If you ever come to northern Germany, I absolutely recommend a visit!
edit Wow, I did not realize the airplanes are not connected to the system. They can all run "free".
I didn't think you were being misleading.
We've all been there, and it adds nothing of value to the actual article or conversation to know it's a dupe, unless the previous one had a worthwhile discussion as well, in which case link to it.
http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/exhibit/video/section/air... and http://www.youtube.com/user/MiWuLaTV
Their YouTube channel has a lot of videos called "Gerrit's Diary" (the main guy building it), and he goes into some detail about the different parts as they are building it (it is in German, with English subtitles). I haven't found anything specifically about the programming, but I would love to know some more about what went into that.
The control software has 145.000 lines of code[I guess for the whole model, not just the airport]
Just the airport control software has 70,000 lines of code.
He has added 200,000 numbers just for the configuration.
 http://tagebuch.miniatur-wunderland.de/eintrag/aus-dem-leben... (German)
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=de&sl=de&tl... (English with Google translate)
However, they are also using other software like http://www.railware.com. I visited the Miniaturwunderland this year and it was quite fun to watch the operator team writing down RailWare bugs into their own excel sheets.
The Miniaturwunderland model railroad is definitely worth a visit for every programmer! Then you can imagine how difficult it is to change things in large complex systems without breaking something.
Link: http://www.miniatur-wunderland.de/anlage/video/miwula-tv/fil... (1:50 h, german)
Can anyone tell how the take-off/landing is handled? It appears that the planes ride on little support struts, but do the struts auto engage/disengage once landing is complete/about to begin? Most of the taxiing appears to be done sans-struts. Also curious what happens to the planes onces they take off...
Are those things disconnected later? I'm pretty sure, yes. The actual mechanism wasn't shown in the videos I've seen, but I expect those planes to be able to taxi to the runways, connect and lift off.
After take off the planes are brought behind the scenery in a special area that allows to store/move/hide the planes. The video even says that it should be possible to change the direction of the start/landing.
Their website explains that they use an expanded version of the "Faller-Car-System". After doing a little research I found that a magnet attached to the front tires follows a metal wire embedded in the roadway similar to the way a smart road works.
In one system I found, a magnetic reed switch is used to stop (and start) vehicles when they pass over electromagnets. Electromagnets in the road are also used to divert the steering when a choice between 2 wires to follow is available.
Miniatur Wunderland has expanded on this system considerably with a central computer communicating with an on-board controller in each vehicle to control speed, lights, and sounds. I couldn't find any information about if or how the cars determine or communicate their true position. My guess is that they estimate based on the speed and movement commands they send.
They do have a couple of systems for computer controlling boats that they are working on that uses ultrasonic or infared signals to determine boat position to under 1mm.
It's quite interesting to me that they have been able to make cars and boats act and be controlled more like trains.
But I don't "get" projects like this. Why spend seven years and $4.8m? Are there really that many people willing to pay to see this that they can recoup the investment? Are there any other side benefits? (i.e. finding logistical deficiencies in the airline industry)
Oh what I could do with $4.8m and seven years...
(And for those who like it recursive: they have a model of the model railroad as part of the model railroad http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/fileadmin/media/foto-gale... complete with the queue http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/fileadmin/media/foto-gale... )
I can think of a lot worse things that people spend millions of dollars on (hookers and blow, yachts, Color, etc).
When I get my $100 million exit, you can be damn sure I'm spending part of that on building working mech armor and making video games.
I still don't get that one:-\ I mean, I guess I don't see the value:-\
I'm honestly curious what colour brought to the table. Last I checked their app wasn't all that great and their idea, while novel, wasn't groundbreaking and I'm not aware of how they could try to monetize it beyond ads. That last part could just be lack of imagination on my part.
 http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miniatur_Wunderland (German language link)
The whole thing is just amazing. Checkout 3:30 in, the computer control station is just rad.