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I just finished getting a standalone Arduino Uno Microcontroller to produce the right signals to trigger the Lionel official sensor track system (IRV2 in this case). This was accomplished by using the original sensor car to read the data into an electrical engineer's best friend, a digital storage oscilloscope. Eventually I learned enough to write a program to analyze and store the data for later use. Then I made a program to read it back out on an IR led with the same precise timing it was originally received in.

The result is that I can now produce the IR signals that trigger the sensor track on my own hardware. Up next I will use the analysis code I made to compare differences between different variations of road names, road numbers, and engine IDs. Eventually I should have enough information build a small pluggable screen that will let you reprogram my board using a set of arrow keys to set the at least those three pieces of information. This could be powered by track power if you have the pickup rollers on the boxcar that is being retrofitted with this IR capability otherwise adding a battery would not be too hard.

Here is video of it in operation:

Let me know what you all think of it.

Last edited by Ryaninspiron
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Nice job on that piece, I suspect that might be popular.

Thank you, and one could hope. This was certainly a much more expensive development process than even figuring out Lion Chief. Don't get me wrong I had a great time doing it and regret nothing already, It  really would not have been possible without that oscilloscope. From a programming perspective it was fun to play around in the realm of microseconds for timing. Interesting challenges appear when you work at those speeds. Heck my IR receiving sensor in the video you might notice is wrapped in tin foil to prevent interference from the track!

@AlanRail posted:

So Ryan  Great where do you sleep??

I promise I don't normally share the bed with an oscilloscope! but I had to pick it up from under the table where it was hiding for the video ;-)

Normally I use the computer monitor to see the output of the scope because it is connected to the internet and I can do that. Between all my hobbies I'm lucky I have room for me in my room!

To answer your question though: easy, you don't sleep when working on a project like this!

Last edited by Ryaninspiron
@BillYo414 posted:

This such a cool project! Really gets my imagination spinning on what could be done with this kind of thing.

Thank you I'm glad to hear it. I felt similarly. Part of what drove me to work so hard on this was that I would love to have all my locomotives automatically slow down on entering a yard, (the sensor tracks will make this possible). and to have them stop automatically before they hit any buffer-stops at the end. Let me know what you have in mind and I can probably put it into a demo video.

Next thing I do when I get home today is that I want to see if the sensor track is sending commands that my LC Gateway board can see.(Details on that project here) It would be pretty cool to have a LionChief loco do automatic grade crossing horns! If it works that will be my next video. Along with my latest efforts to make a neat package/bundle out of that LC Gateway board of mine. Anyway I don't think anyone at Lionel could have imagined that LionChief would ever be getting automated by the sensor track system.

My current plan to power this new (un-named) IR project board will be to use some old postwar power pickups trucks.(wish me luck on that)

Last edited by Ryaninspiron

I just tested it out with my LC Gateway board and had great results using the infrared sensor track with LionChief!

I had a hunch this was going to be fine but it's still fun to see two of my projects working together to give a better experience with otherwise out of the box hardware.

This was all done without modifications to any Lionel hardware. Although I would like to make the the IR transmitter board small enough to fit inside a LionChief or TMCC locomotive. For now it rides in a box car behind the loco.

As a reminder my LC Gateway is the part that is bridging the legacy system to LionChief. I didn't really mention it in the video.

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