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JD2035RR posted:

Nice work, as usual! Put me down as a beta tester for one of the postwar conversion boards 😉 I really like that you retain the e-unit.  I would probably install the board with a switch to run conventional or via the board, like LC+ does now.

Just thinking ahead a step or two here...

Will there be a way to update your board if Lionel comes out with an app update that changes how data is sent from app/remote to engine? I’d hate to see an LC app update negate all of your progress so far. 

Thank you very much, and will do 😉. I would say it's worth the effort for me to keep it in for the cool factor too. Plus it makes adding a simple slide switch to switch to conventional mode very easy. I was definitely planning on adding the same switch to mine.

Well I certainly hope it never comes to that since I would definitely prefer working with Lionel than against. It would be a shame if things came down to helping the train community by fighting Lionel. (seams like they would be fighting their own customers in that scenario).

But to answer your question software updates will be possible in some capacity. Though I only hope I need the ability to release new features and nothing else.

Thanks, and that will be done soon. should be ready this weekend. Mostly going to be based on my LC Gateway Code.

I'm glad I got this portion of the hardware straightened out first. I had an issue where I tried using a relay to trigger the e-unit with a relay but it ended up drawing too much power from my board. So I ended up building another solid state solution from scratch. (As a bonus, the custom solution actually takes less space anyway.)

And as we can see from the video, a section of my e-unit drum is dirty so I would like to fix that too. I already tried cleaning it with alcohol once but it seems the fingers of the e-unit itself might be dirty. Maybe some super fine sandpaper can solve that.

After I get Bluetooth up and running I have to build an e-unit position detection circuit to know if the train is currently in forward, reverse, or neutral. This will be critical.

 

Question, and forgive me, I'm not familiar with electronics, software development etc.  

Would an electronic reverse board (like the ones you can get from Bachman for the Williams line) be better/easier than the old e-units?  

Casey_Jones posted:

Thanks, and that will be done soon. should be ready this weekend. Mostly going to be based on my LC Gateway Code.

I'm glad I got this portion of the hardware straightened out first. I had an issue where I tried using a relay to trigger the e-unit with a relay but it ended up drawing too much power from my board. So I ended up building another solid state solution from scratch. (As a bonus, the custom solution actually takes less space anyway.)

And as we can see from the video, a section of my e-unit drum is dirty so I would like to fix that too. I already tried cleaning it with alcohol once but it seems the fingers of the e-unit itself might be dirty. Maybe some super fine sandpaper can solve that.

After I get Bluetooth up and running I have to build an e-unit position detection circuit to know if the train is currently in forward, reverse, or neutral. This will be critical.

 

Question, and forgive me, I'm not familiar with electronics, software development etc.  

Would an electronic reverse board (like the ones you can get from Bachman for the Williams line) be better/easier than the old e-units?  

I like questions. I looked into the Bachmann board you mentioned and it appears to be a simple pair of relays and that would not work with these 3 wire pullmor motors. I am pretty sure Lionel had one at one point but I have not seen it yet. I believe I can control the pullmor with a set of 4 triacs (solid state switches basically) but again I again I have no references on that yet. I have a few ideas on how I could design a digital e-unit with the 3 wire output(not to be confused with a brushless speed controller).

Anyway I consider the original e-unit to be a bit like the engine of a classic car. The locomotive would still work if I replaced it with a modern one but it would be less interesting/fun. The original e-unit was a bit of an engineering wonder for its time and I would like to keep mine in its original function for that reason.

At some point I can design an alternative board but I would not be using that in my trains. No matter what versions I build I will be keeping a conventional running switch because what's the point of a postwar that can't run conventionally I'd say.

I had a major breakthrough today, I got the LionChief remote to send bell and horn commands to a legacy locomotive. If I didn't have to leave I could have finished getting the other functions running too!!

Work in progress video here: https://youtu.be/9tPro7mHm8A

Full control of TMCC functions is a work in progress. Legacy features might be possible after that.

@Landsteiner I know you were asking about this feature.

