Muni rider reanimates antique elevator sign as his own NextBus

This is heaven for all kinds of geekery, and I promise this video is going to make you clap your hands in delight. Muni rider Rolf lives steps away from the J-Church line, but checking his phone every other minute to see when the next train is coming was just a little too annoying and this-century of an activity. Most people would probably just walk around their house carrying their phones in their pockets, but Rolf rigged together a beautiful and ingenious solution, and you won’t believe what he used.

I had a gritty brick wall in the living room that needed decorating. If I could re-animate something vintage that fits the space, it could help me get to the office and provide a nice backdrop for the room.

After originally searching for old clocks and model trains, I came upon antique elevator indicator on eBay from a New London Connecticut hotel built in 1896. I ordered it and set about searching for what I need to make it work. I bought an Arduino electronics toolkit for brains, a few motors for the muscle, and an old metal safe deposit to hide the electronics and mount everything.

Using the Arduino Ethernet toolkit from AdaFruit and a motor shield, he gave the antique elevator indicator a brain. Then he used the NextBus API to calculate how many minutes until his bus arrives. But you must be wondering: How does it know which direction Rolf is going? Rolf actually also polished off a set of elevator buttons to indicate whether he is going uptown or downtown. You’ve got to check out his Medium story to find out all the wonderfully geeky details, and watch the video above to see the old elevator hand move down minute by minute until his train arrives.

Thanks, Rolf, for making our day 10 times over!

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