When you’re a commuter, time is never on your side. Never. You’re always kind of late, or way too early, or stuck in Newark for three hours “due to technical difficulties,” or turning on the TV four minutes into this week’s episode of Breaking Bad.
Everyone who’s ever taken public transit before has a personal horror story. And, for that reason, everyone who’s ever taken public transit deserves his or her own model train schedule—to smash to pieces when the time is right.
Now, this isn’t just some rinky-dink miniature. This mini-model is so convincing, it’ll provide almost as much of the satisfaction that destroying Penn Station in a King Kong-style rage might give you.
You’ll need a few things to build your mini-train schedule: an Arduino Uno, an Adafruit OLED Breakout Board (16-bit Color 0.96″ w/microSD holder), an extra-long break-away header, premium female-female jumper wires (40 × 6”), LEGO bricks, an X-Acto knife, white craft glue, double-sided tape, and black construction paper.
First, the gadgetry. Take a look at the OLED tutorial because this isn’t one of those devices that will just work when you take it out of the box.
The next step is creating an extension cable that connects the OLED breakout board to the breadboard. Break off a nine-pin length of the header, and removed the OLED from the breadboard. Then, replace the OLED with the header in the breadboard. From there, break off a nine-wire wide cable from the ribbon of the female-female jumper wires. Finally, plug the OLED into one end of the nine-wire cable, and plug the other end into the header pins on the breadboard.
This is super-important, guys: Before you read on, you need to download the project files from github.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to add this little bezel to the OLED so you won’t be able to see the breakout board through the LEGO schedule window. We’re aiming for realism here, people. Mimesis will foster catharsis. You know you’re still angry about that time you had to take the 1:19 home, and it wasn’t a direct train, even though the schedule said it would be. But please, please try to resist the urge to destroy this thing before finishing it.
It’s LEGO time! Have any of you ever been to LEGOLAND? Cool, me neither! Open OledTrainScheduleLegoInstructions.pdf from the project folder, build steps one through eight, and cry a little about the small, plastic brick-shaped hole in your childhood. What you shouldn’t do is try to fill that hole by attempting to ingest a LEGO. I had to go to the hospital for that once, and it didn’t make me feel any less deprived.
Once you’ve built the LEGO frame for your schedule, slap some double-sided tape on the back of the OLED, and stick it all together! It should look like this:
To get your schedule up and running, you’ll have to follow the instructions from those super-important project files you downloaded earlier. Told you they were a big deal!
Truth bomb: I live in New Jersey. I’m not ashamed about it—not even a little. But when I’m sprinting for the 10:51 in combat boots, and the train has already left when I breathlessly turn into the NJ Transit waiting area at 10:50… It’s times like those when I wouldn’t mind living where I work and play. Or taking a sledgehammer to the train schedule.