DCC Developments & Experimentation

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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by Slarge »

@Siegfried
Sadly not mine, the video is by tgauge.com showing off their latest developments with RailwayShop.
Hopefully the DCC motor units will be available as complete units soon (although soon can be somewhat slow).
My interest is in the size and positioning of such chips so I can alter my 3D printed loco bodies to incorporate...
And now back to Doug's awesome developments...

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dkightley
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

I've made some good progress with the various boxes of electronics....I think I'm nearing the point where I will need to put the whole lot into storage for a few weeks and await the decoders. :cry: :cry:

I've already shown two of the boxes....the main control box that holds the main control board and the interface to a laptop, and the box containing the output boards that drive the servos that operate the point and flexi-traverser....and potentially a signal or two. For the inputs to the control system, I will have no less than four separate boxes, gathering inputs from 12 track section occupancy sensors and 15 LDR train location sensors. This may sound an overkill....but I'm wanting a live track layout to show which sections are occupied....and to be able to stop trains at exact positions throughout the layout.

Here's a photo of two of the boxes. They are identical in content....just having different addressing:
IMG_3303_red.JPG
IMG_3303_red.JPG (72.43 KiB) Viewed 14635 times
The open box on the left has a twin TOTI board (the track section occupancy detectors!) on the left and the CBUS input board on the right....with a small 5v power supply at the bottom. The five connectors (top to bottom) are two track supplies to individual track sections, an input track power supply, the CBUS interface connection, a 5v DC output to supply a separate box I'll be describing shortly, and finally a 15vAC/DC input power. The plastic holder with the two small boards on ( the circuitry for the LDR sensors) sits over the top of the connector blocks...and the LEDs and mini pots show through holes in the box lid.

The box on the right shows the LEDS and pots showing through the holes. These are indicators and sensitivity adjusters for the LDR sensors. The five wires with servo connector plugs are the connections to the LDR sensors as shown in a previous post.

And now onto the final two boxes...which are also input interfaces that are similar to the boxes above:
IMG_3306_red.JPG
IMG_3306_red.JPG (75.23 KiB) Viewed 14635 times
This time there are occupancy detectors for 4 track sections.....but only three LDR sensors. These boxes are powered from the above boxes...so don't have a power supply board....and the connector layout is very similar (top to bottom) four track section supplies, a track input, The CBUS connection, and the 5v DC input. And of course there'll only be three wires poking out the hole in the lid. Just remembered....one box will have three LDR connections, the other will only have two.

And for anyone who's spotted that all the connectors are the same style.....yes they are! I'll be going round with some different coloured paint to mark them up so it'll be easy to ensure the right plug goes into the right socket! And I'm keeping to a rigid wiring colour coding both inside and outside of the boxes. 15AC/DC - red/black; 12vDC - blue/black; 5vDC - red/yellow; CBUS -white/yellow; DCC - blue/green. The servo wires used for connecting the LDRs...+ve - red; -ve - black; LDR sense - white.

Once I get all the assembly and wiring completed, then I need to run through a careful and thorough testing and set-up phase to get all the outputs operating from the schematic panel....and all the inputs turning on and off the indicators. But that may wait until well into the New Year!
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum http://www.tramway.co.uk

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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

Looking forward at the what looks like a maze of wiring on the layout, I've colour-coded the connectors:
IMG_3307_red.JPG
IMG_3307_red.JPG (130.08 KiB) Viewed 14620 times
For my own reference.....colours are:

RED - 12v AC/DC main power supply (output on main box, input elsewhere)
YELLOW - 5v DC regulated supply (where adj to RED, output, otherwise input)
unpainted - 12v DC output ....currently not used
WHITE - CBUS interconnection
BLUE - DCC track power (output on main box, input elsewhere)
BLUE + DOTS - DCC track power outputs....dots to indicate correct output.....no dots on above photo - waiting for paint to dry before applying!!
Doug Kightley
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

A day or so of good progress....curtesy of the snow! Horrible stuff!

I've now got all the TOTI sensors wired up and tested out.....all AOK! And I've assembled a single LDR sensor on a test piece of track board...and got the LDR sensor board installed in one of the boxes. Here's the completed box.....ready for screwing the lid on!:
IMG_3319_red.JPG
IMG_3319_red.JPG (133.94 KiB) Viewed 14599 times
And just to show how the LDR sensors work...here's the test sensor with no train:
IMG_3315_red.JPG
IMG_3315_red.JPG (73.13 KiB) Viewed 14599 times
Notice only one LED in the box lid lit up. The other is lit because there's no sensor connected.

....and here's it with a train being sensed.
IMG_3314_red.JPG
IMG_3314_red.JPG (71.17 KiB) Viewed 14599 times
Both LEDs lit! And both a train moving into the sensor AND moving away trigger events that the software in the PC can detect!
Doug Kightley
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

Here we are in January 2018 and I have all the necessary DCC electronics....which I have built from kits produced by MERG (Model Electronics Railway Group).....but despite having placed an order with DCC Supplies, who immediately placed an order for decoders directly from the manufacturers (CT Elektroniks), at the beginning of October, none have to date been supplied.

