Plug It In

Unlike the majority of MagTag projects that can run for weeks on a single battery charge, this project relies on frequent WiFi access and is best handled with a continuous USB power source. You’ll need a USB-C cable and a nearby USB hub or a small phone charger (most folks have accumulated several spares by now). The project could be made standalone, but you’d need a sizable LiPoly battery if it’s to run for an appreciable length of time.

Snakes on a Plane

While the NextBus clock code runs self-contained on the MagTag using CircuitPython, initial setup requires access to “full” Python 3 on a regular computer, and a bit of command-line typing in a terminal window.

Some systems (e.g. Raspberry Pi) already have Python 3 installed. Others, like Windows and Mac, may require an install. If unsure, open a terminal window and type “python3” — if you get an error, installation is required. Visit the Python.org download page for guidance.

Realistic Expectations

Before commiting to this project, I’d suggest trying the NextBus service for a couple weeks with your regular web browser and/or on your phone, in order to understand its limitations.

While very convenient and fairly reliable overall, the system is not 100% perfect. Not all vehicles are equipped with working tracking hardware. Occasionally GPS or cell signals are lost and tracking estimates may jump forward or back by several minutes.

Get to know how much lead time you need to safely and reliably make your transit connection, and whether the service meets your needs. I find it most useful for deciding whether to run errands now versus later.

If you’re still on board, let’s get started…

This guide was first published on Nov 25, 2020. It was last updated on Nov 25, 2020.

This page (Setup) was last updated on Oct 09, 2021.

Text editor powered by tinymce.