Before we start to post videos, photos and other stuff about this project, I may say something about this project’s history.
It started back in 2014, when we jumped into a project to desing embedded systems and a model railway demonstrator. So with one of our member, Benedek, we started to build something. We literally had no experience with embedded systems neither with model railways, so the first attempt to create this system – let’s be honest – failed. We wanted to use model based techniques for the development, but we were not able to upload any complex, generated code to the system, which was based on Arduino Ethernet boards. We could only use hand-written code with small complexity.
Intermezzo: why we choose Arduino for the first place? Because I was the one who had some experience with embedded systems, and I only knew Arduino, and needles to say, I was convinced that it would do the work.
Furthermore, these units (like one on the picture) were so customized ones that even uploading code was a disaster – I don’t know what we did wrong, but our serial-converters which needed to upload the code were starting to die after a short time of usage.
But, either way we managed to implement an interface for the layout to be able to stop trains. We could read from the layout where the trains were, but nothing more. So our safety logic was a bit harsh with the trains – they had to be stopped a lot. This was the time when we realized that we need the proper hardware for this project. And then we could speak about any further developments.
Researchers’ Night (Kutatók éjszakája in Hungarian)
But, we worked a lot, we had some results in the field, so we went to the Researchers’ Night to present the system. There we showed this small and stupid system to people, we talked about it, showed it to kids and adults and tried to brought them closer to IT. And grab their attention.
It was a huge success, I think I could say that they loved it (especially the kids). We were really happy with the feedbacks, so we decided to enhance our system, change the components and the software and to build a completely new sytem on top of the former experiences.
And that’s where the IoT Challenge came across.
Because when we heard about this challenge we decided – we are getting back to square one, start to redesign everything (beside the track), start to make better plans, make more research about embedded systems, modern techniques and make a project which could be really used to demonstrate the model based development of complex systems.