LEGO 45345 Spike Essential kit with small Technic hub, small angular motor & 3×3 LED matrix

After months of speculation about the new rechargeable battery and the small Technic hub, LEGO finally revealed the 45345 Spike Essential set:

The set is part of the Education line and it is aimed for Primary school usage. Unlike other Education sets it is not available yet on lego.com, hopefully this will change after the official release date which is September 7th. In certain countries like the US you can order it from education.lego.com for $274.95.

For us the most exciting parts of the announcement are the new Powered Up hardware elements in the set, let’s check them out one by one!

45607 LEGO Technic Small Angular Motor

The motor is apparently very similar to the 45603 Medium Angular Motor, it has the same white upper section with the same mounting holes and the position of the output, but the lower teal section is only 1 stud long.

The overall dimensions are 3x3x5 studs, it has absolute positioning like most of the Technic motors with the 0 position marked on the housing. It is available separately for $34.95 here.

45608 LEGO Technic 3×3 Color Light Matrix

This new product seems to be a compact version of the 5×5 color matrix on the 45601 LEGO Technic Large Hub for SPIKE Prime.

Here is the official description:

Add a rainbow of colors to SPIKE models with this LEGO® Technic 3×3 Color Light Matrix. For use with LEGO Technic Hubs, each of the 9 pixels can be coded to display 10 different colors and 10 brightness levels for endless creative possibilities.
9 programmable pixels each display up to 10 colors and 10 brightness levels for endless creativity.

The dimensions are 3x3x3 studs, the price is $34.95 and it is available here.

45609 LEGO Technic Small Hub

Probably the most interesting new hardware element is this new small hub, which seems to combine the characteristics of the 45601 LEGO Technic Large Hub for SPIKE Prime and the 88009 Powered Up hub.

Here is the official description:

The advanced yet simple-to-use LEGO® Technic Small Hub combines and controls LEGO Technic motors, sensors, and other LEGO elements to create fun, interactive models. With 2 input/output ports, Bluetooth connectivity, 6-axis gyro, and a rechargeable battery with micro USB charging and connection port, the Small Hub is at the heart of any SPIKE Essential model.
• Features 2 I/O ports, Bluetooth connectivity, 6-axis gyro, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with micro USB charging and connection port.

As you see it inherited the 6-axis gyro of the Technic large hubs and it also has a rechargeable battery, but it lacks the matrix display, and it only has 2 ports.

The dimensions are 7x5x4 studs. This is pretty similar to the ~8x5x4 studs of the Powered Up hub, but the form factor and the mounting holes are adapted to fit the Technic builds which is a big plus. The addition of the rechargeable battery was also a very requested feature, although we’ll still need to wait and see how practical that 630 mAh capacity will turn out.

The price is definitely not cheap, it is $189.95 and you can purchase it here. The 45612 LEGO Technic Small Hub Battery can be purchased separately for $59.95 here.

My thoughts about the new components

Here are a few quick thoughts about the new components and what can we expect from them in relation of the Powered Up system:

  • The new hardware elements will work initially with the Spike Prime software only. The motor will probably be the quickest to get support in the Powered Up app, the LED matrix would need brand new blocks so that might take longer. Unfortunately the small Hub won’t get support anytime soon, not sure when can we expect the support of the Spike Prime / Mindstorms hubs in general in the Powered Up app.
  • Our best chance is probably a fairly quick integration of the new hub in the Pybricks environment, that would help us a lot with small scale Technic projects, although that would also require the elements to be sold on lego.com worldwide and not only on the Education site.
  • Can we expect the new parts to appear in Technic sets as well? I would bet on a grey version of the Small Angular Motor, that might be used as a servo where the space is limited. Not sure how the 3×3 LED Matrix could be used in a non-robotic environment, and despite its advantages in small-scale models I wouldn’t expect the Small Hub to be used in non-Education sets.
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2 Comments:

  1. I just hope they have at least internally some common “low level” platform where they add support for every new element. And then different teams can incrementally add support to their respective apps like Spike, Mindstorms and PoweredUp. I wonder how easy or difficult that is now.

    I imagine this whole underlying platform abstracting all hardware elements and the only place to add support for new elements. Then you could have just different interfaces / apps built on top of that, so adding support for new sensors motors would be quite straightforward. And different apps and hubs could use a subset of available features based on their capabilities or use cases.

    • For future use of this amazing 3×3 led matrix I see segmented dot display with 6 of this pieces connected to the Spike hub, and using simultaneously at least 4 supported hubs, so we can get decent horizontal and vertical resolution for any graphics display. Someone probably should try it despites it is quite pricey now.

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