JMRI computer setup question

Pastor John Sep 3, 2021

  1. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    I am intending to dabble in JMRI. Toward that end, I am repurposing an old Windows XP 32 bit Dell computer and have, so far, installed Linux Mint as the new OS. Next, I intend to install JMRI. That said, my DCC throttle is a Digitrax Zephyr DCS50.

    What do you recommend as the appropriate interface between the computer and the Digitrax throttle?

    I do not have a layout at this time but hope to, for now, connect to a test track for DCC locomotive programming.

    Is the LocoBuffer-USB Digitrax LocoNet to USB Interface the missing piece? Does the LocoBuffer-NG (Next Generation) Digitrax LocoNet to USB type-A Interface unit accomplish the same thing (for less money)? I'm not sure I understand what the difference is between these two.

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  2. purple1

    purple1 TrainBoard Member

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    Pastor John, I think what you are looking for is a Digitrax PR3, PR3 Extra or the newer PR4. I have a PR3 and it works perfect with an old laptop running JMRI. I also picked up a wireless router from a Goodwill store and use the Engine Driver app on my phone for the wireless throttle. With my setup I can program trains (decoders), use the computer as a throttle, use the wifi throttle feature and much more. Here is a picture of my setup. What you don't see in this picture is the laptop and wireless router on top. 20190410_194844.jpg

    I never tried the RR-CirKits Locobuffer-NG so maybe someone else with knowledge of that will chime in.
     
  3. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Locobuffer-USB will work too as I have used it in the past with WinXP laptops. Don't know about Locobugger-NG.
     
  4. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The RR-CirKits LocoBuffer products work great. Haven't tried the NG yet, but expect it to work just as well. The Digitrax PR3/4 are overkill for a simple connection, but are great products for their expanded purposes.
     
  5. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks everyone. I just wanted some reassurance that I was looking at the right stuff before I dinged my credit card.

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  6. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    Now I'm looking at prices. Digitrax PR4 is about $20 more than Locobuffer. I'm fine paying more if it saves me from buying.ire stuff later, but if Locobuffer has the same capabilities, then cheaper is better. Are there significant differences?

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  7. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The LocoBuffer products simply allow USB to LocoNet connection for programs such as JMRI. The PR4 also allows one to program Digitrax sound decoders. Unless you are going to get into that, then no need to spend the extra. Also, the PR4 needs external power, the LocoBuffer works on USB power.
     
  8. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks. My primary intent for this computer/test track is to set up new DCC chip installations. Although I don't yet have any, it isn't hard to imagine that I will eventually want to program sound decoders as well. That makes the decision clearer. Again, thanks.

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  9. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Note, for sound, each brand is proprietary sound programming. The PR4 doesn’t work to program sounds into ESU or Zimo decoders, you need their programmers. Soundtraxx sounds are factory loaded only. JMRI is my preferred method, on any brand, for CV programming,
     
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  10. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    Oof. That's good to know and may point me back towards the cheaper option. Particularly since I currently lean towards TCS decoders. Hmmm.

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  11. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

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    You can program sound decoders without the PR4, it's just used to write new sound files on it. Digitrax and ESU support uploadable sound files, the ESU equivalent is the LokProgrammer.

    You can program the CVs with any JMRI DecoderPro interface, only uploading new software requires the manufacturer-specific device. I use a SPROG, and I suspect the LocoBuffer will work fine for you unless you also want to make custom Digitrax sound files.
     
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  12. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    That helps too. Thanks.



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  13. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    I placed an order with RR-Cirkits and am having a discussion ((via email) with them about the technical differences between two options, particularly pertaining to the availability of Linux drivers for each product. I expect to complete the order soon, but I must say that so far, their customer service is fantastic.
     
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  14. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    USPS says that my package has made it from North Carolina to Ohio and is now only 30 miles or so away in Akron (the next big city) as of yesterday so it should make it here today or tomorrow. I'm guessing that they'll get it to our local post office today but I won't see delivery until tomorrow. In any case, once it's delivered, I plan to say a little more about it.
     
  15. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    My interface was delivered today and it was packed very well with no damage. It was wrapped in bubble wrap, then placed in a USPS priority mail box, which in turn was placed ina priority mail envelope. Also included were a pair of business cards and a really nice small screwdriver that will be perfect for the small set screws on my Zephyr DCC controller.

    All in all, I have to say that buying from rr-cirkits was a great experience. Everyone was helpful, pleasant, and knowledgeable. After I emailed my order, they emailed back asking if I was aware of another option that was at least $10 cheaper.

    I had technical questions about that option so Imy message was forwarded to the president and product designer. He replied in short order with answers to all my questions and so my payment was refunded, and I resent the new amount (because PayPal made it too difficult to send a partial refund). My order shipped that same day.

    I am in no way associated with this vendor other than being a very happy customer. I could not have asked.for a more positive purchasing experience.

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