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RudyB
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #81 ·
Arduino S88 and first sensors mounted on the track

Progress on the layout hardware has been slow for a while ... I got a bit distracted with the Traincontroller video's.

This week however, the S88 bus wiring has been done and the first S88 Arduino is mounted under the table. The first 2 reed switches are fitted between the rails ... it is time for a first test drive!

More images and a video showing the S88 Arduino at work are available on the blog.

 

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RudyB
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #82 ·
Test Run With Traincontroller 'Auto Train by Drag and Drop'

Besides working on Traincontroller videos (which is fun to do) the highest priority with the layout right now is the installation of the train sensors.

Well ... the past few days 60 holes have been drilled and today 30 reed switches have had their lead wires soldered on. That means all the preparations are done ... what is left now is to install the reeds and make the connections to the two S88 Arduino's.

A few sensors have been mounted and connected already, amongst which 2 sensors that are used for the speed profile measuring track. The speed profiles of all 4 engines have been measured. There will be a Traincontroller video on that later.

Once TC knows the engine speeds per DCC speed step, the brake distance accuracy, over different trains and with different block entry speeds, turned out to be within a +/- 1 cm (!). That is more than good enough to me. Based on these findings I decided to work with just one sensor per block.

Of course I could not resist to already have a little test run with automatic traffic
The video shows how that went, using 'Auto Train by Drag and Drop'. It also shows how accurate TC can work with just one sensor per block.

Link to first automatic traffic testrun and accuracy video.

 

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RudyB
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #85 ·
All Sensors Mounted - Automatic Driving!

It has been a while since there was any progress worth mentioning. First there was a short holiday, then there was a period with temperatures too high to comfortably do any work under the table. And it was under table where all the final work was ... wiring 29 reed switches to the S88 Arduino's.

Past week it cooled down a bit and I crawled under the table to do the wiring and the necessary soldering. A new milestone is reached: all connections are done! Should be able to drive around fully automated now. Play time!

The video shows all trains drive happily around, all on a series of Schedules with successors.

Link to video RMR042: All Sensors Mounted - Automatic Driving!

 

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RudyB
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218 Posts
Tuning Traincontroller for Improved Throughput (video)

Of course now that all the sensors are connected I can't get enough of playing with the trains.


Yesterday I tried to see if the 'throughput' could be improved some, such that trains follow up on each other a bit sooner. Not that such is anything near prototypical, rather the opposite, it was just an experiment.

There are a few settings in the Schedule Rules that can be changed to speed up the start of trains that stand still because track ahead is reserved.

1. By default there is a 'Start Delay' after a green signal. This setting can be used to make things look more realistic when you have physical signals on your layout. On green, it takes a few seconds for the driver to react. This time is set to 2s by default. Since I do not have physical signals yet, I made this time 0. Trains start up 2s faster now than they originally did.

2. There are several choices in the Rules for the 'Release of Blocks and Routes'. By default this is set to release 'At Stop Marker'. With long blocks this means that the train must first reach the end of the block (where the stop marker usually is) before the junction street behind is released. I changed this to release 'Upon Complete Entry'. Now the junction street is released the moment the train has entered the block, well before it reaches the end.

This only works by the way if you specify train lengths. With that I smuggled a bit, filled in values 20 cm shorter than they actually are. That speeds up things even a bit more. I could also have reduced the scheduled stop times (now 10 seconds) but did not do that, it's just about increased throughput when trains are 'on the way'.

The video shows some 5 minutes of train traffic. With music, no text. The effect of 'release upon complete entry' can clearly be seen at the end of the video, where the 2nd cargo train starts up well before the first reached its stop marker. And what to say on that stop position accuracy?

Link to video RMR043 - Tuning for Higher Throughput


.
 

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Tremayne
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173 Posts
Hi Rudy, you're ahead of me, only just started with baseboards, but had Train Controller working on my old prototype layout, just to learn how it works and am completely hooked. Can't wait to get a it back working again. Will follow your trials and tribulations, with interest.

I particularly like the realistic speeds - I never got around to calibrating anything. So the threshhold speed was OK on some, and a snail's pace on others. It all had to be packed up in a hurry. But now, 6 months on i'm building again. Keep up the good work.

Love the NS too!
 

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RudyB
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218 Posts
Hi Tree. Nice that you're starting a lauyout again. Still quite a way to go when you're still in the woodwork right now. But every task or stage accomplished feels rewarding. Have fun.

Yeah, TC also 'caught' me from the moment of first use. It's just that the user manual is not really the best piece of 'literature' ever written.
Hence the idea to make some video's.
 

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RudyB
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #89 ·
Sugar Beets and Tail Lights

Although all my wagons came from trade shows and were overaged 'el cheapo' models, they still were 'new in box'. I'm far from a 'weathering artist', yet I do like the plastic look newness to be off. Time to tinker a bit with some cars.

A taker got a few streaks of eye shadow. Just a minute of work and still a reasonable effect (OK ... looking from a distance that is
).

Two open cars got a load of 'sugar beets'. A grape stone is a reasonable HO representation of a suger beet. On the the week market for a kilo of grapes and eat!


Four closed wagons got a tail light. I was inspired by a fellow hobbyist ((see this Dutch forum post) and tried to make something similar. Well ... it was an attempt. Even though the size is not right and it looks not very neet and tidy, I still like the atmosphere when it drives around with the light on.

