I am a bit unfocused.

  • If there is going to be a hardware thing, I need some space, which means organizing the toy box. Cleaning, that is what I was avoiding.
  • Doing some preliminary drawings to see how much cleaning I need to do for the physical layout
  • Received in the mail two versions of the Arduino (a little computer) and a "shield" to transform 5-volt logic pulses into a 15-volt bi-polar signal to send commands and power to the system.
  • Received a small board that decodes DCC commands to drive a servo to change the switches/turnouts on the track. This is a company with an attitude. The old school way to automatically change a turnout was with a solenoid. You would apply a voltage and wham the turnout would switch! Apply another voltage and bam the other way. Noisy, not vary realistic and if you applied the voltage too long plastic would melt. So, someone came up with a slow acting servo to do the job, commonly referred to as a 'slow motor.' This company's version is called a Tortoise. Their original board to decode the DCC instruction and drive the Tortoise is called a ... Hair. Then they came out with the board I bought that controls two Tortoises and it is called a Wabbit. The one that controls 4 is a Jack Wabbit. The Tortoise is basically the standard and does several things necessary/nice to have besides change the turnout.
  • Received a Raspberry 3 B+ (another small computer) thinking I could use that to drive everything, and a servo driver HAT (plug in board) that can be used to control several servos to change semaphore signal's aspect.
  • Started putting together a short test track to use for testing control software and hardware. Need a switch and discovered there is not an electronics store in Silverton (Who knew??). Where is Radio Shack when you need them? In Moab Utah it seems!
  • Downloaded two versions of the JMRI software for an easy way to control/test trains and switches. Also need some way to test using the downloaded DCC++ software running on those Arduino and shields above. It is all free go also downloaded what they call DecoderPro which helps set up the decoders in trains.
  • Received some boards that are small IR sensors. These are intended for the DIY robotic market as proximity detectors, so the robot doesn't run into things. With modification I am going to place them under the RR track to detect when a train is there. They have a small LED that transmits in the IR range and a second LED that detects the reflected IR. I am planning on 30 to 34 sensors in the layout. A detector on each end of a block of track, plus two more for the parking lot. There are four sections of track that may not be long enough for two sensors to make sense.
  • Still working on refinements to the simulator (fixing errors).
  • Looking for a DCC++ way to control two DPDT relays to reverse the power on track blocks 7 and 8.

Besides these fun things someone must do the washing up.