Eurobricks Knights
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About Phoxtane

  • Birthday 05/06/96

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  • Location
    Laramie, Wyoming
  • Interests
    - 'fun' RC car with 42009 crane wheels, small black wheel hub bits, white panels and beams as main color with red highlights
    - Railgun tank based on the 52041 pieces in orange
    - A better Gundam

    Current Project: Sorting and catologing my collection


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  1. I'm sure there's various complex processes that take an input of carbon feedstock (wheat, in this example) and can turn them into simple hydrocarbons. If the process is fancy enough, I bet you can get all of the component materials for ABS plastic from wheat! I'd think that using an algae-based process would be cheaper and easier though, since the algae do a good portion of the work for you by producing an oil straightaway, as opposed to synthesizing the oil from a carbon feedstock (wheat).
  2. I've got my workspace cleaned off and have the long straight for this layout mostly completed. I'm just missing an abundance of 1x2 tiles to finish off the ties for this section of track. It's seven baseplates long - however, the actual layout will add two more baseplates to either end from the curves. I've had to give up the table for Easter dinner, unfortunately!
  3. Maybe you could attach metal foil to the magnets on the trains themselves - you could at least do automatic power connections between cars that way, assuming you left enough loose wire to let the magnets swing freely. There's also pogo pins - fill up a 1x1 Technic brick with some hot glue to locate them, and you could have matching contacts on the other coupler that the pointy bit fits into.
  4. The stickers are what really sets these apart from the rest. Nice work.
  5. Well, good luck with the Kickstarter! I suppose there's a reason college students don't go into business ventures such as this nearly as often as other age groups.
  6. Cable management will be of great importance for this setup. I can't recommend anything specifically, but McMaster-Carr has a wide selection of sleeving for you to choose from. Personally, I'd probably go with some abrasion-resistant (braided) stuff since you're presumably going to moving stuff around until you get everything just right. Also, keep in mind that the Arduino used here can only handle 200mA maximum being drawn or sunk on the digital IO pins. I found this information here: . If you're driving more than a few of those signals at any given time you'll need to give them their own power supply so you don't cause damage to the controller. Looks good otherwise!
  7. At this point in Trains I wouldn't bother getting into 9V if you haven't already got some. It's ridiculously expensive and parts are only going to get rarer - think $40 for a working used 9V train motor and double that for a NIB one!
  8. I have had this exact problem - same pump, same set too. From that set as well my large hand pump has developed issues to the point of squealing horribly when depressed and taking a very long time to return to the neutral position. I've not had issues with any of the other parts from the Education pneumatics set!
  9. Well, I never said it'd be reliable, to be fair. Nice PCB as well. For my purposes I'll probably stick with some sort of servo shield or breakout, but I was planning to do that anyway.
  10. I don't know as much as you, since you're teaching on the subject, but it is very possible, apparently: It may not be very efficient but certainly doable!
  11. It's what the library can handle on the Uno - and apparently the Mega can do 48! As for the reset, that's why you'd use a servo shield or breakout board with its own separate power supply. I'd go for a maximum of two driven off the Uno directly, personally.
  12. Apparently I am - so then you could easily run 10+ switch tracks from the one controller, if you aren't using any sensors. The cost would only be another $8 added on from the four servo motors left over in the previous example. At that point it'd be prudent to use a separate power supply, but I know you can get servo breakout boards that handle that for you.
  13. Wires don't matter that much when you're building everything on MILS - I've got plenty of space underneath to hide wires, and small hills should do the job for the various control boards.
  14. I finally have good pictures of the demonstrator model for my take on a cheap no-modification-required switch track motor. Have a look! The key that makes this work is that the servo acts on a slider, which pushes on the little spring-loaded switch point piece, rather than forcing the lever mechanism back and forth. As such, it takes very little force to change the switch from open to closed and vice versa. I'm using two of the 1x1x1 corner panels to trap the servo horn so that it pushes the slider back and forth, while a 2x2 corner tile pushes the point piece backwards and forwards. The actual switch lever needs to be in the 'open' position to allow the point piece to move back and forth properly; otherwise, the switch will stay closed even when the servo releases the point piece. I'm using an Arduino Uno, but you could use any Arduino or compatible clone as long as you get the pins hooked up right. It's a lucky coincidence that the servo is the size it is; two of the 1x2x3 panels form a nice enclosure that keeps it from moving about too much. It's important to get the older style that don't have the reinforcing ridges on the edges, as otherwise it won't fit. I used a small piece of paper folded on itself a couple of times to keep the servo wedged in tightly. I imagine you could use some of those 1x2 