This is the base design for my new hand-held controller. Along with a new case and display, I’m going to refactor the software to provide a cleaner interface into the clients (locomotives). Right now my ‘phase A’ handheld knows a little too much about the clients, I want a more disconnected sort of protocol. Anyhow, I’ve gotten everything to fit but the graphic interface required some new hardware so that has not been tested (other than a basic smoke test). I’ll need to write the code for that and then port parts of the old handheld code into it. The keyboard, knob and Xbee interface should not have to change much, I just need a calibration step on the kbd and store that into eeprom. I’m going to have a usb interface into this so I can write a tool on the PC to setup the function keys and display.
My new building. Everything is cut from sheet styrene on my Probotix X90. I do love this machine and working with styrene. It cuts like butter and you only have to run the router at about 7600 rpm so it’s pretty quiet.
Anyhow, this is a tower sort of depot near the south end of my bridge. It’s on stilts, With all the windows I’m going to have to make a decent interior, frosting the windows is not really an option I don’t think. Work in Progress as is everything.
Need a few more switches, so rather than make them like the last, on foam boards, I decided I should make a jig so I can (in theory) make them a bit easier. So far so good, this one came out pretty well but it had one small high spot I had to grind out. Still needs the point control bar, whatever that’s called and a waterproof servo for a throw. Took me about 3 days off and on to make this one. Now for some more epoxy, stain and seal. Good thing I don’t care about track power
Here are a couple of people I’m working on for the porch of my shotgun house. The originals were 3D printed, then I made molds from those. These are resin cast from those. Casting resin seems to be an art form unto itself, it’s difficult to get a perfect cast. Bubbles in various places produce voids, frequently in the face and feet. These came out pretty well though. Just need to clean them up a bit more and do some painting.
Here is my ‘shotgun house’. So called because you could shoot a shotgun through the front door and out the back without hitting anything. These were very common in the early 20th century, easy to build, standard lumber sizes, reasonably cheap. Often used in ‘company towns’.
Anyhow, this is my take on one. The sides are cast resin, I made two masters using (many) strips of .060 styrene to get the siding effect. Those were used those to make two rubber molds, one with the brick base and one without.
For the house, I poured three of the brick base and one without, then cut them out on my band saw. The windows and door openings were cut on my X90 3D router, (cured resin cuts very much like styrene it seems, sweet). The floor and roof are just straight cut styrene sheet ‘score and snap’. The window and door inserts are also cast from resin. Everything is painted with rustoleum flats- brown, white and for the roof, black. I have it wired with white LEDs inside and on the porch but don’t have 12v out in the garden yet. Soon.
Phil, from Belgium, bought this fellow from my Shapeways shop and painted him up real nice. He was good enough to share a couple of pictures. Really great job of weathering on his locos too, they look sharp, I wish I could do that.
Latest Project. I picked up this passenger/baggage car along with the caboose at the ECSLTS train show last month. This one was $30. Good deal. Finally got to work on it some. I’ve disassembled and painted all the parts, pulled out the bulbs and put in white LEDs. A few 3D peoples will populate the seats. I also got the nice shiny truck from ECLSTS. Scale is good. Looks like it has a load of zombies…
Some pics of the final buildout of my train depot. Cut from .060 styrene on my Probitix X90. Finished up with Rustoleum flat cammo colors from rattle cans. This should fare much better out in the elements than my wooden structures, plus styrene is way way easier to work with than wood.
I use Inkscape to draw the plans, then the free version of CamBam to make the G code cutting paths. The X90 uses a Dewalt dwp611 palm router driven by a super PID speed controller. All cuts are made with preciseBits 1/32 inch 2 flute endmills.
In addition to my own control system using Xbees, I also play around with standard radio control. I have one of the Hobby King systems shown above, I think it was like $25 for the TX and RX pair. In the second picture I’ve taken the TX out of the shell and replaced the joy sticks with pots. I’ve mounted it on a board so I can get to it’s innards.
Anyhow, what I’ve done is leverage my R/C signal software and my DCC generation software into one widget. I continuously sample the servo pulse coming out of the R/C RX and then translate that into DCC messages. In this case, throttle messages, although they could be anything.
It all fits into an 8 pin Attiny85, then feeds into my other new widget, the DCC output board.
With this board, one side goes to the battery connection, the other is the output. You can see the small R/C type connector which carries the signal from the Attiny to the board. The DCC output of this board then directly feeds the sound decoder.
Finally, here is a video showing it in action. You can hear the notches of the sound decoder increase as the output pot is twisted and the servo pulse width increases-
Above is the basic install I do on all my locomotives. The green RX box can be a regular R/C RX or it can be my Xbee Control Board. Same basic wiring.
Above is the GE Locomotive ‘Trip Optimizer’ Software. You can see a nice video about it here -> GE Locomotive Trip Optimizer
And here is a really cool video of GE intermodal at work, with the Trip Optimizer of course.
I’ve borrowed some of the graphic layout ideas from this to make the GUI for my phone app- Not quite sure what I want yet but I like this minimalistic implementation.
Again, the idea here is that the phone sits in the cradle (see below) and communicates with the Xbee master in the cradle via bluetooth. The Xbee master reads the knob and the buttons and syncs up with the phone app to keep the display refreshed. The Xbee master controls the Xbee client in the locomotive and also can query the locomotive for speed (via a wheel encoder) and current draw (via a pololu current sensor). There are also hooks available for an RFID reader (I use a somewhat pricey one from Sparkfun – $33) for position information.