Friday, March 24, 2017

Tomix Shinkansen 500系 EVA digitalization

As explained in the 500 Type Eva Project web page, "2015 marked the 40th anniversary of Sanyo Shinkansen's completion inauguration, as well as the 20th anniversary of the start of the Evangelion TV series. To celebrate this double anniversary, the Shinkansen Evangelion Project was launched in November 2015. The Sanyo Shinkansen operates a 500 TYPE EVA train, created under the supervision of Mr. Hideaki Anno, Director of Evangelion, and designed by Mr. Ikuto Yamashita, Evangelion's mechanical designer. Additionally, while on board, passengers can enjoy content with the motif of the world of Evangelion."

You can see in the following posters how amazing is the design of this 500 Type Shinkansen, taking the image of the anime's main "EVA",  a humanoid mecha:

The design of this train is not only in the outside, but also in the inside. In Car No. 1, you can enjoy four attractions: Shinkansen X Evangelion Exhibit Panels; a Photo Spot; a Diorama; and Full-size Cockpit Riding Experience, a hands-on attraction:

Car No. 2 lets you experience an interior decorated with the "EVA design.":

Kato was the first announcing this model release, but it could only be purchased in August 2016 during an train event in Japan. It was also advised that the model was using the previous 500 Type molds so it was not an exact prototype to the original one. It was only an special decoration, and the cost was 30.000Yen. Nowadays is still not possible to acquire it in regular shops, just directly to Kato through their web page.

Before Kato's release date Tomix announced they were also releasing this model, but with new molds reproducing the original in a more accurate way. Tomix model was also reproducing the first car interior and the preorder price was below Kato price.

In febrary I received the Tomix model and now is time to convert it for DCC operation. I'll be using a Doehler&Haass DH10 decoder (bought in Let's start with the motor car:

I prepare the plates applying tin to the extrem part where I plan to solder decoder and interior lighting wires. As this train has 8 cars and I don't want to install 8 decoders, interior lighting will be directly connected to the rail power. 

I have to do two small holes for the decoder motor wires. Holes are done in the place where they coincide between the two springs of the motor:

Now I solder the red and black wires of the decoder to the pick up current plates, and two extra red and black wires (the extra part I cut from decoder wires) for the interior lights:

I was thinking how to attach the motor wires to the motor plates. If I want to solder them directly I have to remove the springs and dismount completely the motor. I'm not sure to solder them to the springs, may be the spring becomes rigid and I cannot close the car.... finally I will just wrap the decoder wire in the spring and put them in place, isolating the cooper strips so they are not in contact with the springs and therefore the motor current:

I checked the car works properly. Motor wires have been rolled in the spring firmly and keep isolated, there is no short circuit. Check always with your tester that motor wires are completely isolated from pickup current before putting it on the tracks. You can check it putting your tester tips directly in decoder pads, so gray wire has no continuity with red, black and orange. And the same with the other cables.

Now the motor works, I'm preparing the interior lighting. I'm using 12V white led strips.

I solder a diode rectifier to the led strip. MB6S rectifier model has the exact width of the led strip. I also add a 2.2kOhm resistor to lower the led intensity to the level I like:

And now everything is ready. Stick the led strip to the roof and add a little piece of doble sided tape under the decoder and motor wires, so they keep in place and hidden from the outside when you close the car:

Cab car is also quite standard. To open it you have to unscrew the closest screw to the front, do not pull the hull before:

Then you need to unscrew the bogies also to release the seats board and access to the light board. Be careful to do not lose the tiny springs of the bogies, they easily "jump" and you can spend a full day trying to find it again:

For the cab car I'm using a LaisDCC decoder. The motor wires can be configured in a way you can turn them on and off with the F0 (lights) button, can switch the polarity depending on the direction and the intensity is also adjustable. This has the great advantage that you don't need to make any kind of modification to the light board. No led switching, no extra resistors..... just isolate the board and connect the motor wires (orange and gray) to it.

Decoder must be configured with CV61=68 and desired intensity in CV133 (value from 0 to 255, but I always set a value of 20).

I make 4 little holes in the seats board to pass the decoder wires to the led board:

The light board has two metallic pads that you can desolder and this isolates the board, but to make it safer add kapton tape to the pick up current metallic strips.

So motor car and one of the cab cars are ready, I'll continue with the rest of cars later:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

New header for our modules' standard

Happy New Year everybody!!! This is my first post of 2017

We are ready to publish the revision 3 of our modular norms. Remember in the top horizontal menu, under "Modules" option, you will find always all the posts and the last version of the norms once approved.

