From my phenomenally-limited and biased research, it seems that I may have one of the few active and functional integrations of Iowa Scaled Engineering’s ProtoThrottle with CVP’s EasyDCC system. Recently I received an email asking if I could detail my setup on The Hills Line.
First and foremost, my CVP/ProtoThrottle arrangement is like a fine German automobile. When it’s running, it runs like a dream. But there are a lot of moving parts.
At the head of the line is the throttle itself and receiver. I have the ESU/JMRI/Digitrax version to connect to WiThrottle. The receiver is visibly mounted next to the EasyDCC Command Station so I can easily monitor the indicator lights and, if necessary, access the SD card for system changes and software updates.
The ISE receiver sends a WiFi signal to an old MacMini running JMRI with WiThrottle. The same computer runs my custom car-forwarding software system. If there is a weak link in my chain it’s here due to the age of the machine. However the Mac continues to run without issue.
The computer, as well as the ISE receiver (through its integrated HDMI output), are connected to a television monitor placed under the layout. This is not a required piece of the system, but comes in handy to troubleshoot and debug the system as needed. Being able to have the TV on in the basement while working on the layout is a bonus as well.
The Mac is connected to the EasyDCC Command Station by way of a custom built serial cable along with a Keyspan USB-to-Serial adapter. CVP offers the cable for sale on their website, however the instruction manual details what’s needed to make the cable yourself. The one I built 15 years ago is still going strong.
To summarize, the setup is:
ISE JMRI Receiver
Mac running JMRI with WiThrottle
Serial Adapted Cable
EasyDCC Command Station
Despite the rather long chain of devices, I’ve not noticed any lag between pressing a button on the throttle and having the locomotive respond to the command. Yes, I’m running one throttle with one locomotive instead of multiple-unit lashups, but even then I doubt there would be any delay.
Were I starting fresh today I would probably lean towards a different DCC system, just to simplify the signal path. However, I was already fully amortized with my EasyDCC investment and am happy with their product. Besides, I would still want to run JMRI for its DecoderPro program, so I’d still have the same amount of electronic devices in the basement.
Complexity aside, I’m enjoying driving the ProtoThrottle on The Hills Line.
Full Disclosure: I do have a personal relationship with Scott, Michael, and Nathan, the creators of Iowa Scaled Engineering’s ProtoThrottle. Since we’re all fans of the Iowa Interstate Railroad, that relationship predates the development and release of the ProtoThrottle.