Ryaninspiron posted:

I like questions. I looked into the Bachmann board you mentioned and it appears to be a simple pair of relays and that would not work with these 3 wire pullmor motors. I am pretty sure Lionel had one at one point but I have not seen it yet. I believe I can control the pullmor with a set of 4 triacs (solid state switches basically) but again I again I have no references on that yet. I have a few ideas on how I could design a digital e-unit with the 3 wire output(not to be confused with a brushless speed controller).

Clearly, you can control a Pullmor motor with four triacs, Lionel has done it for many years with the LCRU and then the ACDR motor controller.   The LCRU made it's entrance around 1996, and the ACDR for modular boards around 2000.

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gunrunnerjohn posted:

Clearly, you can control a Pullmor motor with four triacs, Lionel has done it for many years with the LCRU and then the ACDR motor controller.   The LCRU made it's entrance around 1996, and the ACDR for modular boards around 2000.

Thanks, I figured as much, though without schematics I will have to figure it out. I know how to control a triac already, but I am not sure how the 4 triacs connect to the 3 motor wires yet.

The answer is literally contained on the underside of the boards you attached above.

Last edited by Ryaninspiron
Casey_Jones posted:

wow.

 

Question; did you say you would eventually be able to send Legacy Commands directly to BT equipped Legacy Trains? (ie no need for a Legacy base)

Thanks,

One could technically use my simulator (of a Cab-2) to send commands via my LC Gateway to a lionchief train.

I also plan on allowing a real Cab-2 to send commands via the legacy base and my LC Gateway to LionChief trains.

It'll be one big cross-compatibility party.

 

The only thing I couldn't do is add Bluetooth to the Legacy Cab-2 directly. 

 

Also special Legacy commands such as individually selected announcements would not work in LionChief. Even with a cab-2 remote since I can only add as many features as are possible with the LionChief remote.

Last edited by Ryaninspiron

Surprise surprise, it's a 2 for 1 update day today. I said it would be quick to add that Bluetooth control to the board I built for postwar control last week. And I already have results.

I now have LionChief control over a postwar locomotive with it's original E-Unit still in place doing its job. This is one of the most exciting updates so far for me.

https://youtu.be/KA2-Qvt5x-4

Last edited by Ryaninspiron
Landsteiner posted:

Nice going.  You've got a talent for this sort of Rube Goldberg technical wizardry .

Thank you thank you, any time a project works along side with the E-Unit it is automatically a Rube Goldberg machine . I have simply added to that machine. I'm just glad it worked out that I get to keep the E-Unit in place. My board still does not actually check the position so the forward and reverse of the LC remote control/app are more like suggestions than anything else.

I also need to start shrinking down my components, I had the cover on before adding E-Unit control, now I just need to get creative. Maybe I should try a tether to the dummy unit for sound and rear coupler control. After that I will try and sync the speed steps up with my other LC locomotives. I technically have about 1024 speed steps to work with on my custom control board. I am working on a train detector circuit that allows me to tell the scale MPH of a train based on how long it takes to cover a certain distance. I will then use those numbers to calibrate my different locos to the exact same speed. 

I still want to buy the modern LC+ Erie Alco B unit to go with my two postwar Erie Alco A units from 1954 (one powered, one dummy).

Last edited by Ryaninspiron
Casey_Jones posted:

Fantastic job, well done my good man!   Looking forward to seeing the sound and electro couplers.  

Hopefully, we will see simultaneous multi-train control on the app soon

 

Thank you, I am absolutely working on those things next. The sound(video here) and rear coupler will probably be handled through a wireless tether board though since I am absolutely running out of room in the powered unit (at least using these large though hole solder boards). Surface mount is the answer I know, but for this version 1 I should have just enough room to add electro-coupler and light controls.  In fact I am about to start testing the electro-couplers now. I finished adding the circuit for that this morning.

Adding multi train app control will actually be less technically challenging then getting two different LC locomotives to move at the exact same speed as I did already.(video here) I have a few ideas on how this can work already. Just trying to find the most convenient option.

Last edited by Ryaninspiron

Postwar LionChief Electro-coupler control is now working! See video here: https://youtu.be/2E3mnqfNdRg

When the e-unit was invented 96 years ago you can tell they didn't put much consideration into how hard it would be to manage it using Bluetooth. I wonder why. Now I have to add a few extra detection circuits just to tell the position of the e-unit.

