If you’ve been to a model train show in the past several years, you may have noticed that the layouts on display have more than just trains running around track with some static scenery in the background. Modern scale train layouts are becoming increasingly more dynamic, with sound, advanced lighting, and animation beyond just the trains. These elements add a whole new world to the typical model train layout, from stock cars emanating the sounds of livestock, to signals flashing to let engineers know if it’s safe to proceed with their train, to animated scenes on the layout such as kids playing on playground equipment. These bring a train layout to life, and make the experience more fun for all. Many builders in the LEGO community have incorporated these elements into their own creations, but there’s never been an off the shelf, “Plug and Play” solution to creating and controlling many of them until today. From the minds of LEGO hobbyists Michael Gale and Jason Allemann has come the PFx Brick.
“The PFx Brick is a device which transforms LEGO® creations with awesome new possibilities for lighting, and for the first time, sound!”
The PFx Brick is a product of Fx Bricks, a specialized company combining the creative wonder of LEGO® bricks and electrical engineering expertise. This potent combination injects life into LEGO® creations with the magic of light, sound, animation, and automation. Founded by long-time LEGO fans Jason Allemann and Michael Gale, Fx Bricks represents the combined wealth of 40+ years of professional engineering and management experience.
The PFx Brick is an electronic brick controller designed to offer three major functions for your LEGO® creations: 1) Motor control, 2) Lighting effects and 3) Sound effects. These functions are controlled using any LEGO® Power Functions™ InfraRed (IR) remote control. The actions the PFx Brick performs are configured using the PFx App software. The App is also used to load sound files on to the PFx Brick. Once configured, the PFx Brick can be built into your LEGO® creation transforming it with the magic of light, sound, and animation!
The PFx Brick is a lot more than just a motor control brick. We LEGO® fans are lucky that we have a thriving ecosystem of alternative electronic controllers such as the awesome SBrick and BuWizz. These controllers are aimed specifically at motor control applications where multiple motor channels and radio control via Bluetooth technology was a priority. The PFx Brick on the other hand, was designed to offer two new capabilities that we believe have been missing from LEGO® models: advanced Lighting and Sound effects. Futhermore, we wanted these features to be super-easy to use. Therefore, we chose Infrared remote control rather than Bluetooth radio technology. We believe the simplicity of instantly using your existing IR remote controls instead of depending on a smart-phone or tablet based control app has a lot of appeal to many users.
On March 27th 2017, FX Bricks has launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce the PFx Brick. If successful they will be able to put the PFx Brick into full production and make it available for sale. But to do that they need the LEGO fan community’s help. By backing the Kickstarter campaign you’ll be pushing the PFx Brick closer toward full production, and you will be one of the first to own a PFx brick to use in your LEGO creations.
We here at Brick Model Railroader are excited to see a product like PFx Brick become available. We support the Fx Bricks team and hope that their Kickstarter campaign is a success. This and projects like it are a big step in our hobby. These new and innovative fan made products being produced will help expand the LEGO train hobby for years to come, and make LEGO trains even more enjoyable than they already are.
You will be seeing more on the PFx brick in a future article. I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to be a beta tester. I’ve only had a preproduction unit for a short time so far, but I’m already impressed with it’s capabilities, as well as it’s customizability. As I get more time to play with the PFx and use it in some of my models I hope to give you a better idea of what it can do. In the meantime you can check out the Fx Bricks website and support the PFx Kickstarter.