Light Kit for the LEGO Crocodile Locomotive #10277
Hi everyone! I wanted to share some news about our tinkering with the beautiful LEGO Crocodile locomotive #10277. Many have posted videos online with ideas about lighting it up and adding either a LEGO Power Functions or Powered Up motor.
We wanted to try something a little different. In the video above, you can see a couple things:
- True, prototypical directional headlights with European-style red lights activated on the reverse end opposite the direction of travel.
- Directional interior headlights.
- Operation from one 9V battery inside the cab.
- Control using our new RF remote for direction, speed, coasting, and emergency stop.
(by the way, a LEGO Power Functions Medium Motor is inside the cab)
Call us crazy, but we just like having something physical to hold in our hands vs. using our phone for train control. We're aiming to create a simple, low-cost motor controller for LEGO trains that uses our standard RF remote (with a range of over 50ft and pairing for security), provides directional headlight control, and which can operate from a variety of power sources. Currently we've tested with these sources:
- LEGO Power Functions battery
- 9V battery (standard and LiPo rechargeable)
- LiFe 7.7v battery (typically used for R/C planes and drones)
- 6x AA battery pack
- 6x AAA battery pack
Although we haven't yet tested it, operation using LEGO 9V track power, 12V track power, or larger LiPo batteries should be possible.
We're very early in the development of this system, but we thought the Croc was a great first use of it.
So, what does the broader train community think of this idea? Is it something you would like to see made commercially available for other train uses? Let us know, and also let us know of any features you would see as advantages or disadvantages.
Thanks in advance for your feedback!
This is excellent! I would order one for #10277 using the Powered Up system in particular, but this same system would work well for lots of different locomotives. It would be nice to have an off-the-shelf solution rather than having to custom build each lighting system. It would be great if you could put a CC2460 or something in there for BLE communication with the Powered Up remote and other Lego Wireless Protocol devices. Your standard remote makes sense for individual display pieces like the Falcon, but for LEGO train operation I would prefer the extensibility and potential for DIY expansion (including computer control) of Bluetooth. Having "each remote transmitter . . . locked to its specific receiver" doesn't work as well for LUG operating sessions and shows where one operator might need to control multiple trains, or vice versa.
Ben Garner Thanks for the feedback. Actually we're not big on "glass screen" interfaces like phones, tablets, etc. Based on feedback we've had from LUGs at shows, there are too many issues (having to share your phone with your LUGmates, easy damage to expensive glass devices at shows, and especially how every current phone or tablet-based app disconnects the BLE when a call comes in). We're looking at expanded interfaces, but in the area of dedicated throttles with physical knobs and buttons to control multiple trains and accessories. The goal would be to have something like the throttles offered by the major decoder manufacturers in the model railroad industry. Again, the focus would be on physical controls vs. virtual. With this system, you'd easily be able to control multiple devices from a single remote, and to switch between them.
From a strictly radio perspective, BLE is a sub-optimal technology for use in large, crowded spaces where thousands of people with phones are milling around. We've seen more than a few trains fly off the tables at shows because someone's phone disconnected. This is why we're looking at 915MHz transmitters with multi-hundred-feet transmission capability, wire-level encryption, and SYN/ACK transmission for reliability.
We realize this goes against the common wisdom of today's apps (SBrick, BuWizz, etc.), so definitely interested in feedback. I think we'd have two versions: a basic interface with the 4-button remote we have today for smaller/home setups, and the throttle-based approach for larger layouts, professional users, and LUGs.
There are already professional solutions based on 4-button remotes, so we know there's a viable market for this simplified interface as well as the more advanced UI.
This is a great dialog-- let's keep it going!