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Model Railroad Control Systems

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I buy Assembled and Tested as Opposed to Buying Bare Boards?

We recommend buying an evaluation copy or a small number (less than 10) of boards assembled and tested. Buying a board A&T ensures that it is working and saves you the time of assembling all the parts from multiple vendors and the cost of meeting multiple minimum orders and paying multiple shipping charges.  Most of the parts we use are available in minimums of 10 or 100 and you pay a lot more for the parts in small quanities.  We use a commercial assembly house and they are much faster than you (or us), so for small numbers the assembly labor won't be a big a number.  For larger quantities, buying bare boards, or even having your own boards fabricated from our posted designs (see the Arduini Yahoo group) may make sense, say for a club project.  Having your own boards fabricated makes sense if you wish to modify our designs (design files in the Arduini files section), usually to use different connectors.  Note that we do custom design and assembly work, contact us for a quote.

What do I need to do to Configure my cpNode?

The standard Sketch for the cpNode has 8 inputs and outputs on the node itself.  If you want a different configuration you need to download the sketch and modify the sketch as shown in App Note 101: configuring your cpNode.

A cpNode can be configured in JMRI as an SMINI or USIC/SUSIC, depending upon the total number of input and output bytes.  A cpNode system is based upon 8 bit data bytes. 
For a cpNode with no IOX's, set the type to SMINI.  JMRI will allocate 3 bytes for inputs and 6 bytes for outputs.  As with any CMRI node defined in JMRI, you must have at least one sensor (input) defined for the node to be polled.  You can configure a cpNode with 16 outputs. 
If you add IOXs, it is best to configure the cpNode in JMRI as a USIC or SUSIC, with input and output cards assigned for the total number of data bytes.  The cpNode bytes are always the first two in poll and transmit messages.  IOX bytes are appended to the message after the cpNode bytes, in the order defined in the sketch.
The rule of thumb is to count the total number of input bytes  and output bytes in the cpNode hardware configuration.  If the number of input bytes is less than or equal 3 AND the number of output bytes is less than or equal to 6, the SMINI definition will fit.  For any I/O configuration greater than 3 input bytes and 6 output bytes, a USIC or SUSIC with 24 bit (3 bytes) or 32 bit (4 bytes) cards should be chosen.

What is Open Source hardware?

Open Source hardware designs are in the public domain, so anyone can use or modify the design.  We have posted the designs of most of the boards on this site on the Arduini Yahoo group.  We ask that you post the results of your design in the public domain, also to pay it forward.  By design we mean the EagleSoft CAD schematic and board files and the "gerber" CAD files so the board can be sent to a service bureau.