No one at Pi Towers can remember if Beetlejuice actually drives the mini train through the model village version of the film’s fictional setting Winter River. So we’re going with the Addams Family reference instead. Here we go…
Adam Honse saw how maniacally happy it made Gomez Addams when he watched his model train tear around the track, so he and his dad set about creating an immersive experience for their miniature railway. Perhaps Gomez wouldn’t have so callously crashed his own cars if he shared the train driver’s point of view (POV)? Perhaps not. He is an Addams after all.
Revisiting old hobbies
Adam built the model railway with is dad back in the early 2000’s and he always dreamed of incorporating a camera somehow into the build. Fast forward to 2022 and technology has moved on so much that he can easily get his hands on hardware powerful and small enough to make it happen.
Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W sits in the front car of a custom-built train carriage and drives the Raspberry Pi Camera Module. They cleverly decided to attach the camera to the wheel track right at the front of the carriage so it turns with it, giving you a true POV as if you were the driver.
A battery sits towards the back of the train and powers the other hardware. Adam accesses the camera’s stream on his PinePhone via VLC.
Raspberry Pi-powered railway
Raspberry Pi also powers the model railway itself, not just the special POV camera car. I’m no enthusiast, so I’ll leave it to Adam to explain the setup:
“The railroad uses DCC with the Digitrax DB150 base station. I’ve connected it to a Raspberry Pi 3 [Model B] running JMRI so we can drive trains with the Engine Driver app or the web throttle in addition to the physical Digitrax controllers.”From Adam’s YouTube project video description
Did that make sense to anyone? Good.
Drop a comment if this build has inspired you to retrofit a long-forgotten toy. I know this is not a ‘toy’ per sé, I just couldn’t think of an appropriate synonym. Don’t come for me.