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Project: BackYard Transit System

Hello Everyone, I'm starting on a HO Scale Project in my backyard and always wanted to make a working style Subway system. By the way I always love NYCTA Subway system.:).

THE PLAN​

I will be creating a 4 track loop mainline with stations stops for local and express including going underground with in ground camera systems and LED Stripes lights to light up the tunnel as the train pass by, and make stops. Now i also plan to make this Fully Automatic. I plan to build this route as real as Real life train operations! I know this will take time maybe 2 years to complete the entire project and will post updates and videos for everyone to see:)

Hardware and Software Im using for my Railroad :)

So i heard of CTI Electronic Model Railroad System based on google.com and orders the starter pack and so far i hooked everything up and added 1 sensor to a demo layout and got it to detect the train on the track... and now up to learning the the Train Control Language for the CTI and seems I have to program everything to work right!

I also have the MRC tech 6 sound controller IM using.

The Questions


1) Have anyone ever use the CTI system and what is your view on the system ?

2) Do anyone have a Railroad system that is Automatic and use something else besides CTI ?

3) Can anyone give me Pointers or ideas how to make this project come to life?

Thank you all in advance for reading and helping me out on this project! I will Post Videos and Pictures in the futures on the progress of the Railroad.
 

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I think one of the first things you need to consider is how you are going to reliably run HO scale outside. Obstacles such as leaves, grass, and pets will present considerable problems when using smaller scales. You should also take a note from the large-scale folks are use brass track as it will corrode slower than most other metals (although if you run battery-powered instead of live rail it will resolve this and other problems).

Your sensors will also need to be built to work with the outdoor environment. Not only leaves and such, but how will you deal with rain and keeping the electronics dry?
 

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I ran G scale outdoors for a number of years and it required plenty of work keeping the tracks clean. I would not even attempt to run outdoors with HO.:thumbsdown:
 

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2) Do anyone have a Railroad system that is Automatic and use something else besides CTI ?
I'm not familiar with CTI. Bruce Chub developed Computer Model Railroad Interface (C/MRI) in 1985. JLC Enterprises sell products.

in general, such systems control turnouts and signals, and input occupancy detection and turnout position using nodes that communicate with a PC using an RS-422/485 bus. A serial interface is essential to minimizing the wiring and interface to a PC.

A C/MRI node would have some number of input and outputs. It is not designed to drive heavy loads. Separate driver hardware would be used to control switch machines and signals. Block occupancy detectors would provide input, as well as switch machines with built in switches such as Tortoise.

while custom hardware was required in the past for nodes in such systems, Arduinos are more than capable of doing so. I/O can easily be expanded using devices such an the MCP23017.

The NMRA is proposing Layout Command Control using a can bus which I think if over kill for even large layouts. LCC nodes directly communicate with one another.

neither C/MRI or LCC is intended to control locomotives (although LCC includes a loco control protocol).

they can be integrated with DCC interface to control trains using block occupancy detection and signals. When a train enters a relatively short block preceding a stop signal, control SW can slow/stop a train and restart it once the signal clears.

I believe there are more complete systems that can control trains. I don't know what is involved to schedule the running of trains over such systems.

As a software engineer, i've always found it almost as time consuming to learn to use a commercial piece of software as it is to simply develop my own that does exactly what I want, and one thing I want is the ability diagnose what the system is doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I think one of the first things you need to consider is how you are going to reliably run HO scale outside. Obstacles such as leaves, grass, and pets will present considerable problems when using smaller scales. You should also take a note from the large-scale folks are use brass track as it will corrode slower than most other metals (although if you run battery-powered instead of live rail it will resolve this and other problems).

