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LEGO Train Automation – IoL Internet of LEGO

LEGO Train Automation – IoL Internet of LEGO

Our mission: Build a WiFi controlled LEGO Power Functions train.

To do that, we used:

  • NodeMCU
    • ESP8266 WiFi dev board
  • Arduino IDE
    • Used to program NodeMCU
  • Node-RED
    • A platform to connect the Internet of Things
  • Raspberry-Pi
    • Single board Linux computer to run Node-RED
  • LEGO Power Functions & Train
    • LiPo battery powered motors

The ESP8266 is the greatest thing since sliced bread, for IoT projects. It’s basically an 802.11n WiFi chip with a microcontroller that provides GPIOs. The only issue with this is that it can be a pain to get going. The chip only supports 3.3v and requires some additional circuitry to program and connect to a USB interface. It’s doable, but the small chip expands into a larger circuit which increases overall install size (in development environments). The NodeMCU attempts to solve these problems by placing the ESP8266 on a dev board, that includes GPIO breakouts, a USB interface and power management.

By writing some minimal code on the chip, I can control a motor via a simple REST interface. Basically, I can just go to a web URL and something happens.



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To provide a front-end and connect it to the Internet of Things, I will use Node-RED hosted on a Raspberry Pi. Like many of the other Internet of LEGO projects, Node-RED is used to send commands, collect data and build a simple UI to interact with the network.

The motor shield will provide a simple way to power the LEGO train motor. Since the microcontroller is not intended for higher voltages and current, a shield will be used to switch on the heavier loads. This version supports two motors and provides access to the remaining GPIO pins.

LEGO Train Automation – IoL Internet of LEGO 3

The Raspberry Pi will be used to host Node-RED and run a Mosquitto MQTT broker/bridge.

The LEGO Group have released various versions of LEGO train electronics over the years. The latest version uses a LiPo battery, infrared controller and 7.4v motor. This project will effectively replace the infrared controller with a NodeMCU WiFi controller

Follow the step by step guide on Internet of LEGO official page.

 


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