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CAN-GC5 Mobile keyboard and display

The basics

can-gc5.2_pict06.jpg CAN-GC5 has exactly the same function as CAN-CAB1 as available from MERG.
This unit is a handheld like CAN-CAB1 but slightly larger.
It could also be used as a stationary unit, mounted in a switchboard.
It contains no difficult SMD parts, so it is easy to assemble.


  • Loco throttle
  • 28 functions
  • Consist support
  • Emergency stop
  • CV Programming


With a few small alterations, it is mainly a copy of the unit as published in MERG Journal of dec 2017.
The previous MERG CAB1 is a very nice handheld unit, but unfortunately for most people very hard to build your own, and no longer available from MERG.
Because of the nice handheld size, it was hardly possible to build CANCAB without the use of SMD parts.
This version is slightly larger, but still good to use for 1-hand control.
On the other hand, when you like to build several of these control units in a switchboard, there is no need to make it that small.
That is way this unit comes in.
All parts have standard size, no SMD parts are used.
Display and potmeter are all on-board. The firmware is a bit different from CANCAB1, because of universal output for various types of displays.
There is a limit of 32 controllers to be used in the same system.
The board is connected to CBUS J3 on CAN-GC3.
The complete ordered kit comes with front plate and box with pre-drilled holes in front cover.
The kit has two connectors for CBUS, one on top-side and 1 on bottom side.
It is your choice where to connect the cable.
Both connectors cannot be used at same time, like for connection to the next CAN-GC5.

User documentation

There is not yet an English manual for this board, but the operating instructions according use of keyboard are
mainly the same as

If after selecting a loco address the following message is shown on the display:
"loco taken"
The selected loco is probably in use by Rocrail.
Select Release throttle to make it available for the CAN-GC5.

The hardware


The use of various displays.

Generally we have two different 8 x 2 displays, both useable:
LCD, with background illumination, here you will need a type without contrast adjusting option (pin 3 not connected)
OLED, which only needs pin 1 to 14.
Displays with 14 pins (like OLED types), or 16 pins (like LCD with backlit panel) are possible.
Be sure NOT to mount R5 with use of OLED.!

Any questions ? ask Peter

The test set-up

Construction manual

2) First mount all:

  • resistors
  • diodes
  • capacitors (remind +/- with elco's!)
  • IC-sockets
  • resonator (postion not important , it fits both ways)
  • power regulator VR1, be sure it lies flat on board.
  • NOT YET the leds, they will come last.

3) See picture on the right hand side > > >

  • Insert the long header pins into the front side of the pcboard (do NOT solder!!!)
  • AT THE BACKSIDE insert the blue 16 pin female header, and be sure that it lies flat on the pcb.
  • Solder the blue connector, NOT the header pins!!!!)
  • Fix the display on front with 4 M2 fasteners , with the 3mm nylon spacers between board and display. (Again see picture).
  • Solder the 16 pins in front of the display. Now the display is still detachable after taking out the 4 fasteners.


  • Insert all buttons according the colour list, or just use picture on this page for reference.
  • Put the front side of box over the pcboard and fix the board with two 6 x 3mm fasteners.
  • check that all buttons are nicely equal in height and line up up, and also check that they are moving smoothly.
  • solder the buttons, and remove pcboard form boxfront.
  • insert portmeter. It fits snugly in the larger holes, but that is deliberately so. Check that it is straight up, and solder it.
  • insert both RJ22 connectors AT THE BOTTOM side of pcboard amd solder them. Be sure that they are nicely flat on board .!!
  • Insert buzzer AT THE BOTTOM of pc-baord and solder on front. Be aware not to touch any button with the solder tool!!!

5) Fixing the front plate.

  • prepare the front index plate by cutting out all holes in the paper, while doing so DO NOT REMOVE PAPER YET!
  • insert two leds in board (remind correct position!) and put board back in boxfront again. Leds remain liying too deep , but leave that for now.
  • put the back part of the box in position, and fiw it with the long M3 fasteners.
  • put the box in front of you, with keys/display visible.
  • the following job can only been done once, so it has to be right first thing!
  • After fixing this front, it is very hard to remove or move it !
  • remove the paper cover front the front panel, DO NOT TOUCH THE STICKY SIDE!! and very carefully position it straight in line with the box and lower it over the keys until it sticks to the box.
  • !!!! attention! do it right, it is not possible to correct it afterwards !

5) Fixing the pcb support.
It is preferrable to support the keyboard with an extra point in the middle.
For that, a pcb support M3 x 10 is added.
Put the M3 washer on it and screw a m3 nut to position it to the end.
Insert the support on the bottom side between S1 and S2 and fix it with the 2nd nut.

6) Fixing the leds and finish.

  • Open the backcover again, and push on the ledwires, unltil they are not too far sticking trough the front.
  • solder these leds.
  • insert two IC's and close the box again.
  • by connecting it to CAN-GC3, the display will lit and show the standard message: MERG CAB Ver x.
  • you have succeeded in putting your handheld together!
can-gca5-en.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/06 14:57 by phg