Does anyone have information about this LEGO item? It appears to be an infrared controller. Maybe for an old LEGO train.
You are making me feel old, I'd consider that part of a relatively new train ;) I'll try to put your train into context by briefly describing what came before it, then describing the system you have, then briefly describing what came since.
In the pre-9V era there were 4.5V and 12V trains. The main rails were blue or grey plastic and sleepers and rails were supplied separately. The blue rails just used ordinary lego studs to attach to the sleepers, while the later grey track added special clips for more rigidity. The 4.5V trains were battery powered and controlled by physical switches on the train while the 12V trains used a central rail.
When trains came into the "Electric system 9V" era, the system was radically redesigned. The separate plastic rails and sleepers were replaced by single clip-together panels of track, with metal-covered rails. Trains were powered via the rails from a mains powered "transformer and speed regulator".
This system lasted a very long time with sets released all the way from 1991 to 2006.
Towards the end of the "Electric system 9V" era, Lego introduced a couple of trains with infrared remote control instead of track power. This is what you appear to have one of the parts of. There were three main functional components to the system.
- The remote control which you have.
- The train motor. This was similar in size and shape to the previous 9V train motor, but the electric wheels were gone, it had to be powered by a cable within the train.
- The "train base". This contained the infrared receiver and the battery box. It also had the main chassis plate for the train to which the train motor and the free-wheeling bogie would be clipped.
Alongside this Lego introduced a new type of track. This was non-conductive, but was made out of fixed panels similar to the 9V electric track. The new plastic track connected together with the 9V electrified track so both could be used for the new infrared trains.
This system did not appear to last long, it appears there were only ever two sets made, both released in 2006. The train base made the system inflexible, giving little choice in the design of the train. The motor also seems to have been released separately as an accessory in 2009.
The next revision of Lego trains kept the plastic track but switched from "Electric system 9V" to "power functions". This system split the infrared receiver from the battery box, allowing more flexibility in train design (and also allowing the same parts to be re-used in train and non-train applications). This lasted longer than the first generation of RC trains, though not as long as the 9V track powered trains, with sets released in 2010 to 2015.
The current revision of Lego trains, with sets released from 2018 to 2022, moves to the "powered up" system. This re-integrates the receiver with the battery box, but it uses Bluetooth instead of IR, so the receiver doesn't need line of sight.