DIY Home LED transit sign so you are never late again (Raspberry Pi project!)
How's that for 'modern urban decor'?It's no secret that we at TreeHugger are big fans of mass transit, and of anything that makes it more convenient. Things like real-time transit data on smartphones and easier ways to pay might not seem like a big deal, but anything that removes 'friction' from the system will attract more marginal users, and increase usage from people who are already users. The goal is to make transit easier, faster, and more pleasant than the less Earth-friendly alternatives, and so all improvements - big and small - are welcome.
That's why I thought this Raspberry Pi DIY project was so cool. Tired of running after his train and sometimes missing it, Pavel Shved got a credit-card-sized single-board Raspberry Pi computer and a LED sign and created his very own real time SF Muni sign.
Of course, it's not for everybody. In fact, the best use of these would probably be in coffee shops and restaurants, especially where lots of students hang out. But I'm sure that for some people, it could make life much better to have one of these at home. Hacker News user zck explains why:
I bet if you a/b tested this sign vs a smartphone app, people using the sign would miss fewer buses.
If you want to know when the next train is with the app:
1. Where's my phone? It's not in my pocket, so maybe I left it on the table over there. Ugh, but I'm sitting down comfortably with a blanket and a book.
2. Fine, I'll stand up and walk over to get my phone.
3. Hrm, my phone isn't on the table. Maybe the kitchen?
4. Walk to the kitchen.
5. Good, here's my phone.
6. Unlock phone.
7. Unlock phone, this time with the right unlock key.
8. Scroll to find app.
9. Tap to launch it.
10. Read data.
11. Wait, is that up-to-date?
12. Tap to reload data from server.
13. Wait for data to reload from server.
14. Read data.
With this sign:
1. Turn head to the left.
2. Read data.
Above is the inspiration for the transit Raspberry Pi project. iPhone transit apps are great, but nothing beats having an always-visible sign that you can quickly glance at anytime you want.
If you are technically-minded and want to build your own, Pavel published his source code and some instructions. Very cool of him to share!