LEGO ‘Powered Up’ System

LEGO has a long history of innovation with mechanical, motorized, and programmable products. LEGO has shifted almost all of their electronic products to the new “Powered Up” interface—let’s take a closer look at the full range of components!

Note: This is a beta version of this resource. I have limited experience with adding motion to my LEGO models. Help me learn and make this resource better by emailing me at tom@tomalphin.com or leaving a comment below!

What is LEGO Powered Up?

LEGO Brick Labels (for Powered Up)

LEGO Brick Labels is a collection of well over 1000 Labels for the most common LEGO parts. It includes labels for most LEGO Technic pieces, but I’ve avoided electronic components until now…

Beta version of LEGO Brick Labels for Powered Up components.

Beta version of LEGO Brick Labels for Powered Up components.

To celebrate the near-complete transition to the new Powered Up system, I’ve released a Beta Version (β) containing labels for all of the current Powered Up components. (They will be added to the next update to LEGO Brick Labels.)

  • Download Now: Powered_Up_Labels-Beta2.zip
    Download the ‘zip’ file if you already have a compatible Brother Label Printer. (You will need to install the ‘P-touch Editor’ application on your PC/Mac.)

As always, if you have feedback about the new labels, email me at tom@tomalphin.com or leave a comment below!

Powered Up Motors

There are seven standalone motors offered so far, plus the two motors that are “built in” to the Boost Hub. It would be reasonable to assume that the motors only differ by shape and power, but the truth is more complicated.

Powered Up motors differ in several important ways:

  • Physical Size – The smallest motor is 3×3×6 and the largest is 5×5×8.
  • Motor Strength – Smaller motors have less power.
  • Connections – The Boost, WeDo 2.0, and Train motors have traditional LEGO System ‘stud’ connections, whereas the other motors have LEGO Technic ‘pin’ connections.
  • Motor Orientation – Some motors connect at the end, and others connect along the side.
  • Speed Control – The “Simple” motors rotate more slowly as the batteries become depleted, whereas Speed Control motors try to adjust for the decrease in voltage.
  • Rotation Sensor – Relative position is communicated back to the hub as the motor rotates.
  • Absolute Position – The motor can rotate to a specific angle, and the current angle is communicated to the hub
  • Zero Position Indicator – 0° direction is labeled on the motor.

Motors:

Part Number Part Name (Year) Size Conn. Orient. Spd. Ctrl. Rot. Sensor Abs. Pos. 0° Ind.

21980
(WeDo 2.0) Simple Med. Motor (2016) 3×3×6 System End No No n/a n/a

bb0893c01 / 26913
(Boost) Med. Motor (2017) 4×3×6 System End Yes Yes No n/a

bb0959c01 / 22169
Technic Lg. Motor (2019) 3×4×8 Technic End Yes Yes Yes No

bb0960c01 / 22172
Technic XL. Motor (2019) 5×5×8 Technic End Yes Yes Yes No

54696
Med. Angular Motor (2020) 3×4×9 Technic Side Yes Yes Yes Yes

54675
Lg. Angular Motor (2020) 5×4×9 Technic Side Yes Yes Yes Yes

bb0896c01 / 28740
Simple Train Motor (2018) 4×2½×10 System Sides No No n/a n/a

Powered Up Hubs

All of the motors and sensors in this guide require a Powered-up hub to get things moving (and to write custom programs).

Powered Up hubs vary in some important ways:

  • Physical Size – The smallest hub is 3×3×6 and the largest is 5×5×8.
  • Number of ports – With more ports, you can connect more sensors and motors.
  • Power Source – What type of battery does it use, and how many.
  • Voltage – This depends on the number of batteries used, or the design of the rechargeable battery pack.
  • Bluetooth (BT) – You can connect to the hub using the appropriate app on your Phone, Tablet, or PC.
  • USB – You can connect the hub to your PC using USB.
  • Autonomous – Programs can be uploaded to the Hub, allowing it to take actions without being connected to another device.

Using the software provided by LEGO, you can write programs using a Phone, Tablet or PC and run the program while connected to the Hub via Bluetooth.

Most of these hubs also allow you to send your program to the hub and have it continue to run autonomously after disconnecting from Bluetooth, but this is only officially supported by LEGO when using the Large Intelligent Hub. (After the program is sent to the hub, your robot can take actions in response to information received by one or more sensors.)

Hubs:

Part Number Name (Year) Size Conn. # Ports Power / Voltage Bluetooth USB Autonomous Additional Features

19071c01 / 19071
WeDo 2.0 Hub (2016) 6×8×3 System 2-ports 2x AA (or Rechargeable) / 3V Yes No No

bb0892c01 / 28738
(Small) Hub (2018) 4×8×4 System 2-ports 6x AAA / 9V Yes No Yes[1]

bb0961c01 / 22127
Technic (Medium) Hub (2017) 9×9×5 Technic 4-ports 6x AA / 9V Yes No Yes[1] Tilt sensor[2].

bb0894c01 / 26910
Move Hub (2017) 6×16×4 System 2-ports 6x AAA / 9V Yes No Yes[1] Two motors[4], Tilt sensor[4].

45601 + 45610
Large Intelligent Hub (2020) 7×11×4 Technic 6-ports 2100 mAH Li-ion Rechargeable / 7.3V Yes Micro USB Yes 5×5 LED Display[3], Gyro Sensor[3], Speaker[3].
  1. This hub can only be programmed to run your app autonomously using custom firmware provided by the open-source Pybricks project. (The current Beta version only supports the 4-port Technic Medium Hub.)
  2. Technic Hub Specifications, LEGO.com, Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  3. Technic Large Hub Technical Specifications, LEGO.com, Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  4. Powered Up Move Hub, LEGO.com, Retrieved June 13, 2020.

Powered Up Sensors & Accessories

You will need some sensors when designing and building programmable robots. The LEGO System-based sensors were introduced with WeDo 2.0 (2016) and Boost (2017), whereas the Technic sensors were introduced with the Spike Prime Set (2020).

Sensors:

Part Number Name (Year) Size Conn.
20844 Motion Sensor (2016) 2×4 System
20841 Tilt Sensor (2016) 2×4 System
bb0891c01 / 26912 Color amp; Distance Sensor (2017) 2×4×2 System
37308 Color Sensor (2020) 3×3×3 Technic
37316 Distance Sensor (2020) 3×7×4 Technic
37312 Force Sensor (2020) 3×3×5 Technic

In addition to sensors, you might want these accessories to complement your build.

Other Accessories:

Part Number Name (Year) Size Conn. Additional Details
22168c01 / 22168 Powered Up Light (2018) 2x 2×1×2 System Accessory designed for LEGO System Trains.
bb0895c01 / 28739 Bluetooth Speed Remote (2018) 6×12×3 System + Technic Standalone alternative to using your phone.

Version History

In future updates to this article, I’m planning to add a compatibility column to these tables explaining which sensors/accessories are compatible with each hub and their associated software apps (including 3rd party apps and firmware).

  • June 23, 2020 Fixed bugs, added year that each part was introduced, and fixed tables to render properly on small displays (such as phones).
  • June 14, 2020 Updated page to reflect that most of these hubs will support autonomous mode using 3rd party firmware (provided by Pybricks). Also posted an updated Beta 2 of Powered Up Labels updated to include more consistent part names.
  • June 12, 2020 Initial version of this page coinciding with announcement of new 51515 LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor set. Included Beta 1 of Powered Up Labels.

1 Response

  1. An excellent summary, thank you!

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