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Signals & Switches & L.C.C. Oh My !
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 Posted: Mon Oct 29th, 2018 07:03 pm
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Steve P
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I am starting to do the computer control/LCC R&D.  
I have concluded that the CAN bus style of control will not work for my outdoor setup.
The RC Circuits power hub only provides 1/2 amp on its power bus, while just ONE of my 3 searchlight poles consumes up to 2 amps!
Since my dead-rail engines require dependable WIFI coverage everywhere along the track, I have decided to use WIFI enabled arduino modules.
They're quite inexpensive and provide a lot of functionality in a small package.

This means my "bus" becomes a 2 wire 5v bus (with a LOT of amps).  
It doesn't have to extend the length of the track, but only exist where controls are needed, ie. depots, freight yards, etc.  
If I can't get 110V to a particular depot, I can park an Optima RedTop battery there for the season.

Hopefully the MKR1010 will provide adequate WIFI coverage with its internal antenna.  
If not I can use a WIFI shield with one of the other arduinos.

I have a 24 channel PWM shield working now, enough control for 4 of the 3 searchlight towers, using only 4 bits of the arduino.  
Its SPI based, and can be daisy-chained, so you could control 4/8/12 or more towers.

They also make an i2c bus based 12 channel PWM servo driver board, which I will be playing with to make tortoise style switch controllers.

Steve P


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 Posted: Fri Nov 9th, 2018 07:20 pm
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Steve P
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Hi, I built a few dwarf prototypes.  I think I'll use ABS plastic for the stands next time.

Attachment: 2018-11-09-130654-1024.jpg (Downloaded 137 times)

Last edited on Fri Nov 9th, 2018 07:21 pm by Steve P

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 Posted: Mon Nov 12th, 2018 05:39 pm
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Steve P
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My latest production prototype of a 3 searchlight pole.  I'm pretty hasppy with it at this point.

Have to rework the electronics, the LM317s I am using can't drive the green/blue segments to full current with a 5v supply.

Steve P

Attachment: 2018-11-12-112306A.jpg (Downloaded 215 times)

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 Posted: Wed Dec 19th, 2018 07:26 pm
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Steve P
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Hi,

I have prototyped an RFID reader for tracking the movement of rolling stock.
It is based on an Adafruit Feather WiFi mcu, and up to 8 PN532 RFID readers.

By placing the readers on ends of different track sections and a RFID tag on each car,
I can determine the position of all cars at any time.

Next I need to design a weatherproof enclosure for the reader that fits under a section of track.

Steve P


Attachment: 2018-12-19-131856.jpg (Downloaded 103 times)

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 Posted: Fri Jan 11th, 2019 09:54 pm
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Steve P
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Hi,

I sent the RFID design out to fab, just got the boards back. 
This is the front, back, and most parts "in place".  No soldering yet. 
I need to ring out a few traces before starting real assembly. 

They sure look nice, and will be MUCH more reliable than point-to-point solder tacking!

Steve P


Attachment: 2019-01-11-154946.jpg (Downloaded 91 times)

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 Posted: Mon Jan 14th, 2019 05:04 pm
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Si.
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Hi Steve  :wave:



L :!: :!: KIN'   C  :cool:  :cool:  L   !



From Freddie Flintstone 'wooden stick with rocks' ...  ;)

... to prototype ...  :brill:


... to model  :pimp:  has worked out real well !



The new 'central switch tower' electronic-brain PCB is awesome !


:old dude:  I wouldn't want to have to hardwire one of those up using 6SN7s sonny  :P



:moose:



Si.




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 Posted: Mon Jan 14th, 2019 05:27 pm
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Steve P
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Si,

Thanx, I'm happy...

The 1st RFID reader is fully functional and tested. 
I need to wire the additional 4 card readers I have and see how it works with 5 cards at once. 
Then I can start the higher level code that determines the location of rolling stock by track section.

I have done about 95% of the work on laying out the high power LED controller PCB.
It will drive up to 24 3Watt LED segments (ie 12 Red/Yellow/Green signals) as well as up to 48 20mA LEDs.


Attachment: 2019-01-14-111744.jpg (Downloaded 68 times)

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 Posted: Thu Jan 17th, 2019 05:45 pm
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Steve P
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Hi,

I realized I would need an indoors test track,
so switched gears for a few days and built a table in the dining area.

Setup a Yard Master and placed a card reader under the track. 
Stuck a paper rfid tag on the underside of a passenger car. 

Started up the client software on a desktop, connected to the Yard Master via wifi,
then moved the car as quickly as possible back and forth over the reader several times:


$ ./LWClient feather2 2390 b
command to feather2 (10.11.12.143): "b" response from feather2: "Success "
response from feather2: "Reader: 0, Road mark: BLR877222 (UID: a6:62:5d:42)"
response from feather2: "Reader: 0, Road mark: BLR877222 (UID: a6:62:5d:42)"
response from feather2: "Reader: 0, Road mark: BLR877222 (UID: a6:62:5d:42)"
response from feather2: "Reader: 0, Road mark: BLR877222 (UID: a6:62:5d:42)"


So proof of concept is complete, this is going to work!


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 Posted: Wed Jun 5th, 2019 07:23 pm
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Steve P
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Hi,

Been a long, hard winter up here... burr!

Lot to catch up on.

 
As I prototyped new boards I found myself using a new mcu each time, 
So I fell back and standardized on 3 for all the systems:

The Feather M4 Express (aka. small):
https://www.adafruit.com/product/3857

The Metro M4 Express (aka. medium):
https://www.adafruit.com/product/3382

The Grand Central M4 Express (aka. large):
https://www.adafruit.com/product/4084


All use the SAMD Cortex M4 cpu,
which means gobs of code an data space, 120MHz clock, hardware floating point. 
The main difference is the number of IO bits available.


I also standardized on one Ethernet chip.

For the feather:
https://www.adafruit.com/product/3201

For the Metro and Grand Central:
https://www.adafruit.com/product/2971


And one Wifi chip.

For the Feather:
https://www.adafruit.com/product/3060 (mounted on a Feather protoboard)

For the Metro and Grand Central:
https://www.adafruit.com/product/3654


All the above simplifies the build and programming stages by quite a bit.

I now have 3 systems in various stages of build:


Attachment: ThreeBS.jpg (Downloaded 17 times)

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 Posted: Wed Jun 5th, 2019 07:37 pm
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Steve P
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Hi,

The boards shown in the last post are all based on the Arduino platform,
but are definitely NOT your father's board. 

The SAMD is an amazing amount of power in a tiny package.
 
I've re-thought the idea of mounting Wifi based mcus on the controller boards,
and instead am standardizing on separate mcus, with i2c buses for connectivity.

My main depot/freight yard area would have used over a dozen wifi/mcu boards,
a management headache for sure.
Three of the Grand Centrals, with Ethernet connectivity, should handle the same workload.

The connectors on Arduino style boards are great for breadboarding,
but poor for rugged, permanent connections.

So I built what I call a "Base Shield". 
Similar to the Arduina stacking shields, but designed for the mcu to plug into it. 

It has "standardized" 2x5 IDC socket connectors for the IO.
There are 2 8-bit analog ports, 2 8-bit digital ports, a Serial port, and six i2c ports.
This will allow me to run multiple controllers on each system.

This pic shows the Base with a Grand Central stacked above it,
and an ehternet shield on top:


Attachment: ThreeBS2.jpg (Downloaded 16 times)

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