DCC ++ mulitable locos

spiffy trains Jun 7, 2017

  1. spiffy trains

    spiffy trains TrainBoard Member

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    Hi I have med size layout DC. I run only kato ac4400 and katos sd70ace becase thay are close to the same speed I can run 2 3 or 4 locos on the same train pulling 40 + cars. From what I can understand about DCC++ it looks like I can only control 1 loco at a time? I am hopping someone might tell me if this true or false and maby point me in the down the right road. Thanks for any and all help.
     
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  2. RCMan

    RCMan TrainBoard Member

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    What are you using for a throttle. What software or APP?
     
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  3. spiffy trains

    spiffy trains TrainBoard Member

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    Hi dennis thanks for responding. I use a old twin pack MRC for power. I am still in DC for my layout. so no software. I am looking to switch over to DCC. The system I was looking at before I found this idea of DCC++ Was goning to cost me 550.00 + all the dcc boards for the locos. so any help you can give to someone getting ready to make the switch from DC to DCC will help. Thanks for your time and help.
     
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  4. kmcsjr

    kmcsjr TrainBoard Member

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    Spiffy
    Hi. If you want to try DCC, (which is Digital Command Control), the least expensive way to get started is setting up a DCC++ base station (DCC++ was developed by a Trainboard member and the firmware/software is freeware. The parts will cost you around $50. Download JMRI onto your computer (free). And put a decoder in every locomotive (~$35 -$40 per loco)
    You will need an iPhone/iPad or an app called "engine driver", for android devices, to run trains, or you can run them from your computer.
    You will then be able to set up "consists" of multiple locos and run them as one unit, even controlling how the lights work, on all the locos. You might be able to go a step further and add sound to a loco (but that can be later)

    The DCC++ approach seems to me, that it will allow for great expansion, at low cost vs commercial solutions.
    HOWEVER, if you want to keep it simple, starter sets, like. NCE PowerCab have a lot of ready to go power, but by the time you buy the base setup and a few boards you will end up wanting, the cost will start around $200 for the basic setup. Plus the cost of decoders. You will always need those.
    The decision is yours based on how much effort you want to make, va the cost difference, in the systems.


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    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
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  5. spiffy trains

    spiffy trains TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks marty for the info. and i think you have answered my biggest question about if the DCC++ could run multiple locos. All the videos and info i could find only showed 1 loco per train. The NCE pro power was the base i was looking at i was just trying to save the $550.00 + decoders and I dont know if i will live that long ha. in a video dave had made a wireless DCC++ controler i would like to have wireless but you are sugested i phone or table wich would be better or dose it matter? Thanks again for the help.
     
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  6. Curn

    Curn TrainBoard Member

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    I would add that the basic DCC++ system using the Arduino motor shield has a 2 amp max current draw. So it is possible to run multiple locomotives, but there is a limit to how many you can run at once. 3-4 Kato N scale engines pulling a load is probably pretty close to it. When you exceed the limit, the DCC++ system automatically turnes off the track power.

    Other motor shields can be used to get around this limitation.

    Matt
     
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  7. spiffy trains

    spiffy trains TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks matt, I was reading another post about going with a raspberry with a hat or is the arduino better. I run 3-4 n scale katos as the norm. but i to have read abour diffrent shilds. I am just so gratefull for all the input thanks it is helping.
     
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  8. Curn

    Curn TrainBoard Member

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    The DCC++ Hat isn't available yet, but should be soon. It will have the advantage of being directly connected to a raspberry pi, and will have a much higher max current output. Either way (Hat or Arduino) you need some sort of computer to run the DCC++ base station. Some on here have built their own hand held controllers; I would describe them as advanced electronics enthusiasts. For most of us we just connect the Arduino board via USB cable to a desktop or Raspberry pi, and use a free program called JMRI to run the DCC system. JMRI has a feature (wifi throttle) to make the system available on your home network. You can then launch a throttle app from your iOS or android device to control your trains wirelessly.

    As the whole system is built on open technology, both hardware and software, creative people have done some amazing stuff with DCC++. There are multiple ways to configure and equip the system, and with some work, it can be made to be stand alone, and not need a computer.

    With the raspberry pi, you install Linux on it (a distribution called raspian), and JMRI is pretty easy to setup on it. The newer pi has built in wifi. This makes it perfect for wireless throttle use as it is seen on the home network without having to do any coding or setup as you would need to do with an Arduino wifi shield. You can also configure the pi to operate without a monitor or keyboard (headless) so it just becomes a small system that you can hide under your layout.

    There is also a DCC++ controller program that can be run from the computer, but most of us use JMRI as it is what we know.

    Matt
     
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  9. spiffy trains

    spiffy trains TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Matt i have a son in law that is great with computers and such. I was talking to him to see if he was game for this change and he asked about the raspberry and how or if it could be used. i will let him know about what you have said he will be happy. I am really thank full for all the help and ideas so thanks again to all. I will start getting the hardware and keep learing how it all goes together. thanks again.
     
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  10. kmcsjr

    kmcsjr TrainBoard Member

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    As to current draw I've had trains on 5 lines going. 2 Kato E8s pulling a long Amtrak passenger train. A Bachmann EM1 pulling 25 box cars and 3 small steamers, one of which is the BLI M1a, pulling short trains, with sound. My PowerCab, has yet, to exceed 1A on the display

    I'm busy for the next few days, but just got the exact DCC++ with the arduino mega built this week. I'll swap it on to the main layout soon, for a test, but I don't imagine the base system affects system current, so I expect the same results. 2A is a lot for N scale

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    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017
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  11. spiffy trains

    spiffy trains TrainBoard Member

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    I would like to know how the test turns out. Thanks again for ever ones help and ideas. ordered a MEGA and the moter board. I am still new to the fourm but people hear are great.
     
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  12. Curn

    Curn TrainBoard Member

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    I probably should have done a little more research into this before I made my previous statement. From the NCE website, the Powercab system (2A max) is recommended for layouts with up to 8 N scale locomotives moving at the same time, but this is a very conservative estimate, and many newer locomotives have better motors that draw much less current. A 2 amp DCC++ system should be fine for your intended use. As the original post was referencing a 5 amp NEC system as an alternative, I felt it wise to mention there were limitations when using an Arduino motor shield.

    Matt
     
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  13. spiffy trains

    spiffy trains TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the info. i have watched daves video about the 43 amp h bridge as a way to get more amps for ho scale and or bigger n scale. so it is all good. thanks again for your time and help with this project. are you using the DCC++ system? have a grate weekend.
     
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  14. kmcsjr

    kmcsjr TrainBoard Member

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    Hey Matt
    It was worth going though the discussion. You're mentioning it, enabled that. It's a question, I'd imagine, many folks ask. "When do I need more than starter set power?" For many home layouts, it sounds like the answer is never in N scale.


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  15. Curn

    Curn TrainBoard Member

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    I have a basic Arduino uno-motor shield DCC++ system that I connect to JMRI running on a raspberry pi. I use it for a small Z scale layout, and a small HOn30 layout I'm working on that I run my N scale equipment on. Practically I never run more than 2 engines at the same time. DCC++ is just the cheapest way to get a wireless throttle DCC system. But if you get genuine Arduino parts and a Raspberry Pi with all the accessories, thats at least a $100 DCC system. If you use a computer you already have and buy generic uno boards from China, its only a $10 DCC system. It's all just a balance of how much you want to pay vs how comfortable are you with dealing with computer/electronics and building it yourself.

    Matt
     
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