Sometimes I like to pilot the monorail, other times I want to sit back and watch it run. Piloting is fun because I control the speed, direction, lights, and messages. Autonomous is like watching the real ones, with everything done automagically.
A merging of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering, the autonomous monorail circuit provides smooth starting, acceleration, deceleration, stopping, lights on/off, and playing messages at various points on your layout. Magnets placed underneath the beam control where the monorail takes action, the onboard microcontroller (and the programming) decides what actions are taken.
Original drive and sound systems (upgraded motor)
WhisperJet and enhanced audio (individual messages)
A lot less than radio control, see the "Prices" page.
More detail please...
The PIC micro-controller starts a countdown and flashes the headlights to show the circuit is active. After 10 seconds (to put the monorail on the beam and get ready) the PIC sends a speed signal to the motor controller to ramp up the power to full speed over 5 seconds. When the hall effect switch detects a magnet under the beam it signals the PIC to do something, what it does is in the program. When instructed to go again the monorail accelerates and looks for the next magnet.
What if the messages get annoying?
Never! Well, if they do the sound can be turned off by passing a magnet near the sensor within the first 10 seconds. The headlights will flash rapidly a few times to confirm the sound is disabled for that session.
Will it go in reverse?
Yes, an "out and back" layout is possible where the monorail goes to one end, stops, then travels back to the other end. Like the Orlando airport shuttle (which is NOT a monorail) and most transportation monorails!
How many stops can it have?
As many as your layout can provide, it justs needs enough distance to get up to speed (about 5 seconds) before the next magnet. I provide enough magnets for your layout, more are available from K&J Magnets at low cost ($0.25). The 1/8" square magnets can be taped or glued under the beam.
If I change my layout (add/subtract stations) how do I make the monorail work with the new layout?
Changing the number of magnets means a new program is required (the PIC knows where the monorail is by counting the magnets). The PIC is in a socket accessible from the back of the monorail so you don't have to open the monorail to change it. I can send you a new programmed PIC ($x) and you can install it yourself. The first two revisions are no charge.
What models does it fit?
All Disney monorails *and* just about any other battery powered train that runs on a track where a magnet can be installed. The DL Mark VII circuit and installation is slightly different from the others but that is all internal.
White LED headlights ?
Yes. That was not originally part of the package but to improve performance I added a 3.3 V regulator and that provides enough power to illuminate white LEDs.
Sure, the circuit can provide up to 1.7 A, about 3x what the Mark VII can do. It also protects the Mark VI power switch by switching the higher current electronically. For the original drive system I recommend Tamiya's Torque Tuned motor with carbon brushes added for longevity.
What announcements does it play?
It can play the original "Please stay clear of the doors" each time it is ready to depart from a station or it can play more of the original messages up to the full x seconds. The original sound system will play from the beginning each time it starts.
With the enhanced audio system it can play up to 7 individual or up to 10 sequential messages (or random). Individual messages play when instructed by the program. Sequential messages play one after another, when instructed by the program. Each request will play the next message in sequence without starting over each time. The enhanced audio system is a big upgrade with a new sound board, amplifier, and speaker (the same parts I install in the radio controlled monorails).
example - a magnet can trigger a message "now approaching xx station", once the monorail has stopped it can play "welcome to xx", then a third message can play ("please stand clear") before the monorail departs. A "welcome aboard" message can play as the monorail accelerates (as long as you have enough track).
How long does it stop at a station?
However long or short you want. Typical is 10 seconds total (5 stopped, 2 for message, 3 more then accelerate) but the time is programmable, as is the acceleration and deceleration time. The PIC can be reprogrammed or replaced if a change is desired.
*Speaking of MAPO, how about two monorails?
Probably, but I do not have time to work on it for now. I designed (but have not built) a system with an infrared emitter in the rear cab and an infrared detector in the front cab. The emitter sends a signal when the monorail is slowing down or stopped, the detector in the next train sees this and also slows and stops. I plan to use the same IR coded signal as the Disneyland Mark VII so if one of those models is the second train it will also stop even if it does not have the autonomous circuit.
The second train (if equipped with autonomous circuit) will begin to move x seconds after the lead train stops emitting the "stopped" signal (has left the station).
This is a big option: each train gets two more PICs; IR emitter and detector; wiring from the front cab to the rear cab; and a lot of programming.
Three trains ?
It is possible with coded IR signals but I have no plans to work on it at this time.
1 - original drive system and motor
1a - original drive system with upgraded motor
1b - WhisperJet drive
2 - original audio
2a - enhanced audio, up to 10 sequential messages available