keybrickone

Eurobricks Vassals
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Everything posted by keybrickone

  1. Hello everyone, first of all, I'd like to thank @Jim for giving his blessing for me to write about our new project / Kickstarter campaign. So, when speaking about "us" I really mean Till and myself (Yannic) who spent the better part of the last 10 months working on Keybrick One. It's a rechargeable battery pack for the Powered Up Hub 88009 we started working on as the battery waste (and fiddly replacement process for said batteries) really bothered us a lot.After a first round of prototypes which looked like that: Over the course of a few months we evolved the design quite a bit for keybrick to become a replacement of the full lower shell of the Hub. It's become quite good in our opinion with being both more powerful than using alkaline cells (like drift-mode more powerful :)) and having a way longer play time than when using rechargeables in the hub (actually comparable to alkalines). Now we're launching Keybrick as a Kickstarter project because we think its a great addition to what TLC did with the Powered Up series, which really lack that rechargeable option in our opinion. The Campaign is here: Keybrick One on Kickstarter We'd like to use this to open the discussion with everyone intereste in the Powered Up series and are really eager to see what questions you all will come up with. All the best, - Yannic
  2. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Hi everyone, hello Stux, sorry for long delay in answering here. We've been very busy over the past few weeks and some rest was necessary after the rollercoaster-ride-like year that was 2020. I'm happy to hear you and your kids enjoy your Keybricks! We are currently preparing a second, slightly bigger batch of Keybricks, but with the upcoming holidays in China we're having a hard time to get some estimation on when we will actually receive the battery cells. As soon as we have a fixed ETA we will re-open the preorders. If our supplier manages to ship in January still this might mean that new Keybricks are merely weeks away. We are currently in the process of finishing the design of the power functions top, as well as one other small item which will - at least we hope - make many people happy because it will extend the applications for the powered up hub (far?) beyond what is currently possible. We'll be posting about that as soon as we know if we can make it to market at the same time as second round will ship. The power functions top is currently getting its second round of prototypes built and we are starting to be happy with the result. Be prepared for some more info on that end too :) The first prototype of the small wide range AC/DC input to 5V/USB power supplywe previouslywrote about was rather underwhelming, and we didn't find time to make a second iteration yet. The prototype PCB for the "bigger" supply brick is still awaiting assembly, there too, little to no spare time sadly. On a final note; a first PCB of the electronics that will hopefully become a Keybrick for the control+ hub are currently being designed. This one is a challenge beyond putting the current electronics in a bigger box with a huge battery as the power requirements of the four port hub exceed the supply capabilities of the current circuit by far. While this gives us the opportunity to fix a number of complaints regarding Keybrick One (Micro-USB vs. Type C port for charging), it means that we are starting from nearly a clean sheet. It is currently not even sure that we will be able to keep the same microcontroller. Anyhow, we will keep you updated. All the best from snowy Engen, - Yannic
  3. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Crazy times indeed! And thank you for the warm words! As for the drivers and delivery personnel in general, those i have to deal with on a daily basis are mostly gems! And I genuinely think i have the nicest Fedex and DPD guys in the country. I tend to not seem them much lately though because of Corona-compliance procedures etc. I guess we all hope to get back to "normal" ASAP.
  4. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Should have stated that it was a whole week of transit. It arrived with the customer today... departed our shop last week on Tuesday 10:00... the wait wasn't funny because the tracking didn't get updated till yesterday. It's really a mess the last few days The marking depends on carrier and type of content. Generally for "batteries in devices" (for which keybrick qualifies technically) no marking is required unless more than 4 units are in a package for national shipping. It's becomes a science of it own when you start crossing borders... Anyhow, I'm pretty happy with the average delivery times so far 🙂
  5. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Yes, perhaps we should have printed it as in "one of 40". Didn't make sense from a packing process from our side to try and match the serial number. As for the shipping durations, all were not shipped exactly at the same time, and multiple carriers were involved, so thing vary. I think Phil got his via UPS which guaranteed 4 days when it was sent off. DPD and DHL are currently experiencing huge delays here. Had a package taking Tuesday->Wednesday for a mere 450km. But that how things go at the moment. The last orders will be shipped tomorrow morning by the way. The aforementioned PCBs got delivered only this afternoon via DHL express after sitting at customs for longer that they should have... Anyhow. I sincerely hope all of you enjoy your Keybricks!
