So after following a few pointers, I came across the Michael Blank’s SimpleDCC site. The cool thing about this is that he is using an Arduino as a DCC control unit without something like the SPROG as in interface. He is have the Arduino itself send out the DCC signal alone with a booster to power the trains. I need to study both his interface and the programming some more, a lot more, but it really does hold out the hope that I can either use just the Raspberry Pi with an Arduino, or even just the Pi all by itself, to be a complete JMRI/DCC controller.
Guess what I really need to do too is dig some more into the JRMI code and the Linux installation. I don’t know whether it would be easer and faster to use the Arduino hooked up to the Raspberry Pi to do the translation to DCC, or whether I should have the Pi do that also. Another consideration that starts to come in is the speed of that entire process. But then again, that is what experimenting is there to find out.
My mind is turning in odd ways – thinking of using something like this connected to a Rasperry Pi (cheap small Linux computer) running JMRI and wireless. That could then be controlled remotely using VNC and also support iPhone type based throttles. I already have the Raspberry Pi that I got from Element 14 and all the other components I believe – except one. I am missing a way to convert the computer signals to DCC. There are products on the market to do that, such as the SPROG or more appropriately for me, the SPROG Nano, or I could even use an interface to my Digtrax Zephyr system, but that seems like cheating.
Plus, I want this to be as small and compact as possible. What I would really like is to be able to bundle everything together in a small box not much bigger than an entire normal DC or DCC powerpack. About twice to three times the size of the Raspberry Pi alone. So maybe 3″ x 2″ x 6″ or so? Guess that wouldn’t include the power supply I am going to have to run to it. It will need power to power up the Raspberry Pi, the USB interface, and of course the actual boost of power for the trains themselves – looking to hit about 2.5 amps.
I am going to diagram this, and my proposed case, and post it soon. [ed: and here it is!]
Yes, I was thinking about all this last night when I should have been sleeping.