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Model train automation

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  • Member since
    October 2002
  • From: City of Québec,Canada
  • 1,258 posts
Model train automation
Posted by Jacktal on Saturday, September 20, 2003 7:31 PM
I'm actually planning the construction of my next layout and am stocking different items for this purpose.On this layout I'd like to have one or two trains that could run controlled by some automated system so that they would create a live surrounding effect while I operate another train or more.

One idea I have in mind is a passenger train that would show up,cross the layout and then disappear to a hidden section of track,take a 5-6 minutes pause to reappear again to stop at the station.Then after a few minutes,it would restart to disappear again for another length of time,thus simulating a scheduled duty cycle.Can this be done?I believe so with DCC and a computer.

I will use DCC(probably NCE's,I like the handheld)with the necessary sensors and hardware and I already have a 486 that's sitting on a shelf,awaiting such duty.I believe it is powerful enough to handle such duty but my problem is finding a software that can do this kind of control and still be compatible with this computer,which I admit is a little out of its era,although it is still working fine.

Since space doesn't allow me to have a big layout,I don't need all the options available on more recent train control softwares like generating waybills,car inventory and the likes.Some sort of programmable automated throttle control software that would respond to positioning sensors would be great.Does this exist?Do I need a more powerful PC?I'd love to know.Thanks.
  • Member since
    October 2002
  • From: City of Québec,Canada
  • 1,258 posts
Model train automation
Posted by Jacktal on Saturday, September 20, 2003 7:31 PM
I'm actually planning the construction of my next layout and am stocking different items for this purpose.On this layout I'd like to have one or two trains that could run controlled by some automated system so that they would create a live surrounding effect while I operate another train or more.

One idea I have in mind is a passenger train that would show up,cross the layout and then disappear to a hidden section of track,take a 5-6 minutes pause to reappear again to stop at the station.Then after a few minutes,it would restart to disappear again for another length of time,thus simulating a scheduled duty cycle.Can this be done?I believe so with DCC and a computer.

I will use DCC(probably NCE's,I like the handheld)with the necessary sensors and hardware and I already have a 486 that's sitting on a shelf,awaiting such duty.I believe it is powerful enough to handle such duty but my problem is finding a software that can do this kind of control and still be compatible with this computer,which I admit is a little out of its era,although it is still working fine.

Since space doesn't allow me to have a big layout,I don't need all the options available on more recent train control softwares like generating waybills,car inventory and the likes.Some sort of programmable automated throttle control software that would respond to positioning sensors would be great.Does this exist?Do I need a more powerful PC?I'd love to know.Thanks.
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: US
  • 725 posts
Posted by Puckdropper on Saturday, September 20, 2003 8:03 PM
There was a program called "CA train" that may be able to help. It may not be the most stable, but it does allow for computer control.
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: US
  • 725 posts
Posted by Puckdropper on Saturday, September 20, 2003 8:03 PM
There was a program called "CA train" that may be able to help. It may not be the most stable, but it does allow for computer control.
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: US
  • 725 posts
Posted by Puckdropper on Saturday, September 20, 2003 8:13 PM
When in doubt... Google it!!!
Dos is perfect for a 486! That's plenty of processing power. (Especially when you consider a 486 w/ 32 MB of RAM can run Windows 95 USABLY)

http://www.track2.com/pa/misc.dcc.computer.shtml
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: US
  • 725 posts
Posted by Puckdropper on Saturday, September 20, 2003 8:13 PM
When in doubt... Google it!!!
Dos is perfect for a 486! That's plenty of processing power. (Especially when you consider a 486 w/ 32 MB of RAM can run Windows 95 USABLY)

