline batteries the hubs use.

They compounded that by not releasing all the essential components from the beginning and not having a fully functional app. Then there is the issue of control + and PU devices that don´t talk to each other.

Thirdly, Lego is the most plug in and play toy there is but now you have to have the app, the compatible phone and then do all the setup and or coding if it is your own MOC. It will be eaiser for younger generations but finally we are still stuck with motors that don´t provide enough power or torque to handle heavier designs and are bulkier than the previous generation.

I think it´s disappointing considering the time they had to develop a worthy successor to PF2.0

Edited by valenciaeric

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Gonna jump on the anti-PU bandwagon because it's fun to shite on these dumb executive decisions, but there's two problems with PU that need to be overcome before I'll accept it as my new overlord:

  1. I'm worried the code block stuff will deter newcomers to Technic from building RC MOCs, purely as a result of the increased difficulty compared to PF. PU really needs a simpler way to set up custom RC profiles within the app that don't involve having to learn how to interpret and use the blocks. Drag-and-drop sliders/buttons/joysticks onto a blank screen, with simple control parameters to tweak like speed limits, steppers, trim, etc., would go a long way to improving the experience for people who aren't interested in the wider capabilities.
  2. The lack of a 4-slot smart hub without batteries, that can plug into an AAA battery box. PU components need to be flexible enough for use in compact builds.
Edited by Bartybum

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2 hours ago, valenciaeric said:

For me the main mistake they made was thinking they were Apple and designing a hermetic system with bespoke connection points (and them limiting the number of device you can connect).  About the only thing that is standard is the size of alkaline batteries the hubs use.

They compounded that by not releasing all the essential components from the beginning and not having a fully functional app. Then there is the issue of control + and PU devices that don´t talk to each other.

Thirdly, Lego is the most plug in and play toy there is but now you have to have the app, the compatible phone and then do all the setup and or coding if it is your own MOC. It will be eaiser for younger generations but finally we are still stuck with motors that don´t provide enough power or torque to handle heavier designs and are bulkier than the previous generation.

I think it´s disappointing considering the time they had to develop a worthy successor to PF2.0

Wire connectors have been discussed extensively earlier. There's a tradeoff to be done and it's really not that big of a limitation, except maybe if they introduce lights at some point where you might want to connect lots of lights (though there are ways around that too and the question remains whether TLG will find use it or not).

Which essential components are missing? The only thing I can quickly think of is extension wire, which hopefully will be released in the future. Which C+ and PU devices don't talk to each other? As I understand it, you can use any motor with any hub as long as the connectors are compatible. I'm not sure if the Mindstorms external sensors are usable with C+ hub though.

Your third point is mostly solved by the dumb hub, though it having only 2 ports is pretty limiting. As for the torque, I suppose they could make somewhat more powerful motors, but remember that it's still a toy, not meant to compete with proper RC cars or anything like that.

1 hour ago, Bartybum said:

Gonna jump on the anti-PU bandwagon because it's fun to shite on these dumb executive decisions, but there's two problems with PU that need to be overcome before I'll accept it as my new overlord:

  1. I'm worried the code block stuff will deter newcomers to Technic from building RC MOCs, purely as a result of the increased difficulty compared to PF. PU really needs a simpler way to set up custom RC profiles within the app that don't involve having to learn how to interpret and use the blocks. Drag-and-drop sliders/buttons/joysticks onto a blank screen, with simple control parameters to tweak like speed limits, steppers, trim, etc., would go a long way to improving the experience for people who aren't interested in the wider capabilities.
  2. The lack of a 4-slot smart hub without batteries, that can plug into an AAA battery box. PU components need to be flexible enough for use in compact builds.

1. Yes, this is valid criticism and I believe TLG is going to address the gap between those users who just want to plug and play and those who want to write their own code. The documentation is also abysmal, so there's a lot of work to be done with this aspect of PU.

2. Smaller 4-port hub would be a welcome addition, though I'd rather have it with LiPo than AAA batteries. This way the form factor is not limited by the battery standard.

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They don´t compete with RC cars but just launched a copy of a classic RC buggy?

The flagships get bigger, heavier and more expensive every year and they need more and more  motors to power them because they are so feeble.  The Liebherr is a great set but the same results were achieved for a third of the price with 8043 and 4 puny M motors.

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4 hours ago, howitzer said:

Wire connectors have been discussed extensively earlier. There's a tradeoff to be done and it's really not that big of a limitation, except maybe if they introduce lights at some point where you might want to connect lots of lights (though there are ways around that too and the question remains whether TLG will find use it or not).

Which essential components are missing? The only thing I can quickly think of is extension wire, which hopefully will be released in the future. Which C+ and PU devices don't talk to each other? As I understand it, you can use any motor with any hub as long as the connectors are compatible. I'm not sure if the Mindstorms external sensors are usable with C+ hub though.

