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  • Topic: Piko Smart Control

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    • July 24, 2018 4:03 AM EDT
      • Outpost of Obscurity, Alaska
         
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      Piko Smart Control

      This system was brought to my attention by a friend in the hobby industry who is intrigued by the controller, but has not sold one yet, and in fact, hasn't seen one in person.

      Has anyone out there used one yet? 

      How is the smartphone like interface to use?

      After reading what I can find online it seams like a "next step" system that is taking advantage of common equipment like wi-fi for wireless protocol but it's limited to 5A at an assumed 18V with the optional powersupply with no provision for boosters.  

      Thanks

    • July 24, 2018 6:39 AM EDT
      • Not one of the WannaBe's,
         
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      Welcome aboard Paul. Grab a cup and chair and join the fun

    • July 24, 2018 11:23 AM EDT
      • Be Nice
         
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      It's another DCC system... there are tons.

      This one basically has an old (Android 4.1, android current version is 8.1 and 9 is in beta test) smartphone in a case with a big knob.

      You need a "base station" which is called the "Smart Box"...

       

      The system is not cheap, and as you mentioned, it's limited in a number of ways, not just max power or ability to accomodate a booster, but additional throttles.

       

      There's a ton of different systems available, with different features. This one is not outstanding in any dimension I can think of except the huge knob. For outdoor use I tend to shy away from color cell phone displays, they are hard to see in bright sunlight. (That said I have a Zimo system now, but I miss my NCE)

       

      Greg

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    • July 28, 2018 10:00 PM EDT
      • Outpost of Obscurity, Alaska
         
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      Thanks for the info Greg.  I figured that the handheld was old tech and not much better than SPROG.  I'd like to test fly a Zimo system but it's out of the price range for the foreseeable future.

      David, I've been a lurker for years for many reasons.  Most forums are best experienced with a cup...

       

    • July 28, 2018 10:09 PM EDT
      • Charlottesville, Virginia
         
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      The knob is way cool though.  Wish I could buy just that and slip it onto the end of my phone.

    • July 29, 2018 12:47 AM EDT
      • Be Nice
         
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      and it would increase the size of your smartphone by almost 50%!

       

      Adding a real knob to a smartphone but not real buttons seems a halfway gesture... so you get tactile feedback for speed but not direction or horn or bell...

       

      Sort of an uneven user interface.

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
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    • July 29, 2018 12:00 PM EDT
      • Charlottesville, Virginia
         
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      Well, I would want one that just slips on and off.  But then again I have a bunch of phones so I don't mind if one is a bit weird looking   

       

    • July 31, 2018 12:21 PM EDT
      • Be Nice
         
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      Yeah, my comments were not on appearance, but function. Surprised that someone has not made one already... cheap with either Bluetooth, or even plug into headphone jack, like the "square" card reader.

      Could be something like this:

      http://www.tinyosshop.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=969

      Bluetooth volume control, should be easy to make volume = speed.

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
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    • July 31, 2018 1:38 PM EDT
      • Charlottesville, Virginia
         
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      I know what you are getting at but I'm thinking a usb otg sort of device.  Physically plug it into the phone's usb, it then becomes just a serial port the android app can read.  Unfortunately, not all tablets/phones support usb otg. Nevertheless, I would prefer a physical connection so I can keep all the BT streams to control locomotives only.   Simplifies the s/w.

       

      Something like this:

      https://youtu.be/qym-R1NMnIY

       

    • July 31, 2018 5:07 PM EDT
      • Be Nice
         
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      Yep, that's why I suggested the headphone jack or BT.... I have a box full of old Apple iPhones that I use for JMRI and that's the "standard"...

       

      I get that you can use your personal super gee-whiz cell phone, but as soon as there is one more person, you need more cell phones.... Not going to have a box of the latest $1,000 Samsungs lying around!

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


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    • July 31, 2018 9:58 PM EDT
      • Charlottesville, Virginia
         
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      You have to stop living in Apple land there.  My newest phone was $60 from Amazon.  I also have a box of older phones, with various incarnations of Android OS.  Bluetooth works the same on all of them.

       

      Don't think of them as 'phones', they are very powerful 'control surfaces' with a built in touch screen and network access.

       

    • August 1, 2018 3:43 AM EDT
      • Be Nice
         
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      i have the box full of the apple phones because I, and my friends all went Android some time ago..

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


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    • August 1, 2018 6:19 AM EDT
      • Bundaberg, Queensland Australia
         
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      Greg Elmassian said:

      Yep, that's why I suggested the headphone jack or BT.... I have a box full of old Apple iPhones that I use for JMRI and that's the "standard"...

       I get that you can use your personal super gee-whiz cell phone, but as soon as there is one more person, you need more cell phones.... Not going to have a box of the latest $1,000 Samsungs lying around!

       Greg

      Greg,

      Sorry for the thread hijack for a moment but you mentioned JMRI (see bold above).

      I am looking for a way to use the JMRI display function as an output for a Raspberry Pi. 

      Scenario is detectors sense the train (Dave Bodnar's laser sensors being considered) and their O/P is sent to the Pi.  The Pi then processes the signals (via a program in Python) and sends the info to JMRI and it displays the position on a screen.

      The trains are all battery remote (dead rail) with no DCC decoders etc. do you think its is possible to achieve this?

      Sorry again folks its now back to your scheduled thread.

    • August 1, 2018 9:54 AM EDT
      • Charlottesville, Virginia
         
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      I think we were going off the deep end on this topic anyhow

       

      With that thought- Graeme, are you a python programmer?  Have you heard of Flask?  It is a web framework for python.  It runs great on the Pi.  Which means you can pickup the sensor data and then create your own pythony web pages to display the data and bypass the JMRI stuff completely.  I've got Flask, Apache and MySQL running on a pi zero W.  The W is for wireless,  so not only is the zero a python web server with a database, it's also its own wireless access point.  All on a computer the size of two postage stamps!  Pull out your phone, connect to the pi wireless and presto, your page comes up in your browser.  Slick.

