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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In this thread i will be documenting my experience with model railroad computerized cotrol.

JMRI suite is running on dedicated machine mounted under the layout.
Main interface is 15" Touchscreen. Train control is accomplished with Powercab system which attaches to PC via NCE-USB module. Turnout control with feedback is accomplishe with Digitrax DS64' decoders attached to PC via PR3.
this is still work in progress. the panel is not final, there is still no block detection and i'm still learning a lot about the JMRI solution.

short video above showcases several conseps
1. flipping through several locomotive throttles.
2. switching individual turnouts via touchscreen and PC recieveng feedback when turnouts are overriden manually
3. manupulating routes. panel on the bottom is a demo panel showing 3 virtual sensors anunicating route status (green/red) and 3 virtual sensors triggering the route. 0.5 second delay is set beteen turnout actuation.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmRov5cy2mc



the panel screen itself (as shown in other thread)







"under the hood" look - component tables.

 

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Ok, that is about the coolest thing going. It is just utterly amazing how much model trains have have involved since I was a kid in the 70's. Looking forward to this series.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
well, i hope it was at least somewhat self explanatory.
i can't possibly explain the entire JMRI proccess in a minute and a half video. and frankly those that already use or learn about it have much better resources. this is just a quick preview that perhaps will entice some .

CP, if you have a specific question on your mind let me know. but regardless you definetly should try and get here. this is IMHO where the fun begins :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
now that i have block detection i can skip the virtual sensors and place actual ones on the panel. track was easy, just icons of different color. to display occupancy on turnouts however i drew my own custom turnout icons. instead of white lines these pained with transparent color. this way i can place a sensor on background and its state will show thorugh


notice occupied left-top section on upper picure and aligned crossover on bottm one


 

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Very Cool!

Hi, new to the Forums. Your interface is exactly what I kept day dreaming about, then I get side tracked :( .

I just started back up with model railroading (HO Scale DCC). I had never went as far as a loop and consisiting two trains using the computer interface (serial cable).

Right now I am using an old macbook pro, with JMRI installed and digitrax system (PR-3 for the pc interface). I have a touch screen made by HP and I am going to see if that works with the apple OS. I use my IPOD touch as the cab control (I believe that is the term)for now, so I guess that is kind of touch screen <heh>.

I was wondering what kind of switching mechanism you are using? I like the clack sound I hear when you press on the switch on the screen, which gives a nice aural feed back that the switch moved :)

For now I am just learning about my hardware and applying it to a simple oval track, soon switch control then block detection and signaling. I guess that is a logical progression :) I still have to work out the space then layout design. Will be great fun :)

For now exploring the forums and taking notes.


Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm using digitrax DS64 stationary decoders to drive Peco coil/solenoid switch machines (installed underneath the track). the clank is a by-product of using those coils. i would preffer to not have the clank but since i decided against stall motor machines i have to have it. oh well.

welcome and good luck on your project. it is lots of work but lots of fun as well
 

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i read somewhere that the NCE powercab cannot be used with JMRI to control turnouts . i am not clear on how you used the digitrax with the NCE and what is a PR3 . I am just geting back into this stuff and was thinking exactly what your doing
 

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Discussion Starter #11
well, that is obviously not true. punch in address of acc decoder on your power cab, send a command and snap! they switch, JMRI will not prevent it. of course there is a question why would you want to punch in all the numbers when it is just so much more convenient to do from JMRI panel. but it all works really fine.

Digitrax works really well with NCE i use PR3 for digitrax and NCE USB for power-cab interfacing - 2 separate connections in JMRI. bit redundant ,but they complete each-other in a way.
 

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well, that is obviously not true. punch in address of acc decoder on your power cab, send a command and snap! they switch, JMRI will not prevent it. of course there is a question why would you want to punch in all the numbers when it is just so much more convenient to do from JMRI panel. but it all works really fine.

Digitrax works really well with NCE i use PR3 for digitrax and NCE USB for power-cab interfacing - 2 separate connections in JMRI. bit redundant ,but they complete each-other in a way.
this is whats confusing me

" NCE USB Interface Limitations

The NCE USB Interface doesn't support all of the current JMRI features and functions. Some of the restrictions are based on the type of system the USB Adapter is connected to. The USB can't get information from AIUs, so they can't be used to get feedback from the layout. The turnout feedback mode MONITORING isn't available when using a USB, and the Clock functions found in tools are also not available. The USB when connected to a Power Pro system doesn't support any type of loco programming, and when connected to a SB3 only operation mode (no program track) is available for loco programming. Most functions and features that are not supported by the NCE USB Interface are disabled or grayed out in the JMRI program.

