Residents of the Boston area will recognize this ragtag collection of lines instantly — it’s a rapid transit map of the MBTA, commonly known as “the T”. Since I started school here two years ago, I’ve become really interested in transit systems, in particular Boston’s, which is rich with history and character. At the same time, I’ve also been working towards a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. It was just a matter of time until these two interests collided, and I’d like to present the result.
This is eight or nine meters of Adafruit NeoPixel strips driven by an Arduino Uno, which in turn takes orders from a Python script running on a Raspberry Pi. Every ten seconds or so it calls the MBTA API to grab the GPS coordinates of all the trains in the system. It maps those to some LEDs, decides which ones actually need to be changed, and then sends that information to the Arduino, which does the bit pushing. In addition, I’m writing a tiny webapp that lets me change visualizations and adjust the brightness for when I need to sleep. I’ve put together a full explanation with some photos below, so read on if you’re interested!
Adafruit NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Strip – Black 60 LED – BLACK: You thought it couldn’t get better than our world-famous 32-LED-per-meter Digital LED strip but we will prove you wrong! You wanted twice the LEDs? We got it (well, it’s 1.875 times as many but that’s within a margin of error). You wanted thinner strips? Now only 12.5 mm wide, 10 mm if you remove the strip from the casing. You wanted less noticeable strip color – this strip has black-colored flex PCB, which will be less visible against black-painted walls. This is the strip with black flex PCB, it’s identical to the white 60 LED/meter except it has a different color mask on the flex strip. (read more)
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
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