  6. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    That will definitely be a possibility. Nothing I can think of in the PF top would require a Keybrick to sit below. That being said, i still need to check if the contracts will work properly (at all actually, it's a bit of an "off label" use of contracts designed for removable phone batteries originally)
  7. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Happy to read you seem to like it 🙂 the PF top is currently awaiting a bit of rework considering the feedback from above, but we will probably have test samples in January. I guess a lot more keybricks will reach their destination in the next few days 🙂
  8. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    The "two" (not quite sure this will be the final name) will be something very similar but for the Technic hub (4 port one). Currently on the engineering whishlist for that one: USB type C for charging Type C port should be able to act as a power source (optionally) About the same usable capacity as 6x AA while keeping weight down Evaluating how far we can push the "boost mode" on the Technic Hub Looking forward to hear what you all think of Keybrick One first ;)
  9. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Yes, we shipped out most of the orders yesterday, now we are waiting for a delivery of the contact plate pcbs for the last 6 of the 40 "first served" units as there was a manufacturing defect in a few of these sadly. That same box should contain a few prototype pcbs of the wide range ac/dc input charger we wrote about previously (two versions; one as a separate brick like in the renderings above, one to plug in directly into Keybrick). And another small-ish idea we had regarding the whole PUP / PF compatibility ordeal... We are now back to planning how we want to proceed; the likelihood of another slightly bigger batch of Keybrick Ones is very high, and there might be a Keybrick Two in prep 😀
  10. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Didn't have time to get to it again. Perhaps next week. Regarding the orange dial: Keybrick already features adjustable power level (3 modes). So there's some of this already included. My remark was a hint at where someone could get the cables right now. Sourcing a good product in bulk takes me some time I currently don't have, but it's on my laundry list. As is the "usb port brick" mentioned by "Hod Carrier". Not easily feasible, because it would required routing another power pin via the contact plate on the side which is limitied by the space I can allocate to the pogo pins and contacts on the mating side in the "PF-Top". Sadly the way TLC decided to design the hub didn't leave us many options all things considered. This will be tough from a legal stand point. The PUP connector system is currently under patent protection, so unless somebody manages to navigate around that one it's a monopoly for TLC. Having that said, we are getting very ready to send out the first units to all those who preordered: The foam inserts are prepared, we're now waiting for the 3D printed cases (delivery scheduled for Tuesday) and the labels for the box. Here's a sneak preview of how thing will look like There are some minor changes vs. the label which is currently in production, but contents and foam inlay are final. If everything goes to plan we should have shipped all units by the first week of December.
  11. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Btw. these can be bought for comparatively little money from Aliexpress, just search for "usb cable ffp" or "usb cable ffc". As you can see they are using the same type of connector I have in mind for the "vertical" version of the power supply block. But it'll definitely take about 2 studs in depth when connected (2x2 plus whatevery space you need to route the cable). If you're looking to buy one of these for use with Keybrick, make sure you get the right orientation for the cable. This one would make the cable go "up" (considering the hub orientation) because the usb port in KB has the little retainer notches facing to the base plate.
  12. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    I could - at best - make it about 2 studs "deep" and it's pretty much limited in height because the USB port is on the same side as the the PUP connectors, so that would need to be accounted for as well. Finally there's no standard "screw" (or "spring clamp" type as in the concept) terminal block that fits in there, so some other connector or soldering would be required again. As an idea perhaps: I could give the idea a shot with the following changes: change the input supply range to be 5.5V - 18V (allows me to get rid of one HUGE inductor and a few passives along the way because it would becomec a step down only converter) 2 studs deep, about the width of the hub. Whatever height is required to fit everything while leaving space for the PUP connectors input connector will have to become something like a JST-PH (2mm pitch) connector (commonly used for batteries, like on this board of mine: https://hhtronik.com/product/pgcpsu-duo/) plugs straight into the micro usb port The limit here is really the 2 studs depth: I'm not aware of any comparable but shorter USB plug part (except one that is surface mount only that I already evaluated in the past and that would just rip off the PCB under the tiniest mechanical load).
  13. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    #2: not that I'm aware of (if you mean 2 connectors attached directly "back to back" without any lenght of cable). Easy to make, but a very, very special product. That being said, it probably exists already somewhere in yet another very niche application 😅 #3: that was another option, but I decided not to run with it because it would force a precise location and would be very tricky to get right in terms of tolerances (connector alignment) and sturdiness (forces when dislodging the hub/supply bricks). Plus the current concept would likely work with anything you could throw at it, which make this thing a bit less of a one trick pony
  14. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Fair point! What if I rotate the two on the front edge 90° (so that the cables face away from the narrow side of the hub)? The touch switch will be lit. Chose touch because of height restraints. Yes. The selected mode is stored permanently. 😅 years of rapid design and prototyping pay off I guess 🙂 thank you for your feedback! Highly appreciate this!
