WiFi Throttles & USB

Why fit a USB charger to your layout?
PLUS   WiFi THROTTLES – using old iPhones!

  • perhaps there is no reason at all!
  • or it can be handy for charging a lot of “devices” these days – phones; tablets; pads; cameras etc.
  • or in my case it has a specific purpose – to charge my WiFi throttles.

I have become a convert to using mobile phones as throttles. I first tried Android phones but lately I have become convinced that old iPhone 4s models are the go!

This post is supposed to be about USB chargers so here we go:
A bit disappointing I suppose. But on the right is a little 2 port USB outlet powered by the 12V DC bus which runs around my layout. It is a something I picked up from a marine supplier. On the shelf there are also 3 very old iPhone 4S mobile phones and my old Android phone which has … “carked it!”

The iPhones are ancient in the modern world of devices and each phone above  was donated by friends and family who had them stuck away in drawers and cupboards. They have the old 30 pin connector and nothing uses them these days. I did my research first and discovered that I could buy the USB to 30 pin cable for peanuts on the web. Get this:
On eBay of course and the cost? ……. $5 for 5 complete cables including postage!!
If you don’t believe me look at the eBay site. Back to the phones.

You need to get them to Erase All Content and Settings. This can done by:

iPhone:

  1. Going to Settings and tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
  2. Then remove the SIM card as it has no use in a Throttle.
  3. Or best of all – look at the explanation on this site.

Android:    Look at the explanation on this site.

THROTTLES: you need to load an app into the phones:

Wi Throttle Lite on the iPhone
or
Engine Driver on the Android

(this will still be possible via WiFi using your App Store or Play Store.

This is what they look like when running on the device:

 

iPhone 4SWi Throttle Lite – this is what the “Address” screen looks like.

It is showing the Roster obtained from JMRI Decoder Pro which must be running in the layout room. The phone connects to this by WiFi and displays several screens. This the one shown as “Address” (lower middle).

I have scrolled down the list and selected 4201 then “Set” that selection. Next I will select Throttle circled in RED.

 

 

The next Throttle screen looks like this:

The selected loco is shown with a green background.

The throttle is a slider on the right.

Direction can be predicted by the arrow pointer at “Idle”

The BEST BENEFIT – you don’t have to remember F numbers and what they do!
The Functions are in text on the buttons (albeit abbreviated) and you can put them where you like.

The next screen is revealed by a swipe left and shows more Functions. As below.

 

This is the second page of Functions.

You can have more if you like on another screen!

To be quite honest, I now rarely use the command station throttles on my NCE system.

It’s a shame they haven’t come out with a similar screen to allow multiple plain English (or any language) buttons.

 

Android Option called Engine Driver.

Once WiFi has been established, this is the next screen.

When you press “Select” a Roster list appears and you select the loco.

 

As below:

 

 

 

 

 

This screen lists the locos in the roster obtained by WiFi from JMRI.

 

Touch the loco to select it.

 

Previous locos are retained in a “Recent” list for convenience.

 

 

 

 

 

The loco is now selected and the window shows the loco number, directions with the current selection in green.

This throttle is a horizontal slider.

Both throttles have a few options in preferences.

Speed steps shown at top right.

The Plain language buttons are a feature and there is room for plenty of them .

 

 

I have only lightly covered the interface between JMRI and Wi throttles. Perhaps another blog post??  (if there is any interest)

Regards – Rick

Layout Lighting – using LEDs

The photos above typify what my layout looked like in the past. There were small pockets of light and large gloomy areas.

My plan has always been to use LED lighting above the entire running surface of the layout. This has been achieved with low cost products available on-line or locally.

The first step was to build a lighting pelmet above the layout with the front surface directly above the fascia board around the layout. This was attached to the walls (or window and door architraves) as shown below:

Clearly this is a corner section above the room entry door.
Here you can see what the sectional profile looks like at a later stage when all the sections were painted The pelmet face is down. and the reinforcing rib is up.

The complete surface which will be facing the walls has been painted gloss white for maximum light reflection. Back to the preliminary fitting:

This is the only corner which requires fitting to a wall. To facilitate this I have attached a mounting plate to the wall spanning a bit more than the distance between two (steel) studs. The right angle joins have been made using pieces of slotted gal. angle from Bunnings (Metal Mate Galvanised Heavy Duty Slotted Steel Angle  38mm x 38mm x 1.8mm angle  x 900 long …$11 AU June 2018)
I used timber (hoop pine) which I had on hand to a finished size of 170 x 17mm but those dimensions aren’t critical.

