Demo Model: SHIELD Helicarrier (76042)

The SHIELD Helicarrier (set 76042) is the largest model we've brought to life using the PFx Brick. The advantage of integrating the PFx Brick into a model like this is that there is plenty of space to house all the components. The challenge is in running all the LED wires throughout the model!

This model is set up to be controlled using the LEGO® Power Functions Speed Remote, and includes the use of startup actions. These actions are run immediately every time the PFx Brick is powered on. In this case, we're using them to start two effects that are dependent on the speed of the motor driving the rotors. In this way, these effects are always active, but don't produce any audio or visual results until the motor is actually moving.

The first effect is the Speed Modulated light effect, where the brightness is tied to the motor speed. This effect controls 4 of the light channels, each with 2 LEDs for each rotor. The second effect is the continuous playback of an engine noise sound, where the volume is modulated by the motor speed. As the motor speed is increased, the brightness of the lights and the volume of the engine noise will increase. Similarly, when the motor speed is decreased, they will also decrease. And when the motor is stopped, they will no longer be visible or audible.

A Power Functions XL Motor is controlled using the right wheel on Channel 1 to power the rotor drive system. The configuration for this motor has been customized to have a high minimum speed, so that it always has enough power to overcome the considerable amount of friction in the system.

Channel 1 is also used to control the lighting of the model. The right button of the remote toggles an Engine Glow effect on 2 of the light channels, each connected to 2 LEDs in each of the rear engines. Simultaneously pressing both buttons toggles the On effect for the remaining 2 light channels, connected to LEDs in the cockpit, landing bay and control centre. The left button is also used to toggle a solid On effect for the rotor lights, in case you want to turn them on even if the rotors aren't rotating.

Channel 2 controls playback for 6 different audio samples, which are triggered using the remote buttons or by rotating the wheels. Two separate effects can be triggered by each wheel by rotating them one notch clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Despite having a relatively simple control system, the configuration for this model uses some of the more advanced features of the PFx Brick to really make the Helicarrier come alive.

Demo Model: The Fortrex

The next set we tested the PFx Brick with was the Nexo Knights Fortrex (set #70317). For this model, we wanted to show how the PFx Brick can work side by side with the regular Power Functions IR Receiver to control more than 2 motors.

We built 3 motors into the Fortrex: 2 PF L-Motors to drive each of the front tracks and a PF M-Motor to raise and lower the gate. The 2 L-Motors are controlled by a standard PF IR Receiver, set to listen to channel 1. The PFx Brick is configured to ignore channel 1 and only respond to activity on channels 2, 3 and 4 of the Joystick Remote. This still gave us plenty of available commands to trigger cool light and sound effects.

Channel 2 is configured to trigger coordinated light and sound for the lasers. Each time one of the joysticks is pressed forward, LEDs in the front lasers turn on for 0.5 seconds and a matching laser sound is played. When the left joystick is pulled back, LEDs in the side lasers light up with a continuous 'Alternate Flashing' effect to match a repeating 'Rapid Fire' audio playback. Each time the joystick is pulled back this coordinated effect will toggle on and off. When the right joystick is pulled back all of the audio and lighting effect are stopped.

Just like in our Wall-E modification, Channel 3 controls the playback of four different audio files, individually triggered by pushing or pulling each of the joysticks. Of course, for this model we loaded various sound bytes from the Nexo Knights mobile game onto the PFx Brick. Since the Fortrex is a reasonably sized model, we were also able to build in an XL-Speaker, to really add some oomph to the audio playback.

Channel 4 is configured to control the M-Motor using the left joystick, for raising and lowering the drawbridge.

We designed the PFx Brick to work seamlessly with the Power Functions system, and it was really great to see how easy it was build a model using both the standard PF IR Receiver and the PFx Brick.

Demo Model: Friends Pop Star Stage (set 41105)

What better way to showcase the phenomenal lighting and sound abilities of the PFx Brick than a pop music concert! This LEGO® Friends set 41105 already has awesome play-value, but the addition of lights and sound takes it to the next level! This model also shows that the PFx Brick is versatile enough to be used with just about any LEGO® theme. This was an ambitious demo model since it required fitting 34 tiny white LEDs in a way which was discreet and retained the original character of the set. The best way to see the results is through this video of the model in action! All of the audio in this video is directly recorded from the camera without editing. When filming the video, the light effects were carefully choreographed manually by selecting them with the remote as the music was playing.

