LEDs Turn This Paper Map Into A Tram Tracker

Public transit can be a wonderful thing. It can also be annoying if the trains are running behind schedule. These days, many public transit systems are connected to the Internet. This means you can check if your train will be on time at any moment using a computer or smart phone. [Christoph] wanted to take this concept one step further for the Devlol hackerspace is Linz, Austria, so he built himself an electronic tracking system (Google translate).

[Christoph] started with a printed paper map of the train system. This was placed inside what began as an ordinary picture frame. Then, [Christoph] strung together a series of BulletPixel2 LEDs in parallel. The BulletPixel2 LEDs are 8mm tri-color LEDs that also contain a small controller chip. This allows them to be controlled serially using just one wire. It’s similar to having an RGB LED strip, minus the actual strip. [Christoph] used 50 LEDs when all was said and done. The LEDs were mounted into the photo frame along the three main train lines; red, green, and blue. The color of the LED obviously corresponds to the color of the train line.

The train location data is pulled from the Internet using a Raspberry Pi. The information must be pulled constantly in order to keep the map accurate and up to date. The Raspberry Pi then communicates with an Arduino Uno, which is used to actually control the string of LEDs. The electronics can all be hidden behind the photo frame, out of sight. The final product is a slick “radar” for the local train system.

14 thoughts on “LEDs Turn This Paper Map Into A Tram Tracker

    1. As a native Linzer, to me the tram is of course a central part oft our Town (We often call it “Linz an der Tramway”), but don’t be so harsh to the editors who probably don’t have that strong a connection to our public transport as we do ;)

      And congrats to devlol for hitting HAD ;)

  1. @Andrew & @Richard Wahl seem surprised that HAD has editors that can’t spell, don’t proofread, don’t RTFA and have inconsistencies in the (often poorly written) summary.

    Their grammar isn’t the best either but the Oxford comma is debatable.

    1. I’ve been coming to HaD daily, for years. It is the only web site that I frequent and the one I have been most loyal to… I always recommend it and have never faltered in my love for this site, I wish there were more like it. Having said that, I am always surprised at the lack of double-checking their editing. Especially considering the amount of traffic this place gets. Sometimes I wonder how they are expected to be taken seriously with all of the errors that could be fixed with simple proofreading.

      Sorry, guys. I love this place as much as the next guy, but damn.

      1. At the same time, look at the volume of articles, from the number of things I’v submitted that never made it, I can say that we only see 1/50 or less of the hints they get per day, I imagine that each one is carefully rejected after putting some time looking into it. There IS only so much time in a day.

  2. This would be interesting on a static schedule system like the Vancouver SkyTrain where everything is computer controlled but multiple lines run the same track. Too bad for security reasons info on train locations are not made public.

  3. I’d like you to provide separate links for the original and the translated version of articles that are not in English. Unfortunately, it can be quite annoying to get rid of the translation if you happen to understand the language and you’d rather read it in the original.

      1. In old movies like the 1974 version of ‘the taking of pelham 123’ for instance they had a similar display for the subway in new-york. Seems it was the way to display things like that in the old days, albeit with bulbs instead of LED of course.

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