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Finally ! & Woodie Will Be Pleased
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 Posted: Fri Dec 22nd, 2017 10:03 pm
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Helmut F
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Well. I finally have a layout up and running and with all the doodads/features I wanted, with perhaps the exception of smoke but that is not allowed in the house anyway.  It is only a Christmas layout, but not just around the tree: it is an oval with a passing siding and a track to cross the loop and reverse.  My wife was gracious enough to allow that expanded layout so I can get a feel for some small amount of operations.  For now I only have one locomotive, a Porter, along with plenty of cars although I am trying to keep them Christmas-y (?).  This setup is G scale.

(Woodie!) I also have BPRC and am running the train from my android, but have the option of buying an S-Cab later if I like.  My setup is a ECO-200 decoder and receiver from Neil Stanton (very nice and VERY patient guy! - highly recommended), a RAPA also from Niel, a home made 4S 2200mah lipo battery with balance charge connections, an old laptop I no longer use (running linux), JMRI, an Arduino Mega with motor shield and DCC++ base station.

I had some issues initially, but it was my fault and due to the power supply I was using for the RAPA.  The only thing I do not have right now is read back of CV's when programming in service mode (I am working on that, not sure I really need it).

I will admit, and I believe Woodie and others have stated it: the sound can be monotonous and even get old.  I am sure it is due to the chuffing, and I will tone that down so it is barely audible.

I ran it last night for about 30 minutes and my daughters absolutely loved it.  My oldest (3.5 years) generally played conductor and occasional switch(wo)man, telling me where the train needed to go, where to stop for loading an unloading, etc.  She also played freight dock worker.  My youngest, 8 months, was just hypnotized by the whole thing.  She would lean over to watch the train go around the corner and behind the Christmas tree.  Now the whole thing does not look like a model railroad mind you, with such young children involved, but it is what it is and I do not mind at all.  So overall a great hit.

I want to thank all of you for educating and entertaining me the last year and a half or so!

If anyone wants more details I will be happy to share.

EDIT: So Woodie, I have no wires to my rails AND I ran a train last night!  You give great advice.  :moose::moose::moose:

Last edited on Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 12:04 am by Helmut F



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 Posted: Fri Dec 22nd, 2017 11:05 pm
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Helmut
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@Helmut F
Pictures of the loco's innards, if you please...
What additional programming from your side was necessary?



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 Posted: Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 12:08 am
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Helmut F
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Helmut #1,
I had to do no additional programming, if you mean by actual coding. I had to upload the "sketch" into the Arduino, and setup JMRI (very minor) and then set the CV's I wanted in the decoder. I do intend on doing a pictorial of the completed loco setup so folks can see the physical/mechanical portion as well, but it will be after the first of the year.



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 Posted: Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 01:12 am
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W C Greene
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NO WIRES! That's what I mean about the kids being interested...finally. They know what to do (I haven't got a clue about modern technology) and will embrace the wireless concept. Besides, when a kid is running a track powered train and they have to switch DPDT's, block controls, and then have the train stop on a microscopic bit of dirt...they (and I) lose interest fast.
Radio Control is the future.

"Wiring? We don't need no stinkin' wiring!"
Woodie



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 Posted: Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 06:43 am
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Si.
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Hi Helmut :wave:



First of all ... WELL DONE ! :thumb:

But ... all this mooodern cam-phone microchip-technology ... & no photos ?? :f:



Just out of curiosity as well ...

'The kids' might be jumping for joy, not having to strain their thumbs on any DPDTs ...

... and running over dandruff on the rails without blinking.

But ... the question is ... can they afford all the gear ? ???



Can we have a price-list/component-list inc. P&P charges, for the whole caboodle ?



The only RAPA I know is 'Ice-T', but I guess he aint riding your Porter ! ;)

I thought ECO was a sports-wear brand, but I guess yours aint.



I haven't got a clue what a lot of that stuff is and what it actually does. :dope:

Can you write a brief description of what all the hardware items 'broadly-speaking' do ?



Happy Christmas Helmut !

Don't get pine-needles in your pinions !! :P



:moose: :moose::moose: :moose: :moose:



Si.



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 Posted: Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 12:43 pm
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Helmut F
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Si, of course.  Here we go.

