Layout Progress – DCC-EX WiFi Standalone

So far, I’m an avid fan of the DCC-EX Project and have used it for years in conjunction with JMRI on a PC, laptop, or RaspberryPi.

This week however I worked on the Test Layout again and found it too cumbersome connecting it to the JMRI PC, when I just wanted to test-run a locomotive.

The week before I had 3d printed a case for the DCC-EX Command Station, that included a neatly mounted 0.96in OLED display and a single Power output to the track with a DPDT Switch to switch between Programming Track Mode and Layout Operation Mode.

DCC-EX Command Station WiFi

However neat that case is, I couldn’t fit the WiFi inside, so right now it’s dangling about.

For now I have built two DCC-EX Command Stations. One to be used with the TestLayout or when working on Locomotives on the Workbench (there is a short piece of flex track and a rolling stand for that purpose), where I can just plug it to the test track and switch to programming mode as needed.

The other will eventually become the Command Station for the pike. This I plan to upgrade it to 5 Amps and put it into a nice case.

Optionally, I plan to add LocoNet to use my FRED Throttles with the layout. The DCC-EX project has announced to be in contact with Hans Tanner from the YouTube Channel Internet of Trains Things (IoTT), who built just that. They will possibly develop a loconet shield variant for their system.

Optionally, again, I plan to add MQTT to the layout, but that will run on a Pi, so it’s not exactly DCC-EX related but instead JMRI related.

When I get it to compile, either the TestLayout or the Workbench track might be controlled by an ESP32 based DCC-EX Command Station using the D1 R32 Board with its Arduino Uno form factor.

The setup requires a few preparations like soldering a resistor to the MCU Board, or Bending away and jumpering a few Pins, which I have complete,and it has built-in WiFi and enough „oomph“ for feature expansion.

This variant will likely be directly installed into the benchwork utilizing a dedicated PSU with two different power outlets, supporting 5 V and 12 V.

The DCC-EX completed DCC-EX Command Stations are both based on a Mega and have been tested with Android mobile devices and the EngineDriver and work great.

However, I noticed a few instabilities with WiFi, which are probably firmware related to the ESP-01s boards used. There are no issues at all using it via USB and JMRI on a PC or Pi. I’ve worked with this combo for years (starting with DCC++, when that was new).

DCC-EX in operation