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Found 31 results

  1. Since 2011, our large fully automated train layout will be displayed at Lego World 2017. In several subtopics, you could have read about the building of the delta crane, the train controlled by a Mindstorms EV3 and much more. A video of our layout in 2016 has been watched almost 30.000 times. For 2017, the train layout consists of 12 Mindstorms EV3 bricks and 1 Mindstorms NXT: 1x Train (EV3) 1x Delta Crane (EV3) 1x Wheel of Fortune (EV3) 1x Ticket Dispenser (EV3) 4x Delivery station (EV3) 1x Ticket reader (EV3) 1x Delta crane (EV3) 2x Container and Candy dispenser (EV3) 1x Air compressor (NXT) All the EV3 bricks are controlled by a Microsoft .NET application, written in C#. We are now in the phase of integrating the Lego builds and fine-tuning the software. Click on the picture below to surf to our Flickr page and you can watch a video on Youtube to see a full test run. The layout will be displayed at Lego World 2017 in Utrecht, the Netherlands from Wednesday 18 - Saturday 21 October 2017. Regards, Hans
  2. Hi everyone! Few years ago I started thinking about a system to control my LEGO diorama because I did't find any "official" system (I found Mindstorms very expensive for my budget and limiting); so I create a system that allows me to control all the diorama and roll out automations when I show my diorama in fairs and exibitions. These are the features of ArduTrain WiFi: Control up to 8 Power Functions trains (but also 9v old trains with relays) Control up to 6 motorized LEGO switches Control the LED lighting and the Power Functions motors on your diorama thanks to the 4 relay output Roll out automations: detect passage of the trains by triggering up to 6 sensors on the tracks Watch realtime video streaming of your diorama thanks to webcam streaming (remote control of all diorama, I play with mine from smartphone when I'm in the bathroom ) Is multi-device and works on browsers without installing anything Easy to implement, does not require any specific expertise After a while I decided to share ArduTrain WiFi for free, so I made an easy guide (in english / italian) and I made software (in english) available on my website at this address: There is also a Facebook page to follow all the updates: Here you can see ArduTrain WiFi in action: This is not a commercial product but it's licensed; the project can be supported through donations from the website: in this way it will be kept free for everyone and there will be new developments. I hope you enjoy!
  3. Hi all, In January 2014 I build a small 9v LEGO train layout. I use Mindstorms nxt 2.0 to control the trains and switches. Now I’ve found this video, I’ve uploaded to my YouTube Channel. The layout works like this: 1. Both trains are running on the outer track. The nxt motor controls the big yellow button on the Speed Regulator. 2. Due to small differences in the train motor and the weight of the trains, the come closer to each other. 3. If the distance between the two trains is to small (less than 3 seconds, seen by the ultrasonic sensor), the last train drives to the inner track and stops over there for 10 seconds. A nxt motor switches the switch. 4. The train on the outer track keeps driving. 5. After 10 seconds the train on the inner track moves to the color sensor, just before the switch and stops. 6. If the train on the outer track passes the other switch (ultrasonic switch), the train on the inner track starts moving to the outer track. 7. Then it all starts over again. Let me know what you think about this layout! I’m also curious how you guys control your trains and switches. Any automation with Mindstorms?? 🚂
  4. As part of our fully automated train layout (see more at our blog here:, I have started to build a fully automated container warehouse. The warehouse should be able to store a large number of candy containers. I want to build four rows with shelves to store the containers, served by two robots that can store and retrieve the containers. The first thing I needed is to build the vertical lift for the stacker crane. I looked at other builds and found out that there are three possible mechanisms to create the vertical movement: Gears climbing a toothed bar (element 3743), a nice example can be found here: Cables pulling the lift up, an example can be found here: Chain links, an example that uses the small elements 3711 can be found here: And as you may have guessed, I have tried something different. I use the worm gears (element 4716) to get the vertical movement, this is the first test setup: If you stack the elements 4716 on top of each other, they should be aligned correctly to create one, long worm gear. I just finished a first prototype of the stacker crane. The crane has two forks, in order to store or retrieve a container from either the left row or the right row. The lift can move up and down, the (horizontal) movement along the row needs to be build. One EV3 M motor is used to move the forks either to the left or to the right. It uses a color sensor to determine the middle position. One EV3 L motor is used for the vertical movement. A touch sensor is used to detect the bottom position. Watch the video to see a demo: More details will be added later. Enjoy watching and please let me know what you think. Hans
