Author Topic: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller  (Read 3671 times)

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dcutting

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #45 on: July 26, 2020, 01:41:39 AM »
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Well, the board was originally about 60x60mm (2.36in). I've had to grow it, first to 70x70mm and now 80x80mm (3.14in). The added size has allowed more short circuit/multiple block protections to be added.

So this would essentially turn it into a DCC "power pack", so you could run a DCC equipped engine with just the Firebox (and the throttle expansion) plugged into the layout with no USB connection, no wifi, no smartphone, nothing else?   Depending on how compact this is,
that could be really handy as a bench-top test station for testing and working on engines (which is where I'm going with this)

I've thought more about this - I'm just one guy and I have to pick and choose where my development effort goes. If I create a custom throttle, it will probably be a handheld one connecting over WiFi.

David

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #46 on: July 27, 2020, 05:57:57 PM »
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Well, the board was originally about 60x60mm (2.36in). I've had to grow it, first to 70x70mm and now 80x80mm (3.14in). The added size has allowed more short circuit/multiple block protections to be added.

I've thought more about this - I'm just one guy and I have to pick and choose where my development effort goes. If I create a custom throttle, it will probably be a handheld one connecting over WiFi.

David

David,
I was thinking the same thing.
Making a throttle puts you in competition with the big guns.

But if there were a way that this Firebox could be controlled with an iPhone, that's all I would want.

Ron Bearden
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"All get what they want-- not all like what they get."  Aslan the Lion in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis.

thomasjmdavis

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #47 on: July 27, 2020, 06:21:30 PM »
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Ron and David,
Forgive me for sticking my nose in, but (just to make sure I understand correctly), since this is a JMRI based system, any of the various iPhone and Android throttle apps will be able to operate through the JMRI interface.  Correct?
Tom D.

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #48 on: July 28, 2020, 12:32:05 AM »
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Ron and David,
Forgive me for sticking my nose in, but (just to make sure I understand correctly), since this is a JMRI based system, any of the various iPhone and Android throttle apps will be able to operate through the JMRI interface.  Correct?

I  was a little curious about this myself.   I think maybe the differentiation is having the ability to use the throttles without an independent JMRI host. (i.e. a PC running Windows or Linux).  That's my guess anyway.

From the Firebox page: "In software news, the DCC++ EX team and I have been working on WiThrottle capability directly between FireBox and your phone. We anticipate having a working beta soon, and by the time boards are shipped we'll have the feature stable."   

This part of the update got my attention as I intend to use one as a perma-mount for a small layout I'm building.   It will be mounted underneath so that I can move the layout (say, to take to a show) and not have to tote a lot of gear.   Literally a power supply, a laptop, and a phone to control the layout.  I carry the latter two with me almost 100% of the time anyway being in IT.   So the idea was really compelling.  And now--if I can do it without the laptop--even better.  If not, It still is an amazing deal for a piece of hardware that I expect will perform nicely for what I want.
Doug

reinhardtjh

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #49 on: July 28, 2020, 10:32:25 AM »
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Ron and David,
Forgive me for sticking my nose in, but (just to make sure I understand correctly), since this is a JMRI based system, any of the various iPhone and Android throttle apps will be able to operate through the JMRI interface.  Correct?

I'll stick my nose in...

Yes.  DCC++ is known to JMRI as an interface like Digitrax's LocoNet, NCE's Cab Bus, etc so that JMRI can use Firebox just like any other command station.  This means that if you have a WiFi set up it will work just the same.  In addition,as Doug mentioned, David working on adding code to the Firebox system to have it be able to talk the WiThrottle protocol and go direct from WiThrottle or Engine Driver without JMRI if so desired.  This portion is a work in progress so it may end up being a later update.


David has been chatting with the folks on the OpenLCB mail list ( https://groups.io/g/openlcb ) about the Firebox for LCC support so at some point if you're into LCC this will probably work for it also.  Or you can hack the code whenever it's final and David posts it. 

John H. Reinhardt
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wcfn100

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #50 on: July 28, 2020, 11:53:15 PM »
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Will there be a way to hardwire this to a Rapberry Pi?

Jason

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #51 on: July 29, 2020, 12:28:16 AM »
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Will there be a way to hardwire this to a Rapberry Pi?

Jason

Yes.  Anything that has a USB port.
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wcfn100

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #52 on: July 29, 2020, 12:41:59 AM »
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Yes.  Anything that has a USB port.

I guess I was thinking more about a serial port connection.

Jason

reinhardtjh

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #53 on: July 29, 2020, 10:12:45 AM »
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I guess I was thinking more about a serial port connection.

Jason

Yes.  Anything that has a USB port.

Will there be a way to hardwire this to a Rapberry Pi?

Jason

David will have to answer that.  The FireBox has a USB-C port so theoretically a USB to serial adapter might work if the FireBox firmware can handle it. I would suspect not though.

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wcfn100

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #54 on: July 29, 2020, 11:20:18 PM »
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David will have to answer that.  The FireBox has a USB-C port so theoretically a USB to serial adapter might work if the FireBox firmware can handle it. I would suspect not though.

The Raspberry Pi has a serial connection apart from the USB ports.

Jason

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #55 on: July 30, 2020, 03:18:57 AM »
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The Raspberry Pi has a serial connection apart from the USB ports.

Jason

True.  The console port on the GPIO connector.  David would have to say if he has created the pins for serial access on the FireBox.  I know the firmware will be user customizable if you want but I don't know if that's through the USB port or some serial/JTAG port on the MCU (a MicroChip SAMC21 ARM Cortex-M0+ processor).
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dcutting

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #56 on: July 31, 2020, 02:27:04 PM »
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Will there be a way to hardwire this to a Raspberry Pi?

Technically, yes you could do that through the expansion header, but that won't be officially supported. I imagine it would take a few lines of code to set up the serial port on the FireBox side. The problem is that there's no good way to update the firmware because there's no access to the Reset pin on the expansion header. Technically if you press the reset button just at the right time, it will work. Like I said though, that isn't going to be officially supported.

The FireBox has a USB-C port


*USB micro B port

I know the firmware will be user customizable if you want but I don't know if that's through the USB port or some serial/JTAG port on the MCU (a MicroChip SAMC21 ARM Cortex-M0+ processor).

The bootloader will run on the USB serial port and possibly also on the expansion header pins if there's demand for that. That's the main way of updating firmware. If you have access to a JTAG SWD device, such as an Atmel ICE ($60+) there is also a programming header for that. Firmware for the ESP32 will (if all goes to plan) be update-able from the USB port, using OTA upgrades, or over its own JTAG header with the much more affordably priced ($12) ESP-PROG device

railnerd

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #57 on: August 01, 2020, 10:35:48 PM »
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If you have access to a JTAG SWD device, such as an Atmel ICE ($60+) there is also a programming header for that.

David, check this out:  https://flirc.tv/more/flirc-jeff-probe-bmp-jtag-black-magic-probe

dcutting

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Re: FireBox: A Tiny DCC Train Controller
« Reply #58 on: August 01, 2020, 10:38:51 PM »
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David, check this out:  https://flirc.tv/more/flirc-jeff-probe-bmp-jtag-black-magic-probe

Cool stuff! If anyone gets one let me know how it works!