The prototype DCC system is up and running. I decided to home brew my DCC when I read about DCC++ and realized I had an Arduino laying around with no real purpose. I bought a motor shield and hooked up my laptop and an old power pack to test it out. It worked but I knew I had to come up with a more complete and permanent setup.
I immediately considered the Raspberry Pi (RPi) as it’s a low cost, full featured Linux computer and I can run JMRI on it! I needed a power supply and a bit of research found others doing similar things using various inexpensive devices. I also wanted a proper booster so I chose a Tam Valley unit. I’ll invest in a second one for my other power district in the future. EDIT: I used Steve Todd’s “JMRI RaspberryPi as Access Point” which is a pre-built configuration for RPi which sets it up by default as an access point, connects to the DCC++ system and runs PanelPro, etc. It’s fantastic and worked right away.
Today I spent several hours putting all the pieces together that I had collected over the last couple years. The monitor was a donor from my dad. The mouse, keyboard and cabling was all old stuff laying around. I put everything onto a board, first laying it out and planning the cable routing. Once everything was good, I screwed the pieces into place.
Next was to test voltages and see what worked. A bit of tinkering and everything looked good. I set it all in place and started configuring things in the RPi. A bit of trial and error getting things to talk to each other, with some luck, and it’s working!
There are still lots of kinks to work out and I need to experiment with a lot of the features. My intention is for this to be a fun project and provide a robust DCC system to get me started for the Georgetown Branch. We will see how it works in the long run.
incidentally, I had planned on taking apart my Proto2000 GP7 to have a look at the plastic gears, as last time I ran it it was making lots of noise.
Wouldn’t you know it, all four gears were cracked! I replaced them with Athearn units, like a charm. Here’s one of the cracked units:
I was asked to give some more details about parts and prices. I’ve created a spreadsheet and pasted the data here to give you a rough idea. Building this setup requires many things that you probably already have on hand, so the cost will vary. Also, you can find things on sale occasionally and you can simplify or streamline it with your own skills or modifications. I included rough estimates for a few things which you will need just to get the ball rolling. Feel free to reach out with any questions you have!
|Arduino||Uno Rev3||https://www.amazon.com/Arduino-A000066-ARDUINO-UNO-R3/dp/B008GRTSV6/ref=sr_1_3||$18.16||1||$18.16||You can purchase off-brand if you like.|
|Arduino||Motor Shield Rev3||https://store.arduino.cc/usa/arduino-motor-shield-rev3||$22.00||1||$22.00||You can purchase off-brand if you like.|
|n/a||Arduino case/mount||n/a||$9.00||1||$9.00||You can select any that you like, so long as it can fit the Uno + Motor Shield|
|n/a||Jumper wires||http://www.microcenter.com/product/486586/26awg-m-m-jumper-wires—20-pack||$4.99||1||$4.99||Can also use solid 26 AWG wire, or similar.|
|Raspberry Pi||Pi 3 Model B||http://www.microcenter.com/product/460968/3_Model_B?src=raspberrypi||$34.99||1||$34.99||You can upgrade to the B+ if you want Bluetooth, etc.|
|n/a||Pi 3 case||n/a||$9.00||1||$9.00||You can select any that you like.|
|Raspberry Pi||Pi 5V 2.5A power supply||http://www.microcenter.com/product/483715/official-5v-25a-power-supply—black||$10.99||1||$10.99||You can purchase off-brand if you like.|
|Tam Valley Depot||DAB002 DCC Booster||http://www.tamvalleydepot.com/products/dccbooster.html||$54.95||1||$54.95|
|Tam Valley Depot||DPS016 16V 4.5A Power Supply for Track Power Use||http://www.tamvalleydepot.com/products/dccbooster.html||$16.95||1||$16.95|
|Tam Valley Depot||12V 5A Power Supply for Accessory Bus Use||http://www.tamvalleydepot.com/products/dccbooster.html||$16.95||1||$16.95|
|Mean Well||RS-25-15 Switching Power Supply||https://www.meanwell-web.com/en-gb/ac-dc-single-output-enclosed-power-supply-output-rs–25–15||$13.20||1||$13.20||Power for DCC from Arduino|
|n/a||AC Computer Power Cable||https://www.ebay.com/itm/3-Prong-Pin-AC-Power-Cord-Cable-for-PC-Desktop-Computer/112999388247||$2.49||1||$2.49||To power AC-DC power supply.|
|VARIABLES||*use what you have on hand|
|Verbatim||keyboard||http://www.microcenter.com/product/459324/slimline-corded-usb-keyboard—black||$4.99||1||$4.99||Any USB keyboard should suffice.|
|Verbatim||mouse||http://www.microcenter.com/product/488018/corded-notebook-optical-mouse—black||$3.99||1||$3.99||Any USB mouse should suffice.|
|HP||monitor||http://www.microcenter.com/product/485576/la1956x-19-sxga-60hz-vga-dvi-dp-led-monitor-refurbished||$39.99||1||$39.99||Whatever you can find; simpler, smaller the better.|
|n/a||wire||n/a||$6.00||1||$6.00||Various wire to connect components.|
|n/a||assorted small screws||n/a||$5.00||1||$5.00||Need small screws to mount to plywood|
|n/a||plywood||n/a||1||I used a piece I had laying around|
|3M||3M Scotch 114/DC Heavy Duty Mounting Tape||https://www.amazon.com/Scotch-Indoor-Mounting-1-Inch-125-Inches/dp/B00004Z4A8/ref=sr_1_4?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1537809806&sr=1-4&keywords=3m%2Bdouble%2Bsided%2Bfoam%2Btape%2B1%22&th=1||$6.00||1||$6.00||Use any mounting tape.|
|n/a||smart phone||1||iOS or Android – use to run throttle software (eg. WiThrottle (free))|
|n/a||USB cable (B to A) 10″||https://www.mycablemart.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=6612||$1.54||1||$1.54||Use what you have|
|n/a||cable management||$6.00||1||$6.00||Any cable management will do. Zip ties and adhesive-backed mounts work well|
|Amazon||HDMI cable 6′||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014I8SSD0/ref=twister_B016I3XG0S?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1||$6.99||1||$6.99||Use what you have|
|Amazon||30mm x 30mm cooling fan||https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B071RMKYW7/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1||$8.99||1||$8.99||Not essential but nice to cool Rpi|