I now have my Raspberry Pi coming up to the windowed desktop- I do think I’ll change that to just boot to the shell. I’m planning on doing some experimentation with a couple of things- a motor controller, a servo controller, position sensors, an rfid reader and a video camera.

Since the Pi runs Linux, it is not precise enough to actually bit bang things out, but since I’m interfacing smart peripherials, that shouldn’t be a problem. The RFID chip has a serial output for the id so I should be ok on that one. The other modules have USB serial interfaces so they should be fine.

So WHY do I want to do all this? Because I’m insane, probably! But aside from that I have several goals for these modules, one is an automated coal conveyor and flood loader for my (planned) large scale model railroad, and on the other end a control situation for a working power plant to burn the coal and power a steam engine. (TVR1A) The steam engine will then (help) charge my bank of deep cycle marine batteries (also fed by solar panels) which I will use to power the entire railroad (and towns along the way).

Later, I want to do a modern sort of paper plant (Georgia Pacific) and do a working gantry crane to load an intermodal transport unit train. At the other end I’ll have a trucking company that unloads the shipping containers. Not quite as cool as a working coal mine and power plant but some automation to play with.

The last industry will be a brewery (of course!). Not much in terms of automation but I can collect neat refrigerator cars eh? haha.

The final thing will be to install a RFID and radio control system, with a reader in the locomotive (plus a camera and sensors for speed and amperage used) and RFID readers in the switching yards and such to id the cars. I’d like to set the whole thing up so I can select a ‘scenario’ from my tablet, and have the computer route the locomotives, build the trains, load the cars and deliver the goods. Geekorama!

Oh yeah, at some point I want a live steam locomotive, I’ll use that as a ‘heritage’ unit to haul ‘tourists’ on old ‘restored’ period passenger cars. Like this one: http://accucraft.com/modelc/G721-01-C.htm

Sounds like about 10 years worth of work, just in time for retirement, assuming I live that long 😉

This is a pretty cool little Single Board Computer I’ve been pondering on. I don’t have one yet but at $35 its pretty cheap and best of all, it runs Linux! Has python installed too, can’t beat that! I was thinking of interfacing it into an RFI reader to do model train computer control…

 
Here it is with a paper clip for a size comparison-
 

 
Here is a link that shows all the components
Raspberry Pi Components