Robot Trains in the Garden motor control circuit

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

I have only been actively involved with garden railroading for a little over one year but have found it to be a wonderful way to use the skills and interests that I have developed over the years in other hobbies. For example, I used my love of woodworking to help me design and construct two scratch built bridges and nearly 100 trestle bents to sup

Robot Trains in the Garden motor control circuit
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port much of the 200 foot main line on the railway. My interests in photography, computers and web pages allowed me to document the work on the railway and share it with my friends and family, wherever they may live. (see: ) My latest collaboration between hobbies involves using my work with programming small, single board microprocessors and using them to control devices and sense things around them. For many years I have worked with small Basic Stamp microprocessors (see: ). I have used the Basic Stamp to sense and react to temperature changes, monitor and control the charging of batteries, record the acceleration of model rockets and to operate small, autonomous robots. This project is a logical extension of my work with robotics as it involves using a similar microprocessor to control a battery operated railroad engine. The system is designed to have the engine slowly accelerate from a complete stop and then cruise at a preset speed until it passes over a magnet located on the track. When this happens a reed switch closes and the microprocessor gently slows the engine to a full stop. After a short pause the engine reverses and starts up again until it passes over another magnet when the process repeats. Although the original objective of the system was the auto-reverse system as described above, the hardware is capable of much more sophisticated operation by modifying the software. It could, for example, have a train...

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