Train Departures for your LEGO City

Time to catch the 9.14 to Windsor? Or the 10.40 to Hogwarts?

We've been having so much fun with this!  Inspired by the amazing work of @digibrix on Instagram we are very happy to support more AFOLs bring their stations to life!

Live Train Data

DARWIN is the online service that can be queried to get live data for train information for the whole of the UK.  We use their public API to pull data for a station of your choice.  Our display will then show live train data just like you'd see if you walked to the station and looked at the boards,

It's very geeky, and very cool!

Fantasy Data

This is probably even more fun!  We've taken the real-time data concept and applied it to fictional data sets.

So you can list your favourite destinations - be they "York" or "Brickston" or "Billund" and the departure board will show a regular flow of trains.  Some trains will run on time, some will be late.  And some - just occasionally - might go somewhere entirely different :)

The Technology

This is not a turn-key solution - to make this work requires a Raspberry Pi (any version) and one of our new OLED displays.  You need internet access if you want to show live data, and you need to connect to a computer if you want to configure it.

At a simple level we have three parts:

- A Raspberry Pi.  This is a great British success story - a 'Single Board Computer' which is a fully functional computer on a single tiny board.  It's not magic - and to change the settings you need to connect with a keyboard and mouse and display.  And indeed to get live train data from the Internet you need to set up Wifi.  But once that's done it should run 24x7 with no keyboard or screen connected.  

And how big is it?  A traditional Raspberry Pi is about the size of a pack of cards.  A Raspberry Pi Zero is like a slightly overweight cigarette lighter!

- A screen!  We found these awesome little OLED screens.  They're 2.8" diagonal with a resolution of 256 x 64 pixels.  Being OLED the background is pure black and the writing is bright and clear.  And the image is orange which matches nicely with most train platform displays

- The Program.  We wrote a program in a language called Python which connects to teh National Rail Enquiries service and pulls back live train data.  Then we added a whole 'fantasy mode' so it can show whatever destination names you want in a realistic way.  Ideal for LEGO city names and for those without an easy way to connect this to the Internet.  The program is open source and hosted at GitHub.

Product Options

We want to support customers at all levels - and technical support is key to this!

We offer these options as standard and invite you to contact us to make sure this product works for you!

1) An Elegant Departure Board screen.  This comes with hand-soldered cables with female breadboard connectors on the end, designed to plug straight into a Raspberry Pi.  

2) An Elegant Departure Board with a Raspberry Pi Zero!  This comes connected and working with made up station names.  We have a standard list - you can ask us to configure whatever names you like!

3) An option for either kit - we can supply a LEGO frame to hold the screen.  Either way you will have access to the design and parts list for this - it's not a secret and we hope you will build on it and make it fit your city!

Finally - the Raspberry Pi board requires power.  We don't supply this as standard as Amazon does such a great job at this.  The Raspberry Pi Zero boards we supply require a Micro USB power supply.  And if you need to connect them to a screen you'll need a Mini-HDMI connect for the screen and Micro USB for the keyboard.  

So there you go - we can send you a Pi and a display board  and everything needed but if you want to take control you'll need a few extra parts!

Defaults

Here's what we currently have as a default...

The stations were suggested by LEGO fans on Instagram and we're always open to adding to this list!

Stations:

   Stud City
   Brickston
   Attic Brick City
   Murp Grove
   Brickville
   Bricknel
   Bricksburg
   Legollywood
   Legoburg
   Vancouver Brick City
   Micro:Bit City

Platforms:

   We have 9 platforms by default - this makes it okay for a random 9 3/4 to show up occasionally...

Tardiness:

   By default 80% of trains run on time.  The rest are a random but not excessive amount delayed.  Unlike South West Trains then...

The Program!

We have written the code that brings this screen to life.  It's totally open source - you can read the code and do what you want with it.  It's released under a standard open source licence.

The code is written in Python and comes pre-configured if you order the Raspberry Pi from us.

Otherwise we offer the code here for you.