Your third point is mostly solved by the dumb hub, though it having only 2 ports is pretty limiting. As for the torque, I suppose they could make somewhat more powerful motors, but remember that it's still a toy, not meant to compete with proper RC cars or anything like that.

1. Yes, this is valid criticism and I believe TLG is going to address the gap between those users who just want to plug and play and those who want to write their own code. The documentation is also abysmal, so there's a lot of work to be done with this aspect of PU.

2. Smaller 4-port hub would be a welcome addition, though I'd rather have it with LiPo than AAA batteries. This way the form factor is not limited by the battery standard.

In regards of the "trade-off to be done" is just another dumb executive decision, USB multiplexers or hubs have been a thing for a long time, and considering they're not using an analog connection but a digital one it is even dumber not to be able not to simply "stack" (all output devices do the same thing as the command says) but to daisy chain the motors!!!!!

Daisy-chaining is not out of this world, and as far as I'm aware proper robotics servos are capable of doing it. Not only that but even some PC monitors have this ability through the Display-Port and USB-C thunderbolt with the latter being comparable in size to PU connector.

Here's a 3 WIRE example of daisy chained servos and as far as I'm aware lego motors use 6...

img_199_3-500x500.png

Then again, I would much prefer smaller motors & receivers as well as reasonably priced rechargeable batteries, it's the one thing long overdue, and PU only made the motors larger, making smaller MOCs even harder if not impossible to do.

Oh, in regards of hubs not being able to use li-pos or Ni-mh batteries... lego definitely seems to be stuck in the past somehow, many toys have no problem using them at all, yet TLG iwith all of it's "green&enviromentally friendly" bs is still adamant about using batteries that will end up in landfills because your average customer doen't care about recycling them. 

I don't want to give any more fuel to the fire though, as I am clearly not the target audience of PU.

Edited by syclone

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On 12/26/2020 at 9:04 PM, doughnut said:

I asked because I wanted to ask. What is so hard to understand here? Also, my wants and intentions are off this particular topic 

That's… still a little confusing to me. Generally, I'm used to people asking questions because they're interested in knowing the answer, unless it's obvious from the phrasing or context that they already know the answer and are only asking rhetorically.

Going forward, I'll try to remember to just ignore any questions you ask, if that makes you more comfortable. But I apologize in advance if I forget and reply to your questions thinking that you want to know the answers to them. If that happens, please just go ahead and remind me that you aren't interested in knowing the answers to your questions.

On 12/27/2020 at 12:58 PM, Tarix819 said:

Powered Up is overpriced trash imo, it doesn't seem to have any decent advantage over PF with Sbrick/BuWizz, PF is better than PU in almost every way, and cheaper.

One advantage of Powered Up that I remember standing out to me early on (and that I've since learned that it shares with the BuWizz components — they hadn't really been on my radar before that, unlike Sbrick components which I'd seen demos of at conventions) is that a basic Powered Up hub like the ones used in train sets only takes up the same amount of space as a simple Power Functions battery box. By comparison, either a Power Functions IR receiver or an SBrick would require at least four 2x4 bricks' worth of additional space, without even counting the space taken up by the cords that connect the power supply to the receiver. For many larger sorts of models like large-scale Technic vehicles or robots, I realize the scale tends to be flexible enough for this advantage not to matter a whole lot. But for remote-controlled or programmable vehicles at minifig scale (like RC cars or trains), not needing to make room for a separate receiver piece besides the hub itself is very liberating.

Also, from a cost standpoint, Powered Up WAY more affordable for basic sorts of models with just one or two outputs (like LEGO City trains) than Power Functions + Sbrick or Power Functions + BuWizz. Even with a Powered Up hub, motor, and remote included, 60197 cost almost exactly the same as 60051 after adjusting for inflation. Whereas an Sbrick would cost $60 on top of the base price of any Power Functions set you intend to use it with. Even a stand-alone Powered Up hub (88009) costs $10 less than a stand-alone Sbrick (without even accounting for the additional cost of the Power Functions battery box and cables you'd need for it to turn on or receive commands), and over $70 less than a BuWizz control brick.

Even if we imagine a hypothetical Sbrick version of 60051 which adds an Sbrick in place of the Power Functions IR receiver and IR speed remote and adjusts the price accordingly, the resulting price of $182 ($150 + $60 - $28) would still be higher than 60197's RRP, even BEFORE adjusting for inflation. Similarly, a hypothetical BuWizz version of 60051 which includes a single BuWizz 2.0 control brick in place of the Power Functions battery box, IR receiver, and IR speed remote would carry a price of around $245 ($150 + $126 - $41). And that's in spite of 60197 also including a physical remote control. No equivalent remote exists for either Sbrick or BuWizz, and even if one did, it would likely increase the cost of a train set like this even further.

