Hub to hub communication using data broadcasting

Hub to hub communication using data broadcasting

This project shows how you can exchange data between two Pybricks hubs.

Experimental features ahead!

Hub to hub communication is still a work in progress. This page explains how you can install an experimental release on the hub to try it out. This functionality may change in the future and some things may not work.

Data broadcasting

When a Bluetooth device is on but not yet connected to anything, it typically broadcasts (advertises) some information about itself. This tells you what it can do before you connect.

For example, Bluetooth earphones will advertise that they can play music, so that your phone knows what to look for when it scans for speaker devices.

By constantly changing what information the hub advertises, we can broadcast small amounts of information to nearby devices that are scanning for this information.

This means that any number of nearby hubs can receive the broadcasted message without having to set up a connection. This can be quite convenient, but you can only broadcast small amounts of information at once, as explained below.


All broadcasting data is labeled with a topic. This helps you tell data apart when multiple hubs are broadcasting at the same time. For example, one hub might be broadcasting tilt sensor data with the topic "tilt" while another hub broadcasts measurements with the topic "distance".

To prepare the hub to send and receive data with these topics, you initialize the broadcast class as follows:

# Import the experimental Broadcast feature.
from pybricks.experimental import Broadcast

# Prepare the hub for sending and/or receiving these topics.
radio = Broadcast(topics=["tilt", "distance"])

Sending and receiving data tuples

You can send data as a tuple of values:

# Get some example data as a tuple.
example_data = (123, 456)

# Send it out to anyone listening.
radio.send("tilt", example_data)

On another hub, you can receive it as follows:

# Try to read previously received tilt data.
data = radio.receive("tilt")

# Check if there was any data yet:
if data:
    # There was, so let's print it.
    pitch, roll = data
    print(pitch, roll)

When sending data tuples like these, your values will be automatically encoded into a format suitable for broadcasting.

The following data tuples are allowed:

# You can send up to 8 small values in the range +/- 32767.
# Each value counts as 2 bytes.
data = (-1, 2, 3000, 4, 5, 6, -32767, 32767)

# You can send up to 5 big values. Each value counts as 4 bytes.
data = (50000, -50000, 123456, 78910, 43210)

# You can send up to 5 floating point values. Each counts as 4 bytes.
data = (1.234, 3.1428)

# You can send up to 8 strings. Each character counts as 1 byte.
data = ("Hello", "World")

# You can combine up to eight of the above types.
# The total size must be 20 bytes or less.
data = (123, -50000, 3.1428, "Hi!")

Sending and receiving raw data

If you prefer to encode data yourself, you can send and receive bytes directly:

# Send out up to 23 bytes to anyone listening.
radio.send_bytes("tilt", b"byte data!")

# Read up to 23 bytes.
data = radio.receive_bytes("tilt")

Installing the experimental firmware

To use the broadcasting feature, you have to install a special version of the Pybricks firmware that includes the Broadcast class:

  1. Download the firmware file for your hub:
  2. In Pybricks Beta, open the settings menu.
  3. Click Install Pybricks Firmware.
  4. Instead of selecting your hub, choose Advanced at the bottom.
  5. Follow the instructions to select the firmware file you just downloaded.
  6. The installation now proceeds as usual. Make sure to choose a descriptive hub name. This makes it easy to distinguish them later.
  7. Start coding. You can open Pybricks Beta in multiple different tabs. Use one tab for each hub.

Running the example programs

The following examples shows the broadcasting feature in action to provide wireless bidirectional communication.

One hub sends tilt sensor data to control a driving vehicle. The vehicle sends back a distance measurement to show a warning light for nearby obstacles:

Run this program on the remote

You can use any hub with any type of sensor. For example, you could use the built-in tilt sensor of the Technic Hub, Prime Hub, Essential Hub, or the Inventor Hub. Alternatively, you could build your own remote control that uses motors as input dials.

If you don’t have the Color Light Matrix, you can delete the lines that reference it, or adjust it to control the built-in hub light.

from pybricks.pupdevices import TiltSensor, ColorLightMatrix
from pybricks.parameters import Port, Color
from import wait
from pybricks.experimental import Broadcast

# Initialize the devices.
lights = ColorLightMatrix(Port.A)
sensor = TiltSensor(Port.B)

# Initialize broadcast with two topics.
radio = Broadcast(topics=["tilt", "distance"])

while True:
    # Read pitch and roll.
    pitch, roll = sensor.tilt()

    # Make small tilt zero.
    if abs(pitch) < 5:
        pitch = 0
    if abs(roll) < 5:
        roll = 0

    # Send the data!
    radio.send("tilt", (pitch, roll))

    # Check for distance data.
    data = radio.receive("distance")

    # If there was distance data, use it to activate the light.
    if data and data < 500:

    # Wait some time.

Run this program on the vehicle

You can use any hub with any type of motors. If you don’t have a distance sensor, you can delete the lines that make use of the Ultrasonic Sensor.

from pybricks.pupdevices import Motor, UltrasonicSensor
from pybricks.parameters import Port, Direction
from pybricks.robotics import DriveBase
from import wait
from pybricks.experimental import Broadcast

# Initialize broadcast with two topics.
radio = Broadcast(topics=["tilt", "distance"])

# Initialize the drive base.
left_motor = Motor(Port.A, Direction.COUNTERCLOCKWISE)
right_motor = Motor(Port.B)
drive_base = DriveBase(left_motor, right_motor, wheel_diameter=56, axle_track=112)

# Initialize the distance sensor.
sensor = UltrasonicSensor(Port.C)

while True:

    # Receive tilt data
    data = radio.receive("tilt")

    # If we received it, start driving.
    if data:
        pitch, roll = data * 8, turn_rate=roll * 3)

    # Send the distance data
    radio.send("distance", sensor.distance())

    # Wait some time.

Known issues: Slow communication while connected to computer

If the hub is still connected to the computer, the bluetooth chip is quite busy and data broadcasting may be slow. Especially on the Technic Hub and the City Hub.

This is something we are still working on. To work around it, just load the program onto the hub and disconnect from your computer. You can just restart the program with the hub button.

This project was submitted by Pybricks and Nard Strijbosch.