When I started with making my own model railroad, I was making decision about control all pieces of my model railroad. I selected digital control DCC. First I studied lot of about DCC and then I was looking for in e-shops DCC components. When I saw prices for this components and functions, then I decided, that I will make own DCC command station named Train Control Station.
Selection of Microcontroller
Selection of a microcontroller wasn’t easy. I worked with lot of microcontrolles in my life and I was selecting from these. First selection was Atmel AtMega32, which I had at home. It wasn’t bad, but I need something with more power for more complex command station.
The next microcontroller was more poweful i.MX6SX from Freescale (now NXP). This microcontroller have two ARM cores and it is possible use with Linux or Android and real-time application too. This solution sounds good, because it will be better for controlling from touch screen and more comfortable showing trains on display. But this microcontroller is too expensive and developer board too. If I ever change my selection I want use the best developer board UDOO (http://www.udoo.org/).
The winner between microcontroller is Kinetis K64F from NXP, too. This have only one ARM core, but it is enough for command station. For develop I used FREEDOM board (FRDM-K64F). This microcontroller isn’t too expensive and it have lot of peripheral.
Communication and control
Now question: “How can I control command station?” I was lookig for on the internet, what is the best controller, I found lot of articles about mechanical wheel for control speed of train. I want use it too, but I decided, that my DCC command station will be able to connect lot of commercial controllers.
Unfortunately I haven’t got any commercial controller and I decided make own controller with own protocol. This protocol it can be used via computer LAN (WiFi), bluetooth or cable. Control for commercial controllers is in plan.
I’m using mobile phone (smartphone) for controlling my command station now. I wrote Android application for my protocol. For more information about this application I’m preparing article.
For testing I connected DCC signal from my DCC command station to PIKO DIGI 2. Then I connected from my smartphone to DCC command station and control trains. More details are on pictures and videos under the article.
Key features of TCS
(red members are in plan)
- Control train (locomotive) with address 1 – 127 (direction, speedm lights, functions)
- Control DCC accessories
- Add and remove trains in command station
- Memory for trains + storing to SD card
- Memory for accessories + storing to SD card
- Categories for trains and accessories
- Search command station in local network and show the address
- Connect lot of users with TCS protocol (now with more smartphones)
- Check for controlling trains by more than one user
- Control lot of trains from one device
- Increase address range
- Storing photos of trains to SD card
- Control via MultiMaus and other commercial controllers
- Communication with commercial command stations
- Comfortable and easy control
- Use crypto for TCS protocol
- Add and remove train only administrator
- Protocol for receiving data from trains and whole railroad
- Statistics – for example distance
Next version will add this features:
- Show map of whole railroad model and control from it
- Detection trains positions and show it
- Detection of turnouts state and show it
- Make train way (all turnouts and signals set right for train)
- Automatic train control
- Collision detection of trains
- Show video from cameras
If you have any ideas, please contact me.
Finally, I would like tell, that I still working on this command station and I will add more functions. Now, I say the question: “Can I sell this command station?” Maybe, I will make survey about it and about price. On the end of article are photos and videos of control software.
If you like this project and you want donate it, you can do it on the right side on this web (Donation). You can donate via PayPal or credit card in Czech currency (Kč), dollar ($) or euro (€). If you want donate anything else for this project, you can Contact me.
Photos are sorted by time from older to newest.
Videos are sorted by time from newest to older.
Video of controlling london model house by my own TCS command station. It can control brightness of each LED by this command station.