The wiring of 34x individual LEDs required careful management of wiring. The overhead marquee wiring was consolidated and discreetly run through black 1x1x2 cylinder bricks to ground level where it connects to the PFx Brick. All of the wiring from the LEDs connects to a Light Accessory Board (LAB). LAB accessories connect to the 10-pin lighting dock connector on the PFx Brick and have the following advantages:

  • Modular and organized
  • Support connection of 8x up to 32x individual LEDs
  • Includes individual current limiting resistors for each LED connector (if applicable)
  • Supports different connector types of LEDs depending on vendor
  • Allows easy disconnection of the PFx Brick for configuration, use in multiple models, etc.

The schematic diagram below shows how this model was configured:

The lighting was basically partitioned into three groups:

  1. Overhead Marquee lights with 7x pairs plus one central light
  2. Stage lights with 7x pairs and one central light
  3. Two pairs of spotlights on the left and right stage wings

The marquee lights and stage lights where connected as mirror images and share light channels 1 to 8. The spotlights were connected to an odd and even numbered lighting channels (3 and 8) so that they could alternately flash in some of the combination light sequences.

An XL speaker was mounted to a purpose built speaker stand at the rear of the stage and projects the sound forwards toward the "audience". The versatility of a brick-built speaker accessory allows you to seamlessly integrate speakers into models as well as providing the acoustic performance of a sound box behind the speaker cone.

Activating the various sound and lighting effects was achieved with configuring a dual joystick remote as shown in the diagram below.

Actions were functionally grouped into each of the 4 available IR channels. One channel was dedicated to activating sound effects, two channels were assigned various combination lighting effects, and the 4th channel was configured for "utility" functions, namely brightness and audio volume control. It is a huge benefit to be able to adjust the global brightness of the model as well as the volume of the sound. Depending on where and when you showcase this model, those around you will appreciated the ability to limit the sound!

This was a fun model to fit with the PFx Brick because it truly showcases its key abilities of sophisticated lighting effects and high-fidelity audio playback. This LEGO® Friends stage truly comes alive with the magic of dynamic lighting and powerful audio!

Demo Model: Video of City Fire Helicopter 60108

As a follow up to the previous blog post about this model, a short video showcasing its features is now available. The addition of the PFx Brick transforms this modest helicopter into a dramatic and exciting model! In the video introduction, a second PFx Brick used to create flickering fire light Fx on the roof of the shelter. One of the interesting features to note is how the helicopter startup process is initiated with one remote control action. This single action activates:

  • Flashing navigation beacon light
  • Engine startup sound effects
  • Motor speed set to 75% max with an acceleration factor

Combining these actions makes controlling a model that much easier and fun!

Demo Model: WALL⋅E (set 21303)

One of the first models we built the PFx Brick into was the LEGO Ideas WALL·E set 21303. Check out the video to see the results, and read on to learn more about how we used the PFx Brick to bring WALL·E to life.

The WALL·E set almost seems like it was designed to be augmented with the PFx Brick. Only a few modifications were needed to run LEDs to the his eyes and control panel, house an M-Speaker and battery box in his body, and attach 2 Power Functions M-Motors to drive his tracks. There is even a nice space on his back to attach the PFx Brick itself, which just makes it look like he's been given an upgraded power pack.

We configured WALL·E to be controlled using the Power Functions Joystick Remote, and different behaviours are mapped to all four channels of the remote.

  • Channel 1 controls WALL·E's startup and shutdown actions, which include playing 2 startup sounds, turning the LEDs in his eyes on using a 'flicker-on' lighting effect and turning the control panel LED on. Pulling back on the right joystick remote will turn everything off.
  • Channel 2 is configured to control the lighting. When the LEDs in the eyes are toggled on and off, a shutter sound is also played. The LED on the control panel can either be turned solidly on, or put into 'sound modulated mode' which will cause it to flicker in coordination with any sounds that are played.
  • Channel 3 controls the playback of four different audio files, which are individually triggered by pushing or pulling each of the joysticks.
  • Channel 4 is configured to control the motors, so that WALL·E can be driven around using a standard track drive steering scheme.

One cool feature of the PFx Brick is that it 'listens' to all four channels simultaneously, so multiple remotes set to different channels can be used to simultaneously trigger any of the actions above.

It was really cool to see how much character could be added to the WALL·E set by integrating a PFx Brick. He's no longer just a static model sitting on our shelf. Once the PFx Brick is released, we will be providing How-To guides and downloadable profiles for models like WALL·E, so that you too can bring him to life.

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