Lowa

Eurobricks Citizen
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About Lowa

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  • What is favorite LEGO theme? (we need this info to prevent spam)
    train

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  • Website URL
    www.4dbrix.com

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Florida
  • Interests
    automation, train, monorail, robots, software, Arduino

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  • Country
    USA

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  1. Lowa

    Multi-Train Control

    The latest 2019.2 Beta version can connect to SBrick controllers. You can download it from our website: https://www.4dbrix.com/downloads/. Scroll down until you see "Experimental Version of nControl 2019.2-X" There is also a getting started manual (with videos) that shows how to set-up nControl to use SBricks: https://www.4dbrix.com/documentation/ncontrol/getting-started/controlling-sbrick-trains/ Let me know if you need anything else...
  2. @Toastie 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.
  3. 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!
  4. Lowa

    Multi-Train Control

    We’ve been working on redesigning and improving our web interface to control multiple trains using one tablet / phone. Besides the trains, you can of course also control all the other devices in your layout: switches, lights, boom barriers, etc. We added the following features: Support for SBrick We have added support for SBrick controllers, so now you can control LEGO PU hubs, SBrick and our 4DBrix WiFi controllers with our system. Just like for PU hubs, controller SBrick requires a BLE112 dongle and an software license. Touch Controls You can now control the speed of the train by sweeping the power control, see video below. It’s a very intuitive and effective way to control the trains, especially to position them. Skins We have redesigned the multi-train interface. It now uses skins so you can customize the look of the app in function of the train you’re controlling. We’ve tried to give it a LEGO feel. At the moment you can use a number of pre-defined skins. The goal is to support custom skins in the future. Emergency button We also added an emergency button so you can immediately stop all trains in case that’s needed. You can see it at the bottom of the screen capture of the control app. Let us know what you think and don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’re interested in controlling your LEGO train layout this way. ---- P.S. the initial post had an incorrect link to the YouTube video, this has been fixed now.
  5. Lowa

    Advanced Powered Up Control

    Thank you for appreciating what we've done so far and sharing this with the community! That's an interesting idea! The PU hub is indeed able to change the LED color of the remote, so it should be possible to change the LED color from the control software. I'm just not sure if the remote broadcasts a push of the green button. If that's the case, that could be the selector button. If that's not the case, you would have to use one of the buttons of the two controls limiting the functionality of that one.
  6. Lowa

    Curved Train Switches

    @Chromeknight Correct! That's indeed what they are designed for. @sed6 You two options, you just need which one works best for your layout: Both options shown above use the same parts so you can try what is most convenient. If you want both ground throws in between the two lines you need to decide which option you want before ordering because you need to know which switch (left turn or right turn) needs the ground throw on the inside and which one needs it on the outside.
  7. Lowa

    Curved Train Switches

    Thank you! Indeed, a LEGO train layout gets pretty quick, pretty fast. So we have been working on a couple of solutions to build compact layouts with more functionality. These curved switches fit into the category. We recently also introduced a 'short' variant of our inside switches; the image below compares the standard one (on the left) to the short one (on the right). With these new parts it's possible to build double crossovers with the same footprint as the 7996 but that have independent control over all the switches. That's the double crossover with the smallest possible footprint and ideal for compact layouts. Although the ground throws are closer to the tracks there's enough space for the trains to pass; can you find additional information in this blog post: https://www.4dbrix.com/news/blog/index.php?postid=16
  8. Lowa

