Add a DCC decoder into a Roco BR 290

20160325_140711BR 290 model with the number V90 051 and code Roco 43666. The locomotive was produced in two versions, with and without DSS (meaning it’s ready for DCC but comes without a decoder). Mine is the one without the plug so I’m stuck with it’s original board. Note that this locomotive does not have much space to add decoders, the only solution is to use the cabin!

Because ESU LokPilot did not fit in the cabin I used a Romanian decoder made by TOM. Equally reliable but more little! Testing decoder to see how it fits in the cabin:

20160325_123159 20160325_123211 20160325_123241

It fits nicely so here is the complete tutorial on how to install it. Read more

Smart Block Occupancy Detection – part 1

The locomotive runs on a simple oval track with only one switch (only the external oval is used for this test) using optical sensors and distributed logic. There is no centralized controller or app, every sensors has the capability of choosing its state and acts accordingly.

The sensors are connected to a RGB led that indicates their current state:

Green = Free
Magenta = Pending
Blue = Detection

The sensors are plug & play; they don’t need any configuration and the distributed algorithm can handle any track arrangement automatically.

LDH 1250 3D printed: issues, challenges and workarounds

12764394_1054681837903931_988484404193013583_oWhen I designed the LDH 1250 I used the correct plans but I did not respect any scale. I just draw on the plans. Everything was fine in 3D and the details where great, unfortunately before printing I had to scale down my model. This posed some issues I didn’t thing trough.

Some details were lost due to scaling; when scaling, meters becomes millimeters and millimeters becomes microns. Remember that any printer has a minimum resolution, usually somewhere between 0.2 and 0.4 microns. I my case, the details in the order of millimeters scaled down to less than 0.2. So they simply vanished from the model, even though they were showing in the Cura printing application. So be ready to lose them or just make them bigger than they really are.

Another problem I’ve encountered was that the walls were too thin. So I had to add supports to them or make them thicker.

Here is the link to the previous part: LDH 1250 in FreeCAD

Eaglemoss passenger cars review and modifications

DSC_0482The Eaglemoss’s “Trenuletul electric” (en: Electric train) magazine just came out here in Romania andĀ its first number comes with an extremely cheap 1:87 (HO) passenger car. The train is a Chinese toy and it has its pros and cons but price per quality is great.

It runs smooth on the straight tracks but the wheels do not respect the NMRA standard for the HO scale. They are a little too short so the car gets thrown on the switches or by the counter-tracks. Some extra load doesn’t do the trick, the wheels must be changed :(

The worse is that is misses the decals but this can be also a good thing: I’ve designed and printed some. Below are 3 cars: one original (at the bottom), a second class and a first class that I made decals for.

DSC_0495Here is how I did it: Read more

Bring order to Atmel Studio

AtmelStudio_DependUponAtmel Studio (6.2 in my case) can easily overflow the Solution Explorer with lots of file names and this makes it hard for me to keep track of every change or manage header files. Luckily Atmel Studio is based on Microsoft’s Visual Studio, and there is a simple workaround for grouping one or more files under a parent one.

I usually group the code files (.c or .cpp) under the header files (.h) so I can easily check the function definitions rather than look inside the code. The image above shows how the Atmel Studio arranges the files and how I arrange them after the simple hack.

To do this I simply edit the project file (.cppproj), here is how to do it:

Read more

The force awakens – script mistakes

maxresdefault[1]Yes I am a fan of the films and yes this film is not very good, but there’s a script mistake I can’t get over. It’s the BB-8 meeting with R2-D2. I must warn you that this is a kind of a spoiler.


BB-8 is the drone of Poe Dameron, THE best pilot of the resistance, they ride together in the X-Wing, so BB-8 should be accustomed with the high ranking members (including Leia, C-3PO) and others at the central commandment center. Yet, only when it discovers R2-D2 under a blanket it is told that R2-D2 has gone in low power mode since forever (or after Luke’s departure). You really want me to believe that? Why nobody seems to know the little drone at the command center?

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