  5. To all LEGO train automation enthusiasts, This is a short clip of the final version of our LEGO compatible track switch motor. It has a digital servo embedded in a 3D printed housing. This is a 'plug & play' solution: the motor is strong enough that it doesn't require any modification of the switch (you don't need to open the switch and remove the notch to reduce the force needed to flip it). I also added a picture of the back side so you can see how it can fit onto a LEGO® switch. The housing is made in a custom dark bluish gray ABS filament that matches the LEGO® tracks. The motor has a 6 by 6 stud footprint and it's 2 bricks + 2 plates high. We'll be making controllers for these motors as well, so you can connect them to your PC. However, the motors are fully Arduino compatible, so you can integrate them in you own DIY control system. What do you think ? We're working on a full range of automation gadgets for LEGO trains. What other automation challenges would you like to see solved ?
  6. We just finalized our button control for train traffic lights. It’s part of a range of buttons we're developing to control your LEGO train layout with a physical control panel. The outside is identical to the track switch motor button control we presented a while ago but inside it has a driver for traffic lights. It’s more than a simple light switch, this button control also supports a number of blinking effects. The two indicator LEDs on the button control mimic the behavior of the traffic light so you can see the current state of your layout on your control panel. The button control can also be reconfigured to be used as crossing barrier light controller: right button = lights off, left button = both LEDs blinking. The next step are button controls for boom barrier and the decoupler track. Let us know what you think!
  7. Both BrickTsar and DunksterBricks seem to have had a lot of fun making a review of our automation system! BrickTsar focuses on how to get the system up and running while DunksterBricks shows what it looks like in a real layout. Now that the switch motors, traffic lights and sensors are out, what do you think we should focus on getting out next ?
  8. 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!
  9. Addendum to “Electrify your train switches” Dear all, much has been said and shown about ways to electrify LEGO 9V/PF train switches. Along with the EB electrify your train switches thread and some other posts on EB and elsewhere there hardly is anything interesting to add. But then … as said before, I am just wrapping up more than a decade of years of fun with my train layout. My switch electrification approach is far less driven by achieving “to scale modeling” or “most elegant solutions”, it is governed by “using as many diverse LEGO motors as possible” on a more or less standardized and simple drive base design “using as little parts as possible”. I simply like to make efficient use of the stuff in my LEGO boxes – since there are about 30 switch points on my layout. There are a couple of my personal design lines: Since some areas of the layout are rather “dense”, the footprint of the drive mechanism should be as small as possible A clearance that is a little greater as compared to the original configuration with the manual switch stand installed. The reason is that some of my rolling stock MODs/MOCs have a fairly large “overhang” in curves and thus need some additional clearance when passing switch points The switch drive should not fall apart even after prolonged operation as almost half of my tracks are hidden behind bookshelves and other furniture. No modification of the switch – this means that the force required to throw the switch is often considerable. The rendering below shows one very simple base design for my switch drives. It consists of a couple of Technic as well as plain bricks and plates. The rendering is already 5 years old – time is flying. This particular drive mechanism has one serious disadvantage: Operated with the full torque of the PF motors (e.g. with the PF bang-bang remote #8885) it falls apart after five or so cycles. This issue is rather easily overcome, when the torque of the driving motor is adjusted via power control and pulse timing using a programmable brick as for example an RCX or