    Advanced Powered Up Control

    That's the plan. The user interface is there, it's just a matter of communicating with those controllers. I don't have any experience controlling those from Python so we first need to figure that one. If there's anyone that has SBrick sample code, please let me know... The SBrick website has an example using gatttool but that only works on Linux. Our system is supported on Windows, macOS, Linux and Raspberry Pi. I haven't tried it on Windows 7 but in theory it should work. It does require a BLE112 dongle. For the Raspberry Pi fans: we experimented with Bluetooth communication using the on board controller. It did work on the RPi model B running on Jessie, however, it did not work on the RPi model B+ running on Scratch. We could make the connection, send a command to start the motor and then the RPi lost the Bluetooth connection. We didn't manage to fix that, an online search seems to indicate the model B+ has stability issue with WiFi and Bluetooth connections. Our tests confirmed that... It does work fine on both the model B and B+ with the BLE112 dongle so at that works on all platform that's what we standardize the software code on. Note that you can connect your phone or tablet over WiFi to the system running nControl. If you save your project as a web interface, you can control all your trains from that phone/tablet. That works with Android, iOS and Fire devices, even the old ones. You just need a browser that support javascript and html 5. In theory it should be possible to receive inputs from the PU remote, I just haven't tried it. Once that's done, you could decided how your computer should respond to the instructions of the remote. In theory you could use one of the controls on the remote as a 'device selector' and the other one to control it. The main issue that I see is how to you know what device you have selected ? We could show that on a mobile device, but then you might as well take that device to control the layout...
  9. We've been working on adding support to control LEGO Powered Up hubs directly from our train automation software. One of the goals is to be able to support more advanced ways to control your PU hubs in LEGO trains: Control multiple trains from one device. If you save the project as a web interface, you can control all the trains from a phone or tablets. If you have PF trains, you can use our WiFi controllers to control those from the same device as your PU trains. Link two (or more) hubs so you can create trains with multiple powered locomotives. Control locomotives that have two motors. Both motors will automatically spin at the same speed but in the opposite direction (because that's how you have to mount them in the train). The video below illustrates what we're able to do at this point. I used a little demo setup so it's easier to see what we're doing. Let us know if there is a potential application that we missed.
  10. Lowa

    Curved Train Switches

    Yes, that's indeed a feature of this switch that I like a lot! At first sight it looks like electrification of the single crossover should be possible, unless I overlooked something... The switches are modular so you can customize the position of the ground throw. The switch consists of two tracks a 'split track' and a 'divergent track'. Only the divergent track is new, the split track is the same as in our other R40 switches. I'm happy I was able to fulfill a childhood dream... Indeed, it gives you the possibility to do something in the curves. You can pack a lot more functionality in your layout without needing extra space. Thanks for the suggestion. We’ll certainly take a look at feasibility of making a large radius version of this switch. Absolutely correct! I could not have worded it better myself...
  11. Lowa

    Curved Train Switches

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you. So far the geometry is working out great. I'm indeed also wondering what other types of layouts you can make with these switches.
  12. Lowa

    Curved Train Switches

    We just released our new curved switches! They are very handy to build compact layouts as you can move your switches to the curved sections and thus use the full length of the straight sections for platforms, cargo terminals, etc. As shown above, they can be used to build curved single crossovers. You can see our curved switches in action in the video below: The curved switches are designed to be fully compatible with the LEGO® grid. They fit into standard R40 curves; the inner line requires 2 and the outer line requires 3 standard curves to complete a 90 degree turn. The curved switches split the main line into two separate lines that are separated by an 8 stud wide gap at the end of the turn. They are also fully anti-studded, just like all our other train tracks. Let me know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions!
  13. Lowa

    Decoupler - Upgraded version

    Thank you. We did take our time to get to this design... We had the same concern when we started developing the decoupler but it doesn't appear to be an big issue, the train does seem the split at the decoupler. I just tried again with the 60198 that was on the demo layout and it splits at the decoupler. I even changed the order of the cars and it still worked. I'll try to make a video ASAP so you can see it. The only exception we have are two coupling that are clearly weaker than all the other couplings (they are from a 60051 set). When I use those it doesn't split at the decoupler but at those couplings. I only have 2 that are weaker and give me issues, I'm not sure how common that is. I case the strength of your coupling varies significantly you have to arrange them from strong (front) to weak (back) in your train. If you do that the train will still split at the decoupler... Thanks!
  14. Lowa

    Decoupler - Upgraded version

    I got a few private questions that might interest some of you: 1) Do you need to raise the track to install the decoupler? No, the base of the decoupler is flush with the base of the tracks. This is a side view of the decoupler 2) Can you ballast it, i.e. does it have anti studs ? Like all our other tracks (we remodeled all of them) it has the maximal amount of anti studs possible. Some areas don’t have anti studs because the internal mechanism doesn’t allow it. We preferred that over increasing the height of the decoupler. The image below shows the anti studs, all anti studs are fully functional.