Adjust Rain Settings

We’ve been asked a few times by customers to adjust the sensitivity of the rain data on our rain products. Here’s what we’ve done, and how you can make the changes.

For our rain maps we process precipitation radar images to determine if it’s raining in any one area, looping through all the areas on the board to get data for the entire map. For each area we calculate how many of the radar image pixels are showing rain, setting a default threshold of 8% rain pixels to show rain in that area.

You can now manually update the rain threshold, setting it from 1% to 100%. You can find the setting on your device page, head to your Traintrackr dashboard, click on your board, then look for the ‘Set Rain Threshold’ button at the top of the page.

Click the button and you’ll see a popup asking you to select a new threshold level. Once you select a new threshold we’ll send it to the board and you’ll see the change reflected within a minute. Any changes made to threshold levels when a board is not running will be sent as soon as the board reconnects again.

Adjust Brightness

Many of you were asking to adjust the LED brightness on your boards. It is important to some of you late at night when you don’t want to be blinded in a dark room, or others when using boards in bright rooms.

Brightness controls are enabled on all products released since the beginning of 2020, so this is all products except for the original square (100mm x 100mm) Boston MBTA board.

To adjust the brightness on your board head to your Traintrackr dashboard, click on your board, then look for the brightness button at the top of the page.

Click the brightness button and you’ll see a popup asking you to select a new brightness level. Once you select a new brightness level we’ll send it to the board and you’ll see the change reflected within a minute. Any changes made to brightness levels when a board is not running will be sent as soon as the board reconnects again.

Live MBTA Data

Our Large MBTA boards are an update to our first MBTA board in many ways, they are larger, show the whole network, and have moved away from updates every minute, to updates every second.

Updating the board every minute is easy, we just make a vehicle location request to the MBTA API, displaying that data on the board’s LEDs. Updating every second is much more complicated, we can’t use vehicle locations anymore (they only update once a minute), so we have to use departure predictions.

We pull departure predictions from the MBTA API, and then cycle through each one, adjusting the LEDs as the trains are predicted to depart from each station. This make the movement on the board look much more fluid and natural, but does have it’s drawbacks.

  • Trains can go faster or slower than predicted, so the LEDs can jump when the next set of predictions come in.
  • Predictions aren’t available outbound for the last stop on the line, as there aren’t any public departures.
  • We don’t know where vehicles are, just when they are supposed to arrive/leave. Because of this we don’t show trains waiting to depart from their first stop, until they are scheduled to depart.

Despite these limitations, being able to see the trains move around the network in real time is much more engaging, and we think it’s a big improvement.