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shaung75

DCC++

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Hi All

I've been doing some research of late about DCC'ing my layout, and while doing so I've gone in with a wishlist:

  1. Be programmable (for automation)
  2. Have wireless control
  3. Have a smartphone app (for the boy's android tablet)
  4. Option for computer control (to set routes)
  5. Possibility for sensors (block detection)
  6. Be cheap

I'll be honest and say I wasn't expecting to find anything that fitted all of those, but then I came across DCC++ - a DIY system using an Arduino and a couple of extra components. I was wondering if anyone on here has had any experience with this, and if so, what should I be be looking out for by way of issues?

For those that are interested, his (the chap that came up with it) youtube channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJmvQx-fe0OMAIH-_g-_rZw/videos

I'm lucky in the fact that I already have all of the components required with the exception of the motor shield, so if I can get this working the total cost to me should be £20 for a fully functioning and expandable DCC system. Having a look around amazon I could buy an alternative motor shield for £6.60, but the OCD in me is saying I should go for the same one as in the video to give me the best chance of succeeding.

The main contender was Hornby's Railmaster and eLink, but it's not cheap, no possibility for sensors, the smartphone app costs extra, and if I want to install it on another PC I have to buy another license.

So any thoughts, comments or guidance greatly appreciated.

Shaun

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Well that was much easier than expected! 30 minutes was all the time it took to build the Arduino, install the code and convert my trusty Class 37 over to DCC and have it running!

Total cost for the system (brackets indicate I already had, but price for info):

  • Arduino Mega (£30) - Could be made with Arduino Uno (£20)
  • Motor shield £20
  • Power supply (£5)
  • USB cable (£1)

So from scratch the project could have cost £46, but for the £20 I paid I'm rather chuffed, and after looking around on Amazon at Arduino compatible boards this could easily be made for £8.70!! The only reason why I go for genuine Arduino products and pay more is to support the foundation.

Would seriously recommend anyone giving this a go...

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Hi Shaun, 

If I follow this correctly, the DCC signal never reaches the track? Whats the Motor shield used for in this case?

Regards, 

Steve

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Hi Steve

The motor shield is used to boost the DCC logic signal to the correct voltage - the arduino is powered through USB at only 5v, whereas the shield can be run at whatever you like. Those blue terminals on the left of the motor shield are DC in, Output A and Output B - the signal to the main running track goes through output A and the programming track goes through output B. Have a watch of the following, hope this helps:

 

Shaun

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So back in 2017 when I originally started this thread, I ended up giving up with DCC++ after I baulked the decoder as I didn't really have a clue what I was doing with DCC. Fast forward to 2019 - I have since acquired a few more loco's and decoders, but still no DCC system to control (or money to buy one) so I thought I'd try revisiting DCC++. So, doing more reading into DCC I decided to give it another go, armed with addition information...

Initial setup and testing works great on the main track with a brand new decoder - I can fully control the loco on the main track using JMRI and the default address of 3. I can even get the system connected to my phone using 'Engine Driver' app and can control the loco's using that. Great! The problem I have now is writing to the decoders on the programming track. When I try to read the decoders using DecoderPro it returns an error of 'No acknowledge from loco', making read/write impossible. I know something is happening on the programming track as the loco judders.

Trying to troubleshoot...

So that's where I'm at. If anyone has any other suggestions then let me know, I'm all ears 

20190504_195852.jpg

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I've had some success this evening - changing the values in PacketRegister.h to be more sensitive did two things:

  1. I was able to read all values on the messed up Gaugemaster decoder and subsequently write back default values.
  2. I was able to write to the Zimo 600R chip

So for me I know that I now have a working DCC system to now use in the garden (yay!), all built for £20 plus parts I already had. There is still the issue of not being able to read the Zimo chip, however as I can write to it I'm not too fussed - it's just a decoder to avoid in the future for me.

Happy days

 

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I often have issues reading from chips. But simply crack on and write to them. I then test the unit to see if it wrote OK.

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