The locomotive is an Lehmann Toy Train Porter 92377 "Rusty".  It was purchased used from eBay, in fairly beat up condition.  Some previous owner had done some odd things such as glue in boiler valve handles where the steam vents go on the cylinders, bent the sand lines (and drilled holes for them) to go in through the front cab wall and then out the bottom, the front left wheel seemed to have been broken and then an awfully crooked repair so the loco looked like it limped.  I have corrected some of that and have other parts on order (i.e. bell that was mostly destroyed, so only the bell is tacked onto the top of the water tank until I get correct bell and bracket).  Eventually I will add more details and a tender car.

I took out all track pickup components including the track shoes, which really bug me.  I added in a Soundtraxx Econami 200 decoder with integrated Stanton receiver (purchased from Niel Stanton), a Soundtraxx 28x40mm speaker in an enclosure from SBS4DCC Backshop, and the homemade 4S (4 cells) 18650 2200mah lipo battery with balance charge connectors.  For the headlight I added a warm white LED with resistor that was also purchased from Niel Stanton.  I also added a yello and orange LED into the firebox to use to simulate firebox flicker - I have some work to do there to get that visible in the boiler viewing window.  I will be building a second battery to swap in when the first gets low.  I used DuPont type .1" crimp pins on the connectors with appropriate housings except for the battery connector which is a Deans type.

The control system is my old laptop which I replaced when the battery went bad and was too expensive to replace (over $100).  It has been sitting around doing nothing for a couple years or more.  I installed Linux Mint, then JMRI.  The base station is an Arduino Mega with Motor Shield and connects to the laptop with a USB cable.  I installed the Arduino tools on my regular laptop and downloaded the DCC++ sketch (that is what their application packages are called) and uploaded it into the Arduino Mega after some configuration (mostly was selecting the type of Arduino and com port) and going through the code to ensure I did not want any options activated.  The Motor Shield does require a couple of jumpers installed, it is all in the documentation.   This works just fine as is with track power (track power out comes from the Motor Shield, both service mode connection and operations mode connection).  But of course I do not want track power, that is where the Stanton RAPA comes in.  It is a radio transmitter that takes the DCC track signal and puts it in the air for the Stanton receiver integrated into the DCC decoder.  In combination with the JMRI WiThrottle capability this allows you to install Engine Driver on your android (there is an IOS app as well) to use it as a wireless cab.  You can have the laptop be an ad-hoc wifi network or work with an existing wireless network that you already might have in your house (that is what I do).  I run both the motor shield and the RAPA from the same 12V power supply (it must be a regulated 12V power supply for RAPA, the Motor Shield/track power can be up to 24V depending upon your scale).  JMRI does require some setup, but it is minimal if you do not want/need to set up the actual layout you have with switch control, etc.  That may come down the road for me, we will see.  I have that flexibility with my setup if I want.

I will assemble a price list later, while using open source stuff as much as possible the while thing is not super cheap, but now it will be far less expensive to add more locos as I only need the decoder/receiver setup, speaker and battery per loco.  I did already have a lipo balance charger so not cost there.  I also have the option of using CVP Airwire covrtr or mini (or is it micro) booster with any other decoder I might like as well as they are compatible with the Stanton/RAPA frequency.

That is it in a nutshell, I am quite pleased with how it all works.  I may well substitute a SPROG Nano for the DCC++ Arduino as I like the commercial product support/updates.  DCC++ has not been really updated in quite a long while, but it may well not need it and it does work well.

I will also take a few pics of the layout and train and maybe a video to show it a bit.  Maybe tomorrow.

Last edited on Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 12:46 pm by Helmut F



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 Posted: Sun Dec 24th, 2017 07:33 am
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Helmut F
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pic of layout:

2017 Christmas Layout

and a short video (sorry for the heads, etc. in the view, the girls were watching/playing, my wife was trying to keep the youngest from grabbing things).

2017 Christmas Porter

Last edited on Sun Dec 24th, 2017 07:43 am by Helmut F



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 Posted: Sun Dec 24th, 2017 07:50 am
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W C Greene
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Wonderful! MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your family and the best for this next year. The baby would love to get that Porter and I'll bet since it's LGB, it would be just fine.

Take care all,
Woodie, Pam, Barbara, Jake, Little Kitty, Franklin, & Ava



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 Posted: Sun Dec 24th, 2017 07:54 am
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Helmut F
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Thank you Woodie - same to you, your family and everyone one else here!

And yes, she certainly wanted to get the locomotive!

Last edited on Sun Dec 24th, 2017 07:56 am by Helmut F



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 Posted: Mon Dec 25th, 2017 12:29 pm
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Absolutely great - well done Helmut!

Best wishes for Christmas.

Frank

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