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The Idea Was Born

Page history last edited by Zonker Harris 6 years, 1 month ago

Micropolis Lite was born from discussions at Bricks by the Bay 2014


Zonker (BayLUG, BayLTC) was admiring the large Micropolis layout, and discussed with Corey and Stefanie (CactusBrick) how much cooler it could look if some of the tower buildings could be lit. We talked about how it was hard to hide batteries in these smaller modules, and batteries don't last long enough. (Lighting Micropolis, or the "Micropolis Light" project became" Micropolis Lite".)


Zonker has been lighting models for a few years, and using external power to last the duration of long-term displays. He started on a half-block Micropolis model last hear, but got stuck trying to figure out how to light it, and never finished the module. Now determined to solve the lighting problem, the brainstorming began, and ran for 3 days.


The Micropolis section was fairly good sized at Bricks by the Bay 2015 mainly with larger modules from Bill Ward and Corey Gehman, but the display was pretty small at Bricks by the Bay 2016 with many modules being displayed in other sections, perhaps hoping to earn trophies?


Bricks by the Bay 2017 has the theme "California Dreamin'", and I'd love to see a larger Micropolis there with many lighted models. Who is up for it? Who needs help adding lights or animation?

(There was no Micropolis section at BbtB 2017, because there was a light showing in 2016. I brought two MoCs in 2017, but I had to put them in Art. I want to bring Micropolis back in 2018.)


Things we considered:

The solution was to supply power to many modules from one power feed. The power could be a heavy-duty battery pack, or from a wall outlet power pack.


To make it easier to power, 5-volts DC as a standard makes it easy to light white LEDs as well as colored LEDs. You could also power a small microprocessor (like an Arduno or a PIC). Current limiting would be done in each module. 


In order to get the power cable around the layout, Arch bricks could be used.  1x3 would work, but might make cable placement on the table kind of finicky, so 1x4 was picked instead.  Removing much of the brick inside the base would be needed for the new standard, so the connector from the model has room to lay under the module. Extra roads, wide medians, other extra bits should also have arches, so the cable can pass under them.


The connectors need to be polarized, so they cannot be connected backards. LEDs wouldn't care, but microprocessors and motors would!


The connectors need to be small, since there is only 1/2" vertical clearance under the module building plate.


The connectors must be sturdy, to survive being plugged in and out many times. They should be snug (for reliability), but easy enough to connect and disconnect with one hand as you are mounting the module on the table.


The new modules may be in a display, mixed with old modules. The basic layout should include a contiguous path for the lit modules next to each other, or with unlit new modules, so the cable can run under them. The unlit modules can surround the lit modules.


Images would be needed, to help visual learners understand what we were trying to accomplish.


We should include many experienced Micropolis builders in the discussion, and learn from them, and get suggestions and feedback. (The Wiki was added as an afterthought, to help facilitate the discussions.)


  Thus the idea was born. 

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