Using DCC to control points

Discussion in 'DCC Control' started by Graeme, Jul 23, 2020.

  1. Graeme

    Graeme Full Member

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    Thinking outside the box a bit here but here goes.

    I use battery R/C for my locos but I have an NCE "Powercab" that I was planning on using on my small HO layout, but as I also have an NCE "Twin" as well, i thought that I could use that on the HO (small layout 2 trains at a time would be heaps) thus leaving me with the Powercab.

    My thoughts are to use the Powercab to control the points (and other lineside items may be later) on my elevated G scale layout that is outside.
    Power is not a problem as I have a 240V external power point 1 metre away from the layout on the outside of the shed or I can run Low voltage from the shed and as the baseboards are fibre cement and waterproof I can put controllers underneath out of the weather.

    As the powercab is rated at 2 A only I may need a booster but if I am only changing 1 set of points at a time would I really need one?
    I am guessing that a decoder per point would be necessary to control, probably servos that would do the mechanical work yes?

    The majority of the points are LGB manual control with some Accucraft manual control and 2 Lionel manuals. Not all points need to be servo driven just some that are in more remote parts of the layout.

    These are a couple of questions that I hope someone can say yea or nay before I go to far down the DCC lineside control track.

    My other option is to use a Paspberry Pi via wifi to control servos but that is another subject altogether unless someone can offer some help.

    This is for a G scale railway
     
  2. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    And now the good news

    I use MERG accessory decoders, they use an external power supply, so the power cab only provides the data commands - no booster is required, just a 12V power supply for the accessories.
    I use a combination of MERG servo controllers, and homemade arduino servo controllers.
    If you have the USB interface, you can use JMRI, and the WiFi interface to give remote control of the points etc via a Tablet / phone acting as a Mimic panel.

    Paul
     
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  3. Graeme

    Graeme Full Member

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    Pual,
    I have just looked at the MERG site and I am seriously thinking of joining, are you a member?
    I have grand illusions of using Arduino driven by my Paspberry Pi to do things so membership may be an advantage to me.
    Using electronics on my layouts id very interesting to me.
     
  4. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    Hi Graeme

    Yep - I've been a member for some years - the cost of membership was recovered on my 1st order - 2 x 4 port DCC accy decoders, if I had bought Hornby, NCE, Digitrax etc they were all over £40 each, the MERG accy decoder was £10 each (at that time) so membership + 2 decoders was less than a single decoder.
    The kits are really well designed and build instructions are excellant including fault finding diagnostic instructions.

    I use an Arduino Uno for prototyping, then transfer the final project to an arduino nano clone, mounted on a PCB (normally stripboard). The nano keeps the size and price down, last time I bought any nano's I got 10 for £15 giving approx 10 outputs which you can link to relays, led's, stepper motor controllers etc, etc.
    My arduino and MERG accy decoders have an opto-isolator for DCC command input, and use a separate 12V DC supply bus for power. In your case that could be a local 12V DC battery at each location.

    I've not tried running JMRI on a Rpi (yet), but have successfully ran it on a eeePC 701 (800MHz cpu 1GB ram running Debian).
    You can communicate between the Pi and Arduino's using the I2C bus.

    It's been a while since I played on the dark side of things, but hopefully with early retirement being only a few months away things may change.

    Paul
     
  5. Graeme

    Graeme Full Member

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    Just found a MERG group south of where I live so membership is now definitely on the cards.
    I am fully on board with playing with the dark side if I can ever figure out what I am doing.
    Lots of big ideas but no idea on how to make them work. :avatar: :avatar:
    JMRI on the Pi might just be the next project in the pipeline, behind all the others that have backed up. :facepalm: :facepalm:
     
  6. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    JMRI working through the NCE PowerCab (needs USB adapter), is really reliable, and have run my Victoria Road layout at several exhibitions without issue.
    It also works well with the DCC++ project (arduino DCC project using either a Uno or Mega with a motor controller) and MERG's own Command station - I have one of these to build, along with the Booster and hand controller, it's on the upcomming todo list (my list not the bosses list:whatever:).

    Paul
     
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  7. Graeme

    Graeme Full Member

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    I bit the bullet yesterday and joined MERG I had a quick look at their site and I am impressed. This could turn into something big.
     
  8. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    Say goodbye to the free time you thought you had :avatar:

    Not a decision I think you'll regret.

    Paul
     
  9. Graeme

    Graeme Full Member

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    Free time what is that!! I have already joined the "How the hell did I find time to go to work??" crew.
    I am now going over to the really dark side and looking at Arduino.:facepalm:
    Have no idea what I am doing but that has never stopped me before. :avatar:
    Servo controlled points, out in the backyard, using CBUS and Arduino, connected to a tablet via Bluetooth, what can go wrong with that???? :hammer::hammer:

    Call me Darth Graeme if this all works. :confused::confused::confused:
     
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  10. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    And don't forget the strong black coffee

    [​IMG]

    other brands are available

    The Programming Arduino books are not bad (although the Next Steps is probably the better of the two, has a bit more meat) and O'Reilly's Arduino Cook book has some good information as well, and plenty of tutorials on the web, there are even some basic ones on here in the Dark Side section.

    Paul
     

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