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When will the DCC companies get it?

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Posted by ereimer on Friday, April 4, 2008 11:40 PM

just imagine , your steam engine pulls onto the service track under the coaling tower and a magnet under the engine throws a reed switch turning the recharger on for your batteries . a minute later you've got enough of a charge to run around the layout a couple of times untill it's time to take on coal or water again . if you forget to stop and fill up you run out of power out on the mainline , just like you would if you ran out of coal or let the water level get to low . now you need a helper engine to come out and get you , and the dispatcher isn't going to be too pleased

 

sounds like fun to me .

you diesel folks can substitute appropriate refuelling stations . you'll also need bigger batteries so you don't need to stop as often Smile [:)] 

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Saturday, April 5, 2008 12:59 AM

Paul,

No more or less than current radio control. Putting in additional receivers here or there is going to be a lot less problem than wiring and programming block occupancy.

You can eliminate a lot of issues by programming your track plan into your computer.

Any system will have problems and workarounds. The plus side for battery/radio control is very high. Better sound; less maintenance; better control; more realism.

 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Saturday, April 5, 2008 7:14 AM

SpaceMouse:

Throughout my life, I have often been an early adopter of new technology.  You know, one of those people who pays way too much for something because it is new and not yet mass produced.  I bought my first computer in the 70s, I had my television sound going through my high fidelity sound system long before anyone had heard of "home theater".  I even had quadraphonic. How many people in here even remember that early attempt to go beyond stereo?  I was one of the first professional photographers in Charlotte to change from film to digital.

But I am still not convinced that radio is the technology of the future in model railroading.  Radio direction finding is complicated, imprecise, and expensive.  At this point in time, radio direction and range finding requires triangulation, thus multiple base transmitters.  Every item to be controlled will require at least a receiver, some will require tranceivers.  Each of those requires a power source.  (more batteries?)  Optical or magnetic block detectors and signal systems add more complexity. Then you need to address security of the signal so that your neighbor cannot interfere with your ability to control your trains.  The frequencies available for unlicensed public use are crowded.

I'm sure a few people will eventually adopt it, but I have serious doubts that it will ever be common.

While I can see some advantages, It looks from my perspective like the problems to be overcome outweigh the advantages.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Saturday, April 5, 2008 8:36 AM

I won't argue about the quality of radio direction finders, but if you have one, and the track plan, you have triangulation.

Block detection, and be found with the same one transmitter and the track plan, assuming it is accurate.  

I figure WiFi is safe, but garage door openers are another story. I've never known anyone to have problems with radio control on a layout. I suppose it is possible.

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by richg1998 on Saturday, April 5, 2008 8:53 AM

This can easily be turned around. Most model train users have no idea on how to run a company.

Some people just like to be heard ranting.

 

Rich 

If you ever fall over in public, pick yourself up and say “sorry it’s been a while since I inhabited a body.” And just walk away.

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Posted by Paul3 on Saturday, April 5, 2008 10:08 AM

ereimer,
Um, that's not happening.  If you run out of juice on the mainline, you aren't going to be putting a "rescue" engine on the train to get you to the nearest engine facility...unless you want to drag it the whole way.  Since most model railroad locos have worm drives, they can't be towed without power.

Sorry, but the only way to "rescue" a battery powered loco with a worm drive is to pick it up and carry it to a recharging station.  This sounds like anti-fun to me.

SpaceMouse,
I don't think you have any idea of the accuracy required for a "GPS" set-up for a layout to indicate block detection.  Tracks in HO scale can be as little as 1.75" apart.  And in N scale, it's much less.  In order to get two trains past each other on double track, this "GPS" system would have to be able to safely track each loco with a variance less than an N-scale NMRA Gauge is large.

Also, it has to be able to penetrate all kinds of obstacles...otherwise one would have to have at least two receivers for every location that would be covered for triangulation.

Next point is...what about expansion and contraction of the layout?  How badly will that effect the "GPS" sensors?  I know one person who can't put a bridge down across his aisle in the winter...but in the summer he can.  If the layout expands that much, will this "GPS" be able to compensate...or will you have to be constantly reprogramming your layout?

As for the "GPS" plusses and minuses:
How is sound going to be any better than DCC?
How are you going to have better control than DCC?
How is this more realistic than DCC?

I grant you it'd be less maintenance because you wouldn't have to clean track.  However, the downside is that you'd run out of battery power constantly provided anyone can invent a battery with enough voltage and amperage that lasts long enough that can fit in an HO or N scale loco.

Sorry, SpaceMouse, but this kind of "pie-in-the-sky" idea is what anti-DCC'ers use as a constant excuse: "I'm not buying DCC because something will come along in 5 years (or 10, or 15) that will be better and DCC will be abandoned!"  Hooey.  DCC has been around for 20 years and is an NMRA Standard...it's not about to be replaced any time soon.

