Every feature of a Servo Controller demonstrated

This video demonstrates all features as present in the SEPT-2018 software update to a Servo Controller (12 channel). Fitted as standard since the middle of August 2018 this video compliments the previous Servo Controller videos by demonstrating ALL features present in the unit.

While you wont be interested in every feature, it does demonstrate just how powerful this little servo driver board really is.

I expected a no nonsense demonstration to last about 5-6 minutes, however I seem to have lost over 30 minutes …

The video will also be available from the shop/product page as well as the video library.

 Video here.

Update – summer 2018

Its been a busy summer for us with multiple devices (Servo Controller 12, Relay Driver, MultiPanel and Feedback Module) receiving software and documentation updates. We’ve also launched a new product – the Automatic Brake Control Generator for DCC systems and there’s progress on the JMRI PC integration.

Here’s a summary of the changes over the summer 2018 period.

The software updates listed below are now fitted as standard and shipping on all products from the time you can read this post.

Documentation will be updated during the course of this week.

New products

ABC Generator

Our DCC Automatic Brake Controller is now available in single and 8 pack varieties. If you have a suitably equipped DCC chip this will control the braking of locos at various locations around your layout. Use it wherever you’d like a loco to stop as an independent device or hook it up to your signals so locos stop when danger is set and accelerate away when a clear signal is given.

Its a simple task to integrate the ABC Generator with our Block Detectors and Servo Controllers for fully automated track circuit operation. This will automatically set signals to danger and stop the next loco when the section ahead is occupied.

Extra long network and servo extension cables

We’ve added extra long 4 meter servo extension cables. These work for both servos and network extension.

Software updates

Feedback Module

Output scheduler

We’ve improved the operation of the feedback module by filtering the input to prevent panel lamp flickering if you have dirty track or intermittent pick ups. The output will average and then latch the state for up to 600 ms.

A scheduler has also been added to the network transmission improving the reliability of the network on busy systems with lots of activity. Data is transmitted according to priority.

Input invert option

The feedback module can now have all of its input logic inverted so off becomes on and vice versa.

The logic is inverted by holding the DOWN button during power on. You’ll observe an 8 second fast flashing on the LED to confirm it has been set. Holding the UP button will remove the logic inversion and is confirmed by a slow flash on the LED for 8 seconds.

MultiPanel

Output scheduler

We’ve added an output scheduler for network traffic. On busy systems with multiple MultiPanels all sharing cooperative layout control and active feedback this will ensure timely and more robust data transmission.

MultiPanels can now share any channels on the same button without conflict rather than just channels within the same byte range.

Servo Controller 12-Channel

Network address selectable without pop-on switch

The Servo Controller (12 channel version) can have its network address changed by pressing and holding either the HIGH or LOW buttons while in slave mode. This makes address selection consistent across all driver boards (Relay, Servo 4R, Solenoid, Kato/Stall) and removes the requirement for setting the first four switch positions using either a pop-on switch or custom wiring. The old method still works and is supported, however we hope you’ll find the new method easier to remember and use.

No servo cycle in slave mode

The servo cycle has been removed from network mode. This means that the servo position is remembered and immediately set when powering up the unit rather then cycling through its set range as part of the power up self testing. This means all servo positions are automatically saved after 5 seconds of servo controller inactivity.

Relay driver

Store last position

The relay positions are now stored across power cycles. This means the relays will immediately return to their last position as soon as power has been applied rather than wait for a control signal from its controlling device. This change is consistent with the Servo Controller (12 channel) change discussed above.

Update availability

Software updates for any products may be ordered through the web shop and are all priced the same. You’ll always receive the latest software when purchasing an update. Look in the Upgrades section for more details (coming soon).

Documentation Changes

ABC Generator

We’ve created a new user guide for the ABC Generator. This includes wiring examples for standalone, interlocking with signals and fully automatic track circuit operation.

Relay driver

An omission from the Relay Driver user guide was a hookup example for frogs. This has been duplicated from the Servo 4R user guide and shows frog wiring diagram and explanation.

