Picture of Froggy World 4  The Train

In Froggy World, the amusement park for adventurous frogs, we have catapulted, booted and seesawed Froggy.  Upon departing the seesaw http://www.instructables.com/id/Froggy-World-3-The-Seesaw/ Froggy must land in a waiting train car. 

The train must be large enough to carry frogs (O scale) and must stop at precisely the right spot to receive passengers.  Stopping the train at a precise spot (not give or take an inch) is somewhat challenging.  Voltage from the supply varies throughout the day.  Voltage dips when heavy loads start in the house.  Voltage at the train engine depends upon track connections and wheel connections.  The train engine is an imprecise electromechanical device. 

The method of control I settled on requires detecting the position of the train with a magnetic switch (relay actually), then shutting the motor off and "crashing" the train into a stop sign. 

The system uses 3d printed parts:


and an Arduino for logic control.

Step 1:

Picture of
Let's start with something that didn't work too well.  I set up a photocell and photoresistor--and they reliably detected the train--but I had 3 to 4 inches of variance in where the train actually stopped after detection.
andr3w992 years ago
How do you set up those sensors?
MikeTheMaker (author)  andr3w992 years ago
For the led sensors, look at:


and you will see a diagram using 5 volt power with a resistor and led in series (to light the led) and 5 volt power with a resistor and photocell in series. The voltage across the photocell changes when light changes--that is sent to an analog input of the Arduino to determine when the light beam has been broken.

The magnet and relay does not require a microcontroller to be useful. The contact on the relay closes when the magnet passes by; you can use this contact closure for whatever purpose you need.
Any way to do it without an Arduino?
MikeTheMaker (author)  andr3w992 years ago
If you took the resistor/photocell in series and (from the mid point of that combination) took a wire to the base of a transistor, that transistor could be used to operate a relay. You would have to play with the resistor value to get the right combination, based upon your photocell, transistor and relay.
MikeTheMaker (author)  MikeTheMaker2 years ago
I'll look into making an instructable on this in the next day or two.
MikeTheMaker (author)  MikeTheMaker2 years ago
Here's more information:

theshades2 years ago
You could briefly(very breifly) reverse the trains motor to "Brake" the train, at your detector that should decrease your stopping distance.