Scout. It took me ages to figure out how to accomplish that: Adjust the length (e.g. 0.3 s) and the power (on LEGO’s 0 – 7 range) for the motor “on” state. This LDraw file contains all the above varieties; the individual sub models combine to any of the drives shown. (Note that you may need to install the unofficial LDraw library as of 2016 to correctly load the files). Alternatively, paying more careful attention to the original EB switch point electrification thread entry ( would have told me that Jonathan uses his NXT to do exactly that – and for long! The switch is thrown by a lever, which fits into the space between the two mounts for the manual switch stand. By small variations of the actual gear configuration, almost all typical LEGO motors can be attached. The geared varieties [e.g., PF M motor (#8883), Technic mini motor (#71427, #43362), Technic motor geared (#47154), or even the Mindstorms MicroScout PBrick (#32344] are driving the lever with none or low additional gearing ratios; the ungeared Technic motor (#2838) requires higher gear ratios to work properly. The advantage of this drive design is the footprint (as measured on the floor, not height!), which is 3(x6) studs for clearance and 5(x6) studs for the base = 8(x6) studs. The picture below shows two MicroScouts on the bridge operating the two switch points on the right. There are light fibers plugged into the MicroScout’s light sensors; these do transmit the VLL code generated by a Scout PBrick (not visible) to control them. MicroScouts operating as “intelligent motors” for switch drives are fun. The “forward/reverse” “switch” is somewhat unique: When the MicroScout is put into “P” mode it pays careful attention to its built-in light sensor. In this mode, the MicroScout understands some VLL (LEGO’s Visible Light Link protocol) commands such as “motor on forward” etc. In other words you can operate the switch using optical signals from a VLL source. The rendering below shows a Scout controller operating 4 MicroScout switch drives. This version of a switch drive has the smallest depth I could come up with to securely operate unmodified switch points: I used that one on my layout here: Here is the link to the LDraw file. In the mean time I have slightly modified the “RailBricks #9 challenge” drive (a number of ingenious train experts have contributed to this one – see the "Challenge reveal" article by Benn Coifman in RailBricks #12, page 37) and reduced the size to 5-wide at the base. This drive never falls apart, regardless how much torque is exerted on the driving axle. The design is simply amazing! I have retrofitted almost all of my switch points with this version. When a MicroScout is operating the drive, it should be oriented such that you can easily get access to the buttons (on/off, select, run). There are several drive versions to attach the MicroScout in such way that is does not interfere with the required clearance on the point and good access to the buttons. Here are some real world examples: This folder contains all LDraw files Best regards, Thorsten
  10. 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 ?
  11. When I was building the Robot Arm (see my mail thread here), I stumbled upon the ABB robot flex picker (also known as a delta robot). I was amazed about the simple construction and how fast it can work. Although I am definitely not making the first one of Lego, I wanted to build my own version of it. In this thread you can follow the work in progress. I have now build the base and the three arms that will support the grabber. The grabber will be able to pick up the candy containers and move them to a different location. Don't know yet what its place will be on the layout, but I am confident that it will have its use. Photos can be found at Flickr, click on the picture below to see some more pics and an animated gif. Please let me know that you think of it. Enjoy, Hans
  12. We have been working on expanding our train automation system. The video below provides a glimpse of the (near) future. In this video we control everything from a tablet: switches, traffic lights, train head lights and the train itself... The layout automation system is connected to a PC that runs nControl, the tablet interfaces with the PC using a remote desktop app like TeamViewer. The train uses a prototype of our WiFi based train controller. The train communicates with nControl using nControl's internal MQTT server. The track switch motors and controllers are available; the traffic lights should become available the first weeks of April. The train controller is in development: the goal is to be able to control the direction, speed, head lights, check the battery power, and use a position sensor so nControl can track the position of the train on the layout. Let us know what you think!
