Another Aussie

OzLodger Apr 24, 2019

  1. OzLodger

    OzLodger New Member

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    Hi,

    I re-entered the world of model railways about 12 months ago following my retirement from full-time work. As a kid I had a Triang-Hornby OO layout which unfortunately I sold when I got old enough to discover girls and music.

    I still work - if you can call it that - as a musician a couple nights a week. Last year I took my partner on an outing to a Model Train Exhibition, mainly to reminisce. Of course, it didn't take much and I was hooked once more. I was amazed by the possibilities of DCC automation so that's where my interest lies this time around. As I've already taken over one of our 3 bedrooms as my music room, I've had to make do with a 6 x 3 N-gauge layout which I can roll away under the spare bed.

    I'm starting out with only 2 engines at the moment - a New South Wales Class 44 made by Gopher Models and a Kato NW2 which I was planning to convert to a Queensland Rail 1720. Gotta say, I'm disappointed with Australian N Gauge rolling stock in terms of quality and the limited range available. I may even transition the layout to British eventually which has much more RTR stock available.

    I have a Digitrax Zephyr as my current Controller but have lately become interested in DCC++ and JMRI. I'm looking to convert totally to that over time. First though I've just gotta get my head around the turnouts and signalling! I used a computer at my old job - so how hard can it be? :)

    Geoff
     
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  2. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    Welcome to Trainboard Geoff. [​IMG]
     
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  3. Akirasho

    Akirasho TrainBoard Member

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    Pics or it didn't happen!
     
  4. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Geoff, welcome. Glad to have you on board.
     
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  5. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

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    Welcome to Trainboard!(y)
     
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  6. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Welcome to TrainBoard Geoff!
     
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  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Welcome to TrainBoard!
     
    OzLodger likes this.
  8. fitz

    fitz Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Welcome aboard, Geoff, we look forward to your progress.
     
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  9. DaveT58

    DaveT58 TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Geoff

    Welcome on board, I joined up a couple of weeks ago, nice forum to be on. Lots of info and assistance.

    You have a good combination of DCC++ and JMRI, a bit of a learning curve for you but it definitely is a good challenge for the mind. This is combination I'm currently working with and I am very satisfied with the results and it is very cost effective compared to the commercial DCC command station product.

    Don't worry about the signalling and turnouts with JMRI to start off with, concentrate on getting the JMRI/DCC++ controlling locos on the track and working reliably. Enjoy the multiple locos running around at the same time each under individual control and from your smartphone if that takes your fancy. Then you can move on to the signalling, turnouts, sensors, layout automation, all possible with JMRI.

    I lived in Oz for 20 years so know the place well, enjoy your ANZAC day today

    DaveT
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
    OzLodger likes this.
  10. OzLodger

    OzLodger New Member

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    Thanks DaveT. Pleased to know you're satisfied with JMRI/DCC++ on your layout. I've loaded JMRI onto an old laptop and it seems to be communicating fine with the Arduino via USB. Am waiting on a motor shield to arrive from China. Must be on a slow yak train via Tibet I think. I'm impatient for it to get here so I can test it out properly on my layout.

    Yes, it was ANZAC Day here today. Watched the parade on TV then spent the afternoon putting a home made analog DC Controller together (photo attached). Will connect up the wiring permanently after some glue cures. (I managed to pick up a OO loco from my childhood on EBay so I just want to give it a quick run). Controller looks pretty ugly thanks to my ham-fisted craftsmanship but it tested ok.

    Regards,
    Geoff
     

    Attached Files:

  11. DaveT58

    DaveT58 TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Geoff

    Things do take a while to come from China, but it usually worth the wait, the prices are good and the quality usually good to very good. All my Arduinos, shields, PWM units, resistors, LED's etc all come from AliExpress, just a bit of a wait.

    With the motor shields, if using over 12V DC to the motor it is usual to cut the track on the back of the PCB that provides power from the motor board to the Arduino, can cook the Arduino with the motor shield supply voltage over 12V. Check well before turning the power on. Before connecting the motor shield its best to get the Arduino to JMRI working properly, JMRI has a serial monitor window that works well, from the serial send command window try "<s>" you should get a status message back from the Arduino and to check for a reliable stable connection activate the current monitor, this requests the Arduino current value every half second, just leave running for a while and check the DCC++ monitor window.

    If things don't seem to work, check in the JMRI "Ă‹dit/Preferences/Default" section as sometimes JMRI allocates some of the functions to its internal setup not the selected DCC++, just make sure all radio buttons are selected for DCC++ and its all good.

    One good thing to look to build is a DCC monitor, again based on a small Arduino and a Opto isolator with a few resistors, diodes. when connected to the track and the Arduino IDE monitor window it shows what DCC messages are on the track, helps to track down problems, is the problem with the signal on the track or problem with the loco.

    My next little task is to get a Raspberry Pi unit and the Arduino Mega with DCC++, two PWM motor controllers in the same box and then that will make the perfect small, compact, fully functioning DCC setup, plug in the power pack, monitor, keyboard and mouse and off you go.

    My last trip to the UK I brought back all my Triang TT models, all from the 1960's but still great models. After the Raspberry Pi it will be a job to see if the motors will operate using a very small Arduino (Nano) and a 2A PWM motor board, I know the Arduino/PWM works but im not sure if the old electric motors from the 1960s like PWM over good old fashioned 12V DC, we shall see.

    Anzac Day was always good fun, down to the local RSL (Returned Servicemen League) club for food, drink and fun with 2 UP (flip 2 pennies and bet on the result), that was a few years ago now but very good memories.

    The Analogue Controller looks good, if it does the job, keeps the smoke in and is safe then there are no problems at all. I might have to put one together for the Triang TT locos, back to my favourite transistor 2N3055 beast of a thing and is just about bullet proof, takes a lot to kill one of them.

    Have a good one

    DaveT
    Kuala Lumpur
     
  12. OzLodger

    OzLodger New Member

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    Great tips DaveT. The DCC monitor sounds interesting. I ordered an extra faux-Arduino just as a spare when I ordered the motor shield. So it might yet finish up as a monitor. The DC Controller idea came from this Youtube Clip:



    All the Best
    Geoff
     
  13. OzLodger

    OzLodger New Member

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    Hi Akirasho. The layout's hiding under the bed at the moment so attached is a photo from when I was laying the track. I haven't done a lot to it since except clean the junk off the top. I'm using a Digitrax PM42 to handle the polarity on the figure 8 section.

    Regards,
    Geoff.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. DaveT58

    DaveT58 TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Geoff

    For the DCC Monitor have a look at this web page

    http://www.mynabay.com/dcc_monitor/

    I have just designed and ordered PCB's for this DCC monitor, 10 boards for US$5 and US$11 postage to Kuala Lumpur, great value. Will take about 8 days to get to me, 2 days manufacture, 6 days postage. Have a look at https://easyeda.com/davet/dcc-monitor-with-nano
    for the actual design files,
    Rev 1.02 is the design I have ordered.

    This in the 4th order using Easyeda as the PCB design tool, brilliant web app and links to their PCB manufacturing arm, makes it too easy.

    DaveT
     

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