Lowa

Eurobricks Citizen
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    178
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About Lowa

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  • Website URL
    www.4dbrix.com

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Florida
  • Interests
    automation, train, monorail, robots, software, Arduino

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  • Country
    USA

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  1. We have been making good progress with the development of the 12V style control buttons to automate LEGO train layouts. We redesigned the buttons using the great suggestions of @CaL: we lowered the back part, moved the LEDs and added additional studs so you can customize the back with tiles to indicate what the buttons do. The first button control is powered by a power brick; the buttons are interconnected and can power each other so you only need one power brick. The power brick connects to a wall socket with a standard 9V power supply. Besides powering the automation button controls it also has 2 PF power outlets that can power PF motors and IR receivers. So you can power a ferris wheel or carousel from a wall outlet instead of using battery power.... Let us know what you think!
  2. Well, we use the MQTT protocol and it's pretty straightforward to avoid a messy situation. Each message has a topic and devices can subscribe to the topic(s) they want to receive. So it's pretty simple to send a message to one particular train only. I'm very interested in your experience with the color sensors, please keep us posted!
  3. You can use this brick to control a train, but we're also working WiFi based train controller. You can find some pictures in this Eurobricks discussion: The motor control brick would be around $15, the WiFi train controller around $25. Tracking trains on a track is indeed a challenge. We have been thinking about a sensor in the train that can identify markers on the track (e.g. reflective sticker on a tile). When the train detects a marker, it would inform the control software that would use that to track the position of the trains. As it's the train that sends the information, distinguishing the trains is easy. Tracking the position of the train would be harder but should, in theory, be possible with this system. If you know where the train started and you know the position of the marker on the track the software should be able to figure out where the train is. This would be a cost effective approach as you only need one sensor in the train and multiple cheap markers.
  4. Our switch motors are designed for the PF / 9V LEGO switches, so as long as you don't change the actual switch mechanism this system will work fine. So it should work on those custom switches... Thanks! I'm using standard tactile push buttons. So you hear and feel a solid click when you push the buttons.
  5. Thank you! I'm still planning to rework it with the suggestions of @CaL
  6. Thank you! This is very useful feedback. We started working on this to provide a solution that didn't require a computer. And also out of nostalgia for the 12V system, it just seems like a lot of fun to have a control panel made out of bricks. But as you mentioned it might indeed bring you 'closer' to your layout. For the trains we would use WiFi as this is compatible with out other systems.
  7. The main idea was to have stickers on the tiles, but the solution of @CaL looks pretty interesting to me so I'll experiment with that approach. Concerning the cost, we need the 'final' version before we can fix that but I think it well be around $20-$25. I like your design of the top very much! It might be tricky to get the LEDs so close to the edge but I'll give it a try! The LEDs are not too bright (so it's not uncomfortable when you look at the button), so in worst case I put them on the second row of studs. About the size, 3D printing is not a cheap process and making the buttons larger would have an impact on the price, that's why I made them 2 studs shorter.
  8. 4DBrix Automation Reviews

    The Raspberry Pi is very handy for this. With the current version of our control system/software you can already use it in combination with a tablet by logging in remotely. It's a solution that really makes sense to me as you have an small control unit (Raspberry Pi) that manages and power the automation system.
  9. This is an early prototype of a 12V style button to control our track switch motors. The button has all the hardware it needs to control the motors, it just needs a 5V power supply (from a brick we're still working on). It has 2 LEDs to indicate the state of the button (the LED on the left is not positioned properly in the prototype and doesn't show in the video). The LEDs are in a hollow stud so you can customize the color by adding a transparent brick. There are 4 studs in between the LEDs so you can add a tile with a label to mark the button so you know what it controls. There are power connectors on the side of the buttons, so if you connect them side by side they can power each other. We're planning on making similar button for the traffic lights, decouplers, etc. For those of you who prefer not to use a computer or want to build a control panel in bricks, is this an approach that would work for you ?
  10. 4DBrix Automation Reviews

    The software is available on Windows, macOS, Raspbian and Ubuntu. We're working on a system where you can use you phone as remote control while the system is connected to computer to control and power the motors, lights, etc. The 'computer' can be very small/cheap as we support nControl on the Raspberry Pi. We made a prototype of a level crossing with lights and boom barriers a while ago: Unfortunately there are supply problem with the servo motor we used for this prototype, so we'll have to redesign it using the servo motor we use for the track switch motors.
  11. There are indeed quite a few members of the train community working with Arduino. I'm not sure what would be the best place to re-post: train or general discussion. I don't want to start posting it everywhere because then it becomes spamming...
  12. Great! We're indeed thinking of making a IR sensor dedicated for robots. A LEGO / Arduino compatible touch sensor should be possible too... Sure, there will be people who prefer to solder it themselves. But we're providing an alternative if you want to focus on developing your LEGO creation. This is also part of a larger project where we'll have additional components so you can create LEGO robots using Arduino without having to make PCBs and soldering components... Indeed, the goal to have off the shelf LEGO-Arduino compatible components that also look good. A box to conceal the Arduino would indeed be interesting...
  13. Indeed, this brick has a motor driver IC similar to the L293D, the one we use can handle more current than the L293D. I apologize for not going into more detail; we just had our previous kickstarter campaign copied while we're still fulfilling our backers pledges ... So I'm a bit cautious now. Of course we going to provide the specifications you need to use it!
  14. We indeed have a few things going on already. But kickstarter really helps with the logistics to get things going... for example, it always us to buy components 'in bulk'.
  15. Great! Any ideas on how we can spread the word ? Our main contacts are within the LEGO train / monorail community. Are you aware of something specific for AFOLs involved in Arduino ?