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No, I thought the OP was looking for a DCC system since he said he wanted “all the bells and whistles “. Maybe I took that too literally? Lol.
Yes, I see why you asked that now. DonR was talking about a DC system.
My bad. The last thing we need on this thread is more convolution.
For DC, I found the Bazooka Electronics Auto Rev easy to use. Im sure a similar DCC system wouldn’t be that complicated. But adding the accel/decel feature is where it gets tricky. Bottom line for OP, keep it simple. I think you and Severn suggested the same.
 

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Hopefully we will get more from The Zodiac about what he can handle electrically! Sounds like Arduino is a no-go...
 

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Discussion Starter #43
Hopefully we will get more from The Zodiac about what he can handle electrically! Sounds like Arduino is a no-go...
Hi cid, et al. Ok, someone mentioned "convoluted" thread and I somewhat agree. Some seem confused about my skill level, experience, etc. Fair enough. I've learned quite a bit reading through the responses. I really have. I'd like to clear something up: Yes, I understand the vast majority of model train enthusiasts like to control them / play with them, etc. I get that. Love it. I'm all for it. > But that's not me. I truly don't have the space or time to create different yards, and so forth.

So the actual idea is to make the train like a clock. Every 1 hr it would "do it's thing" and start up, make noises, horns, the whole 9........gently accelerate down the track to a visually realistic speed all the way down to the other end. Same thing when pulling in, gently decelerate , horns, bells, whistles to a gentle stop. 1 hr later, the process begins again to the other end of the track. (And of course I'd like to be able to change that 1 hr interval to 12 hrs in case the thing drives me nuts)

I know, and acknowledge that I have already stated this setup to be my desire. Completely hands off. Literally like a clock. BUT NOW that I have read some of your responses.......

Are you saying that since it's a point to point layout / back and forth - to go ahead and just lay the track , get some rolling stock or whatever, get it more less running smoothly - MANUALLY - to get any kinks worked out and THEN start to hone in on my ultimate goal?

And if that is the case, where do I start? I mean, quality track? (I build quality - but not necessarily name brand) Oh.......Yes, I completely agree with another poster about "freight" trains looking somewhat silly running back and forth..........unfortunately, freight things and diesel locos are my thing.......and I disagree that it would look silly going back and forth because of the passing of time before it heads up and down the track. 1 hr minimum. Not back and forth like a high speed bullet train. Yes, that would look quite dumb. lol. (my opinion of course)

So yeah, I understand it's best to just dive in. Ok. But now that you know what I want, which pool should I dive into? One final clarification: I am not afraid of electricity, complex computer stuff. In fact I love it. Slicing track , solder, diodes, gizmos......I do quite well with. Once I understand them.

I have looked at every single product listed by you guys and I thank you. I feel like this can happen......perhaps not an immediate, "out of the box" experience like I want but, it's doable. And from your comments, not just doable, but doable well. I want quality. Don't mind paying for it.

Show me? Link me what you would buy / no brainer if it was you and I hired you to do this project for me. (And if you already did, please forgive me, I'm a complete novice - it probably went right over my head. Slap me around and show me again and I'll hone in on it hard)

Thanks for all your help so far.
 

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KATO Amtrak starter set

I actually have one of these, it's not set up right now but I had it in a work apartment in Nashville. Look around that website for lots of other options. Kato Unitrack will be one of your track options. It's quite bullet-proof but no flex track, which you may not need nor want anyway. Glad to hear you're not intimidated by the electrical aspect, that will make everything much easier. 🤣
 

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Discussion Starter #45
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KATO Amtrak starter set

I actually have one of these, it's not set up right now but I had it in a work apartment in Nashville. Look around that website for lots of other options. Kato Unitrack will be one of your track options. It's quite bullet-proof but no flex track, which you may not need nor want anyway. Glad to hear you're not intimidated by the electrical aspect, that will make everything much easier. 🤣
Is it okay to post a video I just found >

This seems like a project I can handle but I do have just 2 questions about it and I think I'll be well on my way. 1) If you notice in the vid, after it passes the "slow" threshold and it speeds up......watch it closely.......it seems to speed up to an unrealistc speed quite fast........1) Is there something else that can be attached as a controller of sorts to speed it up to a more user adjustable setting?

If we can get that question figured out the last one is > how to incorporate the accurate startup sounds, bells, whistles etc....... I think we're getting close. I'll have a look at what you just posted. Thanks cid.
 

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If it's a DCC loco you could adjust CV 3 and 4, acceleration and deceleration, and get
the effect you want.

As for start up sounds it depends on what decoder you have, some have start up with first voltage applied
and some have a function key for start up.

Bells and whistles are function keys as well, should be possible with some fancy programming?????
Not my area of expertise.

Good luck with this sounds interesting.