  13. Hey, A few years back I set up a layout which consisted of one big loop with a couple of side tracks where trains can be parked. So multiple trains were running on the same loop. This system had a central controller and the downside of this was that a lot of times the system had to wait for a train to come in or there were only two trains at the maximum running around. This time I've made a system with six side tracks and every side track has its own controller. So the choice wether to park a train on the side track or not is done locally based on a few variables like distance with the previous train and how long the side track was not occupied. A video says more than words so enjoy :)
  14. Lego Railway Signaling

    Hey guys! After a few weeks of break I'm back and working on my test-setup for train signaling. As some of you know, I've built a small test track on my desk and wired up a lot of sensors and LEDs to program and develop a signaling system for trains. I'm finally at a point where I can drive trains over a layout that has block signaling fully working and completely automated too. Here's a video: When the train passes over the block sensor, a flag is set and it's only when the flag is removed (i.e. the train has fully passed over the signal and an additional time of 1 second has passed), that the signal switches to red and vice versa. The code only makes the block-section check it's sensors and flags get set and removed automatically meaning I have minimal code maintenance to do if I want to change anything. I have a lot more signals planned for the future including switch track signals, crossings and station signals. If you're interested, I can provide a PDF with all the signals I came up with. Let me know what you think. All feedback is appreciated.
  15. In case you have missed my earlier posts: the article below is part of the large, fully automated train layout called "Sioux.NET on Track". You can watch a video of our presentation of our layout at Lego World Utrecht 2016 at our Youtube channel: Replacement of a slow candy crane As you can see in the video, the loading of the four wagons is done by the so-called candy crane. A nice and eye-catching structure, but is is slow. Really slow. When the visiting parents asked me at Lego World what the layout was about, my answer was usually “for children it is a candy delivery machine but for the parents it is a Zen machine” ;-). The delivery of four candies took in total about 13 minutes; most of the time the candy crane was fetching the containers with candies and loading them into the train. When we walked around Lego World, we noticed the following robot arms at the Mindstorms stand. We all had the same idea: that robot arm would be our next building and the replacement of our crane. The robot arm would be responsible for moving the containers from the pickup position to the wagons. The robot arm on the photo is originally designed by Mike Dobson and a LDD file is available. But I don’t find it a challenge to build these things from a building instruction (although, rebuilding these large objects from an LDD file is quite a challenge in itself ;-). So I started to build a robot arm from scratch. Of course, you will see some parts that look similar and yes: I have stolen these ideas from the master ;-) Robot arm, six axis DOF (some background info) The robot arm that we are designing, is a so called six-axis DOF robot (DOF is an abbreviation for Degrees of Freedom). The six axis that it can move are shown on the following picture: This axis, located at the robot base, allows the robot to rotate from left to right. This axis allows the lower arm of the robot to extend forward and backward. The axis extends the robot's vertical reach. It allows the upper arm to raise and lower. Working in conjunction with the axis 5, this axis aids in the positioning of the end effector and manipulation of the part. Known as the wrist roll, it rotates the upper arm in a circular motion moving parts between horizontal to vertical orientations. This axis allows the wrist of the robot arm to tilt up and down. This axis is responsible for the pitch and yaw motion. The pitch, or bend, motion is up and down, much like opening and closing a box lid. Yaw moves left and right, like a door on hinges. This is the wrist of the robot arm. It is responsible for a twisting motion, allowing it to rotate freely in a circular motion, both to position end effectors and to manipulate parts. It is usually capable of more than a 360 degree rotation in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. The gripper to pick-up the parts, candy containers in our case. Since this is not a movement, it is not seen as a separate axis. So, let's start building! Building of the robot arm, work in progress (first prototype) We started with the upper arm of the robot arm. For the first prototype, we used a a copy of the crane grabber for the gripper part. Three motors were placed in the upper arm (for movement 5, 6 and 7). The result can be seen below: And all worked fine, apart from one major disadvantage: