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    • February 21, 2020 5:41 AM EST
    • Greg Elmassian said:

      the jmri component is pretty simple, in this case, there is a usb to nce cab bus interface

       

      is your question about the interfacing, or installation, or use/features of jmri?

       

      Greg

       

      All of the above to different degrees, mostly interfacing, the installation I think I can find on the net, uses/features again on the net if all else fails  asking someone who knows. 

       

      Big learning curve but willing to learn.

       

    • February 21, 2020 2:53 AM EST
    • the jmri component is pretty simple, in this case, there is a usb to nce cab bus interface

       

      is your question about the interfacing, or installation, or use/features of jmri?

       

      Greg

       

    • February 21, 2020 2:12 AM EST
    • Greg Elmassian said:

      Right, you have a command station and sophisticated throttle for $160, super deal.

      Yes, Raspberry Pi would be a good choice, of course since I got an entire laptop with wifi, screen, keyboard, touchpad for $70, going to be hard to beat.

      The output of the standard PowerCab is 2 amps but only 12 volts, kind of low for G scale, but like I said, $50 for a 5 amp booster, and a 5 amp laptop supply at 20 volts is cheap.

      As soon as I can get the new board, will indeed have a picture of it in a cigar box.

       

      Greg

      Greg,

      Not sure if I clearly explained that I am planning on using it on HO layout, so the booster would not be necessary as the 2A 12V is more than enough for my locos.

      It is the JMRI component of the original setup that I am interested in.

      Is there anything on your site about it?

    • February 20, 2020 6:26 PM EST
    • Right, you have a command station and sophisticated throttle for $160, super deal.

      Yes, Raspberry Pi would be a good choice, of course since I got an entire laptop with wifi, screen, keyboard, touchpad for $70, going to be hard to beat.

      The output of the standard PowerCab is 2 amps but only 12 volts, kind of low for G scale, but like I said, $50 for a 5 amp booster, and a 5 amp laptop supply at 20 volts is cheap.

      As soon as I can get the new board, will indeed have a picture of it in a cigar box.

       

      Greg

    • February 20, 2020 6:22 PM EST
    • Greg,

      Yes, it certainly isn't the cheap option. Btw with Martin's widget, you "only" need the PT, his widget and a cheap DCC amp.

       

      What do you think about a Rpi running JMRI vs a laptop? That seems to be common in the smaller scales. 

       

      I was reading you comments more as a "portable" DCC system vs a cheap system.

    • February 20, 2020 6:02 PM EST
    • Now that first setup is very interesting.

      I could use parts of it for a small scale layout I am building ( I know its not G but the concept is transferrable).

      I have;

      • Powercab with connector board.
      • Raspberry Pi that is looking for something to do and I can get JMRI for it (laptop substitute?)
      • An old router doing nothing
      I do not need a booster because I will be only running a max of 4 locos so 2A will be heaps.

      I was looking at a concept called DCC++ (where I can get JMRI for the Pi) and from the brief read I had I think they do something similar with phone controllers.

      JMRI control of trains plus graphics etc is mostly what has got me interested in this.

      As I am starting out it may be a good time to research this and keep an eye on this thread.

    • February 20, 2020 5:52 PM EST
    • Not talking about the fancy looking throttle, that system is abysmal for programming, as I put in the post, many systems do not have the capability or the code reliability to do everything.

       

      There's a reason clubs use NCE, because all the service mode options are there, and also it has very well worked out software.

       

      Also, the title is inexpensive but powerful... the proto throttle is anything but inexpensive.

       

      This protothrottle lists at $482 plus you need a $100 wireless interface and you still do not have DCC, not a 5 amp system.

       

      So with power supplies and booster the protothtrottle system is at maybe  $650 vs the system above at about $330...., and Protothrottle system still doesn't have support for your cell phone throttles which are basically free.

       

      This system is more capability at half the cost, can run 4 cell phone throttles and several wired throttles at the same time.

       

      Greg

    • February 20, 2020 4:40 PM EST
    • Greg,

      That's a neat idea, but I think Martin Sant has got you beat on a portable DCC setup that works with the Protothrottle...

       

      I've seen a lot of home brew DCC systems pop up recently that use the popular Arduino chips.

    • February 20, 2020 2:14 PM EST
    • So, previously I made an inexpensive DCC system, which was also portable. The goals were not only cost and portability, but fully functional with well-worked out capability.

       

      (Many inexpensive systems have shortcomings in the programming or control department)

       

      So my first foray was based on the NCE PowerCab system, which is an inexpensive 2 amp, 12v system, with an inexpensive 5 amp booster (Tam Valley) added:

       

      The street price for the PowerCab is about $160, the booster, $50, and a 5 amp 20v supply about $18, so for under $230 you have a full featured DCC system 5 amps at G scale voltages.

       

      The next step was to add inexpensive wireless throttles, using a free app on a cell phone. I did this with an inexpensive laptop ($70) and a cheap wireless router ($30), so for another $100 I have basically unlimited wireless throttles:

       

      I put it in a small rolling case, the power supplies are under the laptop (case cost $11) This system is running JMRI, so you have the wireless "server" to connect to cell phones running the free apps for throttles, plus the JMRI control of trains, and the graphics programming interface, and the locomotive database.