Magic
 

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And there you go! Bob’s your uncle. I think to make it workable for a passenger train one of the locomotives will need to be a dummy since you probably wouldn’t want two powered locomotives on opposite sides of those control points.

A good option would be to get a set of locomotive, cars and cab car. The cab car looks like a regular passenger car but is at the back of the train. In the prototypical world it has a set of controls that allows the engineer to control the loco when it is in push mode. Turning the train is not necessary and they indeed run this way, back and forth. Many of the commuter lines operate this way.

I think Rapido offers these, in GO Transit livery and possibly others. The cab car would need to be un-powered. I’m not sure if they offer sets or just individual cars and locos.
Kato Unitrack is an excellent choice for track. It is easily taken apart and put back together and you may want to be able to do this to accommodate various lengths of different trains.
It’s a good start.
 

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Making the train reciprocate between stations is easy-peasy using a Bazooka controller on DC, for example.
If I were in your shoes, I would start right there. Get a train running.

Sound effects take you to a new control level, accessing DCC on-board soundfiles without pushing buttons.
I think there are other ways to get sounds, like having your Arduino play wav files,e.g., but it's beyond my experience.

If you want to engineer the entire project before you start building, you will need to study up on JMRI and an Arduino DCC++ base station, both easily researchable online. I don't think there is a better way to access the sound effects on a DCC decoder. The DCC platform was designed to be human-controlled and going around that requires a bit of effort.

Someone here on the forum has more knowledge on these topics than I do!! But I say, let's run trains!! 🤣 You will find PLENTY of challenge just getting to the point of seeing the first wheel turn...
 

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If jmri is scriptable... Meaning you can write some script to send DCC commands and do some event checking to the track..and jmri will run it as the operator. I would look into that first... Assuming you have an DCC engine, track, power etc...

Since it's computer stuff to a large degree ... Anything is possible.

But what I'm describing would be high level and oriented towards an operator.

# my run script
SET ENGINE "210"
START
WAIT 7s
BELL 3s
NOTCH 1

# ETC...
 

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Discussion Starter #52
Hey guys , I've got some news. TODAY, I actually went to a Hobby store. I saw with my own eyes HO scale and N scale. They did not have any Z scale ---- which was fine because I knew instantly N scale was "it." for me. Yes. I'm 100% certain N scale will be beautiful for my project. Big enough to have beautiful detail, small enough to make a long asss train in a small space. Love it. So I'm definitely set on N scale.

Now: I have also come to learn from reading here and elsewhere that DCC would be cool, and about 20x more expensive than what I'd really need to spend to accomplish my goals. (According to one poster) In other words, DCC for a simple back and forth straight away is WAAAY overkill......but would absolutely get the job done.

So I'm learning. Narrowing it down. Starting to understand. So, if DCC is out for me, then it's DC? Correct?
I am prepared to purchase a loco from Kato or Atlas to get me started. Of course I will buy some N scale track too. I suppose I'm going to have to look into this Ardrino thing. So I figure if it's DC then I may as well go ahead and get a good controller, good track, and good DC loco....... then go from there with some of the more advanced things I want.
 

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Congratulations and all the best going forward. I don’t run DCC myself but I seriously doubt it would be 20x more expensive. I think you can anticipate some correction on that from folks who can give you specifics.
But any any rate, as always, have fun and keep us posted.
 

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DC will be cheaper if you don't intend on separating track sections into multiple operating blocks with the associated hardware and wiring required.
 

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Zodiac, Are you going for the Unitrack? Have you any shelf design or concept yet?
Am I asking too many questions? 😆
 

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  1. Zodiac, I think you're kind of at cross purposes here. You seem to want the bells, whistles, lights, and realistic motion that DCC provides, but want it all automated and time lapsed and simplified and inexpensive, which it doesn't. I think you need some batting practice before you can expect to hit it out of the park. Laying some track and running some trains would be a good start with maybe a double ended Amtrak or a freight with a GP diesel at either end, one to pull, and the other to "help" your train over the scenic mountain you've built in the middle of your run of track. Railroading in my state involves serious grades and helper engines. I don't think you're going to get the behavior you want out of your train without a DCC interface, and for the automation piece, I've seen suggestions here of Arduino and JMRI, and if you're handy with electronics, you should be in hog heaven with either. If you've got an old laptop kicking around that's too old to play in the internet sharkpool, you might find JMRI the way to go. The learning curve for Arduino is kind of steep at first, but once on top of it, you can do all kinds of amazing things. I put a $40 DCC sound decoder in a $30 used Bachmann 2-8-0 Consolidation from eBay, and now have a $70 loco that does what I want it to on the cheap. There's many ways to get there, but don't forget to enjoy the ride. Y'all have fun now, hear?
 
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