DCC++EX Command Station -- Easy quick build with WiFi......

Sumner Mar 31, 2022

  1. dalebaker

    dalebaker TrainBoard Member

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    I am new to DCC++ and have built a program track using a UNO clone and motor shield. It works quite well. I have started on the Command Station and am waiting on the Makersfab Wifi shield to arrive to complete it.

    I think this will work great for a project I have in mind. I belong to a small club in south Kansas that currently runs DC. We are looking at converting to DCC soon. There is a funding issue so that is why I’m looking at the DCC++ system.

    Here is my question, the layout to be converted consists of 4 switching districts connected to a mainline through interchange tracks. So when operating, the switching districts are manned but do not run out onto the main. I am thinking that we could build 5 of the Command Stations for use in each district and one to run the main. All would connect to phones with the AP method. If all the locomotives in use were different road numbers, could we have an issue with the wifi signals stepping on each other? My thoughts are that the individual interchange tracks could be controlled with double pole switches to switch between command stations when interchanging cars between the district and the main and those tracks are isolated at each end.

    Thank you,
    Dale Baker
    HO Port of Catoosa Railroad
     
  2. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

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    Dale ..
    i cant help much but i think this would not work. i think you need to convert your switching districts to from separate to power all districts.
    dc is very different from dcc. with dcc there is no need for separate districts (dont cont me on that im very new to DCC++EX and still learning much )
    but i do think you need to wire all track to one power...
    you can run multiple throttles on one DCC++EX system with out issue at all . i think if you were to use the system as your thinking you and club would have problems with conflicting systems ( I THINK )
     
  3. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I agree with Sid and think you are over complicating it and not taking advantage of what DCC has to offer.

    You want one command station and multiple power districts like what Tam Valley shows ( HERE ) and what Sid mentioned ....

    [​IMG]


    The command station receives commands from the throttles and passes them on to the track either directly on a smaller layout where the command station puts out enough power (amperage) for the trains that will be running at one time or in your case passes the commands to more than one booster that is connected to a power district.

    DCC++EX with an attached WiFi board like you have ordered can receive the commands directly from a throttle and send it to the track but.......I believe the limit is 4-5 throttles. Now each throttle can be controlling more than one loco but still a problem I would think for a club layout that might have more throttles than that running at a time.

    The solution is pretty easy though. Run JMRI on a Raspberry Pi, a cheap used laptop or another cheap desktop computer. Buy a new or used router. You or a club member probably has one and you could get one for less than buying the parts for another command station.

    [​IMG]
    By setting the DCC++EX Command Station up like above with an inexpensive router and computer you would have unlimited throttles basically and all the options that JMRI gives you, especially being able to run DecoderPro to program decoder. With used or donated items (router/computer) you could have a basic DCC system setup for the club for under $100 and no more than $150. Then add boosters at less than $70 each for however many power districts you need to handle how many locos and maybe stationary decoders you will have. More boosters can be added at any time.

    On another note. You mentioned that your present command station is a Uno? I think you might need a Mega to use the WiFi shield but I'm not positive about that without going to the DCC++EX website to check.

    Good luck and setting the system up as shown above is not a 5 minute job but the info on how to do it is pretty easy to find. The diagram above comes from the DCC++EX website ( HERE ) and you can find more info there also.

    Sumner
     
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  4. dalebaker

    dalebaker TrainBoard Member

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  5. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

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    wow sumner pretty much explained the whole process way better than i could have ever explained it. (y) five smiles for that man:D:D:D:D:D
     
  6. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    What is the max active loco stack/list size for DCC++EX?

    IOW, how many independent (not using consists) locos can DCC++EX run at one time?
     
  7. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I am not positive and I might not be remembering right but I think I read something like 50.

    Sumner
     
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  8. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    With boosters and using consists, that would support a pretty good-sized layout.
     
  9. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I've been to three big club layouts in the Phoenix area ( here are two of them)...

    http://1fatgmc.com/RailRoad/Layouts-1/Layouts-Index.html

    .... and I've never seen more than 3-4 trains (consists) running at a time. I'm sure they must have a lot more on some operation nights. How about it guys what is the most trains you've seen running at time at one of the larger events and how do they handle the number if there is a lot?

    Sumner
     
  10. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    As a point of comparison, the early SPROG products actually used a "soft command station" running inside JMRI, rather than on the SPROG itself. The number of available loco slots for these SPROGs is 64, but loco function commands consume additional slots.

    Starting with Pi SPROG 3 (which was actually a firmware update for the Pi SPROG) the newer SPROG versions (including current Pi SPROG 3v2 and Pi SPROG 3 Plus products) have a more conventional command station firmware architecture, where the command slots are handled in the SPROG itself. But one of these 'slots' handles all commands for given loco or consist; so loco functions, etc. do not consume additional slots. The maximum number of these do-it-all slots is 32 on the Pi SPROG 3, 3v2 and 3 Plus. Still plenty of capacity for all but very large club or show layouts running >32 trains independently. Of course, these would likely need booster(s) to supply sufficient current too.
     
  11. Bruceg503

    Bruceg503 TrainBoard Member

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    I was correct, I can read decoders but sometimes it seams too fast and get the 308 error
     
  12. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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  13. Bruceg503

    Bruceg503 TrainBoard Member

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    I read it and there is only one loco that is giving me errors, but if i move the loco back and forth on the track it reads the CVs and then highlights most of the digitrax decoders
     
  14. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Try wiping the track down with some contract cleaner and if possible also clean the wheels. I've had problems before and doing just that took care of things.

    Sumner
     
  15. Bruceg503

    Bruceg503 TrainBoard Member

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    I will give it a go!
     

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