I realize that Sbrick and BuWizz can separately control up to four outputs from a single receiver (and of course, that the Power Functions connectors themselves are stackable, while their Power Functions equivalents are not). So for a lot of highly advanced sorts of Technic builds with four or more outputs, I can definitely understand how Power Functions with Sbrick or BuWizz could be a more cost- and space-efficient option for MOCists than Powered Up. But to keep things in perspective, very few Powered Up sets — and NO Power Functions sets — have ever required this many individual outputs per receiver.

 

All in all, I find it pretty impressive that LEGO was able to come up with a system that uses same input/output connectors and wireless protocols for everything from simple train sets and RC cars to Mindstorms-esque programmable robots, but still keeps simple motorized models like train sets and RC cars around the same price as their Power Functions equivalents.

By comparison, even their most basic level, accessories like Sbrick and BuWizz add much more to a model's cost than Power Functions IR controllers and receivers. And even at their most complex, SBrick and BuWizz's use of Power Functions style input/output connections puts a much tighter limit on the complexity of the signals that they can send or receive compared to Mindstorms NXT and EV3 control bricks, motors, and sensors.

Both SBrick and BuWizz are utterly brilliant devices in their own right, but they were very clearly created to occupy a neglected "middle ground" between the costs and capabilities of "official" Power Functions and Mindstorms components — not to measure up to either the low costs of official Power Functions components or the advanced capabilities of official Mindstorms ones.

Edited by Aanchir

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5 hours ago, syclone said:

In regards of the "trade-off to be done" is just another dumb executive decision, USB multiplexers or hubs have been a thing for a long time, and considering they're not using an analog connection but a digital one it is even dumber not to be able not to simply "stack" (all output devices do the same thing as the command says) but to daisy chain the motors!!!!! 

Daisy-chaining is not out of this world, and as far as I'm aware proper robotics servos are capable of doing it. Not only that but even some PC monitors have this ability through the Display-Port and USB-C thunderbolt with the latter being comparable in size to PU connector.

Here's a 3 WIRE example of daisy chained servos and as far as I'm aware lego motors use 6...

Then again, I would much prefer smaller motors & receivers as well as reasonably priced rechargeable batteries, it's the one thing long overdue, and PU only made the motors larger, making smaller MOCs even harder if not impossible to do.

Daisy-chaining motors could have been a nifty feature, but I would assume that LEGO omitted that functionality from Powered Up for the same reason as they did with LEGO Mindstorms EV3 or NXT — most likely, because all of these systems are intended to use motors as either an output device OR an input device.

Back in the early days of LEGO Mindstorms, when all the motors, sensors, and connectors adhered to the 9V standard, you COULD daisy chain motors, and this was just fine as long as you were using them all as outputs, but if you tried to use one as an input, it would effectively function as a generator rather than a motor, supplying power to all the other devices it was chained with. This was a weird and surprising phenomenon to me as a kid, even if it was a simple one in hindsight. And since they WERE analog rather than digital, it probably wouldn't have been too hard for me to write an RCX program that would interpret the cumulative strength of the electrical signals from a daisy chain of motors in a useful way, if it had occurred to me.

By comparison, Mindstorms control bricks from the NXT onward (as well as Powered Up control bricks like the Boost Hub, Technic Hub, or Smart Hub) WERE designed to be able to receive and process rotation input from motors. And for this purpose, having multiple motors connected to the control brick through a single port could interfere with that function — for instance, how are motors in the middle of a chain supposed to differentiate between a signal from a motor at the end of the chain and a signal from the control brick? For that matter, how well can a control brick be expected to accurately "read" input signals of different strengths that it receives from a chain of motors connected to the same port? That would be like "daisy chaining" several force sensors to one port and expecting the control brick to identify how much force each one is recording.

I know the use of digital signals rather than analog signals like back in the 9V days allows the control brick to differentiate between different TYPES of input and output devices (so, for instance, you no longer need to manually tell it whether inputs it receives via Port A should be understood as readings from a light sensor, a touch sensor, or a linear motor). But unless you encode every single Powered Up motor with a unique serial number, then I'd still expect that having multiple input devices of the same type sending signals through a daisy chain to the same port on a control brick might result in some weird issues.

And since this is a toy for kids, you can't always count on "common sense" being enough for users who get perplexing readings off of a daisy chain of input/output devices to understand what went wrong or why. I mean, I was probably 9 or 10 years old when I first realized that 9V motors could be used to generate electrical signals that could then power other 9V components, and yet my understanding of it was fairly hazy at the time, even if it was such a simple phenomenon in hindsight.

