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Powered Up: Controller vs Phone App

Tonight I built the engine of #60197 - my first foray into powered Lego trains (it was mostly purchased so I could power the Winter Holiday Train next year, which is the only other Lego train I own). 

In playing with the new Powered Up, I noticed that the speeds on the controller that came in the box seem to be more consistent than what the app provides. For example, when I'm using speed 1, the train moves at a decent speed using the controller, but hardly moves at all (and emits a faint high pitched whine) using the app. Speed 2 fares not much better via the app, and it's only when you get to speed 3 that the train is properly moving, and matching roughly the speed that the controller gets at 1. 

Has as anybody else noticed this? The app downloaded some firmware to the hub the first time it connected, which took a minute or so, so I'm assuming everything is "up to date". 


  • M1J0EM1J0E Member Posts: 644
    I haven’t tried the phone app yet (the Disney train will be a Christmas gift so the additional app functions might be appreciated for that), but bought the individual powered up components to install in our old #10254 train.  The whole setup works awesome, not needing to take apart more of the train engine to fit the IR sensor in like the directions show for the old power functions system.

    The parts weren’t cheap, but worth it.  This whole train thing is all new to me however.  What I can’t figure out is with the controller, the “-“ actually moves the train forward & increases speed, while the “+” decreases speed, and puts the train in reverse once it’s stopped.  That seems backwards to me.  I could see this if I installed the batteries in the hub backwards, but I think there’s only one way it all fits together.  I could see this if I installed the train motor backwards, but the wire sticks out one end of it so that can also only go in one way.  Has anyone else seen & can know what I’m doing wrong?  Also, does anyone know what the rotating +/- controls do on the controller?  Aside from being a way to “fix” my current issue by pointing the “-“ up :D. 

  • Speedman29Speedman29 Member Posts: 2,337
    I think that is the solution. On the app you pick the controls to the specific train set and the direction of travel is correct. I don't have the remote for Powered Up, so when I converted my WV train over from PF to PU I used the motor to power the tender and needed to spin it around 180º so it went the correct way. The old PF controls had the switch to change direction.
    Also the current PU trains all use the motor as the rear of the locomotive pushing the train around. The WV has it out front pulling. From experience this will cause wheel spin when pulling away with all the carriages attached. Fitting the motor and battery box in the tender sorts this out.
    An extra couple of studs length and it brick in height and although its a little bulky, you can't see any wires.
  • M1J0EM1J0E Member Posts: 644
    Thanks so much for your help Speed!  I tried the app as well, & honestly using the Disney train one for this train works well with the sounds & such, but has the same issue with ‘opposite’ controls.  It’s probably exactly correct if the train motor is orientated opposite in the PU trains, which makes sense if the motor is at the rear pushing.  Be interesting to try the new train to see how it’s different.  I like your idea of building the motor into the coal car, looks good!  I may get adventurous with MOC’ing & try that too.
  • Speedman29Speedman29 Member Posts: 2,337
    Here's a closer look.
    Using the motor as a base I built it up with plates to create a flat area. Added a brick in height all around to clear the connecting pin at the top.
    Picked up a couple more of the green wall sections and lengthened it as well. It's a snug fit with the cable coiled, but its solid and heavy. Gives great traction.
  • M1J0EM1J0E Member Posts: 644
    Thanks for great pics!
  • benbacardibenbacardi Member Posts: 712
    Thank you guys for reviving this thread! Even if it doesn't answer the question I originally asked, I have since bought the passenger train that came with the PU stuff in order to motorise this one at Christmas, so the pictures and info above are very helpful. We'll have to see how far I get when I get the set down from the loft…
  • M1J0EM1J0E Member Posts: 644
    ^ Welcome.  Let us know if you still have the speed control issues using the app.  It doesn’t seem bad to me yet, but I haven’t yet tried the app with a train designed for it.
  • daewoodaewoo Member Posts: 846
    I'm not at all sold on Powered Up.  I ran #60197 this past weekend at a train show and it just doesn't have the power that the previous system had.  I was only pulling three cars and speeds were not robust.  In contrast, I ran #60051 with six cars and it flew around the same track and lasted about 1/3 longer on the same type of battery I used in #60197.
  • jnscoelhojnscoelho Member Posts: 704
    My experience with Powered Up and phone app vs controller is limited to #76112
    I never managed to smoothly control the Batmobile using the app, and it started being very frustrating and I quit playing with it. Then I bought the controller and it's excellent for controlling the car, I really enjoy it. It doesn't allow the extra functionalities, like sounds and special moves, but for regular "driving" it's excellent.
  • ModeltrainmanModeltrainman Member Posts: 1,316
    This may not help anyone, but as I'm on Windows, I use but, like @daewoo, it's not fast. My Casey Jr. I built hauls his tender(Hub), passenger car, elephant car, and caboose, and needs to be at about 30 to get Casey Jr. moving, 40%-60% for him+ cars.
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 284
    Powered Up motors all have a direction that cannot be reversed like the old PF motors. So when your train motor is mounted facing one way, it goes forward when you press +, and when it's mounted the other way, it goes backwards when you press +. This is pretty evident if you connect the remote to the Batmobile, because it has motors facing both ways, and one of them needs to be controlled in reverse. 

