Hardcore DIY DCC

At a Glance

The Io:duino is designed for DIY model railroading, combining the power of NMRAnet and open-source tools. Fully Arduino-compatible, Io:duino makes it easy to design your own digital controls, for layout automation, lighting effects, even controlling your trains via DC or DCC.*

Even better, Io:duino’s built-in Controller Area Network (CAN) support makes it a great tool for hacking your automobile, or for home automation.**

Io:duino is built around the Atmel AT90CAN128 processor, whose 128KB of program space, 4KB of SRAM, and 4KB of EEPROM are just the icing on the cake. This processor has built-in hardware support for the CAN and NMRAnet networking protocols, without sacrificing any of the digital I/O pins.

Arduino compatibility means you have immediate access to hundreds of add-ons called shields, empowering you start building without any additional tools. And it’s easy to write and upload your own custom software over USB.

Like all Railstars products, Io:duino includes a No-Questions-Asked 3-Year Warranty!

*Requires additional hardware, such as a digital power station like RAILbooster, or a motor shield like Ardumotor, not included.

**Requires cable adapter and additional software libraries, not included.

Arduino is all the rage among electronics hobbyists, roboticists, and DIY hardware hackers. Io:duino brings these awesome tools to your model railroad.

The Hardware

  • Full shield compatibility with the new Arduino Uno means infinite extensibility: You have instant access to hundreds of hardware add-ons to extend Io:duino’s functionality, including
    • MP3 players
    • wireless internet connections
    • motor controllers
    • relay controllers
    • and hundreds more
  • Built-in NMRAnet support means capability to tap into the power of NMRAnet networking, yet without sacrificing any of the Arduino digital I/O pins.
  • Plenty of space to stretch out: The on-board AT90CAN128 microprocessor offers 128KB of program space, 4KB of SRAM, and 4KB of EEPROM.

The Software

  • Compatible with Arduino IDE makes writing and uploading your own firmware dead easy. No additional hardware is needed, just a computer and a USB cable.
  • Full software support for NMRAnet is provided through the well-tested OpenLCB libraries.
  • Build your own decoder or command station using the MRRwA or the CmdrArduino libraries.
It’s never been easier to design your own digital layout control components. With its built-in NMRAnet support, Io:duino is the perfect foundation for whatever your imagination can conjure:

  • Elaborate layout automation
  • Special lighting or sound FX
  • Build your own throttle or digital command station
  • Control your DC trains with high-precision PWM
  • Connect your layout to the Internet of Things

And, because NMRAnet is built on top of Controller Area Network, the data bus standard used in most automobiles and industrial automation systems, Io:duino is perfect for hacking your car or building a home automation system.


Useful Arduino libraries:



What is NMRAnet?

NMRAnet—NMRA Standard 9.7—is a new layout control bus (LCB) that is designed to be open and forward-looking. A layout control bus is a common way for your layout control elements to talk to each other: hand-held cabs, turnout controllers, fascia panels, and so forth. NMRAnet is designed to be freely available to all, to ensure that all manufacturer’s products that use it will interoperate, and is designed to be forward-looking, so that it isn’t tethered to yesterday’s technologies, but can grow as other aspects of the hobby advance. You can read more about NMRAnet, and the OpenLCB project upon which it is based.


  1. John Novak says:

    I notice that you chose 1206 form factor SMD resistors and capacitors for this board, and was wondering if this was a choice based upon component ratings or simply preference WRT physical size

    • D.E. Goodman-Wilson says:

      Did I? If so, it was to facilitate hand-soldering of the boards, as I assemble them all myself. I am pretty sure the latest design uses 0805, and if I do another rev, I will move to 0603, which I am trying to standardize on.

  2. Andy says:

    I had lo:duino and rail booster on hand. How to connect to layout ? Please provide the schematic of lo:duino connect to railbooster and the layout.


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