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I just got my first technic joblot and now I am thinking about adding motors. I already have some - cheap ones from amazon. I attached 1 axle pin to such motor with glue gun, works well except one thing - very often they are not powerful enough to run. I am thinking about getting starter set (8293), but at the same time I know I will enjoy adapting my own engines - question is which motors I should get in order to run builds that has lot of gears hence lot of friction?

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    Hi @Slawosz, and welcome to Bricks Stack Exchange - your question might need some clarifications, particularly as to what you're trying to achieve. Pictures of what you've already done or the model to which you wish to adapt a motor might help. Also, what's a "joblot"? – Joubarc Oct 15 at 10:24
  • Hi, I know this is a bit ambigous question, and I understand downvote. However I haven't found better space yet to ask and current @Joubarc answser is quite good. – Sławosz Oct 15 at 12:39
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If you're interested in comparing motors regarding to torque and what they can deliver, I would recommend reading Philo's excellent motor comparison page which has a lot of detailed information, very much useful for tinkerers.

Of course not all of these motors are readily available nowadays and depending on your project some may be less suitable; but there's a good chance PF motors are what you're after.

While 8293 which you mentionned is a simple way to get one motor, keep in mind you're also getting a lot of extra stuff which may or may not be useful to you. In particular, battery boxes tend to get superfluous very fast (YMMV on this). So buying motors only might be a cheaper route; they are available per piece on LEGO's online shop - 8883 is the same as the set 8293; 88003 is a more Technic-oriented version and 8882 is the "XL" motor: slower, but with a lot of torque. (Again, read Philo's comparison). On the other hand, if you do want a battery box, it might be more interesting to buy a full motorized LEGO set, in which case you also get tons of additional elements, and the added thrill of building an official set. Beware that some motorized sets also come with IR remote & receiver, which may or may not interest you.

Note that the Power Functions system itself is going to be phased out by LEGO in favor of the newer Powered Up; but so far it's not quite clear if and how you can control those without a remote or app, as there's no "dumb" battery box so far - only hubs with more or less smartness.

And of course, since you're a programmer, you may want to have a look at programmable solutions, either EV3 or the upcoming Spike.

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    I really like your answer. I will probably accept soon. So I think the best idea for me will be buying 8293, as will give me and my son some possibilities to make things working. And I will keep experimenting with custom motors. Regarding programmable solutions, I am more interested in using Arduino/Rasberry Pi combo over Lego. Hence the question about 'custom' motors. – Sławosz Oct 15 at 12:41
  • When using non-LEGO motors, maybe using a belt to drive a LEGO pulley could be a solution too; depending on the motor. But can't help you there, I'm leaning more on the "uses-only-LEGO-elements" side. On the other hand, if you get interesting results, you can also share them; I feel a question "How can you use non-LEGO motors to drive LEGO Technic models" could be interesting. – Joubarc Oct 15 at 19:30
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Given your background and overall goals (using 3rd parties motors currently and hoping to power creations using Arduino or Raspberry Pi), I wouldn't go with the starter kit. For my money, I'd buy an M-motor or two and see if they meet your needs. These are currently $7.49 individually on LEGO.com:

https://www.lego.com/en-us/product/lego-power-functions-m-motor-8883

M-motor

As Joubarc pointed out, the starter kit comes with lots of "extras" (switch, lights, battery box, etc) that may add little value for you.

8293 PF starter kit

Given your background, you should have no problem modifying that motor to be driven from any source you like, and it will interface better physically with the LEGO Technic system than most solutions you'd come up with using off-the-shelf motors.

PF motor wiring is very simple, as the middle two wires (C1 and C2) simply connect directly to the motor. You can also pop the cover off and solder on your own wires.

Custom PF wiring

  • I've butchered enough motors (and a 7864 transformer) by opening them when I was a kid that I don't want to do that ever again; but it's nice to see it's not that hard and they are readily available instructions to do so. I'd probably opt for just cutting the wire myself (and even then, I probably would only cut an extension wire), but for a tinkerer, that's definitely useful info – Joubarc Oct 16 at 7:47
  • I'm wondering why one would want to tear the cover off to add new wires (except for a broken cable), instead of removing the plug block at the other end and using the original cables. If they are too short, solder and shrink tube seem a lot easier than the motor disassembly. – WooShell Oct 16 at 8:25
  • @WooShell Cutting the wire is certainly simpler. You could also cut an extension wire as Joubarc suggested. Desoldering and adding your own wiring does allow you to use any desired wire length, and you can (theoretically) return the motor back to its stock configuration, as you hopefully haven't permanently damaged any LEGO components. Also, if you use your own wiring and DuPont connectors, you can feed your wiring through the holes in Technic beams. – jncraton Oct 16 at 13:37
  • Also, as per the instructions linked, opening the motor allows you to remove the capacitor, which may in some instances be desirable. – Joubarc Oct 17 at 20:43

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