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Do you use stationary decoders?

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  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: Kansas
  • 808 posts
Do you use stationary decoders?
Posted by jamnest on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 8:51 AM

I would like to hear for modelers who use stationary decoders to control turnouts.  I use ground throws on my layout, but eventually want the dispatcher to control mainline passing siding turnouts.  I do not want the operators to control these turnouts from the throttle.  I was also wondering how easy is this to do when you are running a train from the throttle?  Any other advice on this subject would be appreciated.  THANKS

Jim, Modeling the Kansas City Southern Lines in HO scale.

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 416 posts
Posted by UpNorth on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 11:10 AM

Dispatcher control means layout control via computer or some homemade CTC panel.

I'm running wih Digitrax. Turnout control is thru DS54 and the SE8C or similar that talks  Loconet.  Both can be setup to permit local control of turnouts (buttons) or dispatcher (computer) control of turnouts.  You then need something similar to JMRI PanelPro to get by-directional control of the layout for the dispatcher. That is what I implemented.

I don't understand your question regarding how easy when running from throttle.

  

 

  • Member since
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Posted by bmbob on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:16 PM

Jim,

 I use the Switchits from NCE to power my main line and hard to reach switches.  I also use JMRI's Panel Pro for my dispatcher to place control over each of these switches.  With this set up, I can either allow or disallow the engineer to do his own switching.  If they do throw the switch the panel will display the current position of the switch so the dispatcher won't get any surprises if the last operator forgets to normal a switch. 

 Since I use the NCE system, i can contol the switches via the pro-cab simply by selecting the accessory # assigned to the switch.  It will come back and tell me what the current position of the switch is, prior to my selection of either normal or reversed this works out well when the switch may not be clearly visible on approach.  I also have signals set up to give the road crew an indication of the switch position prior to approach so that they can call the dispatcher if necessary.   On the smaller hand helds, I have created macros to correspond to the switch  and its position to allow the operator to throw the switch.  

Bob A.

 

 

  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: Kansas
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Posted by jamnest on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 6:04 PM

 UpNorth wrote:
I don't understand your question regarding how easy when running from throttle.

I was wondering how operators liked or disliked controlling the turnouts from the locomotive throttle, versus a push button on a control panel or a ground throw.

I have Decoder Pro/Pannel Pro and will use it to for dispatcher control of main line sidings.

 

Jim, Modeling the Kansas City Southern Lines in HO scale.

  • Member since
    November 2002
  • From: Colorado
  • 3,990 posts
Posted by fwright on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 7:20 PM
 jamnest wrote:

 UpNorth wrote:
I don't understand your question regarding how easy when running from throttle.

I was wondering how operators liked or disliked controlling the turnouts from the locomotive throttle, versus a push button on a control panel or a ground throw.

I have Decoder Pro/Pannel Pro and will use it to for dispatcher control of main line sidings.

This is theoretical on my part; I don't have DCC.  But it seems to me that the amount of running space/time between turnouts that need to be thrown while a train is in motion would be the determining factor.  Because while you are punching buttons on the throttle for the turnout, the train is continuing to run at its last settings, but not actually under control.  You regain control when you finish throwing the turnout and return to the locomotive's address.  I don't design my layouts for much unattended train running, but there are plenty who do.  Which is why I prefer an independent control system for turnouts on my layout.  And why I prefer one throttle and one operator per train running simultaneously, whether DC or DCC.

my thoughts, your choices

Fred W 

  • Member since
    February 2008
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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 7:33 PM

I have a very small railroad at home, but I have been fooling around with stationary decoders.  I am doing this for primarily two reasons: first, I didn't really want to build a bunch of control panels, and second, I was given several obsolete multiple-output stationary decoders for free.  I think that if you have a walk-around layout, most folks would use the hand throw method for sidings (industry type), unless there was a concern with scenery damage during the reaching-in process, since there could be a cost issue.  I can see where the remotely powered mainline turnouts would be the preferred method if there is a main control panel or tower operator somewhere.