    Under the hood, the software is telling the motor to go a negative speed.

    You can rotate the buttons on the remote so that "up" is "faster" and "down" is slower, or you can connect both the battery box (hub) and remote to a computer using bluetooth and some custom software and then program the buttons on the remote to do whatever you want. I'm making the right-hand buttons control the train while the left-hand buttons play sound effects on the computer.
  • ModeltrainmanModeltrainman Member Posts: 1,316
    @MrShinyAndNew , WAIT. You're connecting the remote to Windows? How?
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 284
    I'm actually connecting it to Linux, but the same principle would work on Windows. I'm using node-poweredup, a Node.js library that exposes the Powered Up hubs as node objects. Under the hood there's some bluetooth libraries that send commands using BLE.

    It's a bit fiddly sometimes because the underlying bluetooth libraries are abandonware and don't work well on Node 10. Plus occasionally a firmeware update is buggy (the latest Boost firmware is buggy - or at least it doesn't interface well).

    I've written a program that lets me visualize the connected PoweredUp hubs and what's plugged into them, and to send direct commands from a webform. I've also added the ability to define "mocs", which are behavioural scripts that can be dropped in. As a framework it's not really finished yet, but I've got it set up so that when the button is pressed on the remote, the computer tells the motor what to do.

    This is particularly handy because I can use the M motor like a train motor on the remote, instead of making it a bang-bang motor.

    The other main advantage I have over normal Powered Up programming is that I can connect as many hubs as I want (up to the limits of my computer's bluetooth adapter). I can make signals from sensors on one hub cause actions on a different hub's motors. This was useful when I had the train's colour sensor detect a patch on the track, then signal that the level-crossing gates should be lowered.

    Programmatically speaking, the remote is just a hub with no motors. Sadly it doesn't have a tilt sensor which is, IMO, a huge wasted opportunity. It only has 7 buttons, and the way the buttons work is kinda weird (you can't have simultaneous button presses on the same side: the button events are "plus down, stop down, minus down, button up"). 
  • ModeltrainmanModeltrainman Member Posts: 1,316
    @MrShinyAndNew Fascinating!
  • panchox1panchox1 Member Posts: 722
    ^ agreed. way over my head but it sounds totally awesome.
  • panchox1panchox1 Member Posts: 722

    I've only used the app to power my Cargo train. but I do have the controller too. not sure what our holiday set up will be exactly, but I'd like to have my village display to include one running train and have a second around the tree. One app controlled and one controlled by the hand held unit. we'll see what happens.

    I have noticed that as the batteries weaken, I need to increase the speed in the app to have the train get going while pulling the cars and top speed is noticeably slower.  When the batteries are fresh, top speed runs it right off the curves.

  • daewoodaewoo Member Posts: 846
    panchox1 said:

    When the batteries are fresh, top speed runs it right off the curves. 

    This is where Lego compatible larger radius curves come in handy.
  • benbacardibenbacardi Member Posts: 712
    @Speedman29 Thank you for the breakdown! My daughter and I got the train down from the loft yesterday, and although not identical to yours, I managed to get a decent version working! I have a very limited parts selection, I'd love to get a couple more of the green side pieces. 

  • Speedman29Speedman29 Member Posts: 2,337
    edited November 2019
    Looking good @benbacardi Theres a lot of Bricklink sellers with the panel really cheap, 12-15p each. Tidys the sides up nicely and the end as well. I ended up buying the 4 wide panels rather than the 2's as it made it a stronger frame.
    Infact I've just found the four 2 wide panels from where I swapped the 4s in the LEGO room, if your interested in them.
  • klatu003klatu003 Member Posts: 729
    Anyone else frustrated with the battery setup?  Got the Disney Train for Christmas, put in 6 AAA batteries.  They lasted for about a week of fooling around with the Poweredup App trying to figure out the graphical programming to make the train do something interesting.  Batteries got weaker and slower, then died. Bought rechargeable batteries and put them in.  When they wore down, put new batteries in while recharging rechargeables.  Now none of the batteries seem to power the train at all.  Taking that whole assembly apart is a giant pain.  If LEGO doesn't make a HUB with built in rechargeable battery like the old system, I'm outta Powered-up.  There is a problem with getting the apps/devices to let go of the HUB also.  I was switching devices to run the app (so I could SEE the adorable/undocumented/fricken little graphics in my program.)  Another feature needed is a save function for programs, so you can move them between devices.
  • klatu003klatu003 Member Posts: 729
    Ok - switched devices and now it works.  But I still hate the battery setup.  The device it wouldn't work from was working last night and was the last device used.  
  • uhhuuhhu Member Posts: 5
    Just picked up the 60197 train and am now looking at getting a Winter Train and doing a motor retrofit like the original poster. Is it possible to buy the Powered Up motor without buying a full set? Or is it more cost effective to buy an additional 60197 for the extra motor, and extra track?
  • daewoodaewoo Member Posts: 846
    The motor and battery pack/blue tooth receiver are more economical than buying a train....unless you get that train at a big discount.
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