About the sBrick

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The SmartBrick (SBrick) is the next level in remote control for your LEGO® creations. It is a Bluetooth v4.0 enabled, replacement for the LEGO Power Functions® (PF) unit, and includes an application for Mobile Devices or Tablets with which you can remotely control the LEGO Power Functions® Motors and LEDs connected to it. With the sBrick, you can control your LEGO Models via Android, iOS, and WP8 devices. These functions are integrated around a social platform which connects to a community of sBrick users and LEGO® fans.
Mark Bollobas developed the sBrick, and it is now produced by Vengit Ltd. in the United Kingdom. Mark Bollobas and his friends spent lots of their time playing with LEGOs, and developed the sBrick as an app to control their LEGO creations, giving new life to their LEGO Models. Along the way they decided to build a social network for users to play together and share their ideas and applications.

Bollobas decided from the start that a great remote control would be able to fit in the palm of the user’s hand and able to control any type of LEGO Model. The remote should also be fully customizable, and give the user secure access and control, along with device feedback. As a result all of these characteristics are built into the sBrick.

The Bollobas lead team built the sBrick with a Low Energy Bluetooth v4.0 chip that controls four 9.0 volt outputs. The sBrick provides feedback by sending a signal back to the smart device, to give information about battery power and output settings. From the smart device application, the sBrick can be used to control both the direction and power supplied to the Power Functions® Motors, and control the light intensity of Power Functions® Motors LEDs. The sBrick can also supply the Power Functions Servo Motor as well.

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sBrick Specifications:

sBrick works at a range of over 50 meters, and control can be shared with multiple users if desired. Child Mode is available, which provides a simplified version of the control system application and hides the advanced settings.

  • Same Size as the LEGO PF IR Receiver
  • Customizable Profiles
  • Over 50m Range
  • Control via the Internet
  • No Light Interference Issues, so reliably Works Outside
  • Programmable Functions
  • Social Functions, including Unlimited Group Play Interference
  • “Four Output Ports”, instead of the two available with the LEGO PF IR Receiver
  • Control Up To 64 Output Ports per Control Device
  • Simultaneously control multiple SBricks at the same time
  • Speed and Intensity Controllable
  • Programmable Firmware
  • Adjustable Security Settings
  • And much more!

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sBrick Mobile Device App:

 
sBrick OS Choices

The sBrick App is relatively user intuitive, and It allows you to connect to your sBricks, and it has an Output Port Tester which is very handy in the initial design stages of you Remote Control Interface when it come to getting motors running in the right direction. This is shown in the image below.

sBrick App

The “My Sets” screen on the left in the image below keeps track of you LEGO Models. The configured “Blue 4×4″ main screen on the right, show with three differently configured remote control profiles for this particular model.

sBrick App

sBrick Remote Interfaces:

One can design complex and beautiful remote control profiles with the sBrick App’s “Profile Designer”, as shown below in these three examples…

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sBrick App

A custom profile for LEGO Technic 42009 which uses eight motors controlled by two sBrick and uses gyro for steering and acceleration, and the onscreen buttons for the other actions.

 
 

The sBrick is a fully realized project, with a fully operational App and boasts a full committed team of engineers and developers. Additionally, public testing has been going on for a over 12 months, and feedback is constantly being used to update and improve the sBrick and the App for Android, iOS, and WP8 devices.

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Thank’s to MyBrick:

A big thank you to the boys at MyBrick, the Australasian Distributors of the sBrick who have supplied me with 3x sBrick‘s to experiment with over coming weeks. I want to start by taking this opportunity to experiment with controlling the sBrick from Arduino Microcontrollers. I had already stocked up on BlueTooth v4.0 Modules in expectation for their arrival. I want to start by using an Arduino to control a LEGO Train Engines’s operations around my ever expanding LEGO Railway Layout.

Available From MyBrick

Future Experiments:

Much too my annoyance I have discovered on several occasions now that the standard LEGO Power Functions® system works well at home when controlled by LEGO Mindstorms Bricks and Arduino Microcontrollers, but when I set up my LEGO Railway Layout in public venues, the Infrared Signal used is very, very unreliable. Also, I am limit to one IR Channel, which only allows me to operate at maximum two LEGO Trains. By using sBricks, all these issues should be illuminated!

Once I have nutted-out using the Arduino Microcontroller to talk to the sBrick enabled LEGO Train Engines, I can add BlueTooth v4.0 Modules to my EVShield controlled Bascule Railway Bridge and my now, NXShield Controlled Vertical-Lift-Span Bridge which are both installed within my LEGO Railway Layout.

Arduino Controlled Bridges
Vertical-Lift-Span Railway Bridge

I also want to experiment with controlling the sBrick from a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 brick. I am currently working on LEGO Mindstorms EV3 controlled Bulk Container Handling Crane, and I wish to be able to control the flow of LEGO Trains, as it loads-and-unloads Container Freight from the rolling stock. Perhaps the biggest challenge, besides of the lack of BlueTooth v4.0 capabilities on the EV3 Brick, will be stopping the trains with the required accuracy to ensure the smooth operation of the crane without containers being incorrectly loaded on to rolling-stock, leading to derailments. You can use a BlueTooth v4.0 donggle with the EV3 Brick, but one need to use non-standard Firmware such as EV3dev.

Bulk Container Handling Crane

So stay tuned for updates as I intend to post updates on my Arduino-to-sBrick experiments, along with other sBrick related material…..

 

Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/j6ferqg


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