Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Postby sacto-tt » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:46 pm

Is anyone using a Raspberry Pi with JRMI for programming their decoders or running their layout?

I recently purchased a RPi 3B+ and am looking at using it to program my decoders and possibly integrate it with a SPROG 3 and/or my Digitrax DCC, so I'm interested in any experiences had by others.
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Re: Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Postby ConducTTor » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:15 pm

Yup I'm doing exactly that. Raspi with JMRI and Sprog. I was having some weird power issues while running multiple trains but before I could figure them out my health declined and I haven't played with it so never got to the bottom of the problem. Other than that, it was doing exactly what I wanted/needed.


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Re: Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Postby sacto-tt » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:14 pm

Glad to see I'm not the only one. I'll post my progress as I wrestle with it.

First up, get the RPi to boot up!
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Re: Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Postby dileTTante » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:34 pm

At the show in Salt Lake City there were rumours that Sprog has a new wi-fi throttle in the works. Bill Dixon and Richard Brennan had conversations there with Sprog USA. I didn't see the unit but it is said to have a speed control knob. It will work directly with the Pi Sprog sysem. I've found no on line reference to this new product, and since Bill and Richard haven't said anything here, I won't speculate futrher about it.

However, my own difficulties with touch control throttles have prompted a look for alternatives to the smart phone throttles.

From Layouts / Track Plans / TT-Tracks February 3
Bill Dixon wrote:I had time to play with an ESU Mobile Control II throttle, the one based on an Android phone.

I was able to get the Z21 ap loaded and get it to run a locomotive. Not too painful.
The side buttons and speed knob will not work without updating the ap.

Initial impression is that it works OK but:
over engineered, over priced and the phone it is built on is a bit under powered.
Unless the Z21 ap is updated to use all the features of this throttle or I get an ESU system, I don't expect that I will buy one.
A confusing video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dz9C37Crll8) from DCC Train in Cincinnati shows the ESU Mobile Control II throttle operating with the JMRI Engine Driver Throttle app. The 'About' section on the app for Android says the ESU unit is fully supported. This includes the knob for speed control - and since it is motorized the knob moves in response to speed changes which also can be controlled by buttons on the throttle.

Myself, I can use JMRI on my laptop to control the Roco Z21 which we use for TT Tracks, but I don't see a way to do that and have the JMRI server running for the Engine Driver throttle. We thought that with wi-fi for the Pi Sprog we could plug the Pi Sprog into the sniffer bus of the Z21. With the new throttle from Sprog or the ESU controller we could have speed control knobs on our throttles. But if the entire Sprog system is cheap enough, and if it has enough power, then it could replace the Z21. Sprog also make a small unit to send commands to any booster, and we use a booster on the TT Tracks layout.

A possible advantage in using the Pi Sprog and Engine driver throttles is that the locomotive roster is stored in a central file, so putting a roster on each throttle isn't needed as it is with the Z21 app.

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Re: Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Postby Bill Dixon » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:32 pm

dileTTante wrote:At the show in Salt Lake City there were rumours that Sprog has a new wi-fi throttle in the works. Bill Dixon and Richard Brennan had conversations there with Sprog USA. I didn't see the unit but it is said to have a speed control knob. It will work directly with the Pi Sprog system. I've found no on line reference to this new product, and since Bill and Richard haven't said anything here, I won't speculate further about it.
. . .

- Terry C

I talked about this throttle in my TT-Tracks posting of Mon Jul 22, 2019 3:59 am.
The bottom line is that it works nicely with the Z21 with a Digitrax LNWI Interface, which I have.
You can try the throttle out at the BCSME setup in a few short weeks.
Looking forward to fish and chips at least one night.
Regards
Bill Dixon
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Re: Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Postby ConducTTor » Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:17 pm

I use WiThrottle for control of JMRI. Honestly I'd prefer a real dial/knob but it's not that big of a deal.


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Re: Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Postby sacto-tt » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:10 pm

So, I got Raspbian installed on the SD Card for the RPi and booted it up.
Bleah! As a RHEL user, I'm really hating Raspbian and the lame window manager.

Installed the JMRI software and after some wrangling I got it working. Even though I have a SPROG DCC which is capable of running a small layout, my intent is to interface the RPi with my Digitrax DCC eventually.

I also am not enamored with the speed (or lack thereof) of the SD Card and the partitioning on it.

Maybe I'm just a spoiled desktop/laptop user.

Things to look into:
1. Running something other than Raspbian.
2. Using a HD vice SD Card, maybe an SSD if I can get it to work.
3. Streamline decoder programming.

As usual, any advice, known pitfalls, etc. greatly appreciated.
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Re: Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Postby dileTTante » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:14 pm

Without raspberry pi experience perhaps my comments won't be worthwhile but trying to be helpful --

SD cards differ in speed, I know this from simply loading movies on them to share. The faster cards are more expensive, of course.

This page compares systems for raspberry pi. https://www.electromaker.io/blog/article/12-best-linux-operating-systems-for-the-raspberry-pi CentOS works and is based on Red Hat so may be more to your taste. I suppose the Sprog people had their reasons for choosing Debian.

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Re: Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Postby sacto-tt » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:52 am

Thanks Terry. I checked it out and downloaded an image to burn. If I can get CentOS running on the SD card, then I'll move on to trying a hard disk.
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Re: Using a Raspberry Pi with JMRI on the layout

Postby sacto-tt » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:55 pm

After some busy work stuff, I started back on my RPi. I managed to get CentOS 7 running on the SD Card, but it is pretty slow. CentOS is a huge memory hog as well, so I've been scaling back all the worthless processes that it loads/starts.

I now have a working version of CentOS, but the default configuration only allows for a / partition. I prefer a more enterprise look with separate /, /tmp, /var, /home, etc. partitions.

I picked up a 500GB SSD the other day, so that is my next part of the project.
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