It's certainly fun though. What doesn't help is that I have a section of my e-unit drum that has pretty bad continuity. Hopefully I can fix it.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

E-Unit rebuild kits are cheap, solves the problem of bad contacts.   They come with the contacts and drum, everything you need to make the E-Unit like-new.

Thanks, I just looked up a video on the process. I didn't realize they were so simple to open up. At first when I didn't see any screws I figured it was going to be something other than a simple press fit. Looks like I should probably attempt to clean the original up first. I already scrubbed down the drum with alcohol, but I couldn't reach the fingers. Maybe mine will be good as new if I get the fingers polished back to shiny metal again. If that fails I will certainly try one of those rebuild kits. Good to see they are not hard to find at least.

@Casey_Jones posted:

Hi Ryan,  hope you are in good health and spirits

any news/progress?   

Hi @Casey_Jones,

Sorry for the long delay and thanks for the well wishes. Same to you, hope your doing well.

I am doing well but due to some wild circumstances recently I have been literally quite far away from my workbench for the last few months. Hopefully that should be changing in the next few weeks tough. 

Here is an update from last time, a lot of my efforts were derailed(so to speak) and I got a bit of recoil from my club after using their Legacy base to try out some data reading(with a little bit of data writing). See this video for the results of that: https://youtu.be/9tPro7mHm8A All I did was plug into the serial port on the back of the Legacy base. But what I had not expected was that people can be a bit upset by that. I was basically shot down and told to get my own if I wanted to play.(Kinda thought playing with trains was the point of a train club, but anyway) I once again stuck without easy local access to a Legacy system. This really was an upset for me and my project efforts that caused me to have to rethink how I could progress. Next thing you know the virus came to town and things got complicated. (everything is alright in my immediate family). But I have had to relocate for a few months on short notice. I packed as much train stuff in a suitcase that I could to work on while away. For a few months I hadn't had any room to setup a test track, so my efforts had all been on hold and my postwar e-unit drum was also still bad. In the last two weeks, my space situation has improved and I finally got an oval of Fastrack setup. Also now that the train stores have opened up, I picked up an e-unit rebuild kit and now I'm finally rolling again (literally).

Also picked up a little K-Line speeder and shed accessory with a little turntable, it's awesome but parking the speeder on the turntable is hard. Today I think I will make a module to stop the track power as soon as it gets into position. This could have other uses too of course. I think I may even try to determine the track speeder's speed based on how long it takes to pass a sensor. Might be even more fun.

Where I left off on the postwar LC project was that I have to resolve a latency issue in my LC Gateway board that causes relayed command from the remote to have a delay after running for a while. Little bugs like that can be pretty tricky to solve. Once that is solved I need to start looking into scaling down the electronics inside the postwar loco to better fit under the shell. Things were a bit too tight for the shell after I added Electro-Coupler control. Also I need to review my circuit designs. I managed to blow out a power switching component on my board (called a triac) due to what I believe to be a EMF spike from the Electo-Coupler. My main skill is in software but I learned just enough electrical engineering in college to get me this far in the circuit design. If the component blows up again I will be stuck for a few more weeks on that.

So back on to my future plans and schedule. While my day job has been soaking up a lot of my spare time (now that I have been working remotely for the last few months), I still plan to progress my testing of the postwar LionChief code. The board I am using on the locomotive has a technical limitation that requires me to use the LC gateway to act as a bridge between the LC app/remote and my control board on the loco,(so I will need to fix the bug mentioned above) but I can assure you that it is still running the LionChief protocol. Schedule wise no matter what I should be back to my real workshop in a few more short weeks.

Aside from the postwar LC conversion board project, I also have some BIG plans for legacy base integrations. First of that would be two way LC integration, Ability to use a LC remote with the legacy base, and the ability to use the legacy base with LC locomotives. Both of which I had already started work on (first video link above) but as I mentioned above my club had stopped it. As a result I have been saving lots of pennies in the bank (this was also aided by the virus shutdown) and can now manage to get myself a Legacy Cab-2 system! I have may things in mind such as other ways of interacting with the trains by using the legacy base itself as a gateway between the locomotives and some custom interfaces.