  15. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    So, we're currently waiting for the last parts to get to us (currently on delivery: the 3d printed cases, stickers and labels, screws and replacement for really shitty magnetic cable ties we got initially) for the 40-odd Keybricks of the "first served" batch. The PCBs are in queue for assembly on friday, so we should be good to ship the first units by end of next week if we're lucky. I had a bit of spare time to fire up ECAD and CAD software the last couple of days and have made some progress regarding the wide-range-input AC to 5V DC power supply brick. Waiting to order the PCB but if everything works to plan it could/should ressemble this: My current preliminary specification is: 3.8V to 18V AC or DC input to 5V output at 1.2A (perhaps up to 2A, must do measurements). Output port is a "big" USB type A port. Stud dimensions: 4x3 studs and 1 + 1/3 in height. There is a current limiting switch, so its going to be short circuit and over-load safe. Now to the interesting bit (for me anyway :)) This is a brilliant point. Honnestly we dismissed the whole PF stuff a bit because, well, there are alternatives out there already (plus NOS LiPo boxes if you search for them). But maybe there's still something to this... so I ran with the idea this afternoon: This is just a draft. Looking for feedback though ;) the bump in the middle is for a capacitive touch switch designed to toggle the ports (all at once. Though, just perhaps it could be interesting to have one that is permanently powered (?)) Height is identical to the PUP hub. Can't really make it more compact without resorting to custom stamped contact parts which are not within budget. Any thoughts? Don't have a huge amount of time to spend on this right now, but I like the idea.
  16. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    This I'm not quite sure about. As we're getting in a bit more data about our customers at the moment it seems like a good bunch (read 50%) don't have much "old" (4.5/12/9V systems) equipment and are not necessarily interested in that kind of setup. Now I see the need for a solution, but I don't think we have much room to make the base product more expensive than it is at the moment (rather much so that we would need to shave off 15-20€ to make the buy easier - which we can't at this point in time). This is a reason why I'd rather have the customers who actually need this buy a small (and relatively cheap) add-on brick which does the power regulation and conversion. As for charging without disassembling the train: in the city passenger train we have for example I just leave the USB cable in the spare room inside the train. Recharging is just a matter of removing a single roof segment and pulling the cable out. Everything else can stay where it is. YMMV with other models for sure though. yes. yes. yes. probably ;) I'm thinking about two possible options for this. Either have a small brick (same width than the hub, two studs long and 3 brick in height) with a micro usb plug which would directly plug into the Keybrick. A separate brick with a USB-A output which would require the use of an extension cable (but would ultimately be much more flexible as you could then use it with any other USB compatible part) In either case the volume could be in the region of 2x4x3 (studs x studs x brick height) perhaps a little more/less depending on how I manage to fit things. Connectors-wise it would be usb on the output side and screw or spring-clamp terminals on the other. This would leave plenty of options of different power sources, from hacking an old set of wheels to some DIY contact or other forms of pickup I can't be bothered to think of now (in terms of "do whatever you want", solar perhaps ^^") As for the time it would need on powered tracks to stay charged? Hard to "guestimate". At low to medium pace it should be doable, and the battery will probably stabilize at 60~70% state of charge as this will be the place where the maximum power will be dumped into the cells. I'm not a 100% sure however how that will affect the batteries in the very long term (this will be subject to extensive testing from our side). On another Topic: we had some discussion about options to make "cost cut" version of Keybrick One (perhaps a "Lite" version or something along those lines). This would mean: having a fixed output voltage (e.g. only the "Normal" mode) no state of charge indicator a very reduced standby battery life (probably around 2-3 months vs. over one year currently) My issue with this is that it would barely cut 10€ from the final price because it's only changing the PCB bill-of-materials by a small amount and all the expensive parts like the battery and case would remain untouched. Would something like that be interesting in your opinion?
  17. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    That's potentially tricky. The hub can technically draw up to 1.5A from the battery pack. If we were to step up the 5V from the USB to about 9V that would require the USB supply to bear a load of 9v*1.5A = 13.5W which is about 3A at 5V considering a 90% conversion efficiency. Doable but not for many run-off-the-mill power banks. The motors are fairly well protected for one (they have their own PTC fuse which will cut power if they stall for too long). And brushed DC motors are very reliable beasts. You can drive them well above (twice for example) their nominal voltage for a long as the load scales. Realistically the few 100mV more vs. Brand new Alkalines isn't going to hurt.
