Raspberry Pi Polar Express

2017 Xmas goal is to build a Polar Express layout and control it with a Raspberry Pi.

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This is my 2017 stretch project which I'm going to love sharing with you all. My goal is to design and build Polar Express layout in HO. It will feature some of the key elements from the movie including, of course, the kid's home, and the Christmas village with the central Christmas tree.

The train is a Lionel HO Polar Express and it, as well as the switches and effects of the layout will be controlled by a Raspberry Pi, PiRyte control boards, and my Breezy4Pi application. I plan to document the process and post updates here as I go along.

So, please enjoy the ride with me and check back from time to time.

Tom Tibbetts

Every good project has a list of requirements and tasks. So here are the requirements:

  1. Model key elements of the film. These include Hero Boy's house with snowman, Billy's house, Hershimer's(sp?), trestle bridge with wolves, caribou crossing on ice, winding ascent of the mountain, the Christmas village at the North Pole with central tree.
  2. Play specific sounds from the movie at key locations such as at the Hero Boy's house and the Christmas village.
  3. Do all control of train movement and sound effects using the Raspberry Pi and attached boards
  4. Layout needs to be modular so that I can tear it down and store it when it's out of season.

And here are the tasks to date:

  1. Create a layout track plan
  2. Generate parts requirements
  3. Extract sound bites from the movie. (The Lionel HO train has some of the sound bites built in but I don't know how to trigger the ones I want when I want them.)
  4. Build bench work and track work.
  5. Test track work
  6. Program Raspberry Pi and peripheral boards.
  7. Work on scenery and buildings (this part may take a few years.

  • Indefinite Delay

    tomtibbetts07/19/2017 at 23:58 0 comments

    I have still not dug out my workshop to work on this project and it is already late July.  So, with regret, I'm putting this one on hold.

    My workshop is currently storing items that belong elsewhere and my garage is full of stuff to be sorted.  So this is going to take awhile.

    Since my other projects don't require a wood working shop, I'm continuing those.

    Sadness prevails.

  • Delays delays delays

    tomtibbetts04/06/2017 at 00:46 0 comments

    Having just moved into a new home I find myself surrounded by boxes to unpack and organized. Unfortunately, it's going to take some time before I get my workshop up and running to start actual construction.

    Luckily, now that I am seeing the light of day from unpacking, I can at least get started on the planning phase. Still lots to do but looking forward to it.

    I think the next step is to measure the space so that I can start creating a track plan.

    I appreciate your patience.

  • Extracting Sound Bites from the Movie

    tomtibbetts01/07/2017 at 20:04 0 comments

    One of my requirements is to be able to extract sound bites from the movie so that I can play them whenever I wish. For instance, when the train stops at the Hero Boy's house, it would be fun to play that dialogue between the boy and the conductor.

    So, as a proof of concept, I was able to extract sound fairly easily using a DVD ripper and Cyberlink's Audio Director 6. The Audio Director is able to import a movie so that you can edit the sound. Turns out I can also snip interesting portions of the sound track and save them to disk for replay.

    Once I get further along in the rest of the project I'll circle back to here to start extracting my desired sound bites.

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