to make the movement "axis 4" possible, the upper arm needed to be connected using a turntable (art. 4624645). But the weight of the upper arm was too high for the turntable. It started to bent a bit, making the rotation (axis 4) almost impossible. So, we needed a new upper arm but much more light-weight. Building of the robot arm, work in progress (second prototype) We discussed in the team what could be improved. And if the weight of the arm is too much, it needed to go on a diet. So, we looked for a way to put the motors in the upper part of the arm and to get three axles through the turntable. That would save lots of weight: 1) because three motors are not needed in this part of the arm, and 2) because the arm could be much shorter. But is it possible to get three axles through one turntable? Yes, you can. I found a video that does the trick, you can find it here: Another solution uses non-Lego parts: Quite a nice solution but we have a restriction that we don't use non-Lego elements. If three axles is not really possible, let's step back to a two-axle solution. And so we did: we created an upper part of the robot arm with only one motor and a simple fix to get two axles through the turntable: The result of the second prototype can be seen here. We said goodbye to the grabber and made a two-finger gripper. And indeed, the second prototype was better than the first time. Take a look at a (kind of) complete upper arm: But another major disadvantage: if the arm made a movement around axis 5 or axis 6, the gripper opens or closes as well. The reason is that the gears that control the movement of the opening/closing of the gripper, are also rotating when the gripper is rotated (axis 6) or when the wrist rotates (axis 5). You can power the motor that controls the gripper to compensate, but it is not accurate enough. So... goodbye to prototype 2. Building of the robot arm, work in progress (third prototype) How can you prevent gears to turn when you don't want them to....? Remove the gears! So the next (and hopefully final) prototype uses pneumatics to control the gripper. We added two touch sensors to the upper arm to detect the position of movement 5. In the photo above, the read L shaped peaces are pressed against the touch sensor when it reaches the end position. At the other side, the same principle is used to detect the other end position. Next to build: a sensor to detect the rotation position of the gripper. And the motor(s) to control the movements 5 (wrist) and 6 (gripper rotation). If that is finished, the upper arm is ready and we can continue with the part that holds the upper arm. That's all for now, I'll keep you posted. Please let me know what you think of it. Enjoy, Hans
  16. Hey guys! As some of you know, I recently got back to Lego trains after 15 years of neglect. A close friend of mine thought it was a good idea to document my progress, thoughts and plans on a personal blog, so others would be able to one day build their own big layouts and see what I struggled with and how they can do it better. I'd like you guys to check it out and use this forum to comment on my posts and maybe give me suggestions (I love ideas) on things you would want to hear about or see of. This blog is entirely dedicated to my Lego trains project. So far there are 4 blog entries (The latest one is being uploaded right this moment). If you wish to comment on something, let me know which post you're referring to, so I know what the topic is. Thanks for checking it out! //Edit: By the way, I try to post once a week, every Monday.
  17. Rail crossing automated by Arduino

    Hey all, I'm working on a big automation project and I needed some automated rail crossings for that. This was already a project on itself which I like to share with you. I work with the 9V system and make trains stop by disabling isolated segments in the rails. That princicple is also used in the automated rail crossing. The crossing is controlled by a printed circuit board which I have designed myself. The PCB is multifunctional and can control two single crossings or one double crossing. This means that the board has two connections for sensors, two connections for signals and two connections for isolated track segments. Printed Circuit Board The heart of the system is stand alone Arduino chip. When the sensor is triggered by a train that is passing by, the non-priority track is disabled and the concerning signal is put to red. As long as the train triggers the sensor, the non-priority track remains disabled. When the train has cleared the sensor, a timer is started to make sure the train has left the crossing before the non-priority track is enabled again. This timer is adjustable by means of an adjustable resistor. Since the PCB can control two crossings, it contains also two adjustable resistors. The value of the delays is displayed on a 4-digit display. This way the system is flexible and can cope with slower or faster trains. Sensor Ofcourse you want to see the thing in action, so I also made a video. In this layout a double crossing is controlled by the PCB.
