Brickthus

[PUp] [51515] [Spike] Electronics

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I have been experimenting with connecting electrically to the Powered-Up port and emulating the simple Powered-Up device IDs on an electronic breadboard.

The official connection method is to open up the 51515 (or Spike) Distance Sensor. Mine needed the Torx T6 bit rather than the T7 bit to undo the screws.  It has a 1.27mm-pitch header inside.  There are some 3rd-party small PCBs that have a suitable row of header pins but I used some thin wires (thinner than 1/0.6 bell wire, which is too big).

There are three documented modes, the simple motor (on/off), the train motor (variable) and the light brick (also variable but starting at a lower voltage).  The ID is set by the connections between pins 5&6 and the 3.3V supply pins (3&4).

The pictured electrical connections, made by the black and green links, emulate the Train Motor, so the 2-port hub (from the train sets) can drive the output at a variable speed.  Connecting a PF gearmotor across the red & black meter connections, it could be driven at variable speed like a train motor.

z_mbellis_pu_elec_exp_001_01.jpg

By making a wider range of connections I found three undocumented modes, a Unidirectional Simple-Motor mode (on in fwd-only when either + or - is pressed), a Unidirectional Toggle mode (on in fwd-only with 1 press, off with another) and a Sequence mode that goes off-fwd-rev-off with + changing in one direction and - changing in the other direction.  It will be interesting to see how these might be useful in models.

This is all about the response to the handset input and how it affects the motor output when the ID is set.  The scope is simple devices that do not need to use the serial protocol.

Lots more experiments to do.  They should work just as well with the WeDo2 hub, the Boost hub or the 4-port Technic hub.  The compatibility table suggests that the 51515 RIK (or Spike) 6-port hub prefers serial devices, so I have yet to test that.  The two versions also have different firmware.

I wonder whether each hub could interrogate the connected device ID in the program.  If so, that may have an analogy with the NXT, where it was possible to set a port ID in the program and control an LED as it changed the output of one of the serial pins.

An analogue input (resistance or voltage, much beloved of RCX experiments) might need a serial device to be added to 51515 but I will think about whether it may be possible to poll a device using the variable voltage output.  If the port can "see" the right device ID then it can behave in a particular way.

Hope this encourages you to have a go at a few electronic experiments and get more play value out of Powered-Up!

Mark

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