A big change in this new version refers to the header construction and shape. Our adopted header was the same from the EuroN norm:

EuroN header (ClubNCaldes v.1)

Everybody told us that the squared hole (the one on the right side) was never used. In the original EuroN norms that hole is to pass two hidden tracks to cross under the modules. But if even having the tracks in sight sometimes is difficult to adjust them, having them hidden looks like it can cause many headaches and train derailments in a zone that you cannot see and has difficult accessibility. So we decided to get rid of it and center and enlarge the existing rounded hole that we use to pass the wires and connect one module to the other, and as a handle to move the module.

At the same time one of the club members had the idea to make a reversible module, so you can flip it and interchange North and South sides with no problems. Another friend wanted to make a staging yard of 6 tracks, but having a kind of norm or guide for it and to place the tracks. In this way any staging yard module (with 6 tracks) can be joined to the one from any other club member as everything has been constructed under the same norm.

These are the reasons to design a new header, fully compatible with EuroN and our previous header norm, but having the holes to place the metallic gauge in three different positions. The two outside positions allow to place 4 tracks so that the module is symmetric and North and Sound sides are interchangeable. A center position of the gauge allows to place two extra tracks centered in the module.

ClubNCaldes header v.3 (compatible EuroN)

I will upload the last norm version soon, as it contains more detailed information and step-by-step instructions to build the different Loconet modules using Arduino.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

PSX DenshaDeGo Loconet controller

In my last trip to Japan I found an old PSX "Densha De Go" Japanese controller. This is a controller simulating a train cab and used with that train simulator game, very popular in Japan.

I don't remember if I found it in a BookOff second hand store or in Mr Potato, Last one is a very famous retro gaming shop in the heart of Akihabara district in Tokyo.

My idea was to use the controller to move trains in my layout, and to accomplish that I would use an Arduino acting as interface between the PSX controller and my Loconet network.

Let's check the hardware needed:

1 x Arduino UNO. (Another Arduino version is also possible)
1 x Loconet shield. As always that you want to interface Arduino and Loconet, you need a Loconet shield. You can build it your own, or buy it directly to the Rocrail guys. The item code is GCA185 and here you have all the information about it and the electrical schemes if you want to build it by your own:
1 x Sensor Shield v5. This is not strictly needed, but makes it easier to connect wires and build the prototype before soldering everything in place. You can have it from ebay for 2$
You will need also some Dupont female to female jumper wires for easy connecting and testing of the prototype.


Plug the Loconet shield GCA185 on top of Arduino UNO, and Sensor shield on top of GCA185. Then you have to connect the pins of the PSX joystic to the following Arduino pins if you want to use directly the Arduino sketch I'm providing later on in this post:

PSX pin 1 (DATA) to Arduino PIN 12
PSX pin 2 (COMMAND) to Arduino PIN 11
PSX pin 4 (GND) to Arduino GND pin
PSX pin 5 (VCC) to Arduino +5V pin
PSX pin 6 (ATT) to Arduino PIN 10
PSX pin 7 (CLOCK) to Arduino PIN 13

You can check in this page all information about PSX controller, also how to identify which is the pin number 1 of the connector:

Here you have an image of my temporary connections of the PSX connector and the Arduino Sensor shield for further clarification:


Finally, you need to compile and upload the following sketch into the Arduino board:

To be able to compile the sketch you need to add two libraries to the Arduino environment:

MRRWA Loconet library:
PSX library:

The first one is the library in charge of Loconet communications. You have many examples included in the library. I used of them, Loconet Throttle, as basis for making the current sketch. The example turns the Arduino in a Loconet Throttle receiving the commands through the serial monitor. You only need to change it a little bit to use any device connected to Arduino. In my case I changed it to use a PSX controller, but you can connect a potentiometer, a LCD display and a keypad or anything you imagine to build your personalized throttle.

The second one is a library written by Kevin Ahrendt and based on the PSX communication protocol analysis from Andrew J McCubbin. I also had to do some reverse engineering as this controller is not like the normal ones. And I found the brake throttle is not working properly, some times it is sending strange values. That's why you will find in the sketch some weird code to skip strange values that my controller sends some times. But if it works with my broken controller, I guess it will also work properly with a good one.

If you have any question just comment under the post or open an issue in the GitHub repository. If it works well and you try it, you can also comment.  :P