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MRServo: An Introduction

Ever wanted to automate the turnouts on your layout?  Maybe you have some that are hard to reach?  Or maybe you have a hidden staging yard?  Do you model a modern CTC-controlled subdivision and want to give your dispatcher realistic control over the turnouts?  Or maybe you have a multi-deck layout and other switch machines are too bulky to sit below the upper decks?  No matter what the situation, MRServo is a cost-effective solution!

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Compost Monitor: 2014 Model

Last year, I built a Compost Monitor to get real-time feedback on the temperature of my pile.  After an initial unsuccessful attempt to build a probe, I was able to get a probe design that lasted most of the season.  However, by the end of the year, when I pulled the probe from the pile, one of the sensors had gone bad, likely due to moisture.  Therefore, this year, I set out to build a more rugged probe. Continue reading

Measuring Supply Current Accurately

The current measurement mode in most multimeters is sufficient for many applications.  However, when measuring the supply current of loads that draw current infrequently in small bursts, it becomes difficult to measure the real, average current consumption accurately due to the slow sample rate of the multimeter.  Many wireless telemetry nodes present exactly such a situation and calculating expected battery life relies on an accurate measurement.  Fortunately, physics comes to our rescue (along with a few widgets to make things easier…).

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Data Acquisition Arduino Shields

After developing several products focused on data acquisition, like the MRBW-RTS and a few currently in development like the MRB-DCCM (DCC Meter) and MRBW-DAQ (Data Acquisition node), we realized some of the ICs used in those designs would be useful on their own.  To enable rapid development with these ICs, a series of ArduinoTM shields was created allowing you to easily implement a wide variety of data acquisition applications.

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MRBFS – A Filesystem for Reality (and MRBus)

Imagine that you could talk to the physical world as easily as you can read and write files on your computer. Imagine you could read a file, and read the temperature of an experiment on your bench or of your compost pile outside. Imagine you could simply write “on” to a file, and equipment across the room (or across the house) would power up instantly.  Imagine those ideas were just the start… If I’ve got your attention, MRBFS – the MRBus Filesystem – is what you’ve been waiting for.

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Interlocking In A Box

One of the new projects we are working on is an “Interlocking In A Box” – a simple, yet flexible piece of signal logic designed to control an automatic interlocking for a diamond on a model railroad.  The idea came from one of the mail lists I’m subscribed to and we have been working on refining the definition and designing the signal logic over the past several months.  I figured now would be a good time show everyone where we are headed and maybe get some feedback.

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Why Open?

oshw-logo-100-pxMaybe you’ve noticed that funny looking gear logo on our advertisements or on our website and wondered, “What is that?”  Maybe you’ve heard of open source, and you’re wondering how a bunch of products aimed at model railroaders really fit into that.

What that logo means is that we release all of the design files necessary to produce or modify any of our products – schematics, board layouts, and source code – if you were so inclined.  Generally speaking, you’ll find the latest production version on the “Documentation” tab of any product in our store.

So, at this point, half of you are probably thinking we’re crazy, and the other half is just wondering how this benefits you, the customer…

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Updating Firmware

Many Iowa Scaled Engineering products contain firmware loaded into the onboard microcontroller.  While every effort is made to provide the latest and greatest firmware when the product is shipped, bugs are discovered (and fixed) and new enhancements are added periodically.  Fortunately, updating the firmware yourself is an easy process.  The instructions below assume a Windows operating system, but the same basic process applies to other operating systems.

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