Your sensors will also need to be built to work with the outdoor environment. Not only leaves and such, but how will you deal with rain and keeping the electronics dry?
I will be Designing a Cover that will fit around the tracks and prevent any outside elements to come in contact with the tracks(When not in use).. so when not in use the cover will be in place.. Now i do have a Shed which All the Equipment and Circuit boards will be in. I will only run the system on nice days. Also because the fence i have shades a parts of the backyard from the sun so the trains or track shouldn't have no much contact with the sun... as for the Electric wires i can make it waterproof so it will be good to go. Even if someone steps on the cover it will not press down and crush or damage it will stay put... Just alot of plywood and cutting :)

I ran G scale outdoors for a number of years and it required plenty of work keeping the tracks clean. I would not even attempt to run outdoors with HO.:thumbsdown:
Yea i heard HO scale is really the worst for outdoors but i believe i found a way to protect it! Basiccly when not in used i must cover the entire route .. Plus when it travels to the other side of the backyard its always sunny so i will be making a underground tunnel with underground stations rig with cams to see the underground actions Plus the way i will be building the tunnel will be easy access to flip open the cover for emergency situations also water seal so water wouldn't be able to enter the tunnel .. The both ends of the tunnel will also have a door to, So no Small animals would get in when not in use :)... Honestly HO scale have my Subway cars that i like to use :) thats the only reason why i stick with HO scale also Cost is my price range to make this happen! Just ALOT of extra work like digging, making a strong foundation and directing water Flow.. This is my first project But starting next month i will post some pictures of the tunnel set up and cover i will use :)
 

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I'm not familiar with CTI. Bruce Chub developed Computer Model Railroad Interface (C/MRI) in 1985. JLC Enterprises sell products.

in general, such systems control turnouts and signals, and input occupancy detection and turnout position using nodes that communicate with a PC using an RS-422/485 bus. A serial interface is essential to minimizing the wiring and interface to a PC.

A C/MRI node would have some number of input and outputs. It is not designed to drive heavy loads. Separate driver hardware would be used to control switch machines and signals. Block occupancy detectors would provide input, as well as switch machines with built in switches such as Tortoise.

while custom hardware was required in the past for nodes in such systems, Arduinos are more than capable of doing so. I/O can easily be expanded using devices such an the MCP23017.

The NMRA is proposing Layout Command Control using a can bus which I think if over kill for even large layouts. LCC nodes directly communicate with one another.

neither C/MRI or LCC is intended to control locomotives (although LCC includes a loco control protocol).

they can be integrated with DCC interface to control trains using block occupancy detection and signals. When a train enters a relatively short block preceding a stop signal, control SW can slow/stop a train and restart it once the signal clears.

I believe there are more complete systems that can control trains. I don't know what is involved to schedule the running of trains over such systems.

As a software engineer, i've always found it almost as time consuming to learn to use a commercial piece of software as it is to simply develop my own that does exactly what I want, and one thing I want is the ability diagnose what the system is doing.
Cool i will look into it Cause right now i know since I'm a beginner with knowing how to build a house lol i will end up wasting money lol time to time! just Hope Its not a Entire layout that i waste money on :) so far im 400 bucks in the hobby :) Thank you for the insight i will start doing some homework on the system
 

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NYSwat: Good luck with your outdoor HO layout. It’s a very ambitious plan. There have been HO layouts done outdoors before but none that model subways, as far as I know.
Stainless steel track is sometimes used in G scale garden layouts but I don’t think it’s available in HO.
I’m not sure how HO track will behave with temperature changes that far exceed the range we usually encounter indoors.
You will be in uncharted territory in a lot of this so keep us posted. Looking forward to seeing what you discover.
 

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Looks like your are in New York, USA, make sure you have a tiny train mounted snow plow. Start small, see how much trouble it is to build outdoors before spending too much money :eek:

And, make sure you show us pictures of progress!
 

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NYSwat: Good luck with your outdoor HO layout. It’s a very ambitious plan. There have been HO layouts done outdoors before but none that model subways, as far as I know.
Stainless steel track is sometimes used in G scale garden layouts but I don’t think it’s available in HO.
I’m not sure how HO track will behave with temperature changes that far exceed the range we usually encounter indoors.
You will be in uncharted territory in a lot of this so keep us posted. Looking forward to seeing what you discover.
Copy That and I will keep you all posted on the steps and design :)

Looks like your are in New York, USA, make sure you have a tiny train mounted snow plow. Start small, see how much trouble it is to build outdoors before spending too much money :eek:

And, make sure you show us pictures of progress!
Yes I'm in new york :) and i know one day i will have to get it :) and thank you for the tip. Yea il start making 1 line first and see how it goes :) and I will take pictures and videos of the project. within the next 2 weeks i will have pictures and a layout in mind and see what everything think:)

PS: Thank you all for the support in this project
 

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When you say you are making a cover for the track... will this also be waterproof? Corrosion will happen from high humidity, so any time you have rain or snow, or even just the morning dew, it will be enough to cause problems. We're not just talking about the appearance of the track, it will create a serious problem with the electrical conductivity through the track. Most likely you will have to clean the top of the rail nearly every time you want to run your train.

