Skip to content
Buzzer logo

TransLink news, commentary, and behind-the-scenes stories.

Rider channels passion for electronics to create an LED SkyTrain tracker

Rider channels passion for electronics to create an LED SkyTrain tracker

Walt Disney famously said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Nate Iversen dreamed it and did it — creating an LED map of Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain network on a circuit board. It lights up when a train arrives at a station. He did it all with no coding experience.

Creating SkyTrain tracker

When Nate started working on his SkyTrain tracker, he didn’t have an instructions sheet to follow, nor did he have a background in making something similar. But that didn’t stop him from figuring it out.

Nate started by first learning how to make a basic circuit board, then a more complex one, and eventually how to code. It took about a year of working on this personal project during his spare time and four failed versions before finally creating one that worked how he liked it to.

Nate looks at the five versions of the SkyTrain Tracker

There was a lot of trial and error involved, so it was a project that required persistence and a ton of patience.

On the first version of the tracker, Nate purchased just a circuit board shaped like a SkyTrain map from a manufacturer. He had to manually place the elements, which included more than 50 tiny LED lights, on the board. As you can imagine, this was very time-consuming. In the later versions, Nate ordered a board with the pieces added in, which has been a relief.

The fifth and current version of his SkyTrain tracker is powered by a USB input and receives data via WiFi. The tracker then interprets the schedule data through the LED lights, which are colour coded to represent the three SkyTrain lines — Expo Line, Millennium Line, and Canada Line.

The schedule data is pulled from our GTFS Static Data feed, which contains transit schedules. We make this data publicly available to provide updates about our fleet to application developers, like Transit app and Google Maps.

While his SkyTrain tracker is currently unable to factor in real-time schedule adjustments, Nate plans to in the next iteration of the tracker.

He also plans to share how he made his SkyTrain tracker on his YouTube channel. Nate hopes it’ll inspire someone like him, who didn’t know how to make one in the first place, to also create.

Nate holds SkyTrain Tracker on his right and four early versions on his left


Sorry, your website browser is no longer supported.

Upgrade to one of these browsers to visit