The NCE USB Interface when connected to a Power Cab or SB3 can only address accessories (turnouts) between 1 and 250. There isn't a limitation when connected to a Power Pro.

USB Adapter Limitation Summary

All systems:
No AIU support, No Turnout MONITORING, No Clock functions.
Power Cab and SB3:
Can only access accessory addresses between 1 and 250.
SB3:
No programming track support, operation mode only.
Power Pro:
No loco programming "

from jmri site ,

I presently own mrc prodigy advance but i can get my hands on a NCE power cab and usb interface at a good price . I want to make sure i can do the things you are doing before making the purchase or should i wait and get the digitrax system ..... don't meant to high jack your thread
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
no prob. :)

No AIU support, No Turnout MONITORING, No Clock functions.
Power Cab and SB3: Can only access accessory addresses between 1 and 250.

indeed NCE does not have practical hardware to provide block occupation information or turnout position back to JMRI. but is it a constrain to you? AIU? Clock functions, what are those? as you can see that constrain has 0 impact on me . limit of 250 addresses is of no concern, unless we talking huge club sized layout

"SB3: No programming track support, operation mode only."
that one is easy solution, your everyday switch (DPDT for example) - need program track? flip the switch, cut the SB3. as added bonus this will disconnect your entire layout and keep only the isolated programming track on! and then, will you be expanding with smart booster right away? i would imagine no.

IMHO NCE is a winner when racing against digitrax, and for that opinion i vouched with my wallet. it does have limiting factor - no feedback. look at what you want to do and decide if this affects you. if it does and you will want feedback it is not expensive at all to add. even with Dgtrx zephyr you will need to get a PR3 ( or the other interface)
 

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I am really leaning towards the NCE ,the price you cant beat .

Do you have the power cab or the power pro ?

Does the no feed back matter really ? how is it you are using JMRI panel and your turn outs are indicated if no feed back ?

" no feedback. look at what you want to do and decide if this affects you. if it does and you will want feedback it is not expensive at all to add. even with Dgtrx zephyr you will need to get a PR3 ( or the other interface) "
did you add feed back to your NCE ?

the program track thing im not worried about like you said a DPDT and i am all good
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Power-cab here. i have a small garage layout, no need for the higher end system, i even do without Smartbooster at this point. as i said IMHO it is superior to digitrax, we have at least several "nce vs Digtrax" threads i did and can once again explain my opinion there.

i wanted turnout position and occupancy feedback so i run both :). powercab is for controlling trains, digitrax interface for a Loconet gateway. best of both worlds, i probably could have left out the NCE-USB interface, thats only 45$ "wasted". EDIT : with that it provides a certain flexibility

my hardware below. since these pictures i added 2 team digital SIC24AD devices and prettied up the wiring



 

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Just did some reading and I didn't realize you can use different system components together. Makes me even more excited to get started. My goal is to see if I can program a number of passenger trains to go through routes stopping at designated stations for a schedule stops.

Once I pick up the NCE power cab . And start playing I guess it will all start making more sense. I also now have to sell my mrc advance with extra cab .

I will bugging you more once I get it all
 

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I'm really intrigued with your touch-screen display. I've begun getting familiar with JMRI, using in on a MacBook, and occasionally using WiThrottle on my iPhone. But, I really like what you've done. So much so, that I've acquired a Lenovo touch-screen Thinkpad that I'd like to set up to use with JRMI, and include the panel to control turnouts and show their state, etc.

In particular, I'd love to know how you were able to incorporate the locomotive graphics in the lower left panel in your display. I haven't been able to find anything in the JMRI documentation regarding that.

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
the documentation is quite vast, yes. but it is all in there - this is functionality of roster. for every entry you make there you can (if you choose) add a Icon and a Picture. if icon exists for engine you add to throttle list it will be displayed just like that. now , somewhat tricky part is to find the icon itself. generally you will be searching for "train gif", "railroad gif", railroad gif collection". there are some links in manual, here are some websites on top of my head:
http://www.trainweb.org/rrgifroundhouse/
http://cencalrails.railfan.net/rrgifs.html

i will need to fire up the JMRI machine to get more. I bookmarked amazing resource with thousands of locos. for some reason i can't google it at the moment.


i started building the panels in older version of JMRI. since then they added bunch of new functionality. like lines changing color and such (i had to work around, drawing transparent gifs and such to make it happen). please do post your panel, i'm no UI designer and really curious how others visualize their ideas. regards!
 
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