Retrofitting modern LEGO train tracks for use with older version

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.

Motion detecting window closers keep train noise at bay

motion_detecting_window_closers

[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.

[Read more...]

Wii Nunchuk train controls

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.

1:35,200 Scale Train is World’s Smallest

nanotrain

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!

[via RetroThing]

A welcome train for the holidays

[Eric] was charged with the task of setting up the train to welcome people on the porch.  The train had been in the family for a long time, so he didn’t want to modify the train itself. Luckily, it has an IR port. He recorded the IR signal from the remote and used a home made pressure sensor to signal the train to start.

Physical value of sound


The Royal College of Art in London recently hosted its annual graduate summer show, where postgrad students exhibit some of their artistic and musical projects. Among those featured this year were several vinyl record and turntable mods by [Yuri Suzuki].

[Read more...]

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