Small server for model trains

For reasons we can’t comprehend, model train layouts are  incredibly popular in Germany. [Gerhard] is one of those model train aficionados that has moved far beyond a layout with a transformer controlling the speed of the train; he sent in a tip for a very tiny Rocrail server he built to control the locomotives moving across his layout.

[Gerhard] uses Rocrail – a control system for train layouts large or small. Rocrail comes in both client and server configurations. The client is able to run on iDevices or Android. [Gerhard]’s server runs on a very tiny Linux computer tucked away under the layout.

Instead of a Raspberry Pi ([Gehard] couldn’t get one in time for this build), he used a Carambola board. The Rocrail server is installed on this single board computer and connects to a CAN bus controller. It’s a step up from [Gehard]’s previous CAN/Ethernet gateway built around OpenWRT, and makes the entire device much smaller.

[Gehard] doesn’t have a video of his layout in action, but after the break you can see how much the German people love their model trains at Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg.

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Gyrocam keeps the horizon level even when the camera isn’t

[Derek] likes to get a little bit of drivers-eye footage when racing his motorcycle, but there’s an inherent problem with mounting a camera to a moving and tilting platform. When he leans into turns, the camera can’t keep the horizon level. Cinematography and electronics go well together. so [Derek] built a horizon-stabilized camera mount for motorcycle videography.

The build was inspired by footage shot from [Valentino Rossi’s bike in 2010. Of course the professional model costs a small fortune, but [Derek] managed to make his own out of 3D printed parts and a hobby servo.

Based on the Contour Roam camera, [Derek] had a pair of gears printed at Shapeways to fit over the camera and attach to a servo. The electronics are an ATMega32 with a L3G4200D gyroscope. When the ‘micro detects a change in the gyroscope it rotates the servo in the opposite direction, keeping the horizon in the video level.

It’s a very cool build, and judging from the action videos after the break, makes for awesome track footage.

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