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The TransferPoint/BVE Tablet Project

What is a tablet? The word tablet, in this context, refers to a mosaic of tiles which spell out a station name, surrounded by a colored rectangle (in most cases), the interior of which is filled in with tiles, usually of a different color. Here's an example of a tablet.

Example of a tablet at 23rd Street-Ely Avenue station on the E and V Lines, 18K
Example of a tablet at 23rd Street-Ely Avenue station on the E and V Lines, 18K

What does this page on tablets have to do with BVE? It has much to do with BVE. Check out this picture.

Tablet on a wall on my E Line BVE route, at the 23rd Street-Ely Avenue station 32K
Tablet on a wall on my E Line BVE route, at the 23rd Street-Ely Avenue station, 32K

Tablet look familiar? It should, because the original image used for the BVE-version tablet is right above it! That's the whole point of this project. There are no fonts available for the computer that simulate the various fonts that exist on the many tablets in the New York City Subway System. This project uses photo-based tablet objects to place tablets on the walls of BVE stations.

Why not just put the tablet in the bitmaps for the wall object? Two reasons:

  1. There are varying numbers of tablets per station (There are as many as 9 to 13 tablets per wall in a typical IND subway station)

  2. There would be too many Free Object numbers taken up by customized walls, especially if you want to use tunnel signs, platform signs, static trains, stairs, columns, buildings, trees, etc.

How did this project come to be? I got the idea from the #2 Line for BVE.

The custom wall tablets are, in my opinion, stretched out way too long. If one of those tablets would be put side-by-side with an IRT subway car (51.3333... ft, exactly 15.6464 meters long), the tablets would be longer, If put next to an IND subway car (60.5 ft, exactly 18.4404m), the tablet would probably also be longer!

Anyway, I thought it would be cool to have photo-realistic tablets in these stations as you're driving a train through the stations. Thus, the project was born.

Where do you get your photos? Two sources:

  1. I take them myself

  2. from

Why don't you get them all from the Internet, to save you the time and trouble of going out and getting them yourself? Good question. First, many of the tablet photos are taken at an improper angle, which makes rendering the image a problem.
Original* B3D Result
63rd Drive Original
63rd Drive B3D Result
65th Street Original
65th Street B3D Result
Although some work out, they're rare.
Original* B3D Result
36th Street Original
36th Street B3D Result
Second, doesn't have the tablets for all the stations. Just try to find one for the 46th Street/Broadway station. (They'll have one after I submit it! hehehe...)

Although, the tablet pictures on do serve a good purpose. They allow me to properly adjust the b3d file's dimensions so that the tablet would appear as it should; not squished up or stretched out.

How do you do that? Well, I just count the white tiles that surround the tablet. The IND uses six-inch white tile in its stations to decorate the walls. By counting the tiles, the proper height and length can be determined. Most tablets in the IND are 5 tiles high, which translates to 2.5 feet. The length varies depending on the text of the tablet. For example, 23rd St.-Ely Ave. is 35 tiles long, which translates to 17.5 feet.

Here's an example of a tablet B3D file (again, using 23-Ely as an example).

vertex 0,0.7620,-2.667
vertex 0,0.0000,-2.667
vertex 0,0.0000, 2.667
vertex 0,0.7620, 2.667
face 0,1,2,3

load 23-ely.bmp
coordinates 0,0.992,0.047
coordinates 1,0.992,1
coordinates 2,0.008,0.922
coordinates 3,0.008,0.016
Original* B3D Result
36th Street Original
36th Street B3D Result

Let's examine what I did.

The four vertices represent the four corners of the tablet, aligned so that the bottom of the tablet (Y axis) is at zero, and the length of the tablet (Z axis) straddles zero. 17.5 feet converts to 5.334 meters, which gives 2.667 meters on either side of zero for the tablet.

In the [texture] section, I used the original, shrunk down to 25664 pixels, and applied it. Notice that each of the coordinates commands has a value in it that is not a whole number. These numbers represent the corners of the tablet in the image, their (x,y) coordinates being represented as the quotient of the position of the corner in the bitmap, and the total length (x) or height (y) of the image.

How do you photograph the tablets? I use several methods.

  1. Free-standing Method: I stand at the edge of the platform, point my camera toward the tablet, and take the picture.

  2. Train-assisted Method: Similar to Free-standing, but I'm either leaning up against a train or standing inside a train car, between the open doors to take the picture. It's a bit tricky to do this if the doors are not aligned with the tablet, and you're trying to re-board the same train while leaning up against it to take the tablet's picture.

  3. Across-the-Tracks Method: Standing on one platform while taking a picture of a tablet on the opposite platform. Works best with two-track stations and column spacing of 15 feet, but many stations with a column spacing of 5 feet work, but it's a bit tricky to get the tablet in between the columns. I've tried this at the Northern Boulevard station, but the tablet was too long. I just had to opt for taking the tablet in two shots, which I rarely do. I don't know if it'll work, though.

How many tablets have you photographed? Well, I created a map to answer your question.

Do you have a wish list? Yes, a digital camera!