       

      But in terms of compactness, there is a new option if you just want wireless support of cell phones, WiFiTrax is developing this small wireless server board:

       

      http://wifitrax.com/products/product-WFD-30-detail.html

       

      So just adding this to the system above, you can have a full 5 amp wireless DCC system in the size of a cigar box, in fact I will build one this way just for fun. The board has a list price of $110, should be available soon. (the picture is big, but the board is small)

       

      Another full featured option to DCC folks.

       

      Greg

       

       

       

    • February 20, 2020 10:56 PM EST
    • Thanks guys, so, Martin, your receiver turns the commands from the Protothrottle to DCC commands, and then you effectively use the motor controller as what DCC guys would call a booster.

       

      So a question is, it seems that this setup cannot do DCC service mode, unless you can switch out the motor controller, is that correct?

       

      So is Craig running something different? Maybe it's just the wording. What re-wiring needs to be done to the hardware, if that is a trade secret I understand, but it's the world's cheapest booster, nice idea.

       

      Also, is there anything in the Protothrottle to have the user interface to be able to program CV's? Clearly no keyboard, but there are some times you want POM while running, not removing the loco from the track and hooking up to a programmer. It would be a pain without a keyboard, but things like changing momentum, selecting a different bell/whistle.

       

      Thanks, Greg

       

       

    • February 20, 2020 7:36 PM EST
    • For the record, all you need is a Protothrottle, my receiver and a $10 Cytron motor controller for 10A of DCC.  More than enough for any single locomotive- I don't think there are any decoders out there that will handle more than 5-6 Amps?   I've also updated my programmer so that it will allow you to send CV programming to the decoder.

      My receiver will also drive very large ESC motor controllers, I'm getting interest from the ride-on scale guys to drive 50Amp size units- I just sold 4 of my receivers to a guy out in Oregon that does control systems for the big trains.

      I seem to have some unexpected time on my hands so I've been updating the web site, there is more info there if you are interested.

      http://blueridgeengineering.net/

      Again, many thanks to Craig for testing and getting me into this in the first place.

       

       

    • February 20, 2020 7:13 PM EST
    • Greg,

      I'm using a ESU decoder (XL, but next one will be L as has different DCC settings for momentum. XL is Euro based, L is USA/NA based so the rate of decay is different), Martin's widget and a commercial DCC amp that Martin suggested to run the Protothrottle.

       

      No actual DCC system needed as I can do programming changes via the LokProgrammer.

       

      Hope this helps.

       

    • February 20, 2020 6:53 PM EST
    • So Craig, since you commented on my thread about the ProtoThrottle vs NCE setup, what are you using?

       

      From your posts, are you using the protothrottle to Airwire converter, i.e.

       

      ProtoThrottle >> Protothrottle to airwire converter >> airwire convrtr in the loco >> ESU decoder in the loco

       

      You never posted back as to exactly what the final solution was, but you referred to Martin's setup... which I thought was a Zigbee / Xbee receiver on a single board computer interfaced to a DCC decoder.

       

      Greg

    • February 12, 2020 8:21 PM EST
    • The loconet is a control bus... the "smart function" allows the command station to shut off the booster.... probably from an "emergency all stop" command from the throttle...

       

      otherwise the booster just can work from the track output...  some boosters only work from a low level signal, others can "boost" from a normal track output...

       

      There are lots of options... I have used the Tam Valley 5 amp booster myself,

       

      http://www.tamvalleydepot.com/products/dccbooster.html

       

      what is the budget?

       

      Greg

    • February 11, 2020 10:35 PM EST
    • Greg Elmassian said:

      You can add boosters cheaply. If you don't need the smart function, there are very inexpensive 5 amp boosters.

      Greg

      When you say "don't need the smart function" are you talking about straight dc power,  or just a booster that can output the dcc signal it's sent from the smartcontrol, effectively relaying the info but not having to create the info from one signal to another? 

    • February 11, 2020 9:53 PM EST
    • Your guesses are both correct from my knowledge.

       

      You can add boosters cheaply. If you don't need the smart function, there are very inexpensive 5 amp boosters.

       

      Greg

    • February 11, 2020 2:04 PM EST
    • Thank you Greg,

      That was what I had been looking at (mostly what comes up when searching for Loconet Booster with higher amperage output) but I can't tell exactly what they mean by "Galvanically isolated", I'm guessing that means has it's own power supply and doesn't share a common or negetive with the PIKO Smartcontrol box. But does Loconet share any of that with the connecting cord, or does it simply send signals back and forth?

      I'm also guessing that it would have been better to start with a higher output DCC controller to begin with. Can the Smartcontrol controller be used with anything else?

      Thank you.

    • February 11, 2020 12:48 AM EST
    • when you read loconet, you should think Digitrax.... look at their products.

       

      Greg

    • February 11, 2020 12:22 AM EST
    • I'm looking to power a pair of larger diesel engines,  a SD-45 and a 25B on my Smart control system, but it only puts out 5 amps. I like the controller so I'd like to keep using it,  but know I need more than 5 amps to power the several engines I have at once. PIKO doesn't make a booster for the smartcontrol system,  so they suggested I use the loconet port and a adapter for controlling a "galvonicly isolated" loconet booster with the power I need.  Does anyone know of a booster in the 10-15 amp range that would work? 

       

      From the PIKO email: 

      We do not offer a booster for SmartControl, but it should work with boosters from other brands, as long as the boosters are LocoNet-enabled and galvanically isolated.  The Boosters must be connected to a 55044 L-Net Converter, which is connected to the ECoSlink port on the SmartBox.

       

      Thanks!