       

      Anyhow, another odd thread interruption, I'll shut up now, ha.

       

    • August 1, 2018 12:00 PM EDT
      • Be Nice
         
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      Well, using JMRI saves Graeme the trouble of programming the layout display and the toolkit for drawing the layout.... so interfacing to JMRI will save time....  and you can run JMRI on small cheap processors...

       

      So interfacing the sensors to JMRI... it would be nice to do some kind of ultra low power bluetooth, that stays in a deep sleep until woken by an event. So your sensors would be battery powered.

       

      I assume you would prefer wireless over hard-wiring the sensors? I suppose you could also do an RS485 loop, very little traffic... you have wires, but you would be working in multi-drop so only one "bus"..

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
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    • August 2, 2018 10:41 PM EDT
      • Bundaberg, Queensland Australia
         
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      Martin Sant said:

      I think we were going off the deep end on this topic anyhow

       

      With that thought- Graeme, are you a python programmer?  Have you heard of Flask?  It is a web framework for python.  It runs great on the Pi.  Which means you can pickup the sensor data and then create your own pythony web pages to display the data and bypass the JMRI stuff completely.  I've got Flask, Apache and MySQL running on a pi zero W.  The W is for wireless,  so not only is the zero a python web server with a database, it's also its own wireless access point.  All on a computer the size of two postage stamps!  Pull out your phone, connect to the pi wireless and presto, your page comes up in your browser.  Slick.

       

      Anyhow, another odd thread interruption, I'll shut up now, ha.

       No martin I am not a python programmer but python is a consideration for what I would like to do so I will look at Flask.

      I have had a look at your web page and there is some interesting stuff that I will look at.

      All this is for my pending retirement mid next year to try to keep the old grey matter working.

       

    • August 2, 2018 10:48 PM EDT
      • Bundaberg, Queensland Australia
         
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      Greg Elmassian said:

      Well, using JMRI saves Graeme the trouble of programming the layout display and the toolkit for drawing the layout.... so interfacing to JMRI will save time....  and you can run JMRI on small cheap processors...

       

      So interfacing the sensors to JMRI... it would be nice to do some kind of ultra low power bluetooth, that stays in a deep sleep until woken by an event. So your sensors would be battery powered.

       

      I assume you would prefer wireless over hard-wiring the sensors? I suppose you could also do an RS485 loop, very little traffic... you have wires, but you would be working in multi-drop so only one "bus"..

       

      Greg

      You are spot on with why I am looking at JMRI.

      I was thinking hard wired to the Pi's GPIO pins then Pi driving the JMRI for a display.

      I still have to make up my mind whether to build the layout outside or inside.

      Outside I have heaps of room about 40-50 squares Metres, while indoors I am limited to 7.5Metresx 6Metres.

      Outside most likely wireless but indoors could be hard wired.  The outside would be run off a SLA battery with a solar trickle charger connected (in the sub tropics plenty of sun).

      I could use a Pi zero W connected to another one to make a stand alone network.  Hmm plenty of food for thought with both ideas keep them coming. 

    • August 3, 2018 9:35 AM EDT
      • Charlottesville, Virginia
         
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      Oh, ok. I'm a python nut so I probably oversold the Flask stuff. It takes some python and linux skill to get it up and running.  However, I have it all working on my set of Pi Ws so I'll just post up a disk image- burn the image onto a 16G card, plug it in your Pi W and it's up and running.  It's the complete package, desktop and all that, all open source. You will still need a bit of python and html for any custom modifications, but I'll make it available to anyone who wants to poke about with it.  I'm using it as a base for a graphic UI I'm working on to throw servo controlled turnouts, perhaps others will be interested.

      Anyhow, I' planning on working with these boards-  I've got the servo one but not the two others yet:

      https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14148

      https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14150

      https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14328

       

    • August 3, 2018 4:56 PM EDT
      • Bundaberg, Queensland Australia
         
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      Martin Sant said:

      Oh, ok. I'm a python nut so I probably oversold the Flask stuff. It takes some python and linux skill to get it up and running.  However, I have it all working on my set of Pi Ws so I'll just post up a disk image- burn the image onto a 16G card, plug it in your Pi W and it's up and running.  It's the complete package, desktop and all that, all open source. You will still need a bit of python and html for any custom modifications, but I'll make it available to anyone who wants to poke about with it.  I'm using it as a base for a graphic UI I'm working on to throw servo controlled turnouts, perhaps others will be interested.

      Anyhow, I' planning on working with these boards-  I've got the servo one but not the two others yet:

      https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14148

      https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14150

      https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14328

       

      What I am messing around with is a basic train detection where as the sensors detect a train their output is translated into either a dot on the screen or a graphical length of track is shown as having a train on it.

      I have also looked at pygame for my display as well as JMRI.

      Those Piplates could be an answer as well if I just used LEDs instead of a graphical display which would be a simpler way of doing it.

       

    • August 3, 2018 6:18 PM EDT
      • Charlottesville, Virginia
         
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      You can read or control the Pi plates then route that, via python, into the web interface to give you the graphic display.  It kinda depends on how you want to do it.  With the pi web server, anything can talk to it and display the graphics- a phone, tablet or laptop.  You connect to the pi's wireless and display the page in your browser of choice.  That page, since it originates on the Pi, can be populated with whatever data you collected via the plates or any other interface, USB, GPIO, anything really.  Accordingly, you could click a button on that page and send a signal out of the Pi to any device you have connected to it.

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