Physical throttle with control screen

prr2bnsf_sd Sep 17, 2022

  1. prr2bnsf_sd

    prr2bnsf_sd TrainBoard Member

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    I have been considering embarking down the rabbit hole of DCC-Ex and trying to make my own control-stand-like throttle for the system. I am imagining something like the protothrottle (https://www.iascaled.com/store/ProtoThrottle) with an additional touchscreen display like the one shown below. Has anyone already made something like this or have tips for making the GUI?

    [​IMG]
     
    Sumner likes this.
  2. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    hope you pursue this and post updates and I'm of no use help wise :( , sorry,

    Sumner
     
  3. prr2bnsf_sd

    prr2bnsf_sd TrainBoard Member

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    I mocked up a GUI in nextion editor for a 7" intelligent screen. The speedometer would display speedstep information (a combination of throttle and brake input), while the throttle value displays that input specifically. The brake pressure display, unfortunately, will be static for now. The change loco button allows for the selection of the DCC address, while the consist loco button with be used to add other locos to a consist with the selected loco (writing this now, I realize I will also want a break consist button). The numeric buttons at the bottom would be used for entering loco addresses and functions F0-F9 while running. I also intend to have physical bell, horn, and headlight buttons/switches on the "control stand". The F10-F28 will lead to the second page below, where those functions can be modulated. The startup/shutdown button, while not prototypical, would directly trigger a function (i.e. F8) for engine startup/shutdown sounds.

    Please let me know any comments or other features of interest!

    upload_2022-9-18_20-13-40.png
    upload_2022-9-18_20-13-17.png
     

    Attached Files:

  4. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    I started in DCC years ago using a Sprog system and my iPhone screen was the controller. I hated not having any tactile feedback so I went NCE. Probably not relevant to this thread other than my preference of having a physical throttle control.
     
  5. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    First, thanks for taking on this project, I'll be following it with great interest.

    I can see this being a great throttle for someone that has a smaller layout. How small of a screen do you feel this could work on and still work visually? I'd be real interested if a screen size that would work with a hand throttle could be developed. I could see a handheld with maybe a 5 inch screen being viable with the throttle housing below the screen or behind it more hand friendly.

    I think the added physical controls you have in mind would be great and another advantage over a phone phone.

    Sumner
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2022
  6. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Now for the price of a Android phone you can run EngineDriver and have a physical throttle that works really well...

    [​IMG]

    .... like the one above.

    I was going NCE myself when I started mainly because I'd run one of their wireless throttles on a club layout. Since I was planning on a longer layout I wanted the ability to walk around with the throttle. Then I found DCC++ and a physical throttle that Dave had the build for. Bought the parts but didn't get it assembled when DCC++ EX came along and I found EngineDriver for my phone. Loved it but still wanted a physical throttle. Then Jimmy posted a YouTube on adding a simple volume control that plugs into the phone. With it one has the physical throttle shown above.

    You don't need to have a 3D printer to have one as shown by the ....



    .... simple wood platform one above.

    EngineDriver has so many features that a lot of the commercial throttles don't have that I'd hate to give it up now but the Nextion one in this thread offers real promise.

    More on the phone throttle ( HERE ). I will also be very interested to see where prr2bnsf_sd's throttle ends up. Might seriously consider it also.

    Sumner
     
  7. prr2bnsf_sd

    prr2bnsf_sd TrainBoard Member

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    My thought was to have a 7" screen to give enough real estate to actually read things and have the touch buttons be a usable size. This would limit the portability, but I would likely have the handheld physical throttle separated from the display, so you can at least walk around with the throttle while the display is stationary.

    I found a new template for the display with a circular speedometer, which I personally prefer. The brake pressure and amperage numbers/bars are also now functional displays which will respond to brake and throttle input, respectively.

    upload_2022-9-23_21-35-0.png
     
    sidney and Sumner like this.
  8. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Looks really interesting and appreciate the time and effort you are putting into this.

    Would the physical throttle be wireless or tethered?

    Sumner
     
  9. prr2bnsf_sd

    prr2bnsf_sd TrainBoard Member

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    I was thinking wired to start, but with a reasonably long connection cable. Something like the NCE PowerCab.
     
  10. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

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    small tablet with a knob attached some how for throttle control could be very useful .. like a volume knob ect. i could see this being implemented on a pi4-8 with a pi4-8 screen something to that affect. raspberry with a DCC++ setup of some sort.....hummmm? and wireless would be the cats mewowww or icing on the cake or diesel in the tank :D
     
  11. prr2bnsf_sd

    prr2bnsf_sd TrainBoard Member

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    So, updated plan: With the goal of having a "wireless" throttle and screen, I have switched to building the GUI as a web app which can be hosted by a raspberry pi/similar. The pi will be on the physical throttle, hosting the GUI server and sending DCC-EX commands over the command station network. Then, I am hoping a computer/tablet can be used to show the GUI screen itself and accept user input.

    I finally ordered the parts to build the command station and have a draft of the GUI code. If anyone knows where I could get my hands on a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, I could try making the physical throttle...
     
  12. Erik84750

    Erik84750 TrainBoard Member

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  13. Hugo van der Kooij

    Hugo van der Kooij New Member

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    Just thinking. Would it be feasable to make a unit that allows Xpressnet devices to connect and convert it to something over WiFi or Ethernet?

    So something like:

    Multimaus ==> Expressbus ==> MagicBox ==> JMRI

    That would not mess with DCC-EX itself and just convert physical trottles to protocol that is well understood.
     

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