  18. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    There is some decoupling in Keybrick itself, but it performs poorly with "dirty" input. The least you would have to do rectification plus is some hard clamping (TVS diodes at 6V or so) to make sure the inductance induced spikes of the bad contacts are not getting to the port (at a 5V track voltage I would expect up to 13V spikes) and a good bunch of decoupling. The external add-on I have in mind is basically a wide-range buck-boost regulator which has this kind of protection and provides a clean 5V out by regulating dirty stuff away. I have a regulator on hand that would be nice as it would work from 3-30V. Just a matter of building everything around it into a small-ish package and properly testing it. The pure electronics for this should be doable within a 10€ sales price budget (rough estimate). Cost of a 3d printed case is hard to estimate before I know the size of it. P.S.: I just searched for it and indeed I managed to forget to talk about the "in operations charging" on Eurobricks. My bad. We posted an update on Kickstarter a while back and wrote about that on many different occasions. Basically, we managed to contain conducted spurs from the hub within keybrick pretty well in its inital state already, and the single remaining frequency could be filtered by adding an addition 100nF cap on a previously unpopulated spot on the PCB. So it was a matter of a few cents of hardware changes and a few hours of measuring.
  19. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Yes, Keybrick support "charging in operation". So the add-on box would rectify and regulate the picked up voltage to 5V, probably on a standard USB port, so a short USB extension cable between that and Keybrick One would be all the wiring required. Extra space; yes, but integrating a wide-supply range (including rectification, the rails/pickup may swap polarity) fails short of space inside Keybrick. Connecting will be like two wires from the pickup wheels and a USB cable. As for the two later points: it's shifting cost to those who actually need such a solution, which is probably best for many customers. Having a standard connector on most sides of the whole system (usb output on the addon, micro usb on Keybrick) results in a less probability of people of connecting something unexpected. Plus it could make the addon compatible with other things. Basically anything with some sort of 5V input which can connect with a USB port. Definitely a possibility!
  20. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Thanks!! We may actually look into this very very soon-ish. As I said it'll be an add-on rather than integrated within a "v2". Having that said, I might need a beta-tester for that addon... so if you happen to have a Keybrick already no promise on the exact timeline though. Thank you so much! The 40€ will be tough (at least if that includes shipping) even if we manage to switch to an injection molded case, with currently an average of 11.xx€ (net) going torwards shipping. Now, if quantities rise significantly, some local retailer may end up being able to spread that over many units. But not for tomorrow I guess :(
  21. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Just a short notice: there's a new review of Keybrick by Sariel:
  22. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    No, you'll get a magnetic cable tie. The small magnets in the reviews were just a fallback replacement as we didn't get the samples in time from our supplier. Now we've got ties on order which should ne with us in two weeks or so. Thanks for your support :)
  23. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    This is what we are looking to do now. You could do so now (if you didn't already, I only know your handle on eurobricks). We enabled the shop on our website this afternoon. We're really looking forward to what comes now :) we should have some interesting news in the next few weeks if everything pans out.
  24. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    The case is a part we have made for us by a partner here in Germany (which is already significantly cheaper than others in europe). The Polyjet print has the main advantage that it uses PA12 as material which is very durable and impact resistant, coming very close to what an injection molded part would be in that regard. The surface finish is pretty nice in my opinion, but has a grained texture. The printer and raw material being "industry scale" expensive the part cost about twice as much as it would cost on an FDM machine, but postprocessing work time factored in it's not really so much more expensive vs. That (or DLP resin prints - which are not a good fit for the geometry of the case). The electronics cost are indeed tied to scale (albeit the dc dc converters won't get dirt cheap even at 10k unit scales) and the fact that no corners were cut on protection.
  25. keybrickone

    Keybrick One / Rechargeable battery pack for Powered Up

    Not an option for safety reasons. And you would loose one of the key features (IMO) which is the "no discharge curve". As for cost; the current direct cost allocation is 50% case, 20% battery, 20% electronics and the remainder for miscelaneous stuff (packaging, recycling systems, administrative). So 80% of the cost with a hefty reduction in features. Not worth it for us, but perhaps a good DIY project if that's what you're looking for.