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Amazon Alexa controls model railway

Follow us on our quest to create a demonstration Alexa skill to control a model railway. Yup, that's right, as well as asking Alexa to switch off the light or requesting the weather we will instruct her to start up a train on platform 3 or change the points on the down line to platform 1. This is a new venture for us, a great way to learn how to manage this important new voice ecosystem. In the process we'll cover various technologies including that other buzzword, IoT aka Internet of Things. Enjoy and Share ...

It's time to start playing with those trains. To prove that we can control the layout remotely, we will be using an Azure IoT hub to send commands to a program linked up with the railway and we'll make things happen. In theory this could be done by someone on the other side of the world!

So, onto Alexa itself, no way we can get to control the train until we have a good handle on how to program that voice from the black tube (or black ‘tub’, if you have an Echo)! Working with Alexa isn't tricky, you do need some programming experience and the programming language of choice is a variant of JavaScript called Node.js but other languages like Python are supported. O ...

Way back, long before the days we lived in virtual bubble, kids (and not so kids) had train sets which here in Great Britain, would have been Hornby. Mostly the track would be a loop spread out on the carpet, with a cat waiting ready to pounce in the moving trains ...

Lets kick off with the railway itself, this runs in a loop around what was a spare bedroom and now, a home office or, as I prefer to call it, 'The Creative Suite'. As you see I punched a hole in the wall to make a tunnel through a cupboard. I have a reputation for making tunnels through walls, previously to allow my cats access to the outside world. It was easier than cutting a ...

Before we launch off and start writing code (no matter how tempting that is), we ought to think about what it should be doing. Good old user requirements. For a start, lets keep it simple, this is, after all a demo on a model railway and not controlling real trains on railtrack. Though some might argue that wouldn't be a bad idea. The first most basic thing, is to start and st ...

Join me on the quest to build an Alexa skill to control a (my) model railway. We love the idea of Alexa, and controlling a model railway will help me learn how to control Alexa for at this stage, apart from the ability to ask Alexa what the weather is, I know nothing. So this will quite a journey and I will be delighted for as many people as possible to follow me, my successes ...

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