Category Archives: DCC

Decoder choices

When it comes to DCC, the options are almost unlimited. This is especially true of decoders, the electronics that live in locomotives and control the motor(s), lights, and other functions. You can find simple large scale decoders for under $50, or full-featured ones for over $200. Some have more functions, some sounds, some have features like special lighting effects or control of a fan-driven smoke generator. Obviously, those that have more features cost more…
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I’m now set up to run my trains using JMRI. It’s a cool Java-based interface that allows you to send commands to a DCC command station (like my NCE setup) to control trains. All it took was a $30 Raspberry Pi computer, a $10 WiFi dongle, and a $10 USB-to-serial cable.
Here’s the (neat!) shell of the layout Pi:
Here’s the desktop:

Running the Mallet

Here’s my LGB 2085D Mallet pulling a rake of HSB coaches. Near the end of the video, you can clearly see the pulsed smoke until timing the smoke puffs to the sound card chuffs. Pretty cool

Of course, you’ll have to ignore the moon-like landscape in the background, as I’m all out of gardening funds for the moment 🙂

Working on RaspberryPi

One of my projects is to add JMRI programming (and possibly control through WiFi-enabled smartphones) to the track.


I recently built a new RaspberryPi with a serial board and am testing JMRI. It’s a little slow, but definitely usable. If I switch my RaspbianOS to headless, I think that would fix most of the lag.