The LED self adhesive LED strips were obtained on-line from Oatley Electronics at Ettalong Beach : Check the Website
I purchased 4 x (SB-5m long 24V -NW-PW) Pure white LED Strips at a total cost of $36 inc GST [so a 5m strip costs $9 excluding postage]

If you want to see the pics full size – Right Click on it & select “View Image”

OR                                                             Double Tap on an iDevice

For testing purposes I also bought  a KC24 24V/1Amp power supply but it was not up to the task when I tried it on a 4m length of LEDs. The non ventilated plastic pack couldn’t handle the load and overheated as expected. This is explained fully in the PDF Oatley makes available on their website:  PDF

Some of the strips they supply are 12v but they would not have been bright enough for my

This is the power supply but you would need to purchase a proper 24V ventilated unit to run LEDs in a room such as mine. I used 2 units rated at 5Amps – each one to power two 4m strips. They were purchased on eBay.
Here you can see a corner bracket and one end of a strip of LEDs which have a self adhesive backing.
This corner feeds power to 2 pelmets and this is one of the 5amp supplies I purchased. The other supply is fitted under the layout:
The supply to the other 2 led strips is in the diagonally opposite corner to the one mentioned above and instead of mounting the supply at the pelmet, I fed 24V DC to from the supply mounted under the layout. I had the screw terminal strip on hand, but you can buy a 2 way one from Jaycar Electronics for $3 (HM-3167).
The reinforcing rib has a top surface also and I am considering adding a blue LED strip to that side. With a dimmer to shine towards the ceiling it might provide night effect?

The end result below is the effect I am after with most of the light restricted to the layout only. There is a problem visible here …

In the corner above, I should NOT have taken the LED strip right through to the wall near the blind as I am getting a doubling-up effect with a super bright pool of light. The LED strip can be cut at 100mm intervals as shown below:
You can see that it is marked 24V and the bottom side is marked “-” for negative, just below the DC24V. These strips can be cut with scissors but only at a line marked across the strip of copper. Because the LEDs are wired in parallel the supply voltage to the SMD (Surface Mount Device) LEDs reaches each one. The SMD resistors are already in place. How good are these little strips for lighting building etc. however 12V ones would probably better on a layout.

I suppose the question is DOES IT WORK?

It’s getting there. The layout surface is now well lit and you can see OK to uncouple wagons. The white ledges around the lower fascia will disappear when painted green. But – the decision to paint the pelmet flat Old English white is wrong I think. Various advisors suggested other wise …

What I was trying to achieve was something like a continuous “stage” effect. I think the pelmet should be painted Brunswick green, the same as the fascia. Here is trial run with Photoshop to see what it might look like then.

As is:   “A”

How I think it should be:(it’s a shame I took both pics with the main overhead room light on. What do you think????
Option “B”

There may be a bit more as I finish it off … Rick

Workbench Update 2018

Movable workbench  2018.

Never static, always something to be added as can be seen in the previous setup above. This configuration was temporary until the layout nears completion when the bench part will be divided into 2 sections, both of which will wheel under the layout for storage until needed (that prediction proved to be incorrect).  Storage drawers will then reside on existing shelves under the layout. Note the suitcase vacuum cleaner under the bench – perfect for servicing the table saw above.

What prompted me to recently implement the storage of the work area below the bench work was that the central work area, whilst convenient in the early construction stage, became a TOWERING MONOLITH in the room. It was becoming impossible to get around it to operate the layout.

Out with the old and in with the “new” (so to speak). Some of the gear has been attached to the rolling workbench and the magnifying lamp will lay flat and clear the layout.

The legs of the original desk were sawn off to a level where, with castors added, the whole thing would slide under the layout. Two of the castors have brakes, but I have found it unnecessary as it doesn’t move too freely.
It does fit under the layout. The work height is a little low but the chair (to the left) adjusts down to the workbench level.

A lot of the tools and equipment now reside in the green drawers to the right – I must paint the darned thing a different colour!

What is added the work bench:

This ends holds (L to R) a 12V DC power supply; the stand for the maggy lamp; a VHF CB so that I can talk to the house; and a small vice.

The other end:

This end L to R: 12V DC banana sockets; soldering iron; super sharp scalpel mounted in a small piece of PVC pipe for blade safety; a brush bottle epoxied to the shelf; & a small set of screwdrivers. On the ledge below is the battery Dremel; its charger; and 6 240V power outlets.

The little blue gadget on the side shelf at top right above is a USB powered low wattage soldering iron for delicate electronics.

Lots of trays on the top hold all the tools and bits and pieces you need within reach.

I have still got to build my “Dalek” to house all the sets of small drawers that I have. It will mount on a lazy susan turntable with the whole gadget on castors so that it too, can roll under the layout.

Thanks for looking in.