A couple of pictures of my latest iteration of wireless DCC and train control. This one has been refactored a couple of times and I now have a nice compact executable that takes throttle and function commands from any controller (in this case, my new hand held design) and converts them to both servo pulses (for the motor controller) and DCC output commands to control the lights and sounds. The speaker is a 2 inch full range with a passive radiator, sounds nice and full. The lights are all surface mount LEDs driven by CL2Ns. I also have servos on the couplers, they are tied to the F6 and F7 functions on the handheld.

Here are the basic components that go into the locomotive:


Everything is now driven by a simple command structure- throttle commands and function commands. The throttle controls the servo 0 spot, I’m using a 20A ESC to drive the motors in the U25B. The throttle commands are also used to drive the DCC decoder for the engine sounds. Since this is an HO Economi decoder, it doesn’t have the current output directly. But it does have great sound and I also drive the lights with it.

Why Xbee everyone asks? Because this is true networking. Everyone is on the same network and can speak or be spoken too. True point to multipoint. This opens up all sorts of possibilities for automation, signals, detection blocks and computer control. Something Bluetooth cant’ do. It’s also ‘industrial strength’ in that Digi has been making Xbee modules for many years now. They are FCC approved out of the box and




Finished off the grocery store. Well, almost. It’s hooked up to power out in Gilbert, but it sorely needs an interior with those big windows. Also the interior lighting is bulbs, way too yellow for my tastes so that will be replaced. The ‘neon’ sign came out ok but it was bitch to get together, lots of little fragments of EL wire.



I also got this little rail truck together. Made from an off the shelf kit and a little ‘robot’ transmission I got from pololu.com. Does ok, good speed but a bit noisy. The flanges on the wheels are not quite right, too square. It does well on straight runs but jumps off the track when going over a switch. Oh well, more engineering to get it tweaked right.



So here is the General Store/Grocery for Gilbert. This is from an older design I originally did in wood. Alas, the wooden one fell apart pretty quickly in the elements so I made this one from styrene sheet using the same patterns. More or less.

This is only the shell, I will need some detailed lighting and an interior with all that glass on the front, looks pretty ridiculous empty like that, eh? But I plan for this to be the centerpiece of Gilbert so it needs some work. A neon sign perhaps, lots of lights. A small parking area.

Here is a video of the router cutting out some of this:


Finally got a complete loop of track down. Now I can go roundy roundy! Which is good because the ‘reverse’ button on my controller has failed, so no backing up! Need to fix that.


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.