Created by VPEB (Van PERLO Electronica & Besturenstechniek) , the Dinamo MCC Car System offers an alternative approach to vehicle control for model railroads.
Unfortunately in most cases, cars have no lights, graze around corners at incredible speed without blinkers and brake in such a way that the virtual passengers are launched from their seats. This can be done better!
Dinamo/MCC is a system to control speed, lights and other functions of model cars in a very realistic way. With Dinamo/MCC every car is equipped with an addressable decoder. The decoder controls motor, lights and other functions of the car. The cars are under full command of a PC, which receives position-feedbacks from the road and uses that information to guide the cars.
How it works
Steering the cars is done indentically to the “standard” solution: with FCS by a steel-wire in the road-surface which is followed by a small magnet in the car’s steering mechanism. In stead of steel wire, one can also use magnetic strip in the road surface.
Since cars have (rubber) tires, there is no electrical contact between road and car. This has two consequences: The car needs to take it’s own “fuel”, usually being a rechargable battery. Also there is no way to communicate with the car through “wires”, so communication has to be wireless.
A transmission system is added to the road. It’s just below the surface and thus invisible. The system is very easy and cheap to make yourself: it consists of a set of copper wires along the road. You can route two small gutters, lay the wires and use a filler to finish it. Or if the road surface is very thin you can stick the wires just under the surface.
The signal transmitted by the road is not limited to one place, it is generated on the entire length of the road, so it can be received anytime and an any place over the road-surface. Since Dinamo/MCC does not work with infrared it is insusceptible to infrared interference such as unfiltered sunlight or remote controls and it is not influenced by limited lines of sight.
The road is also fitted with detectors. If placed in the right spot reed switches are triggered by the steering magnet so the central control system “knows” where the cars are at every moment in time.
For digital control only two additional components are needed in every car: the MCC decoder and a receiver coil. The decoder provides all necessary functions for digital control. It is small enough to fit in a H0 passenger car and N-scale trucks an buses.
- Addressable by 4095 different addresses
- Integrated cruise control with a PID regulator, this enables the car to drive slowly.
- Smooth acceleration and braking with multiple profiles
- Controlling head-lights, blinkers, brakes and tail lights
- Emergency stop if the decoder looses the control signals
- Sleep mode to save power when the system is switched off, the cars wake up when a signal is received again
- Battery monitoring
- Extensive software configuration, no need for a separate programming track
- In total 9 outputs for functions of which 7 freely configurable
- Configurable 4 channel sequencer for self-designed light-effects
- Works on a battery voltage of 0,9V .. 4,1V
The central unit
Except the decoders in the cars you need something to generate the signals to be transmitted by the road, to read the feedbacks that register the movements of the cars and to control traffic lights and turnouts. To achieve this there are roughly two possibilities:
The first one is primarily intended for home use.The UCCI single board controller takes care of communication with a PC, generates signals for the transmission loops in the road, reads position feedbacks and controls OC32 units to drive traffic lights and turnouts. The capacity is sufficient for a mid-size layout. You can control about 40 meters of road length and 64 cars simultaneous. Thos setup looks as follows:
The second possibility is to use the Dinamo RM-U central control unit. This unit can control up to 16 UCCI slave controllers, together able to drive about 650 meters of road. This setup is intended for cases when the layout is too large for a single UCCI or in cases when you want to control both cars and trains from a single control system. To be clear: If you intend to contrl cars and trains from a single system, beware that your software is also able to do this.
The Dinamo 3.1 specification is public available and can be used by anyone to develop software to control a DInamo or Dinamo/MCC system. If UCCI is used as a central controller, this module communicates by the regular Dinamo 3.1 protocol, al be it with limited functionality (cars only).
The following software is compatible with Dinamo and Dinamo/MCC
Rocrail is an open source program with an active group of developers. It is primary used to control model railroads. Rocrail also supports multiple digital model train systems and is available on Windows and Linux.
Koploper is a model railroad control program with an almost infinite number of possibilities. Although not Open Source it’s available at no charge to the hobbyist. Unfortunately for non-Dutch speakers, its only available in Dutch.
iTrain already works with Dinamo and at the moment control of cars by means of Dinamo/MCC is added. This functions is expected to be available from the beginning of 2013
Getting started with Dinamo/MCC
Have you become enthousiastic by the above, the next question is what you need to start with Dinamo/MCC. The starting point is a layout with cars similar to the Faller Car System principle. If you want to know moere about how to make the road and maybe how to build these cars yourself from scratch, the website 1op87 may be a good start.
In addition you need:
- One UCCI controller with a stable power supply providing 7,5..9V/2A
- Optionally one or more OC32 modules for traffic lights and turnouts
- Possibly an extra power supply (12..15V/1A) for turnouts or traffic lights
- Per car an MCC decoder with a receiving coil
- Reed switches as sensors in the road
- A hand full of 1n4148 diodes or a couple of SWDEC boards to connect the reed switches to UCCI.
- Copper wire, some connectors, flat cable and some basic construction materials
- Cars working like the Faller Car System and a track to run them
- Some amount of guts and considerable amount of spare time. Keep in mind that you will have to modify your (Faller) Cars. You will have to connect the decoder, rewire the motor and remove or disconnect the onboard reed switch. Adding head lights, blinkers and breaking lights really finishes a car. However, this (probably) means that the warranty on the car is gone. Building the small 0603 LED’s on the cars is a time consuming and precise job.
- A PC with serial or USB interface on Windows or Linux
The UCCI controller and MCCdec decoders are offered as a starter-kit. Of course you can also order the individual parts separately, as a start or as extension in a later stage. Pricing information can be found in here or in our webshop
Generic parts, like cables, wire, plugs, mounting-hardware and power supplies can be purchased easily at your local electronics parts supply shop. Also you can order many items at our partner MCC ModelCarParts
Digital cars ready-built
Digitizing your cars, or even building them from scratch, is fun and challenging. Should you feel insecure or are you looking for an easy start, you can also buy digital cars ready for use, e.g. from our partner MCC ModelCarParts. Note that most cars are hand-made, so they’re not very cheap.
Documentation on Dinamo/MCC can be found in our support section
Information regarding digitizing and building cars and realizing your street-layout may be found at 1op87
If you want to see Dinamo/MCC live, watch the exhibitions where you can meet us regularly. Announcements can be found in the news section and our homepage.
Also Dinamo/MCC is used by Miniworld Rotterdam under the brand “Roadz”. You can visit this indoor attraction 5 days per week per week (during holidays even 7 days per week). At Miniworld Rotterdam, Dinamo/MCC is controlled by Koploper from PaHaSoft.
Modules can be purchased from: http://www.dcctrainautomation.co.uk/mccdinamocarsystem.html