I also have still not forgotten about LionChief Lashups, the concept of which I have already tested here: youtu.be/mYDu9uKFSws and however I will need to get a second LionChief Loco that actually has couplers (unlike my LIRR M7 set) and that is also in my future plans. Since I will probably have a Cab-2 in the near future I figure I had better get a LC 2.0 loco next. I know I am committing to this LC integration project though considering that I will be getting a Cab-2 without any TMCC or Legacy locos! I do have about 5 Fastrack switches(C&C) and will probably be picking up a SC-1 to play with too since they are cheap.(and I can add my own relays to the SC-1 if I wanted).

I cant wait to start driving a LionChief loco using the Cab-2! This is the sort of thrill I live for! Remember I had the idea for this because the folks at the train store told me you can't integrate things LionChief. I wanted to prove anything is possible.


Updates to come,

Ryan

@Casey_Jones Still doing well, still hacking away at stuff.

Here's the short version of what I am up to at the moment. 

Still need to make a user friendly interface of my LC gateway, probably doing this with a screen and buttons. I have been holding off the development of that until I finished my next/current project:

 

For the past few months I have been working on a way to decode the IR system, mostly focused on the process of adding IR sensor track capability to LionChief locos.

Warning the following gets very nerdy:

I had planned on giving an update as soon as it was done, but since you asked I will get into it now. I've been building a from scratch recreation of the (discontinued) sensor car (IR transmitter add on box car) and technically doing deep dive into the infrared position monitoring system Lionel offers via the sensor track. I bought some new tools/toys to get going and progress has been going pretty well. One short term goal I have for that is to crack/decode the Infrared signals and recreate them myself. I have already been able to pass through the infrared signal on an Arduino but now I am actually starting to generate the signal myself. The fun challenge for me is the lessons of working with pulses of light that take a few microseconds to finish. I love challenging myself and this IR system has certainly accomplished that goal. 

The following is a picture of my current mad science project setup, all centered around one upside down boxcar. It looks like the study of an alien with all the wires involved.

sensor car study

I should have an update post and video on all this soon.

A big idea I had since my last post was to allow the LC gateway board to ride in a boxcar behind the locomotive and to enable the Legacy decoding feature that I mentioned last time to be driven off an R4LC board. If nothing else though the signal is great when my board is literally towed behind the loco it is managing, I had some signal strength issues at the huge layout of my club.

 

That's what I've been up to, hope you're well too.

-Ryan

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Finally got basic Alexa voice integration to the LC Gateway project up and running. So far just switch throwing but all the TMCC features will be easy to add. (legacy a little less easy since I haven't tried that yet, I do a the SER2 module so I know it's possible). LionChief will be pretty easy too.

I added a standalone topic for this update: https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...eaker-switch-control

In the meantime though here's the video update, enjoy:

@John23 posted:

Wonder if there is a way to transmit the locomotive sound via Bluetooth to a subwoofer?  Bass is lacking on any of the loco carried speaker systems.

I would say they're absolutely is, but it's a little technical, the plan I had in mind for that was to take a line level to Bluetooth converter that compared to any bluetooth enabled speaker, including a subwoofer with a Bluetooth adapter hooked up. The tricky part is that I would need to wire up a compact audio level shifter to convert the speaker output from locomotive into a line level input for the Bluetooth module. I think a few resistors might do the trick, either that or one of those very tiny audio transformers. I could actually use some feedback on the viability of that idea. It does require attacking some new connections onto the speaker of the existing locomotive. plus finding room for the Bluetooth transmitter module. The one I found is pretty tiny.

As a first real update to this thread in a while,  I wanted to show a new video of using a LionChief remote to control TMCC locomotives. That was always one of my goals for this LC Gateway after all. The ability to use expensive trains with cheap remotes, perfect for the young ones or just the ones who don't like the big heavy remotes like the cab and are fine with just basic functions while running. Not to mention the added benefit of setting speed limits on those expensive trains for said kids.

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