Servo Controller (12 channel)

Updated with the new network address setup procedures and tweaks to the old network address selection table.

NOTE: The latest versions of all product documentation can be easily accessed from the product page within the online shop. Just look under the resources section of each product page.

Mimic Panels

We’ve been really busy producing great looking tactile mimic panels. Who said the summer season was quiet?

A new size of  600 mm x 220 mm has been added to our standard enclosures. Think of it as two sheets of A4 in landscape mode side by side. This is proving to be one of our more popular sizes. See the Custom mimic panels web page for all standard sizing and pricing.

The backlog has now been fully caught up and the order queue is now down to a respectable 14 working days.

Since February 2018 we’ve only made plywood enclosures (boxes) for panels. Plywood offers a lighter and stronger build with greater resilience to damp than MDF. The MDF is now only used for the mimic panel fascia backing where you attach the LEDs and buttons.

JMRI PC Integration

There’s an imminent update and video release showing a beta of the JMRI interface. The interface allows bi directional data flow into and out of JMRI allowing full layout control of a MegaPoints Controllers installation. We’ve bench tested with 192 turnout (output) and 384 feedback (input) channels. More to come on this soon …

Automatic Brake Controller (ABC) for DCC systems now available

The shop now has DCC ABC generators in stock. See the shop pages for user guide and demonstration video.

Available in single and 8 pack formats, this circuit will enable automatic braking on suitably equipped DCC locos.

Can be interlocked with signals or track circuit for fully automatic operation.

Shop link – Single pack

Shop link – Multi pack

PC Interface early software preview

This is an update on the PC interface software as it currently stands. I have yet to design the hardware and have a number of decisions regarding processor and USB support IC’s to resolve over the next few weeks. I’m attracted by a range of processors with embedded USB driver IC’s, though may go the more typical route of adding a dedicated IC.

Having written the software (you’ll see it demonstrated in the video) I’m looking for help from people who know how to integrate it with popular railway control packages, in particular JMRI.

When this is complete it will provide full layout access via a PC to read and set all turnouts and query all feedback channels.

The software has two main components, an event driven backend that responds to and reports all layout changes, such as a block becoming occupied, a point position indicator changing, or any point being changed. It also has a front end that accepts commands to both query and set the status.

This product is still under development. 

If you feel you can help and have the JAVA skills for JMRI, please get in touch with me via email (address on the website here).

Here’s the video.

Servo 4R and relay board

Servo Controller 4R – New product announcement

Servo Controller 4R

A 4 channel servo controller with integrated frog switch – available immediately via the web shop.

The Servo Controller controls up to 4 servos on your model railway layout. Its flexible design means that it can be operated by connecting toggle switches directly to the supplied cables or it can be controlled via the built in network interface. This makes remote control via DCC module, MultiPanel, MiniPanel or even another Servo Controller 4R all possible.

The Servo Controller has many different user selectable output models including normal and reversed turnout operation, upper or lower quadrant semaphore signal and includes an integrated relay module for frog or track switching. Each of the four outputs may be set independently.

All configuration is via the built in buttons and LEDs and requires only one finger to configure. No external devices are required to configure or operate this unit.

To view the introduction video see the Servo 4R product page.

 

 

 

MiniPanel Processor – New product announcement

The MiniPanel Processor is a simplified mimic panel controller for up to 12 channels and is available as a bare bones circuit board or starter kit including all LEDs, buttons, plugs and cables.

Designed for smaller layouts, the MiniPanel can control servos for points or semaphore use; traditional solenoid points motors, Tortoise type stall motors and Kato Unitrack turnouts.

See the product page for introduction and quick start videos, to download the user guide and determine which versions are available.

Available now direct from our web shop.

Optical sensors and smaller panel buttons video update

This video illustrates the design constraints we are under when creating more compact and higher detailed mimic panels and how we’ve solved this with smaller button footprints.

The second half of the video introduces inexpensive infra red detectors suitable for both analogue and digital systems and the changes we’ve made to incorporate them easily into our feedback system.

  Video link here.