http://www.track2.com/pa/misc.dcc.computer.shtml
  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Upstate
  • 47 posts
Posted by Bennekers on Sunday, September 21, 2003 5:38 AM
I doubt if you can do it with DCC. To have full control you would need Analog and Digital Input/Output cards. Those cards you would have to plug in your PC. Then you would have to write software in e.g. Basic (depends on the card) to send commands for speed etc. to the cards.
Another solution is hardware wise with timers and relays. You could activate a relay when a train is detected which in turn would start a timer. I used this approach to start and stop trains for signals. No PC needed. Current detectors are available for setting signals from e.g. ISS and Dallee electronics.
dutchtrain
  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Upstate
  • 47 posts
Posted by Bennekers on Sunday, September 21, 2003 5:38 AM
I doubt if you can do it with DCC. To have full control you would need Analog and Digital Input/Output cards. Those cards you would have to plug in your PC. Then you would have to write software in e.g. Basic (depends on the card) to send commands for speed etc. to the cards.
Another solution is hardware wise with timers and relays. You could activate a relay when a train is detected which in turn would start a timer. I used this approach to start and stop trains for signals. No PC needed. Current detectors are available for setting signals from e.g. ISS and Dallee electronics.
dutchtrain
  • Member since
    October 2002
  • From: City of Québec,Canada
  • 1,258 posts
Posted by Jacktal on Monday, September 22, 2003 10:42 PM
I like Bennekers idea...it hadn't crossed my mind.I could have a dedicated passenger train track that would be DC powered.I can handle timers and relays quite easily but would have to learn how current detectors work.The only sad point to this is that I was wishing to keep the "momentum" for more realistic operation.I guess a computer can do this but since I'm no computer wizard,I'll settle with the on/off action and compensate by running a slower train.

This way I could have the live surrounding effect I want and still operate on other tracks with DCC.Even more,I could switch this track to DCC also if the current detectors installed for DC operation allow me.I'll have to investigate this option.It certainly would be a good programming track also.

At my work(automotive),I handle DC all the time and also have a fair understanding of how DCC works while computer programming stops me dead.I can do a lot the electro-mechanical way,so I guess this is the way I'll go.Thanks for the input.
  • Member since
    October 2002
  • From: City of Québec,Canada
  • 1,258 posts
Posted by Jacktal on Monday, September 22, 2003 10:42 PM
I like Bennekers idea...it hadn't crossed my mind.I could have a dedicated passenger train track that would be DC powered.I can handle timers and relays quite easily but would have to learn how current detectors work.The only sad point to this is that I was wishing to keep the "momentum" for more realistic operation.I guess a computer can do this but since I'm no computer wizard,I'll settle with the on/off action and compensate by running a slower train.

This way I could have the live surrounding effect I want and still operate on other tracks with DCC.Even more,I could switch this track to DCC also if the current detectors installed for DC operation allow me.I'll have to investigate this option.It certainly would be a good programming track also.

At my work(automotive),I handle DC all the time and also have a fair understanding of how DCC works while computer programming stops me dead.I can do a lot the electro-mechanical way,so I guess this is the way I'll go.Thanks for the input.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 4:41 PM
Go to this link http://www.cti-electronics.com/ you will find everything you need for your project with at starter kit for $100.00 They have a manual you can download that makes for fascinating reading.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 4:41 PM
Go to this link http://www.cti-electronics.com/ you will find everything you need for your project with at starter kit for $100.00 They have a manual you can download that makes for fascinating reading.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 7:24 PM
Some great new products are coming on line. Frist, a easy to use and install signal system for use with DC or DCC model railroads. Second, a Centralized Trafic Control called CTC the Easy Way both are stand alone (no computer needed). Want more, then add our block Throttleand detection unit the result will be automated control, or mixed manual and automatic control. Take a peek at www.clearblockahead,com or just type CTC the Easy Way into your browser
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 7:24 PM
Some great new products are coming on line. Frist, a easy to use and install signal system for use with DC or DCC model railroads. Second, a Centralized Trafic Control called CTC the Easy Way both are stand alone (no computer needed). Want more, then add our block Throttleand detection unit the result will be automated control, or mixed manual and automatic control. Take a peek at www.clearblockahead,com or just type CTC the Easy Way into your browser
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 25, 2003 5:07 PM
CTC the Easy Way URL was incorrectlystated above with a comma. The URL should be www.clearblockahead.com
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 25, 2003 5:07 PM
CTC the Easy Way URL was incorrectlystated above with a comma. The URL should be www.clearblockahead.com

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