Edited by Aanchir

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It's possible to daisy chain dumb PU motors together.  It is much easier to daisy chain with PF.  PF worked better for GBCs unless you need to program some sort of sequence.   PF had lower operating costs as the motors were cheaper to replace when they burn out (cost of doing GBC). That's probably going to change when PF parts get scarce. :-(

stackedpumotors.jpg

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Thank you @Aanchir for your thoughtful comments on the cost of things and daisy chaining.

3 hours ago, dr_spock said:

It's possible to daisy chain dumb PU motors together.  It is much easier to daisy chain with PF.  PF worked better for GBCs unless you need to program some sort of sequence.   PF had lower operating costs as the motors were cheaper to replace when they burn out (cost of doing GBC). That's probably going to change when PF parts get scarce. :-(

<snip>

Thanks for demonstrating this daisy-chaining of dumb motors, I've never seen it done though it's logical enough that it can be done, even if it requires custom wiring.

As for the price... PU motors are not that much more expensive than PF motors unless you insist on buying directly from TLG. While they are way overpriced in their official pricing, you can get all PU motors from Bricklink almost at the same prices as the equivalent PF motors. No idea though if there is differences in durability.

I don't know much about GBC's but I've come to understand that making reliable modules is always a challenge. For this I could envision a PU-driven module which detects the stalling of the motors and alerts the controlling phone (though I'm not sure if any of the official apps allow push notifications as of now) so this way you wouldn't have to sit constantly beside the module just to observe it's reliability.

Something that's missing from the PU environment for GBC people is an easy way to connect the machinery to mains power. There are many DIY solutions but they always come with their own burden of reliability and safety issues while PF could be easily powered with the train controller and converter cable. I hope to see some sort of solution for this. (Using RI hub would be one, but that's expensive.)

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7 hours ago, Aanchir said:

Daisy-chaining motors could have been a nifty feature, but I would assume that LEGO omitted that functionality from Powered Up for the same reason as they did with LEGO Mindstorms EV3 or NXT — most likely, because all of these systems are intended to use motors as either an output device OR an input device.

Back in the early days of LEGO Mindstorms, when all the motors, sensors, and connectors adhered to the 9V standard, you COULD daisy chain motors, and this was just fine as long as you were using them all as outputs, but if you tried to use one as an input, it would effectively function as a generator rather than a motor, supplying power to all the other devices it was chained with. This was a weird and surprising phenomenon to me as a kid, even if it was a simple one in hindsight. And since they WERE analog rather than digital, it probably wouldn't have been too hard for me to write an RCX program that would interpret the cumulative strength of the electrical signals from a daisy chain of motors in a useful way, if it had occurred to me.

By comparison, Mindstorms control bricks from the NXT onward (as well as Powered Up control bricks like the Boost Hub, Technic Hub, or Smart Hub) WERE designed to be able to receive and process rotation input from motors. And for this purpose, having multiple motors connected to the control brick through a single port could interfere with that function — for instance, how are motors in the middle of a chain supposed to differentiate between a signal from a motor at the end of the chain and a signal from the control brick? For that matter, how well can a control brick be expected to accurately "read" input signals of different strengths that it receives from a chain of motors connected to the same port? That would be like "daisy chaining" several force sensors to one port and expecting the control brick to identify how much force each one is recording.

I know the use of digital signals rather than analog signals like back in the 9V days allows the control brick to differentiate between different TYPES of input and output devices (so, for instance, you no longer need to manually tell it whether inputs it receives via Port A should be understood as readings from a light sensor, a touch sensor, or a linear motor). But unless you encode every single Powered Up motor with a unique serial number, then I'd still expect that having multiple input devices of the same type sending signals through a daisy chain to the same port on a control brick might result in some weird issues.

And since this is a toy for kids, you can't always count on "common sense" being enough for users who get perplexing readings off of a daisy chain of input/output devices to understand what went wrong or why. I mean, I was probably 9 or 10 years old when I first realized that 9V motors could be used to generate electrical signals that could then power other 9V components, and yet my understanding of it was fairly hazy at the time, even if it was such a simple phenomenon in hindsight.

Thanks for the throughful explanation, though having in mind dr_spock's demo it seems that at least for "dumb" motors this would be a fantastic feature to have (it is a nightmare trying to place a motor close enough without using extension leads in PF even in medium-sized MOCs, this would be fantastic as one lead going to the controller could control various outputs), though the motor controller chips would have to be upgraded to serve any use. In regards of digital connection and each ouput working as input as well, it all indeed seems to be boiling down to the "dumbed down" design of TLG electric&electronics to go in trend with the general simplification of technic to make it more accessible for wider audiences, which does make sense, though I hope some upgrades will come their way to PU in the future as it did with PF.

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