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MetroM PCB Transit Maps Let You Show Off Your Love of Trains — with ATtiny85-Controlled LED Lights

MetroM PCB Transit Maps Let You Show Off Your Love of Trains — with ATtiny85-Controlled LED Lights

We don't generally promote crowd-funding projects, however this one detailed in really took our attention. Please note we are not associated with the campaign. 

Maker Chai Jia Xun has launched a crowdfunding campaign for metro maps with a difference: They're fully-functional printed circuit boards, lighting up to show transit routes.

"It all started while I was building Lifeclocc," Xun explains, referring to an earlier design for a desktop device to turn your expected lifespan into a countdown timer. "I’ve loved trains since I was a kid and I used to take the trains for the entire length of the line when a new one opened."

"While I was laying down the copper tracks (yes I know it’s actually called traces) for my Lifeclocc, I was thinking how similar they look to train lines.It was about this time that I saw LTA had released their plan for the 2030 MRT system and got the idea of putting the system design onto a PCB, because why not?

Ever since I had figured out that PCBs were such a simple thing to manufacture, I had been on the lookout for anything I could conceivably build using a PCB."

The result: MetroM, a series of circuit board designs based around popular metro maps: Singapore 2027, Bay Area, Tokyo JR, and Singapore 2030.

Each design is available in two variants: A single-layer variant which is non-functional except as a reference for travel and an artistic item to put on your desk; and a four-layer variant which adds interactive lighting driven by a Microchip ATtiny85 microcontroller.

The route to a light-up map, though, wasn't easy, as Xun explains in a project log that covers the process. From splitting it out into two separate boards to adding a layer of MDF to prevent light bleed and finally upgrading to colored lights - not by adding to the complexity and BOM by using RGB LEDs, but by printing onto a transparency sheet through which the single-color lights shine.

Xun is crowdfunding the project via Kickstarter, with physical rewards starting at $13 for the smallest Singapore 2027 map with no lighting layers; add-ons include an optional battery holder for four AAA batteries, a 3D-printed table stand, and the option to pay $9 to have everything assembled ahead of shipping. Rewards are expected to ship in November 2021.

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