I have emailed and phoned DCC Supplies....who have been most apologetic and somewhat embarrassed that both myself and they have been let down by CT, who have failed to deliver on their promises a few times now. I have even emailed CT directly to ask what the delays were, and their response in early December was that they have been having issues with manufacture and would have the issues resolved quickly.

They even advised me to order directly from themselves rather than via a distributer....with the promise they would supply before Christmas if I did! I didn't...as I had already placed an order via DCC, and I did not want to sideline them as they have been very helpful!

Having spoken to DCC this afternoon, who had emailed CT earlier in the week and had not had a reply, I have also emailed CT again expressing by deep concern and anger about thie inability to supply what the advertise as being available!

I'll post any news I get as and when..... :roll:
Doug Kightley
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

Another month has gone by......and absolutely no information whatsoever abut when....and if....I will be getting any decoders.

I have today sent an email to both the CT Elektroniks and the UK distributer begging that they do something to get some decoders to me. I'm not hopeful of getting any sense out of them!!
Doug Kightley
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

One step forward......twenty five steps back!!! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Had an email back from DCC Supplies cancelling my order with them as they are not getting any response from CT!!

So now there are two UK DCC specialists who are not prepared to place an order for CT decoders!!!

I've spoken to a third specialist this afternoon, who have said they do not have any issues with CT.....and they are going to order some decoders for me.

And now another wait......
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum http://www.tramway.co.uk

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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

Just had an email back from this supplier.

They have contacted CT, who have responded that they can supply in small quantities, so they will be ordering some.

Fingers....and everything else....crossed!
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum http://www.tramway.co.uk

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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

A couple of things to report.....

Firstly, I've purchased a different DCC decoder to try out....the ESU LokPilot Nano. It's a little larger than the CT decoder at 8mm x 7mm x 2.4mm (with one component making the board 2.8mm high on one side)...and it doesn't have a voltage regulator on the motor output, which means the motor will get fed with a pulsed voltage not far off rail voltage.

This board, I think, will just squeeze vertically at the non-drive end of the longer power units provided there are decent under-belly equipment cubicles created. Once I get round to fitting this board and trying it out, I'll post more details on what I mean....

At Doncaster, I introduced myself to the owner of Digitrains, ,the unnamed distributor I mentioned in my last post and asked for an idea of when he would be ordering decoders for me .....and his reply was a little disappointing..."When I check my stock levels and need to place an order with them, I'll include the decoders you have asked for in the order." I wonder if this is T Gauge getting it's usual "not a serious gauge" treatment?? :roll: :roll:

Trying to be a little more positive, Alan had the DCC demonstration set-up that was brought over from Japan. Boy is the DCX65 decoder small when you see it on its own!!!! Unfortunately, I think the demo set-up and all it's bits has to go back to Japan.
Doug Kightley
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

Hot off the press...

TGauge.com have the DCX65 decoders in stock......and I have just placed an order for some! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I now have....or will have very soon......everything I need to get DCC up and running on my new layout.

And, I'll be able to get this development back on track.
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum http://www.tramway.co.uk

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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

With no English version of the data sheet for the decoder....just the German one..., I've today spent a few hours working my way through the sheet on a free pdf editor, using Google translate to create an English version.

I have to admit that Google translate does a very good job of translating technical terms, etc. I had very few grammar and other changes to make so that the text made sense.

Attached to this post is the datasheet for the DCX65....in English!

EDIT......see the post two below this for an official English version of the document.
Attachments
DCX65.pdf
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by rail450 »

Hi all,

I just ordered some DCX65 - they are on the way to Germany.

I´ll translate the data sheet into English and will publish my version for revision

BR,

Siegfried

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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

Today, I received ......direct from CT Elektronik ..... a copy of the data sheet for the DCX65 in English.

This official English translation is attached..

My thanks go to Cuong Tran for emailing me the document without having to ask.....
Attachments
DCX65_English.pdf
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

Aside from all the excitement of my recent decision to upgrade The Bridge to DCC, I have been progressing with my DCC development in general....

As the DCC decoders I'm going to be using are not only a bit pricey but are likely to be a little delicate, I've created a DCC decoder test and setup rig so I can check out and do some set up work on the decoder settings before I tyre-lever them into a chassis. Here's a photo of the rig with a decoder wired up for testing:
IMG_3400_red.JPG
IMG_3400_red.JPG (88.22 KiB) Viewed 7133 times
The green and blue twisted wires are the DCC connection. Off the photo, the wires have a plug on that goes straight into the main DCC box. The wires on the decoder have simply been soldered to pins on the back of a socket that plugs into header pins on the piece of veroboard. There's a greed LED to indicate the DCC is live, a red and green pair of LEDs to indicate forward and backward motor drive, a red and white pair of LEDS to indicate lights, and a yellow LED for an auxiliary output from the decoder. The big white component is a high wattage resistor that is simulating the motor load....and it gets warm!!!

Building this board has allowed me ...in one test....to establish that the DCC is actually working, to check out the first decoder, and to set up and test that I can drive a loco from either my PC (or laptop), my mobile phone, and a tablet!! Pretty cool!!
Doug Kightley
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

A few weeks on....and decisions and progress made.

