I frequently commute on BART and wanted a convenient way to tell when I should start walking to the train station, ideally something that is always accessible at a glance. A gloomy Saturday morning provided some time to hack together something…
I had already purchased a ~1 inch SSD1306 display and had extra ESP8266 boards laying around, so I figured I would start there. Wiring the screen to the board is super simple, just 4 wires (see diagram).
From there is was pretty simple to pull the train real-time data using BART Legacy API. BART also offers modern GTFS Schedules, which is the preferred way to access the data, but from what I could tell, this would make the project significantly more difficult given some of the limitations of the ESP8266. So, I went the lazy route.
Coding was pretty simple, most of the time was spent rearranging the elements on the screen. Well, actually most of the time was spent switching from the original JSON and display libraries I chose as I wasn’t happy with them.
There’s a lot to fit into a 1-inch display, but I got what I needed. The top line shows the date / time the station information was collected, and the departing station. The following lines are trains that are usable for the destination station, with the preferred (direct) lines in large type, and less-preferred (transfer needed) in small type. Finally, if a train is within the sweet spot where it isn’t departing too soon to make it to the station but I also won’t be waiting at the station too long, the departure time is highlighted. Numbers are minutes until departure, “L” means leaving now, and “X” means the trains was cancelled (somewhat frequent these days).
In the example above, these are trains leaving Embarcadero for the North Berkeley station (not shown), Antioch and Pittsburg/Bay Point lines require a transfer, Richmond line is direct.
At some point I would like to use a smaller version of the ESP8266 board and 3D print a case to make it a little nicer sitting on a desk, but then again, there’s almost zero chance I’ll get around to it. If anyone is into 3D printing design and wants to contribute, I’ll give you all of the parts needed.
The code / project details are available on my GitHub page at BART-watcher-ESP8266, feel free to snoop, contribute, or steal whatever is useful to you.
Do you have suggestions for features you think would be cool, want to remind me that I waste a lot of time, or maybe you even want one of these things? Please leave a comment, below!