The result of this all can be seen on this blog post.

 

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RudyB
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #90 ·
Coach lighting with a DCDC converter

The 6 coaches that I have did get LED lighting built in early this year, but that was done, somewhat as a gadget, with Christmas lights. I still liked to change that into proper LED strips powered by a DCDC converter. The converter has an 'enable' input, it should be possible to switch the light on/off via an AUX output of the DCC decoder in the loco. That will be phase 2.

Expenses for three coaches: less than €2,50.

There are a few disadvantages still. The converter is too large to be completely hidden, it shows through the coach windows. Then, even though the converter is regulated and has two capacitors on board, there still is too much light flicker.

More details on the 'ins and outs' and some images are available on the blog:

Coach Lighting Version 2.

 

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RudyB
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #91 ·
Coach Lighting Version 3 is a Keeper!

I was not quite satisfied with the light flicker from the coach lighting version 2. A large capacitor could help some, but I had my doubts. It was more due to bad pickups. More theory on that on the blog.

The plan was to run a wire from the loco to the coach, to switch the light via pin 5 ('enable') of the DCDC converter. Well ... when there is already 1 wire, why not 2? Take the blue '+' power wire too and feed the LED's from the loc!?

The result is good ... very good even, I have no light flicker anymore, and there even is no capacitor in use. I'm content.

This is a link to the blog with more info, schematics, and a video.

Result:
+ Simplest schematics imaginable.
+ Price for 3 coaches: $1,- (3 feet of LED strip plus 1 resistor).
+ Lights can be switched on/off via a loco function.
+ No light flicker. No capacitor needed (on my layout, with this loco that is, may be situation dependent).
+ Nothing in sight inside the coaches.
+ Light output can be tuned via a decoder CV value (may depend on decoder type in use).
+ Light can have a subtle fade in/out effect, also via a CV value (may depend on decoder type in use).
- 2 wires run between the loco and the coach, with a connector in sight. Same connectors are used between the coaches.

 

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RudyB
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #92 ·
SMD LED lighting for loco

Past week a first step was made to get some LED lighting on the two Roco cargo loco''s I have. They have only one headlight, a light bulb (well, actually 2, one for each direction). On the buffers there's the 'suggestion' of lights. The red tail lights are just paint. The white headlight is brought there via a plastic light transmitter, but in daylight it can not be seen and in the dark it is only very faint.

100 (5 colors, 20pcs each) SMD LED's size 0603 were ordered at Aliexpress for just €1,10, free shipping.

They're just grains of sand. But they needed to be small in order to fit inside the lamp holders on the loco. With thanks to fellow club member Willy, who helped and who had all the right tools and materials like a mini soldering station and lacquered wire, the first 5 LED's were placed. It was a first test to see if it is doable and if it looks OK.

The result can be read on the blog, as well as a few images with the new lights on.

Link to the blog.

 

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RudyB
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #93 ·
Rail side signals at just €0,05.

Adding signals to the layout would make it a bit more lively. I need 24.

I thought the commercially available signals a bit too pricey at around €25,-. 3D printed DIY variants are available but still too expensive to My liking. I went on the look out if it would be possible to make reasonably looking signals at a very low price using mostly scrap materials. And it was. An old umbrella being the main ingredient!

Actually the only 'out of pocket' costs were the SMD LED's and the resistors ... which added up to a whopping €0,05!

Admittedly the signals do not look as good as the ones that can be purchased and they're also not looking prototypical, yet ... they are good enough for my purposes. And at that price I can afford 24.


The result, with some more pictures and a description, can be fond on the blog via this link

 

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Administrator
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10,008 Posts
Neat!

David
 

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RudyB
Joined
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #95 ·
Six trains running around under Traincontroller

Today a lil video was created that show six trains running around on the layout under control of Traincontroller.

A few lil 'tricks' have been used to get a smooth brake behaviour, whereby trains already slow down one block ahead, bot for schedules stops as for an anticipated red signal. Trains that have no scheduled stop or have green signals maintain their high speed.

https://rudysmodelrailway.wordpress.com/201...running-around/" target="_blank">Link to the video on de blog</a>

PS: Please notice the wonderful piece of 'scenery' in the upper left corner!


 

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RudyB
Joined
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218 Posts
Tail-, Cabin- and Flash Lights for the NS2433 Loco

Past December I purchased a Roco NS 2433 cargo loc and an ESU Lokpilot Standard at the monthly model railroad trade show in Houten (NL), for the combined price of €95,-.

The loc had only 2 white headlights ... hence the project started to build in some more lights. I wanted to add red tail lights, cabin light and I liked the two blue flashlights on top to be working.

More details on how this was done and a video that shows the result is available on the blog via this link.

 

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Administrator
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10,008 Posts
I tried some RGB strip light but found the white was far too blue and the general balance between the R, G and B was poor. It is very hard to get a good yellow.

I had already tried a combined warm white / cool white strip which was fine except that I could not source a WiFi based controller. Inspired by your work with Arduino I looked into building my own controller I found that strip had a common anode which complicated the drive electronics.

My solution is to have two strips - one warm white and one cool white. This allows me to connect them as common cathode and drive the anodes with MOSFETs which are pulsed from an Adafruit 16 channel PWM controller. I used a Raspberry Pi for the intelligent bit as it was simple to add a USB WiFi dongle. It only needed a few lines of Python to create a light controller server.

David
 
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