Author Topic: Accessory bus  (Read 2000 times)

EsselW

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Accessory bus
« on: February 20, 2018, 08:26:17 PM »
Hope this isn't heresy or whatever...  But I'm curious about accessory control, in particular, lighting.  For rolling stock lighting, I'm going to do reed switches and Wheatstone bridges.  But for structures and the rest, I don't want to run a pair of wires from every structure to a central accessory module.  I was thinking along the lines of just using an inexpensive DCC starter system ($75) and NCE's Light-it DCC decoders ($5 ea).  I would power a pair of under-module wires just like I would a track, and hook the Light-it decoders to the wires just below each structure, and manage lighting using that controller (a DCC lighting bus if you will). Meanwhile, RailPro would be used for track power and locomotive control.  Also wondering if I could integrate a computer and schedule the lighting events that way by having the computer apply on/off directives via the DCC lighting bus.  Cat 5 throttle network wouldn't be necessary, as lighting control would be centralized, not walk-around.  Thoughts?  Other options I'm not thinking of?  Thanks. 

EsselW

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Re: Accessory bus
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2018, 08:42:37 PM »
Holy Mackerel, a product idea for RailPro just dawned on me as I'm pondering my own question here.  I wouldn't need to buy a second DCC system to have distributed lighting control if...  <product idea> Rail Pro had a module that would receive radio signal from the HC and translate it to standard DCC to impose on a lighting bus </product idea>... to control the NCE Light-it decoders.  Could sell this thing for the cost of an entry-level DCC system.

Alan

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Re: Accessory bus
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2018, 07:57:43 AM »
Hope this isn't heresy or whatever...  But I'm curious about accessory control, in particular, lighting.  For rolling stock lighting, I'm going to do reed switches and Wheatstone bridges.  But for structures and the rest, I don't want to run a pair of wires from every structure to a central accessory module.  I was thinking along the lines of just using an inexpensive DCC starter system ($75) and NCE's Light-it DCC decoders ($5 ea).  I would power a pair of under-module wires just like I would a track, and hook the Light-it decoders to the wires just below each structure, and manage lighting using that controller (a DCC lighting bus if you will). Meanwhile, RailPro would be used for track power and locomotive control.  Also wondering if I could integrate a computer and schedule the lighting events that way by having the computer apply on/off directives via the DCC lighting bus.  Cat 5 throttle network wouldn't be necessary, as lighting control would be centralized, not walk-around.  Thoughts?  Other options I'm not thinking of?  Thanks.

Sure, why not. I think you would need many decoders to make any scheduled lighting effects dramatic enough to be worth the trouble. The decoders are limited to 3 outputs at 10mA per output so some structures are going to need either multiple decoders or transistor switching help to manage load. Could get a little spendy after a while. Automating the lighting sounds like a job for JMRI.

If you are into DIY circuits, you could create an equivalent system at much lower cost using an Arduino for control and CMOS 4051 multiplexer/demultiplexer chips as "decoders". The 4051 has eight outputs at 10mA ea. Then you could write a sketch to control the lighting any way you wish.
Alan

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When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

EsselW

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Re: Accessory bus
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2018, 09:58:41 PM »
Thanks for the reply, Alan!  Arduino sounds intriguing.  The basic idea is one or two light circuits per building, maybe inside and outside.  I was thinking of a controller per building which if using a Light-it decoder means an extra $5 per building.  I like the size.  But could an arduino controller be, say, an inch square or less?  If so, I would probably enjoy tinkering with the circuits.  Just don't know anything about it yet.  And can arduino be controlled by JMRI? Or does that require a different interface?  Like I said, I don't know anything about it yet.

A couple of other questions...  If I use RailPro for loco control, that means there is a constant voltage on the rails.  Can the arduino control instructions be multiplexed onto that DC voltage?  OR would it make the RailPro LM3S go nuts?  The reason I ask, is that I had mentioned reed switches for control of lighting in rolling stock.  Do you think arduino could be used for that, too, instead of reed switches and magnets? 

And, regarding the first questions, can you direct me to an article or articles that could explain how to go about building arduino circuits for either of these applications? Thanks.