  18. Sioux.NET on Track presents the Ticket Dispenser Unit (TDU) Two articles about the Lego Dispenser Unit can be found at our blog: In this article you can read how tickets are read using a four-color based number system. This article was written before the dispenser part was created, so it is only about the reader part. In this article you can read about the upgraded version that will be used at Lego World 2017. Click on the following picture to see more pictures: A video of the working TDU 2017 can be found here:
  19. Can someone point me to topic or software, that can generate cute PDF when LDD finished generating HTML building guide activated by shortcut CTRL+H.
  20. We have been working on a software to design and automate LEGO train and monorail layouts. The first BETA version of nControl is out and can be downloaded for free from the 4DBrix site. It has a track planner for train and monorail layouts and has the first elements of the automation simulation: track switches, traffic lights and sound effects. We also have 2 YouTube videos to get you started. Download link: Getting started videos: Let us know what you think; any feedback, suggestions or ideas for additional features are welcome! Lowa
  21. Sioux.NET on Track is a group of enthusiastic colleagues who come together after working hours to get experience with Microsoft.NET. To make learning fun, we develop an application in C# for making a full automated Lego train, using Lego Mindstorms and Lego Power functions. The layout is always shown at Lego World in the Netherlands. Our plans for 2016 have been published at our blog: as well as an article about the new updated crane positioning. You can also view a video at our Youtube channel about the power chain systems: Enjoy, Hans
  22. Hi all, Just made a LDD file of my design of a M-motor track switch. Some inspiration from around the net, but for people looking, here is a solution. LDD File. M Motor switch track design Switch track goes between the red tiles and the rest. This is for a left-side switch track, mirror for right side. Have fun.
  23. Background With some colleagues of mine, I am working on a fully automated train layout. You can read more about this at our blog: The layout is always demonstrated on Lego World in Utrecht. We gave a demo at another event, as can be seen on the following Youtube video. One of the items I have been working on, is the Candy Rotation Stock. I made a working version, as can be seen on the next video: Redesign of the Candy Rotation Stock After building the final version of the Candy Rotation Stock, I transported the object to our office to integrate it with the other parts of the track. I found out that the CRS was not robust enough and it took some time before it worked again. Although the concept works, it was not good enough to run for a couple of minutes without problems. And I needed it to work for four days at Lego World! So I took the difficult decision to redesign it. In this thread you can follow the progress. The redesign will be based on the conveyor belt that I found on Youtube (user ssugawara1955): And this is my proof of concept: I have ordered some extra parts to make a complete square and two switch points: one switch point that will lead to the Crane Pickup location and one switch point where new containers can be inserted to the rotation stock. Some more photos of the progress can be viewed on flickr: . Enjoy. /Hans
  24. I'm new on Eurobricks. Just wanted to share the project that I'm doing in the evening hours with a couple of colleagues: Sioux.NET on Track. See more at Sioux .NET on Track is one of the expertisegroups of Sioux Embedded Systems in Eindhoven, a group of enthusiastic colleagues who come together after working hours to get experience with Microsoft.NET (mostly C# and WPF). To make learning fun, we develop an application for making a full automated Lego train, using Lego Mindstorms and Lego Power functions. One of the things I managed to do, is to use the NXT as a remote control for the EV3. You can see a small movie at our Youtube channel: It is not a finished product, but you can have the source code for free. The current part that I'm working on, is the Candy Rotation Stock. See a video of the prototype here: Please feel free to leave a comment here or at the Blog. Let me know what you think. Best, Hans Odenthal
  25. Automated Layout

    Hello, I am woking on plans for a Lego layout of the majority of the Magic Kingdom, in Walt Disney World Florida. I am planning on using the Philips Hue System for lighting so that I can have daytime/nighttime/morning/evening. I also am going to include LifeLites for the lighting of the street and in buildings. A few of the rides will be able to run as well, including the Walt Disney World Railroad which runs around the park. Lastly I am also going to include sounds into different areas of the park to add to the realism. Is there a program where I can make all these systems automated so that by the push of a button or two the entire layout comes to life?