Firstly the decision.....as stated on the Bridges at Saltash thread, I've decided to upgrade The Bridge to DCC control and automated operation using the JMRI train control software. To facilitate this, I'm going to be using some of the control boxes I've already built; the main control box, and two of the track detector interface boxes. I'm also going to need a new control box to drive the LEDS for the seven signals...twelve LEDS in total. For this, I'm using a MERG control board designed to drive LEDs on a control panel...which will be built into its own box with a ribbon cable connecting to the existing signal cabling on the layout.

Using the JMRI PanelPro software, I've created a layout panel that will show on the laptop that will sit behind the scenes on the layout. The block signalling has been set up within the PanelPro software to detect block occupancy and operate the advance and home signals...all of which are two aspect. Here's a screenshot of the track layout panel...which still needs some details adding onto it to make it look reasonable:
Capture.JPG
Capture.JPG (97.7 KiB) Viewed 7058 times
Using the scrit language in PanelPro, which is a version of Jython, a derivative of Python, which is similar to Java. It's sort of like Basic, C, JavaScript and Java all mixed up together!!, I've started putting together the first of three controls for running a train around the dog-bone style track....either stopping at one or more of the stations, or running through....and obeying the block signalling as it goes. This will allow me to run any permutation of up to three trains at once....and I've worked out that it will automatically hold up trains if I'm in the middle of either putting a new train on, or sorting out a train already on the track! No more messing around resetting the system...hopefully!!!
Doug Kightley
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

Moved on a little with the software for The Bridge.

Here's what I believe the final layout panel will look like:
JMRIPanelWindow.JPG
JMRIPanelWindow.JPG (56.77 KiB) Viewed 7030 times
The track colour represents whether a section is occupied; blue is vacant and red is occupied. The red or grey "lights" are the track sensors that indicate specific locations.

I've got the train operation script to a point where I'm ready to test it with a DCC controlled train on a track. The script generates a window from which parameters can be set up and the automated control started and stopped:
ScriptWindow.JPG
ScriptWindow.JPG (62.54 KiB) Viewed 7030 times
The log window shows what's happening....and I think should help show where the train is. The script...and window....can be run multiple times so as to allow up to three trains to be controlled independantly....but interact with each other under the block signalling logic!

I have to admit to being slightly excited about trying this out!!!!!

Electonics-wise....I have today built and connected up a small PCB in the main control box that has one simple task to perform.....to flash a LED on and off every time there is a command signal transmitted on the control bus. This will help check things are working...and help to make setup easier. I'm also building the PCB for the extra control box that will be driving the signals....and one of the next jobs will be to design and print a box to put it in.
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum http://www.tramway.co.uk

davidmatthewson
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by davidmatthewson »

Thanks again Doug... but....you mention 12v to the tracks - I thought the current Blue box T controller gave about 4v DC but 'chopped' - how do off the shelf but with DCC added T locos cope with 12V- or don't they? -

Or am I being a clutz?

David

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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

There are a few rules that govern running either/or DC and DCC systems. DC in T means using the existing PWM controllers.

1) On a DCC enable track you can only run DCC converted power units. non DCC converted power units will sit there and "buzz"....and might even overheat!
2) On DC track you can run non-DCC power units...and I have to confirm if you can also run DCC power units in DC mode. You can in larger scales...but I've not tried a DCC converted power unit on DC track!!

That's the rules.....but why?

DC track is powered as indicated above by the standard PWM controllers at around 4.5v DC.

DCC track is powered by (in my case) approx. 14v AC. The track also has high frequency varying pulse signals that the DCC decoders respond to. The DCC decoders have a DC voltage stabilised PWM output (around 6v I think) that power the drive motor, the %age pulse width being determined by the electronics in the decoder based on the transmitted high frequency signal and the internal settings in the individual decoder!

The BIG difference between DC and DCC is the volt drop over the track to wheel interface of say 1-2v has a significant effect on a DC loco, whereas a DCC loco motor has a stabilised supply voltage. And an advantage of DCC over DC....you can define acceleration and deceleration rates - so no more 100G starts and stops. My DMUs go from full power to stationary in around 15 feet of track, in something like 10 seconds....whatever you do with the controller (except press the big red button!)..and a similar distance & time to get up to full speed! Somewhat similar to the "fly-by-wire" effect on an Airbus! You tell the electronics "Full Power!"...and the electronics accelerates the loco at a pre-determined acceleration rate up to full speed!
Doug Kightley
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davidmatthewson
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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by davidmatthewson »

Ah... Light bulb moment! Thanks Doug. So effectively each DCC loco acts like the Blue PWC unit but in miniature and and on wheels.

Many thanks... Best explanation I've read so far.

D.

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Re: DCC Developments & Experimentation

Post by dkightley »

I hadn't thought of it that way!!

One half of the controller is a handset, a window on a PC/laptop, a tablet, a smart phone, or a few variables in a program running on a computer.

...and the other half id the small PCB in the loco!

And the two halves are connected by magic!
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum http://www.tramway.co.uk

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