Growing up I had an awesome model train set. After some trade show my dad bought us a 3 rail O gauge Lionel train set that came with enough track for a figure 8. It was fairly basic, but I fell in love with it quickly. I was about 7-8 at that time, and over the next couple of years my dad started to buy me more tracks, accessories, and started buying a line of New Haven passenger cars. Then one Christmas he surprised me by buying a matching New Haven engine, a MTH EP-5. Unfortunately I didn’t use it as much as I should have because it had an on board computer dubbed “Protosound” that was basically a micro controller that would control the train’s motors, couplers, and speaker. You could activate the features by pressing a series of buttons on the controller to form a command. Most of the time this was a pain in the butt and my 10-11 year old mind got frustrated so the entire set got boxed and forgotten.
I’ve been a bit quiet recently. My last post was about controlling some lights with a sonic screwdriver with a Raspberry Pi handling everything. I’ve been expanding on it (which I will go into great detail in a later post) and one of the greatest tools I’ve found has been transistors. I’ve used them in the past but I’ve never really known what they actually do. It’s kind of embarassing because it’s so simple. In layman’s terms (and possibly the wrong description), a transistor is a sort of switch.
One thing that really annoyed me about the lights in my room is when I went to bed I would always forget to turn the lights off and have to climb out of bed and turn them off. That sounds like a first world problem, and well it is. But I had a solution in mind. Back a few years ago I would control my lights with one of those cheap remote outlets you would find at places like Home Depot or Lowes around Christmas time. I took the only one I had a long time ago to see what made it tick. Before I ended up frying the remote, I discovered that it was nothing but a RF transmitting remote and receiver. The receiver would get the signal from the remote and flip a relay.