Paul A. Cutler III
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Posted by grayfox1119 on Saturday, April 5, 2008 1:56 PM
Powerful, small batteries that would be suitable for MRR are not that far away. The advantages would FAR outweigh the problems associated with block detection/train location/direction etc. And even this problem is very solvable.
Dick If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got!! Learn from the mistakes of others, trust me........you can't live long enough to make all the mistakes yourself, I tried !! Picture album at :http://www.railimages.com/gallery/dickjubinville Picture album at:http://community.webshots.com/user/dickj19 local weather www.weatherlink.com/user/grayfox1119
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Posted by Paul3 on Sunday, April 6, 2008 11:22 AM

grayfox1119,
Wake me up when it gets here.

Paul A. Cutler III
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Posted by aluesch on Sunday, April 6, 2008 7:24 PM
 SpaceMouse wrote:

....It might be nice for instance to be able to send a train to staging and let the computer exchange it with the next train, park it, and record its location so that you can contnue ops without managing the offstage exchange.

For over 15 years we have been doing a lot more than what you ask for here, with ZIMO hardware and STP software.

Not only can you have full layout automation as with most other "large" DCC systems, which includes occupancy indication and loco number identification but also location dependent function control (i.e. have a loco blast the horn automatically at specific layout locations, automatically uncouple from a train, which includes unloading the couplers first etc.). Naturally you can reserve certain sidings for specific engines or group of similar engines for automated hidden staging etc.

A common argument against computer controlled layouts is that you are no longer the engineer and are forced to sit on the side watching trains go by. Nothing could be further from the truth, at least when compared to a ZIMO system!

This system has some unique features that will never force you to just watch trains, unless you want to. On the contrary, because of these features the system becomes a truly interactive system even when under computer control:
One of these unique features is the ZIMO "signal controlled speed influence" (a.k.a. HLU method). With this feature, the computer can never increase an engine's speed (this is important!), only decrease it. This has the advantage that while the computer operates your layout you can still have direct control of any number of trains. Since the computer cannot increase the engine's speed you can still be the engineer and operate your train with your cab according to the speed limits indicated by signals. The computer will set the routes and signals for you while you control the train. However, if you do not slow down or stop the train as directed by the signals the computer will do it for you; CTC with an effective collision avoidance system.

Now, if that is still not what you consider "playing the engineer" you can simply override the computer. For this reason, the ZIMO cab has a "MN" button for manual engine control. When this button is activated for the active loco address on your cab, that engine will ignore all commands coming from the computer and obeys your cab only. This works with consists and any number of trains, not just one! The other trains on your layout remain under computer control. With the "MN" button engaged you can drive past "red" signals at any speed and cause a crash, if that is what you want to do. While this could indicate an engineer "sleeping at the wheel", it is however a very useful feature. Consider a train that has been guided automatically into a station and now sits in a stop section, signal on "red". You want to remove some cars from the train with a switcher engine. Problem is, once you drive with the switcher into the stop section it will also come to a stop due to the stop command applied to this section, making it impossible to reach the end of the train to remove the cars. By simply pressing the "MN" key on the cab you can drive in and out of the stop section without any other changes on the layout or computer (i.e. switching the main signal to "green" first and back to "red" when finished with shunting).
There is also no need to first let the computer know that you want to control an engine manually.
There is no need either to enter engine numbers in the computer. The system reads out engine numbers as soon as you place the engine on the track and displays it in the correct location on the screen.

Regards,

Art
ZIMO Agency of North America

http://www.mrsonline.net/

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Posted by fwright on Sunday, April 6, 2008 8:45 PM

Art

Thanks for posting some of the Zimo capabilities.  I don't really know much about the system because so few (at least forum posters) seem to own Zimo and report their experiences.  Zimo tends to get forgotten in all the Digitrax and NCE discussions.

Fred W 

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Posted by Texas Zepher on Sunday, April 6, 2008 10:37 PM

 fwright wrote:
Zimo tends to get forgotten in all the ... discussions.
Not so much forgotten but people not willing to talk about what they don't know.  I've mentioned Zimo in my "lists" of systems but no comments for it because I don't have any first hand or hands on experience.  Since I already own 4 other systems I'm not likely to purchase yet another just to learn and post about.  Now on the other hand, if a vendor wants to provide some people demo units for in exchange for exposure experience and reviews it could change all that.  I mean that is how MS got windows started, what was it?  Something like 100,000 free copies with development tool kits on the kick off of 3.0 just to get it started.

 

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Posted by Texas Zepher on Sunday, April 6, 2008 10:57 PM

Although this has become a discussion about battery powered and wireless that really has nothing to do directly with DCC.   The wonder of DCC over other command control signals was that the signal IS the power.  Other command control systems had a separate power and control signal.  That caused problems.  So if there is battery power on-board, then there is no need to transmit the power through the rail, then there are much more efficient protocols for transmitting wireless digital signals.  Also the public wireless spectrum is going to get reall crowded in the next few years.  Everything wireless is going to have to spend most of its time filtering signals from other devices.  Wireless model railroading might have to purchase their own spectrum.

To the DCC topic, no one has pointed out that DCC research came to a grinding halt for what, almost 4 years, due to the MTH law suites.   I know that Soundtraxx was working on (maybe now has again) a system that tracked the trains and transmitted sound to the appropriate located speakers to follow the trains.   People who are are forgiving of MTH overlook this major impact of their frivolous legal shenanigans.  Who knows what cool projects totally lost traction, or were totally shelved and/or forgotten because of that?

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