Introduction: Juarez - El Paso LittleBits Train

This instructables will go over how I made a showcase of the cities that I most like - Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, and El Paso, TX in the US - and how I used different LittleBits modules to make it work. The showcase has a button at the side that connect to the arduino LittleBits module that basically turns some stuff on and turn off other stuff. The button toggles between a day mode and night mode. As the day mode progresses the train moves on the tracks, and a funny looking helicopter swings over the sky, then as the night mode progresses some lights wires turn up around a star, the sky background, and a tiny light blinks on top of one of the mountains. In the instructables, I do not talk to much about the drawings (although maybe I should have, since they took me a long time to draw).

I also included a video of the final project, that I hope you will like.

NOTE: no LittleBits module was hurt in project

Step 1: Make the City, Train Tracks, and Mountain Layers

Get some cardboard

I used some cardboard from a box that I had laying around.

Sketch up layout

I got some pictures of both of the border towns, started sketching some of the important buildings, and historic monuments. Then in a piece of paper I drew both town's historic and important buildings as well as their corresponding mountains. After I had the sketch, I began planning the layers in which each main object (The cities, Train Tracks, and Mountains) of the sketch would be laid.

Plan Layers

I planed the layers as follows, starting with layer 1 as the bottom most layer to layer 5 as the topmost layer.

  1. Juarez mountain
  2. Juarez city
  3. Train tracks (This layer actually has 3 layers, that are used to guide the train. This will be explained later.)
  4. El Paso mountain
  5. El Paso and star

Cut and layout the Layers

Draw on cardboard each of the layers separately with enough cardboard left to support the layers on top. Then cut each layer, and lay them as planned before. After this, you should have something resembling the picture in this step. These layers give a depth effect to the drawing and will allow us to do some other cool stuff like setting up the plastic string that will pull the train

Step 2: Make the Train and Train Track Layers

Step Information

In order for the train to move it is wedged in between two pieces of cardboard that are separated by another piece. The two pieces of cardboard guide the train as it moves. As the train track layers picture shows, layers 1 and 3 are the side cardboards, and layer 2 is where the train sits.

Sketch the Train and Train Track

To sketch the train I used some cartoon trains as inspiration. Since the passenger wagon would be used twice, I only sketched it once, and used the form in two cardboard cutouts. The conductor wagon was also drawn only once, but I had to make a bigger exhaust because it would be too difficult to cutout a smaller exhaust from the cardboard.

As for the train track, I just made a pattern I thought would look like a train track.

Cut out the Train and Train Track

The train was simple. As for the train track I had to improvise a bit. I started by making just layer 3 cutout since it would be the part that people would look at, and I wanted to make sure that it would travel exactly through where I wanted it to travel (so that it looked as if it were going behind the El Paso mountain.). After making layer 3 cutout the cutout for layer 2 and 1 were made so that the train could sit between them.

Layout Train Track

Finally the train track was laid out in front of the Juarez city layer, and behind the El Paso mountain layer.

Setup Train

One cutout of the conductor wagon and two of passenger wagons were made, and a piece of para rope was used to connect them.

Step 3: Finish Train Movement Mecanism

Step 4: Make the Background

Step Information

After finishing the train mechanism, a piece of cardboard was added behind the Juarez mountain to hold everything up. This piece will hold two other pieces atop and all of them together will form the background. The background should be finished by adding another level of background over the stuff we already have.

Cut two rectangular Pieces

Cut two rectangular pieces that both together will have the same length and each will have the same height as the background piece already supporting everything.

Glue Pieces together atop

Glue the pieces together and place them atop the background piece already supporting everything.

Step 5: Route the Light Wire Bit to the Star and the Perimeter of the Background

Step Information

Given that the light wire is very flexible, it was routed through the cardboard piece to light up the star and give a moonlight effect around the sky background when the art works is in night mode. I included a picture of the actual El Paso Star just in case you were curious.

Route Light Wire to the Star

A hole was drilled right next to the El Paso mountain. Then the wire was routed behind the mountain and a hole was drilled right atop the star to the back of the El Paso mountain. The wire was routed through the hole on the mountain and then glued to the perimeter of the star by bending it in the shape of the star. The rest of the light wire was routed back to the back of the El Paso mountain and through a hole to the back of the background.

Route Light Wire around the Background

Having routed the light wire to the back of the background, now route it to the left most bottom most side of the top background pieces. From there route the wire up and around the background until the wire reaches the point on the top background piece where the El Paso mountain reaches it's limit. Then route the wire down this line parallel to the limit of the El Paso mountain, and drill a hole to push the remaining light wire to the back of the background.

Step 6: Add Hovering Helicopter Using the Servo and Slide Dimmer Bit

Step Information

To make the helicopter swing more gracefully one can use the slide dimmer bit to manage how fast the servo will swing it's arm.

Sketch and cut Helicopter

Sketch a Helicopter and cut it as shown in the pictures. A stick glued to the arm of the Servo should be able to hold it and swing it without hitting other pieces in the artwork.

Cut hole and place Servo

Cut a hole in which the servo can be placed on the top of the background. Test the servo before gluing it into the hole so that it will swing the helicopter as desired.

Glue Stick and Helicopter to Servo

First glue a stick (toothpick) to the arm of the servo and make sure the swinging stick does not hit other objects in the artwork. Then glue the helicopter on the stick and let it swing.

Slow down that Swinging

Use a slide dimmer to slow down the speed at which the servo swings.

Step 7: Add the Radio Tower's Flashing Light Using RGB Light and Pulse Bits

Drill small Hole on top of Antenna Drawing

Draw an antenna tower on top of the Juarez mountain. This hole is where light will go through.

Glue RGB Light Bit

Place the RGB light bit so that the light will align with the hole that was previously drilled on top of the antenna. As you glue the bit make sure that it does align otherwise the light will not go through.

Connect RGB Light to Pulse Bit

Connect the pulse bit to the RGB light bit before the power supply so that you can control the speed at which the light blinks.

Step 8: Make the Frame

Step Information

I decided to make a frame (kinda like a picture frame) around the artwork in the center to cover up any ugly components or mechanisms.

Make the frame

Follow the second picture to known how to make the supports necessary in order for it to stand up.

Add Sidings

To further hide components and mechanisms on the sides add some sidings to the sides of the frame.

Step 9: Finish Drawing Background and Frame

Step Information

For this step I just drew some clouds, then added some mountains surrounding the mountains of El Paso and Juarez. I also drew an old emblematic smoke tower that used to stand up over the horizon of the city. As for the frame I drew a Texan theme on the bottom and a Mexican theme on the top separated by a square pattern that I thought kinda represents water the separates Texas from Mexico.

Step 10: Add Frame Button to Toggle Between Day and Night Using Button and Arduino Bits