bricks with the vertical groove in them to help hide the servo cabling, but I didn't bother since this is only a demonstrator. Here's a better view of the setup without the track in the way. My servos came with a pack of three differently-shaped horns to put on them - I'm using the shortest one available to me (mine was 19.5mm long with six small holes in it and was the only one with one 'arm' on it). I also have not permanently attached it with the screws that also came in the package, mainly for the purposes of testing. Lastly, here's a picture of the support structure I built up to keep everything in place. I also made an LDD file of the structure as well as the slider mechanism and servo holder so that you can build your own! The hard part of this built is not the mechanism, but setting up the servo as well as the Arduino controller. If anyone is interested, I can do a more in-depth post on how these servos work and how to use them, but the basics go something like this: Attach the servo to the Arduino using the diagram on this page: Test your servo to make sure it's working using the example code on that page (the servo should slowly move back and forth between its endpoints) Center the servo at 90 degrees - - this puts the servo at a known position for use in our mechanism Place the small one-arm servo horn onto the servo spline so that it's pointing across the servo body, not away from it. This allows the servo to reach the little pocket we've built and actuate the slider. This is the tricky part; you have to play around with the Arduino code to calibrate your servo for its switch track. These servos are mass-produced as cheaply as possible, so the actual physical position of the horn at the 0 and 180 degree endpoints will vary somewhat from unit to unit. For my servo, the two positions the servo should move to for a closed and an open switch are about 83 degrees and 113 degrees, respectively. The corner tile should barely touch the point piece when open, and should keep the point piece tight against the outside track piece without the servo struggling or forcing itself out of position. I made some minor improvements to this code for my demonstrator - the servo doesn't sweep between positions, but jumps between them, so it's faster to actuate. I also have the Arduino disconnecting the servo in between movements so it doesn't 'hum' while waiting to move to the next position. General improvements to this model would include building the mechanism out of DBG and black for the servo holder, as well as tidying up the wiring to the servo. The servo horns stand out quite a bit color-wise, but since they're nylon, they could easily be dyed black to match the servo housing, and the silver-colored screws that come with the servo horns could be touched up with some paint or nail polish to turn them black as well. The only downside to this mechanism is that you can't run a train backwards through the straight part of the switch when it's closed, since the point piece can't move out of the way. Since this is already being controlled by a microcontroller, it wouldn't be difficult at all to add some sort of sensor that would open the switch when a train is approaching it from the wrong side. As for overall cost, beyond the price for the pieces needed to build this barebones mechanism (I had all of the pieces in my collection): I bought a ten-pack of these servos for $2 apiece, and if you don't already have one, a small Arduino starter kit can be found online for $25. The Arduino Uno has six analog pins, so it can potentially control up to six servos at once. If you're starting out from scratch, the total cost for six motorized switches would end up being around $37 - which is much cheaper than the ~$125 it would take to build this out of genuine Lego parts (one battery box, six M-motors, three IR receivers, three IR remotes), and it doesn't take any PF channels.
  15. As any competent player of city building games would tell you, it's important to get the utilities in place before you start inviting people to come live in your city. I've gone ahead and started the process by building my own modified (improved) version of the promotional Vestas wind turbine model, set #4999: The biggest change is that I've nearly doubled the height of the tower in order to bring the blades into scale with the tower; the Vestas turbine is quite short, at least compared to the wind farms I see here in Wyoming. From the look of it, the towers are a bit more than twice as tall as the blade radius; currently in these images I'm waiting on one more segment in order to bring the turbine up to full height. I also did some work in and around the nacelle, hub, and blades in order to remove gaps and increase the color uniformity in exposed areas, as well as make some small shape changes. The very last addition I made was that of a service door at the base of the tower to allow for workers to enter the turbine for maintenance and such. In the context of my layout, the turbine was built and installed by the 'Mikroelectric' utility company, which services the town and the surrounding areas. I'm hoping to make some custom window cling-style signage to complete the green stripe down the side of the turbine nacelle with the Mikroelectric logo. Most of the gap-filling happened at the little back door that allows access to the motor. Currently in order to power it, I have to hang a battery box out the back. I made the tip of the hub a bit pointier, and smoothed out some of the gaps at the root of the blades. There's even steps leading up to the access door. They're a little off-kilter from how it fits onto the baseplate, but once the tower is mounted onto a MILS-style module it won't matter - and the tower will be a lot less wobbly.