It works!!!

I finished up my first mini-dcc controller/booster tonight. I mounted everything in a two-pound potato salad container. It's roughly cubicle
about 5" per side. The keypad and LCD display are mounted in the lid with the PIC board piggy backed on to that. The other circuit board is attached to the bottom of the container. Power and track wiring enter thru holes in one corner near the bottom.
It won't win any beauty awards, but it works. :-)
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Sounds great! Making something beautiful is properly done only after making something work.
Care to snap a pic or two and throw them up on the web somewhere? (Most Usenet readers, it seems, can't read binary groups.)
Puckdropper
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Puckdropper wrote:

The trouble with that way of doing it is that I never get to the make it beautiful part. In fact, it usually stays in the wires-strewn-about-and-carefully-arranged-to-prevent-shorts state as the project eventually dies on the sidelines due to my short attention span. ;-)

I'll try to get some uploaded to photobucket.com a little later. Been busy all day with no time to play. :-( I really screwed up by assuming that I could get away with a 12 key keypad instead of 16. I turned it sideways thinking that the project just used the keys as up/down/direction/light type functions and that I never actually needed to enter numbers corresponding to the labels on the key pad. I should have actually read the whole manual before making stupid assumptions.
I can still drive my engines around, but I can't actually do any real programming operations without being able to press the "missing" four keys on my prototype miniDCC project. The keypad just plugs to the PIC board so I can simply swap it out. The only real problem is that the lid of my potato-salad container is not quite large enough for a 16 key pad oriented in the standard direction, and that I've already mounted it sideways. My SO is being selfish with perfect piece of tupperware we already have. I guess I'll be buying that properly sized project box sooner than I planned. No sense in cutting that up without ordering a 16 key pad from futurlec.com ($4.95). Of course I could just run down to radioshack and pick up some outrageously priced buttons and try to wedge them onto the lid somewhere. Or I could............
thanks for reading :-)
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I know how that goes... I've still got two power strips plugged in to each other upstairs, and never got back to replace them with the one with the 6' cord. (I'm using one as an extension cord.)

Build and learn... :-)

You don't need to stick to kitchen containers. A standard corrugated cardboard box may work just fine for your prototyping needs. Granted, they're not as thin, but they're cheap.
All a button is a momentary contact switch... All a switch is is a mechanical connection between two wires... If you get impatient, you could add your four "switches" as lengths of wire that you touch together to activate the switch. Do this at your own risk, however. (You'll probably not get shocked, but you can get poked.)
Puckdropper
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