Anyhow, my limited experience with this is that it seems that there will still need to be a local "control panel" at every grouping of turnouts, even if the control panel is nothing more than a schematic of the track, showing how the turnouts are numbered.  If it is your railroad and you operate it every day, and if the number of turnouts is small, I suspect that you will remember which turnout is which.  On the other hand, if you have any guests I suspect that they will not have a clue what turnout is where without a crib sheet.

I believe that the process of throwing the turnout is quicker using the visual control panel method, rather than the "select accessory, press enter, determine if turnout is currently normal or reverse, press handset button to change turnout state" method.  There is also the added confusion that will occur when someone will have to make a determination as to which direction is "normal" in the first place (think a wye switch or a three-way switch).

The other concern that I have about using the handsets to throw the turnouts is OPERATOR ERROR.  You will always get the person who is either totally incompetent or has dyslexia and keys in the wrong turnout number, thereby not only throwing a turnout under his train, but possibly throwing it under some other poor engineer's train.  I'm sure that is great for morale.

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 8:08 PM

I throw my Katos with the Digitrax DS-64 via the Loconet. Only now Im exploring JMRI with addressing and possibly other things such as several switch throws at once. But not quite there yet.

DCC is the Super Chief DCS 200.

  • Member since
    February 2008
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Posted by UpNorth on Thursday, March 13, 2008 12:07 AM

Theory/Reality ..  You do not loose control of the Loco during turnout switching. You can still control the locos (2) while setting the turnouts with the Digitrax DT400 throttle (my case).  Hit SW, punch in the turnout number, hit C (close) or T (thrown). If you define your routes, you don't even have to punch all the turnouts, just one.  You can still slow the locos down or speed up. Only issue is turnout number identification.  You can identify the turnouts with what looks like millage posts or right on the facia. No need for a panel.

Local control is handy but adds to the wiring, logic and what not. A dispatcher panel is great but you must have a warm body present or run like a chicken back and forth when you are  alone and running trains. In this context, throttle control is handy.  

If I ever have a visiting operator or novice friend come over; he gets the throttle, I get the Dispatchers Panel. I can kill the power if things  get out of hand.    

By the way, several switch throws at once (routes) in JMRI is only availlable to the dispatcher, not to the operator (local) unless you go deeper into turnout feedback/monitoring via Loconet or similar.  

nof
  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Sweden
  • 97 posts
Posted by nof on Thursday, March 13, 2008 7:04 AM

Hi!

I'm having a small layout with 12 switches operated by 11 Tortoise controlled by Hare decoders. My Dcc is a Digitrax and the throttle is a DT-400.

The Hares are set up so I use routes. For example at the yard I have one mainline named '1' the yard tracks named '2' - '5'. the switch track is '6' and the locos fuel and service tracks are '7' and '8'. I use the throttle to set up a route from '2' to '1' by addressing switch 21 and the necessary swithes are thown or cleared. Similary the route from '5' to '6' is address 56. Because I  only run the layout myself this works great for me.

I also have JMRI PanelPro set up so I can control the switches. It looks more impressive but is more difficult to use because I need to use the mouse on the computer and need to put away the throttle.

For the time beeing I don't have any feedback from the switches to either the throttle or PanelPro, which is something I want and will implement eventually. 

Nils-Olov Modelling the tomorrow in N-scale.
  • Member since
    February 2006
  • From: Gahanna, Ohio
  • 1,987 posts
Posted by jbinkley60 on Friday, March 14, 2008 9:56 AM

I have an 11' x 12' layout and have installed 5 - DS64s.  I plan to install two more and move everything over to stationary decoders.  The DS64s allow for cascaded routes, panel switch control (if desired), Loconet feedback and will support stall or snap action turnout controls.  I've had one go bad and Digitrax promptly replaced it with no questions. 

 Here's a picture of my one control panel I built using them:

http://www.thebinks.com/trains/control_panels.html

I have a second control panel that has toggels switches.  I will be converting it soon, when time permits,

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
Visit my layout at: http://www.thebinks.com/trains/

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