Traffic 'n train lights?
So, when I'm not working - which is never from 9-5 on weekdays, mind you - I find myself looking at y'alls Instagram feeds of past project and future experiments. And here we are. 🙂
I get there's probably a zillion and one ideas, projects under consideration, and the like, so just curious if these are still on the "someday" drawing board, came and went, or went into the "meh, pass" pile...
Which (I'd presume) are kinda of the same concept and potential logic - though with the latter having more opportunity for automation effort... but clearly I'm intrigued by traffic control. (Today's build is regulated by a single, high-mounted red four-way blinking pico... functional, but there's always room to grow the awesome.)
Paul George Both of these projects (and several other related projects) are still very much on the table. The traffic light video shows a highly-complex custom project we did for a customer-- having to mount 12 Pico LEDs inside a 1x3 LEGO space was, to say the least, daunting. Our plan is to sell two traffic light kits:
- Single-aspect: three lights, you install them into whatever traffic light you build. Timing delay is set at 5 seconds.
- Up to 8 aspect (24 LEDs total), to control two 4-way intersections with synchronized traffic lights. You can set the timing for each intersection, along with brightness, etc.
We have most of the code done for both products-- just need to get around to doing some documentation and taking photos so we can make packaging.
For the train signals, we also have this almost complete. We're trying to find a way to integrate this code with some control for crossbucks as well. All sensor work is complete.
Keep reminding me about these, so we make sure to get them out later in the summer! And if you have suggestions for either of these products, don't be shy about telling us!
Opinions, I got oodles...! And as much as I deny it at times, I'm older than I realize -- and was a giddy teen to receive a half-dozen or so LEGO 7860: Remote Control signals. Though they weren't strictly remote control, rather, they were used with the trains with the center-rail (12V) and I don't *think* these were ever offered outside Europe. But conceptually, pretty cool (image from toysperiod.com ; my instructions are still in a box)... but basically, there were two "interrupt" rails, and when the kid pressed the red light, the power on one side of the power rails was toggled off, and the train would stop at the signal, green, roll on through:
So in theory -- I don't have the most recent train set, but presume they're still coupling trains with magnets -- have two sensors, and a given signal would be red in a static state (or green, maybe reversing polarity by the user?), and when the magnet passes over sensor #1, toggle the light, and when the second sensor gets a magnet hit, toggles back? And in theory, it could work similarly for track crossing signals. (LEGO also had one of those in the same era, set # 7867, but it was a manual switch that would engage the red blinking crossing lights and toggle a pair of crossing arms up and down.
TRAFFIC SIGNALs... would an adjusted timing be a pain in the proramming neck? Just thinking in terms of realism - 'cuz I do like to ask for the moon - having a longer duration on the different channels? Given the typical cycle is red duration = green + amber. But having an 8 second red, 6 second green and 2 on yellow may be getting into the weeds of overkill, admittedly.
... and as much as I'm a train guy, the layout size limitation has mine in boxes, so I'm very much (more) a city traffic light fan if I had to pick one over the other.
And hey - an early "pico" light - minus the awesome small size and flexibility (just sharing for fun):
Paul George Oh you've hit upon a soft spot-- I've spent years collecting every 12V set I could get my hands on. I've got 95% of em in boxes, and they are magnificent. Just beautiful, and I love the functionality. I even had to buy a 120-220v converter so I could use the 220v transformers (you are correct, the 12v system was never released in the US).
The system we're working on for signals doesn't require magnets-- it uses very small infrared proximity sensors, and these sensors connect to controller boards like the main one in the Disney Castle. When a train crosses, it triggers the sensor, which can switch a green light to red, trigger flashing crossbucks, lower a crossing gate with a micro servo, or even (for 9V tracks at least) electrically control a block of track. It works really well in our testing. We have the code 90% complete-- soon we're hoping to release.
As for the traffic signals, right now we're structuring the program code so the length of the green light in a given traffic light pair can be adjusted (which also impacts the length of the red light in the opposing traffic light pair). Yellow is set to 2 seconds, but you can adjust the green (and thus, indirectly, also the red duration) with the onboard dial, so in the end I think we can approximate the functionality you described above.
Thanks also for the photo of the 12V station light. Such a fan of these! There are some great YouTube videos of LEGO 12V trains in action, in case you haven't seen them:
I could watch these for hours!
Eddie Hi Eddie, yes, this can be done. We can sell splitters and 24" extension cables that can be used to connect multiple intersections. However, each traffic light still needs its own control board, so all you are really saving is the master controller, which isn't the bulk of the cost of the kit. I'm attaching the instructions for the traffic lights so you can see how everything connects. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you!