21323 LEGO Ideas Grand Piano [Review…and more]

In which I reminisce about childhood music lessons, and evening television, build the LEGO® Ideas Grand Piano while listening to some of my favorite piano music. Then I troubleshoot it, with some help from the fan designer.

Somewhere lost in the midsts of time, I spent my Thursday evenings going to piano lessons. My personal progress was approximately in proportion to my lack of commitment commitment to regular practice, but I enjoyed nonetheless. During the early 80’s, I found these lessons to be a little bit of a drag: Doctor Who tended to shown on the ABC from Monday to Thursday: and the final episode of any story (back then they were typically 4 episodes long) would due to screen at the same time as my lesson. No Netflix, no iTunes, no DVDs and the timer in a VCR could easily be disrupted by failing to find a blank tape before I headed off to my lesson.

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Powered Up: A Letter From The Team, To The Fans.

The Powered Up platform, which seeks to unify the control interface between the different forms of electronic hardware, has been incrementally updated over the last 18 months or so, progressing from being able to do little more than control sets as they come out of the box, such as the App controlled Batmobile, and Trainsets to become a complex programming environment, tying together the currently available hardware platforms, with a grand unifying interface: The train Smart Hub, Boost Move Hub and the Technic Smart Hub.

This certainly means that they have their work cut out for them. I haven’t covered the latest update for the software here before, but it offers some interesting inclusions, including:

  • Using infrared output from the Boost Colour sensor to control the old Power functions ( you will need an IR receiver linked between your battery box an motors)
  • Ability to Map the buttons on the Bluetooth (train) remote to perform more sophisticated functions.
  • Reading the position of the device you are running the app on (that is, using the accelerometers in your phone to read its position) – allowing it to control your MOC.
  • Support for using four hubs (potentially of mixed type) simultaneously

The previous update (from December last year) also opened up the Technic Smart Hub (often referred to as the Control+ Hub) and Technic motors for control. This felt like an unnecessary delay between the release of the hardware in early August, which was functionally locked into the Control+ App – which only allows control of the main model from the set, before allowing the LEGO elements to meet their potential.

Members of AFOL engagement team (the team at the LEGO group that operate between the company and Adult Fans) have been taking comments from the Ambassador Network to the powered up team.

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Rambling Brick Turns Four

On January 30, 2016, the Rambling Brick was born. Four years ago, give or take a couple of hours. Please pardon a little indulgence as I take a quick look through some highlights of the last 12 months.

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Pushing Forward with Powered Up

I have been frustrated, waiting for the ability to control the new Technic® Smart Hub (used in the 4×4 and Liebherr Excavator) with the Powered Up App. This will allow us to control that hub using programs created in the Powered Up Software. Seriously, the first hardware came out in August, and we can’t control it using any method supplied by LEGO® except for the Control+ App – which is designed to only control the principle model in the sets that include that hardware.

Therefore, I got just a little excited when the following communication, announcing the next update for the Powered Up App, arrived via the LEGO Ambassador’s Network:…

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A Man’s Got to Know His Limitations: Control+ and Powered Up Apps [August 2019]

The New Technic Smart hub became available this week, as part of 42099 X-treme 4×4 Off Roader. This article discusses what we can expect the long awaited Control+ App to do and what it won’t. I also take a look at the ever expanding range of connected apps produced by LEGO A/S today.

The first of August has past and there have been a number of new, released. If you are a Technic Fan, you are possibly curious about the new 4×4 X-treme Off Roader 42099. Certainly, it’s one I have been looking forward to seeing.

I had an opportunity to see this new model, as well as the new Control+ App demonstrated by members of the design team while in Billund, at the Recognised Fan Media days in May this year. Amongst other things, the set features the new Technic Smart Hub, 2 new Technic XL linear motors, and one Technic L linear motor. I am excited to get my hands on this set as soon as possible, to build the set and experience the new Control+ App. I might have to wait until the Australian online store gets more stock.

I also hope to incorporate the new Control+ Hub in a MOC later in the year.

But Not today.

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First Images Technic Powered Up Hub

I’m in Billund today, taking part in the Fan Media Days. We have just had a presentation from the Powered Up team.

We have now seen the new technic hub unveiled, as well as two new motors designed to run with the platform.

The new Technic hub has 4 ports, as well as connectors around the border. Unlike the current Smart Hub used in LEGO City trains, it will be powered by AA Rather than AAA Batteries.

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The Powered Up App Receives a Boost

I have not been so excited about seeing a software upgrade delivered as I have been this weekend. The LEGO Powered Up app has just been given a substantial bump up in its functionality.

Long time readers of the blog will know how I feel about LEGO Boost: a great set, and a simple way to automate any models that you might make. Since it was released 18 months ago, we have seen all sorts of creations, as well as ideas through the primary models in the set. But there are a few challenges: you need to work through the models to gain all functionality; and the hub itself is a little bulky for some applications, but certainly adds a lot of fun to some sets. In some ways, I see it as the natural successor to the early motor kits, used in the 60’s and 70’s to automate wheels models, and see them propelled under there own power. Unfortunately, despite sharing a plug system, it has not been compatible with other similarly plugged devices…until now.

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News from Nuremberg: Technic Control + (Rampant Speculation follows, again)

About a year ago we heard our first information about the new Powered Up wireless control system, incorporated in the latest generation of LEGO City Trains, as well as the App Controlled Batmobile. The Bluetooth controller/phone app interacting with the wireless hub has met with a mixed response, especially in the LEGO railroad modeller community, with concerns about the number of outputs, range and interference from other Bluetooth devices. One thing that was conspicuous in its absence last year was a hub solution that was compatible with LEGO Technic.

Today, we have received news from Spielwarenmesse – the German Toy Fair – of a new control hub to be incorporated in two new Technic sets this year LEGO Technic Control +. One, 42100 – the second half year Flagship model based on the Liebherr R9100 Excavator, the other: 42099, based on a 4×4.

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Time to get moving: first steps into the Powered Up system [Review: Passenger Train 60197]

img_2285In which I finally get my hands onto some of the new Powered Up components and find myself dealing with a system full of immense potential. I compare the Powered Up system with the old Power Functions system for driving the train, draining the batteries in the process. And I start to wish for a little bit of magic…

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