William Brillinger

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Re: Accessory bus
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2018, 06:36:52 AM »
Question, what would be wrong with the AM-1 for this purpose, you could serve several structures from one AM-1. I need to confirm this, but I think the AM-1 has 16 outputs that can be used for lighting. Or you could use the LM-3 with it's 6 outputs. Then you could control the lights from an HC or from your PC with your own custom lighting programs, and even more so when Ring brings out more automation software in the future.

I can offer a discount on larger orders if you're looking for more than just a few.

I'll look into instructions for lighting with the AM-1, it's not well covered in the manual.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 06:40:42 AM by William Brillinger »
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Modeling the BNML in HO Scale, owner of Precision Design Co., and RailPro Dealer.


Alan

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Re: Accessory bus
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2018, 08:18:52 AM »
Thanks for the reply, Alan!  Arduino sounds intriguing.  The basic idea is one or two light circuits per building, maybe inside and outside.  I was thinking of a controller per building which if using a Light-it decoder means an extra $5 per building.  I like the size.  But could an arduino controller be, say, an inch square or less?  If so, I would probably enjoy tinkering with the circuits.  Just don't know anything about it yet.  And can arduino be controlled by JMRI? Or does that require a different interface?  Like I said, I don't know anything about it yet.

The smallest Arduino is the Nano. It measures approx. 1" x 2". JMRI and Arduino can be made to communicate but it is no simple matter.

A couple of other questions...  If I use RailPro for loco control, that means there is a constant voltage on the rails.  Can the arduino control instructions be multiplexed onto that DC voltage?  OR would it make the RailPro LM3S go nuts?  The reason I ask, is that I had mentioned reed switches for control of lighting in rolling stock.  Do you think arduino could be used for that, too, instead of reed switches and magnets?

It could use the rails as the communication line however you are essentially duplicating a DCC control system. It would be a complex project to undertake.

And, regarding the first questions, can you direct me to an article or articles that could explain how to go about building arduino circuits for either of these applications? Thanks.

The basics on multiplexing an Arduino: http://playground.arduino.cc/Learning/4051

Bill's idea of using the AM-1 is a great suggestion if you want to control lighting with your RailPro system.
Alan

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When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

Dean

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Re: Accessory bus
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2018, 03:25:13 PM »
You could use the motor outputs to dim your lights.
Dean

EsselW

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Re: Accessory bus
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2018, 06:35:24 PM »
The thing I'm trying to avoid is a rat's nest of wires under the module.  I don't want to bring a separate pair of wires from each of sixteen buildings to a single/central AM-1.  And I would need a separate AM-1 for each of the layout modules as I wouldn't want to connect all those wires between modules.  I like the Light-it approach because I can run a single bus around the layout and bring a pair of wires to the bus rather than the AM1.  One tiny Light-it decoder per building or set of street lights.  I just need to hook up an entry-level DCC system to the lighting bus.  Lighting isn't something I need to control from the HC.

The rolling stock is a different matter.  There I am trying to find an inexpensive way to allow on/off control of one or two lights in a car through the rails rather than using a reed switch / magnet.  But I would use the switch/magnet before i would invest $40+ for an LM module per passenger car or caboose.  Sounds like arduino would be too large for a car with an interior.  No idea where I would put it.  But I can hide a bridge, capacitor and reed switch pretty easily.

I love the RailPro concept for locos and signaling and maybe turnouts, but not for buildings and rolling stock.

Alan

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Re: Accessory bus
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2018, 08:01:29 PM »
Use the DCC system to power the rails. Use Light-It inside the cars. RailPro runs on DCC track just fine.
Alan

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When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

EsselW

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Re: Accessory bus
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2018, 08:13:08 PM »
Did not know that!  That's great, thanks Alan. ;D

William Brillinger

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Re: Accessory bus
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2018, 03:07:39 PM »
Just to round out the conversation from earlier, I received this update on the AM-1 from Tim at Ring Engineering:

Quote
The AM-1 hardware actually has 16 outputs.  However, there currently is only one hardware configuration that is supported by the RailPro Assistant Program.  That configuration is 4 outputs and two motor outputs and 8 inputs.

You could use the two motor outputs to drive lights for a total of 6.  You would set the motor to 100% (on) and 0%(off).  These two lights would be on off only(no light effects).
- Bill Brillinger, RPUG Admin

Modeling the BNML in HO Scale, owner of Precision Design Co., and RailPro Dealer.