While the weather is still decent, you may want to consider setting up a small loop of track outside, and testing your trains on it every day to see how the humidity and weather affects your ability to get power to the loco. As mentioned before, there are good reasons why most outdoor trains are run on battery power instead of supplying power through the rails.
 

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NYSwat: Good luck with your outdoor HO layout. It’s a very ambitious plan. There have been HO layouts done outdoors before but none that model subways, as far as I know.
Stainless steel track is sometimes used in G scale garden layouts but I don’t think it’s available in HO.
I’m not sure how HO track will behave with temperature changes that far exceed the range we usually encounter indoors.
You will be in uncharted territory in a lot of this so keep us posted. Looking forward to seeing what you discover.
Stainless steel is preferred by most G scalers because it doesn't oxidize like brass. Outdoor brass is a better conductor when clean but it is plenty of work to cleaning the oxidation. Nickel silver is probably best for HO. I wish you luck, this is an extremely ambitious modelling attempt.
 

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To run a G scale loco on batteries it takes 6 AA batteries which get bundled usually in a tender or freight car. Aristocraft's covered gondola was popular for this. I don't know how many batteries would be needed for an HO loco or how they could be fit into the rolling stock.
 

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I guess it's just the realist in me, but I sense this project is gonna look much better on the drawing board then it "works out" in execution...!
 

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part of the planning for any project is to recognize and understand all significant aspects needed to complete the project, realistically assessing how each can be addressed and only proceed when there are acceptable solutions for all issues.

it seems like batteries address the corrosion issues regarding electric conductivity. But if there are turnouts, i wonder about how corrosion might affect their operability as well as how weather might affect electric switch machines.

if it's a winter climate, how will freezing affect the roadbed and/or how will large changes in temperature affect expansion of both rails and roadbed.

to me, this seems much less ambitious than the autonomous trains control projects suggested involving positioning and uncoupling of cars at industrial spurs.
 

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to me, this seems much less ambitious than the autonomous trains control projects suggested involving positioning and uncoupling of cars at industrial spurs.
Funny, I still think my project will be much easier that reliably running HO outdoors. I actually just ordered some more arduino boards today to start setting up an S88 sensor network with some 38khz LEDs I have. Wrapping up the Summer projects and trains have been back on my mind again so hopefully I can get some test code written up this season.
 

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Some things not mentioned: If your right of way is right down in the soil, even if it may be sunny out, there will be dampness from prior rains and storms under the tracks (even with your cover over them) plus ants, worms, snails, bird droppings, pebbles, etc. A hurricane could wipe out the entire thing. What about snow and ice in winter ? puddles ? What will be your method of anchoring the tracks to the soil..? How will you make the tunnels ? Do you accept that you will always be looking at the system whilst standing 5' (+-) above it ? Must it be outdoors ? Do you not have room to build it indoors ?
In closing, I believe HO is too fragile for this project; too great a potential for getting crud on rails/in motors, water damage and warped plastics from the sun..My gut feeling is it's not going to work out well during building it and/or running it...In the most caring way I say, ________________You're sparring with Mother Nature..and she always wins_________________________Don't do it !

PS. I grew up riding the IRT, IND, and BMT. Moved to L.A. in 1978 and witnessed the initial construction of light rail here, beginning with the Metro Red Line in about 1985-ish..Right now I'm typing in a cafe 40 yrds from the Gold Line in S. Pasasdena..All but the Red Line are under catenary. I'm looking right at it..Every few minutes pantographs go whizzing by !
 
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