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Fun With LEGO Power Functions
Posted by Richard on June 21, 2013 at 11:21 PM CST:
BIONICLE® has always had some relation to the technic series, and as a result, I've got a bunch of technic pieces sitting in bins that usually go into a larger MOC of mine. However, while I was shopping for some gifts, I discovered that individual motors were surprisingly cheap on LEGO® S@H. It still took me about 80 bucks to get everything I needed to make this, but if you don't mind dropping around 50 bucks and providing the other parts and batteries, imagine being able to drive your toa around in a vehicle that actually drives.

At the very least, anyone who is interested in making a basic RC power functions will need:

A battery box, $6.99 (Or an absurd $75 for rechargeable battery and power cable to charge it)
Two motors, $7.49 or $9.99 depending on size.
An infrared receiver $14.99
A remote Control, $9.49 or $12.99 depending on type

The price adds up quickly, but if you at least have the parts to build a frame with wheels on it you've got yourself what you need to build a decent remote control car.

One infra red receiver can only control 2 motors (well technically more than one motor can stack on one port but they'd both run at the same time, not individually), though you can stack at least two receivers on one battery back, so four or more motors are possible without buying additional battery packs.

There are also two types of infra red remote, the cheaper 9.49 remote has two spring loaded switches that only stay on while you are holding it forward or backward. They always flip back to neutral when your not pushing on them. This one fires the motors at full power when you set it to forward or backward.

The second one is a speed controller, with wheels you turn to adjust speed. When you turn the wheel, the motors turn on and stay on at their lowest speed, and gradually go faster as you continue to turn the click the knob in that direction. There are about 4 or 5 speeds, and the control isn't so gradual as you might like. If you start turning in the reverse direction, the speed gradually gets slower until it goes back to neutral, and then starts in the reverse direction. There's is also a stop button that stops the motor completely.

The two controllers override eachother whenever they are on the same channel, so you cant set the speed on one and then use the other to drive around at that speed. In my case I use the variable speed controller to operate the arms on my robot while using the other to control the movement across ground. If your on a budget and just want to build a vehicle with no other featured, then the cheaper controller probably your best bet.

Now if your smart and think to make the battery pack interchangeable (Unlike myself, who used it as part of the MOC's barebones structure), you can just buy two motors and a receiver for each additional motorized creation should you want to make more. You might also want to know the receivers and controllers have four different frequencies, should you want to operate more than one pair of motors.

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