Sunday, May 29, 2016

New projects and organization of the blog

I'm sorry to have my blog a little bit unattended, but I'm involved in some interesting projects that are taking all my free time.

Complete digital system (Loconet and DCC) based on Arduino

In the Arduino side, my purpose is to build a complete digital system based on this fantastic open source platform. Until now I was using Arduino just to implement some Loconet modules with special functionalities that I was not able to find in the market. Those developments where always thanks to Alex Shepherd and his Loconet libraries for Arduino ( Peter Giling, from Rocrail team, created an interface board usable with MRRWA libraries that enabled those project from the hardware side.

Two months ago I found another interesting development to turn Arduino into a complete DCC command station. It has no possibilities to be connected to an standard bus like Loconet, but it can be connected to JMRI and Rocrail via the USB serial port of Arduino or an Ethernet shield.

Having all the mentioned code, I plan to merge it and have a complete DCC command station with Loconet connection. For that I need some changes to the Loconet Shield (GCA185) from Peter Giling as it should have the Loconet terminator for all system to work properly. It would be also very useful to have a power source of 12Vcc feede from this command station board to the DB9 connectors.

Unexpectedly, a friend from India wrote me and offered his help to develop not only this shield, but a lot more of useful boards to develop this complete digital system (Loconet + DCC) for Arduino. I'll be posting all information here as I get some free time. As always, all my code will be Open Source and public, so everybody can contribute and expand it.

Source code and blog reorganization

I'm also working in a reorganization of the sections of the blog and a common repository for all source code. I'm moving all .ino files to github. I think it's the best option, or at least better than shared spaces with no specific source code support like I'm doing with Google Drive.

New standard for N-scale digital modules

Members of Club N Caldes are quite excited to build our digital system ourselves, and we want to apply it to modules. At least in Spain, is very difficult to see digital modules in train fairs. Until now each member had his own layout, and we were sharing our knowledge and helping ones to the others. As soon as we have all software and hardware ready we want to define a norm to construct our modules and be able to assist to some of the big module fairs.

We plan to use EuroN norm as it is the most extended here, and redefine or add an extension to the norm for digital use. Some requisites are the possibility to change rail current to analogue if desired, keeping the management of switches, lights or any other automatism through Loconet.

New train fair in Logroño (La Rioja - Spain)

Also came to me the opportunity to collaborate in the organization of a train fair in Logroño. I think it will be a very special one, as it will be held in a magnificent place, not the common pavilions. Also this Spanish region is very well known by its wines, and in Autumn the landscape and red colours of the vineyards are superb. We also plan to add an extra value making some workshops and talks for both beginners and seniors in the hobby. But I still have to wait a little bit to post more information. I'll do it soon.

So, the plan is to develop our digital - open source system, make some modules, and assist to the train fair in Logroño in October to present it. We will be quite busy for the next three or four months....

I'll keep you informed!