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Congratulations! You have decided to add next level automation to your layout using Lew’s Duino Gear layout control products. But where does one begin?

The purpose of this guide is to help you get started and plan your Layout Control System installation.

Whether you are retrofitting an existing layout or building a new one, the planning steps are the same:

  1. Determine your power requirements and create a Layout Control Bus to meet your power needs. Larger layouts should be divided into power districts.
  2. Divide your layout plan into functional zones and determine what resources you’ll need in each zone.
  3. Plan Client Node and peripheral device placement.
  4. Assign an address to each node.

Components #

The basic building block for layout control is the Layout Control Node (LCN), a hardware assembly with LCOS firmware preloaded, plus an nRF24L01+ radio and connectors for peripheral devices. LCNs come in two firmware versions: the MASTER, and the CLIENT. Every layout requires one MASTER to run the network and (if you wish) support a primary control panel. CLIENTS are installed around the layout to do the actual work of running layout devices.

Standard LCOS Node

As you develop your plan, you’ll locate CLIENTS so that each one manages a portion of the layout exclusively. Each Client will need one or more peripheral devices to provide ports for controlling layout objects. The three types of peripherals and the ports they supply are:

  • PCA9685 PWM Drivers: PWM ports for servos and other devices.
  • Digital Input duinoNode: digital input ports to support buttons, switches and digital sensors.
  • Digital Output duinoNodes: digital output port to support lighting (including signals) and relays.
  • Block Occupancy detection sensors and interface hubs.

It is usually best to have some idea where your ports peripherals will have to go before deciding where the Client Node should be installed.

Step 1: Determine Layout Power Requirements #

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Count your turnouts, signals, lighting and other powered layout objects and calculate the maximum draw in amps if everything is on at the same time. Add at least 20% to that number, and that will give you minimum required capacity for the power supply you will need. On a large layout, power loss over distance is a real problem, so consider creating power districts each with its own power supply.

Functional Zones >

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