Whenever [Gareth James] needs to catch a train he has only to push a button on this frame and the next three departure times will be displayed. As you can see from the post-processing in the photo, this is accomplished by a Raspberry Pi board using a few familiar tools.
Let’s take a look at the hardware first. He acquired a 7″ LCD display which he removed from its plastic case. The bare screen will easily fit inside of the rather deep wood frame and its composite video input makes it quite simple to interface with the RPi board. There was a little work to be done for power. The LCD needs 12V so he’s using a 12V wall wart to feed the frame, and including a USB car charger to power the RPi. The last thing he added is a button connected to the GPIO header to tell the system to fetch a new set of times.
A Python script monitors the button and uses Beautiful Soup to scrape the train info off of a website. To get the look he wanted [Gareth] wrote a GUI using tkinter. Don’t miss the demo after the jump.
If you need a bit of a primer on scraping web data take a look at this guide.
Continue reading “Picture frame that scrapes train times from the web”
While at Maker Faire K.C. this year, I was sure to take my family to a spot we tend to visit every time we are near: Fritz’s. Fritz’s is a restaurant with an interesting food delivery method. The food itself is your standard faire of burgers and fries, however the railroad theme comes into play when your food is delivered by a model train on a track that runs along the ceiling. Your tray of burgers is deposited safely on a platform that is lowered (hydraulically?) to your table. The whole thing doesn’t look terribly complex, but it is fantastic fun.
Continue reading “Fritz’s, fast food with a robotic slant”
There is a long tradition of hacking transportation to work on the rails. People have done it to all kinds of things for many reasons. Some are for rail maintenance, others are simply to enjoy the tracks. With as much unused railways as we have, it seems a shame to waste them. This hack turns a bicycle into into a rail bike with the use of some conduit, a cut up razor scooter, and a fork from another bike. After some tinkering with spacing to make the whole thing a little smoother on the rails, the whole thing seemed like a success. That is, until the front rail guide caught a railway tie and the rider was tossed. Not only that, the impact destroyed his bike frame.
So, does this wreck mark this as a failure? Or is this simply another step in the iterative process we all tend to use. The only difference is if he carries on to build another.
So you’re really looking for that [Norman Rockwell] Christmas and want to set up your train to encircle the Christmas tree this year. The problem is that all you’ve got is an old LEGO train set and not enough track for it. You can’t just buy some more, because the technology has changed; or can you?
[Chris] was dismayed to find that newer LEGO train sets have gone to battery operation rather than drawing power through metal tracks. The new tracks are plastic, and buying extra segments of the older version is cost prohibitive. He figured out a way to add power conductors to the new track pieces.
It turns out the design of the new tracks matches the old, except they’re all in plastic instead of having metal rails. He bought a plastic add-on set, then picked up some copper foil from the hobby store which is meant for stained-glass work. It’s adhesive backed, and after working out the best way to apply it, he coated the rails with the stuff. As you can see above, the new mates perfectly with the old, and keeps that locomotive chugging along.
If you’ve got copper foil left over after this hack, there’s tons of other uses for it. Perhaps building your own flex sensors is worth a try.
[Ed Rogers] has the unfortunate privilege of living right next to a set of train tracks, and as a man who holds his sleep in high regard, he needed to find a way to keep the noise in his bedroom to a minimum. To combat the sound of passing trains, he built himself a system that automatically closes his windows when a train passes by his apartment.
The setup relies on a web cam, which uses motion-sensing software to detect a passing train. The video is analyzed by a computer in his room which passes a message to an Arduino when a train is near. The Arduino then sends a pair of window mounted linear actuators into action, slowly (and quietly) shutting his windows.
The linear actuators move pretty slowly as you can see in the video below, but we doubt that matters. Since it looks like [Ed] lives in a slow zone, it likely takes quite a bit of time for a freight train to pass, making the 40-second closing period more than reasonable.
Continue reading “Motion detecting window closers keep train noise at bay”
While we’ve been told all of our lives Wiis and trains just don’t mix, they never said anything about Wii Nunchuks. One terribly abused joke later, [Ken] tipped us off about his Wii Nunchuk controlled train set.
By utilizing Digital Command Control (think pulse-width modulation) with an Arduino, he is able to have full control over the trains direction and speed. The other part of the equation is a Wii Nunchuk and adapter. The setup should be pretty self explanatory, but there is an Instructable for those that need more help.
This train layout is so small it nearly defies photography as much as it defies expectations. Built by model railroad enthusiast [David Smith], this is a model of a model: an N scale (1:160) layout inside a Z scale (1:220) world! For size reference, the entire layout is shown under a ballpoint pen tip in the photo above. And it actually runs!
Of course with this being Hack a Day you know there’s going to be some shenanigans involved. Pause the hi-def YouTube video at the 0:50 mark and see if you can puzzle it out first. The remainder of the video and [David’s] project page reveal how this all works, and it’s no less amazing even with the trick exposed. Check out his other ludicrously small mechanical wonders as well!