Friday, December 6, 2013

Arduino Project: Station Announcer

I'm starting a new project, a "Station Announcer". The goal is to have a device able to play the station announces for the different trains arriving and departing to and from each track. I'm also very interested in Arduino, a very cheap and powerful programmable board that can be used to realize almost any imaginable invention.
Estoy empezando un nuevo proyecto: el "Anunciador de Estación". La finalidad es tener un dispositivo capaz de reproducir los anuncios de los diferentes trenes llegando y saliendo a cada via de la estación. También estoy muy interesado en Arduino, una placa programable muy barata y potente que puede usarse para realizar casi cualquier invento imaginable.

The main requisites for it are: Los principales requisitos son:

* Usable for both analog and digital layouts. Debe funcionar en ambos analógico y digital.
* Digital layouts using Loconet bus, and analog connecting a numeric keypad to choose the announce to play. En maquetas digitales comunicando por el bus Loconet, y en analogicas mediante un teclado numérico
* Cheap, and based on open standards. Barato, y basado en estándards.

So Arduino is a good base to start from. For those who knows nothing about Arduino, it's an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. It's programmed in C language, through a very easy-to-use and simple interface.
Así pues Arduino es una muy buena base por la que empezar. Para aquellos que no conozcan Arduino, es una plataforma de prototipaje electrónico open-source basado en un hardware y software flexible y fácil de usar. Está enfocado a cualquiera interesado en crear objetos o entornos interactivos. Se programa en lenguaje C mediante una interface muy sencilla.

There are several version, from Ardunio Nano (1x4 cm) or Arduino UNO (with standard connectors to pile shields on it), to Arduino Mega with 4 serial ports, 54 I/O pins and 16 analog I/O. And people have developed expansion boards (shields) for almost everyting. There are ethernet, wi-fi or bluetooth shields, and others to control step motors, servo motors, relays... and finally sensors of all kinds (smoke, distance, rfid,...). It's just something crazy.
Hay distintas versones, desde el Ardunio Nano (1x4 cm) o Arduino UNO (con conectores estandard para apilar shields), hasta el Arduino Mega con 4 puertos serie, 54 E/S digitales y 16 E/S analógicas. Y hay tarjetas de expansión (shields) para casi todo. En comunicaciones, hay ethernet, wi-fi o bluetooth. Otros para controlar motores paso-a-paso, servomotores, relés... y finalmente sensores de todos los tipos (humo, distancia, rfid,...).

All information can be found here:

My first tests have begun with an Arduino Nano (7$) and a MP3 shield from Elechouse (21.5$). I'm still waiting my Arduino UNO development kit to arrive.

I've been testing the MP3 library, and it works perfect. The board can play music from a USB stick, a memory stick or the internal memory with 64Mg of space. That last one not very large but with a very fast access. The board can communicate through the serial port or through a soft serial in pins 7 and 8.
He estado testeando la libería MP3, y funciona perfectamente. La placa puede reproducir MP3 de un USB, un memory stock o de la memoria interna de 64 Mg. Esta última muy reducida, pero con un acceso muy rápido. Puede comunicar tanto por el puerto serie como a través del softserial asignado a los pins 7 y 8.

This is the first successful test, assigning an input to a mp3 file:

In next steps I'll work on the Loconet interface. En siguientes pasos, trabajaré sobre la interfaz Loconet.


  1. This is a cool idea. What are you going to use for announcements, just the musical tones, or recorded station announcements from somewhere? I look forward to hearing more about this project.

    1. In the links section there is "Sounds of Japanese Stations". It's a page I bookmarked time ago and has the recorded station announcement from the major stations. I want to take one of the stations having 5 tracks (like the one in my layout) and use those same sounds. Next steps will be Loconet interface for Arduino (already developed by Scuba) and the integration of all together. I'll continue informing!