Whistle Board
Whistle Board

I am a software engineer and electronics enthusiast  who likes trains.  I began to wonder if I could combine these interests.  What if a train could tell me the time?  Notify me of tweets?  Remind me to do chores?  

Introducing the Whistle Board, a open source kit for controlling your model trains.

This kit, along with most microcontrollers, including Arduino and RaspberryPi, allows you to control your existing model trains without modifying them in any way.  Add sensors to make your trains more interactive or add it to the IoT for limitless possibilities.

These kits start at $25 and come with all components and cables.  All parts are through-hole for easy soldering.  Simple assemble, connect to a microcontroller, and use the provided libraries.

Fund this project and I will be able to add additional features such as turnout controls and occupancy sensing.  This will also go towards developing additional ready to use libraries and packaging.

Features:

  • Supports N and Z scales
  • Control multiple trains with a single microcontroller
  • Works with your existing train equipment
  • Does not require any modifications to trains or track
  • Does not use PWM which can overheat small motors
  • 700mA per channel

FAQ:

Will this work with my microcontroller?

The Whistle Board requires 5 volt power, but it can talk with microcontrollers that use 3 volt logic, such as the RaspberryPi or esp8266.  It uses SPI which does not require any special hardware.  Software will be available for many common microcontrollers and further instruction for those who want to wander the unbeaten path.

Where can I learn more about this kit?

This entire kit is open source and hosted on GitHub.  See the GitHub page for the full bill of materials and all design files.

Is this DCC?

No.  DCC sends messages to trains with pulses on the track.  It is a powerful and common method, however it requires engine modifications and special control equipment.

Why should I chose this over DCC?

If trains are your primary hoby and you have the budget, then DCC is right for you.  This kit for those who enjoy electronics and want to fool around with trains for very little expense.

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