Hi there, just thought I'd share my latest fun layout project.

      

 Our club layout has a farm with cows in it, so I wanted to add a cow abducting UFO for quite awhile. Surprisingly no one makes anything like this so I had to develop the accessory myself.  I have most of the electronics worked out but am still working on painting the outer shell. I figured other people might also want to make animated accessories with sound, so I'm providing the details on what I built as a roadmap. I use a basic microcontroller as a sequencer, then just a sound and motor control accessory, and just use some discrete I/O for lighting.

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Design details:

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STRUCTURE: For the main saucer structure I used a hubcap from a Toyota Camry (although I don't own a Toyota Camry). I seriously went into a dealership and asked to buy 1 hubcap (like not a set of 4). The clerk was confused so I clearly explained it was for my flying saucer.

Originally I planned to house all the electronics and stuff in the saucer, but there's too much going on so it was just getting too heavy too fast. In the end I just had the lights and cow-lifting motor in the saucer and had a motherboard like thing under the layout with all the boards. The two are connected by a ribbon cable umbilical I hope to paint to hide in the coming weeks.

 MOTHER-BOARD LIKE THING:

Motherboard

Okay so the electronics are broken up into 3 parts: The motor control, the audio and the sequencer.

SEQUENCER: I used one of those nice sparkfun redboards for the main controller which are just an arduino compatible board with an atmel 328p on them. You can use the Arduino IDE so it's easy to program up. Some of the parts are 5V and some are 12V so there's a handy DC-DC module I found for a few dollars on Amazon I use for all my projects now.

SETUP: First you wait for a trigger button on the side of the layout (it's labelled "abduct" of course). Once you receive the trigger you turn on the saucer lights (green ones). For the lights themselves I used these LED strip ones I found at a Frys for $70. You also send a trigger to the audio board at the same time. After you count a few seconds you turn on the abduction beam, start winching up the cow, and make the moo noise. Once the cow is close to the saucer you stop winching (it's a stepper motor so you count steps), turn the stuff off, wait a sec, then put the cow back down to the same spot. The kids will keep pressing it so a 60 second timeout on the trigger button is a must. For the abduction beam itself I just used an LED flashlight from Home Depot, took the battery pack off and wired the LED array directly. The redboard is a low TTL output so I use a simple IRF510 to close the circuit on the negative side for the LED strip and flashlight. Source goes to ground, drain goes to the light, gate goes to the TTL signals from the redboard.

AUDIO: For the audio I went with the wavtrigger board also from sparkfun which is polyphonic (it can play more than 1 sound at a time). It's pretty simple, there's 8 trigger pins for 8 sounds. When a trigger pin goes from low to high or high to low it makes that sound play. The sounds are loaded as .wav files onto an SD card that sits in the back of the board. The cow moo noise I just found somewhere on the internet. The Thermin sci-fi music noise was ripped from "it came from outer space 1953". The wavtrigger board has a stereo audio jack so again I just bought a cheapo speaker set from frys for $20. The speakers are placed under the layout and when turned up to give pretty good ambiance to the set.  The only thing to watch out for is the .wav file needs to be 44100 KHz and a stereo file or it won't play properly.

MOTOR: By far the trickiest part was having the cow come back to the same spot so over time and many uses it doesn't drift and either snap the wire against the bottom of the saucer, or have the cow floating when it's supposed to be down. I used a stepper motor for this one since it's easy to count steps to keep track of position (easier than an encoder). The motor controller is also the big easy driver board from sparkfun which is simple, one input for step (a TTL pulse) and one input for direction either high or low. The last step was to tie the wire to the cow. For this I just used some transparent thread which is invisible enough for practical purposes.

 SOURCE CODE: The arduino source that runs the thing is attached to this post so you can see how it's done.

Happy abducting!

 ~Adrian

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Original Post

That's pretty cool!

I seriously want to know how this conversation went:
The clerk was confused so I clearly explained it was for my flying saucer.

If only buying one hubcap confused the clerk, what kind of impression do you think you left when you explained your project!

H1000

Adrian! posted:

 

For the main saucer structure I used a hubcap from a Toyota Camry (although I don't own a Toyota Camry). I seriously went into a dealership and asked to buy 1 hubcap (like not a set of 4). The clerk was confused so I clearly explained it was for my flying saucer.

 

Yeah. My flying saucer to beam up cows on my train layout.

I'll bet that explanation cleared things up for him.

breezinup posted:
Adrian! posted:

 

For the main saucer structure I used a hubcap from a Toyota Camry (although I don't own a Toyota Camry). I seriously went into a dealership and asked to buy 1 hubcap (like not a set of 4). The clerk was confused so I clearly explained it was for my flying saucer.

 

Yeah. My flying saucer to beam up cows on my train layout.

I'll bet that explanation cleared things up for him.

Actually I get into these funny situations all the time.

I made a phone call to an LA area skating rink earlier this week that went something like:

"Hi I'm Adrian from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and we have this wide-band sub-surface radar to look for buried ice on Mars that's being developed for future lander missions after Mars-insight 2018... How much would you charge us if we rented your rink for 3 weeks and temporarily put 2 ft of sand on top so we can characterize the radar axial/cross resolution and return SNR?" <<click>>  "hello?... hello?"

I mean when you really think about it, we have to test it somehow. Why is that so crazy sounding?

 

 

 

 

I know I'm late to the topic and don't want to take anything away from the original post, but related, a good friend of mine who is big in 3D printing and electronics made this Alien Abduction 3D printed model roughly O scale. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDEYqk9pSOU

I know, not as cool and not motorized, but maybe inspiration code wise for an even more show stopping LED sequence.

The code library used https://github.com/jethomson/ReAnimator-demo

The 3D print and final project is based on this https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3492682 and here is the revisions made to the original design by James https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3661093

 

 

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I thought that Menard's had some kind of flying saucer that abducted something, maybe Jack the shepherd? Although it might not have beeen an operating item.

Later Gator,

  Dave

 

Here comes a Yankee with a blackened soul,
Heading to Gatow with a load of coal.
......Anonymous U. S. pilot during the Berlin Airlift

johnstrains posted:
PRRMP54 posted:

I thought that Menard's had some kind of flying saucer that abducted something, maybe Jack the shepherd? Although it might not have beeen an operating item.

Indeed, they did.

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...o-scene-from-menards

 

Yes they did, but ours was first (plus it successfully abducts the cow). Unfortunately, people keep messing with the cow and breaking the lift line. Adrian has since updated the saucer.

Matt Jackson
"The best service you can provide for the hobby is to pass on what you have learned."

 Angels Gate Hi-Railers San Pedro, California

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