Raspberry Pi Pico Powers DIY E Ink Train Departure Board

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Pixelpanic)

Maker and developer Pixelpanic is a fan of UK departure boards and recently decided to make one of their own at home. Using our favorite SBC, the Raspberry Pi, Pixelpanic has brought the knowledge of arrivals and departures at your fingertips—literally. This departure board small enough to fit in your hand as this project uses a Pimoroni Badger 2040 W as the main board. It’s aided by a Pico W that handles some of the extra data processing used to update the departure board.

The idea behind the project wasn’t to replicate the UK departure boards to a tee but rather display the same information in a format suitable for the Badger 2040 W. This particular display board was chosen because of its E ink panel. This makes it both an affordable and energy efficient option compared to something like an LCD or OLED screen.

According to Pixelpanic, most of the UK departure boards have a similar format in which the data is laid out in a fairly consistent manner. This is because they all use the same API that Pixelpanic is actually tapping into for this replica. The data is presented in this project with a format similar to their local station.

It doesn’t take much hardware to recreate this project, but it does take a bit of ingenuity to put it together efficiently like Pixelpanic has done. While the project relies on a Pimoroni Badger 2040 W,i t’s aided in part by a Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller which helps with processing data from the API.

The API used to gather departure data in this project is the National Rail Enquiry DARWIN API. The Pico is responsible for gathering data from this system and processing it for the Badger 2040 W. With the data consolidated, it’s processed for formatting onto the eInk display. Pixelpanic was kind enough to provide a complete breakdown of how this system goes together over at their official blog.

If you want to get a closer look at this Raspberry Pi project, check out the project page shared to Pixelpanic’s website. There are plans in the works to possibly redo this project with a larger E Ink display with colors, so be sure to follow them for future updates.

Ash Hill
Contributing Writer

Ash Hill is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.