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.
Yet another project in the works. This one is intended to leverage my DCC circuit boards into a interrupt driven DCC I/O system for the Arduino Pro Mini. I actually have all of the software done and tested for both the input and output of DCC signals on my Attiny1634 board but I’ve never actually used a real ‘Arduino’. I’ve always built my own boards so this is a learning experience. I’m probably not going to make it compatible with the larger ‘Arduino’ universe, I’ll just optimize it for the Pro Mini. Anyhow, this project is actually number two on the list, the refurbish of my U25B locomotive is first so I can polish off the main widget code base.
I picked up a cheap Aristocraft U25B in Chessie paint the other day and have been taking it apart so I can rebuild it. The idea is to get from the toy like unit I have into at least a semi-scaled sort of model. The photo above is the closest prototype image I’ve found to what is depicted with this Aristocraft rendition. So I’m stripping it down to the base parts with the idea to install my control system, batteries and sound. And of course, a bit of paint and detail work- it is a bit cheezy with the cast color parts. Yuck. So anyhow, I’m getting there. Below is an image of the original model. More in a later post.
Yes, I know this is a little weird but I want a knob AND a nice user interface (ala smartphone) to run my trains so I am working on this design. The Knob and underlying circuitry communicate directly with the 802.15.4 network. The phone is just there for the user interface and graphics. Bluetooth is used to communicate between knob/wireless controller and the phone. A custom app runs on the phone. I have the infrastructure working for this, its just a matter of smushing all the components into this small space and refactoring the software a bit. Both the case and the face plate for this were cut on my Probotix X90 3D router.
Still have a ways to go on this but it’s coming out pretty good considering I don’t know what I’m doing 🙂 This is all cut out of .060 styrene sheet using my X90 3D router, Inkscape and Freebie CamBam.
I’m finding I much prefer to cut styrene as opposed to sheet plywood or blocks of pine. Styrene is an ideal material, it cuts easily, produces WAY less ‘chip dust’ and can be assembled with Testors sorts of plastic model glues and paints. This particular design is based on a photo from the VA Tech archive, a picture is in one of the posts below. I actually wasted only a little sheet on this one once I got the correct spindle rpm and feed rates figured out.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of PCB design these days, here is a version of my controller board, the ‘microwidget’. It’s quite compact. I have not had any made yet but I thought it came out really sort of, well, neat. Like art kinda.
All total I have about five or six small circuits for doing control networks- specifically for large scale model trains. DCC input and output, servo control, DC brushed motor control, reversing relays- all via Industrial strength Xbee Network wireless.
I’m also thinking of making an apt-get debian package to install JMRI on a RPi 2 and gitlab for my code. Hmm.
I think I need a Kickstarter 🙂