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Old 07-11-2019, 06:48 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Annapolis, Maryland
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JMRI + DCC++ -- it worked

For many of you, this will all be old news. Recently I built the DCC++ control system which appears to work right out of the box. I just had to make sure I built the arduino code base with the right flag set for the right motor controller.

But while that works, it gives you a primitive serial line interface to sending DCC commands to the engine.

So I downloaded JMRI to try -- I was hunting for a throttle with buttons to push.

I only have 2 DCC engines but here are the results:

- my inexpensive but new to me SD70ace walther "mainline" was not found in the list of DCC sound cards by the JMRI right away. After some fiddling I got the connection made to it and I was able to use their throttle to make the thing go around, toot the horn and so on. After further inspection I realized that while the OEM DCC sound decoder works, and sounds great the particular model only supports a few F functions and the model itself only has 1 front and 1 read led.

- my other is a PIKO european diesel. I installed, actually a shop some years ago now a ESU loksound, I forget which one. At that time simply because I liked the sound we programmed it to an electric - even though it's diesel. But I found it to easy to imagine it's an electric because of its different look. Anyway this time JMRI detected the proper DCC sound card right away and presented a pretty complex set of configuration screens which was all a bit overwhelming -- so I left them alone. In this case there a lot more F-functions to fiddle with and it seemed that JMRI itself got better with each invocation of the software at knowing what the model supports -- or perhaps that was my imagination.

I also got better at the throttle. I'm used to the MTH or Lionel physical throttle -- and prefer the latter. Here there are specialized buttons -- that have a different action to them somewhat depending on function.

But the JRMI throttle is rather primitive -- still one can rename the throttle buttons which I did, and even assign icons to them (which I did not do). There may be more to do it from there -- although I suspect it impossible to get a fully custom throttle out of it...

Still for the price, one can't really complain. It worked and certainly the sounds are just as good I think as MTH certainly. (lionel "gooses" their sound with echos and all sorts of things)

Well, that's not that exciting really but it does appear to work and its fairly easy to use. Combined with DCC++ it certainly offers the hobbyist and pretty cheap but working entry point into the world of DCC.

And I look forward to using it more...

(note: using Win 10 on an old laptop)
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Old 07-11-2019, 12:24 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: NW Chicago burbs
Posts: 2,900
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I wouldn't call the connection "primitive". It can send all available commands.

Looking up the decoder is important for easy programming. Otherwise programming can be done sending correct CV values per documentation of the decoder.
For running however all you need to do is punch in the adress. Not sure what your challenge there.

JMRI throttle is full featured,not sure why you coin it as "primitive". Obviously touch the interface is not as comfortable to use as hardware control. But then nothing stops you from building an exact controller that suits you (several such projects exist and we'll documented).

Good luck. I think very very soon you will come to realize that your JMRI DCC++ setup not only usable but actually blows any commercial system completely out of the water as far as functionality.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:56 PM   #3
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Annapolis, Maryland
Posts: 448
maybe I meant something more like "non special ized". you see I have some familiarity with the nth/lionel command code. the are specific in nature. a horn command, a speed command and so on. dcc doesn't appear to like that and I didn't know it. there's common practice but not a specific command set.
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