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DCC Automation


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When it comes to the construction of my railway, I have shamelessly copied IanR's K&WR, so when he visited Amblethorpe yesterday I didn't have much I could "show off". But Ian is a DC man so I knew he'd be interested in my DCC set up, and he was. Ian is no technophobe, (he left me a DVD of the K&WR, and I think he was a little disappointed that he couldn't give me a BlueRay version because I dont have a player :( ) he told me that it was simply the cost of converting all his locos that has held him back, so he was keen to see what I could do, and was keener to show him.

You can imagine my frustration yesterday morning when I picked up my iPod to find it showing the "white screen of death". I tried all I could: reboot, hard reboot, even a full restore. But to no avail, the white screen of death persisted.

Classic case of sods law.

I was limited to one iThrottle controller, which cramped my style. We did manage to run two trains at once, but not with the ease I'm used to with an iPod and an iPad.

We probably would have got on with a bit of proper oppertation if the rain had spoilt our fun.

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  • 3 months later...

Just noticed that there is an update for the WiThrottle app for the iPhone. They have made it a native iPad app which means it now makes use of all the extra screen space.

Some good new features, it looks like I'll be able to have a signal box track panel on the screen and just tap the point to throw the point.

Roll on Summer (which happened in March last year).

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  • 4 months later...

The shed isn't a good environment for old PCs. The two I've used in there so far have become unreliable. I got hold of a new (old) PC this week, downloaded and installed the lastest version of JMRI and today I've got it fixed up to the railway.

I've spent more time with the software this year than before and found a lot more features in PanelPro including how to add text labels (which means I can dispense with the background image I'd mentioned previously). I've also got the "Web Server" feature working, this allows you to control trains using a web browser on another computer or tablet, without the need for special software. Any laptop can now be a throttle over the wireless network.

With this setup in place I've finally be able to give the new iPad versions of the iThrottle app a run out.

It's good.

You can now have two throttles on the screen (it is posible to have 4!) along with a signalling panel. Controlling two locos at the same time tends to go wrong, but it does make switching between two trains quick and simple. The Pannel is one you have created on your PC and I found I needed to rearrange a few of the elements to better fit the iPad screen space available. But it works a treat. Tap on the icon of a point and the point throws. It's just what I wanted.

You can also run the panel using the full screen of the iPad, making it a mobile signal box. This is the way I plan to use it. I'll wander around controlling the track while I let others drive the trains.

I don't know how these features will work on an iPhone because I've not got round to replacing my iPod touch since it broke the day IanR came for a visit. I do need to get one.

DCC with JMRI and iThrottle on the iPad is wonderful way to control a garden railway.

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I'm not at all confused by this thread. I understand absolutely nothing, so confusion doesn't enter into it. I suppose that it would be possible to build a railway with multiple stations, and operate a complete timetable without pressing more than a start button. Nice for me to see that, but I admit to never understanding how it works. I shall have my work cut out just wiring my simple layout for normal DC running.

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roddy said:

I shall have my work cut out just wiring my simple layout for normal DC running.

Wiring for DCC is a lot lot simpler than DC. Bond all your track joints and points and then connect two wires between the controller and the track, preferably somewhere near the middle.

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  • 3 years later...

Time to dust off this thread after 7 years.

I still haven't gone down the path of automation, as in computers monitoring and running trains. But I have automated the control of the track to a large extent. This weekend I pushed it a little bit further, setting up a remote computer, rather than iPad of iPhone, to enable control of points from a location away from the shed. A very old MacBook was just capable of joining the system through a Web Browser. I plan to place this near to the Colwick and Emble Junctions with the garden panel on screen.

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A simple click on the circle around a point will cause the turnout to throw.I've set up a couple of routes to help me out. One click of Emble Reset will throw all points to the correct position to allow a train to pass through that junction on the main loop line. Amble Rest does the same for that junction. If I have the iPad with me, I have this panel on the screen.

This panel simples (ignores) the shed. A click of the 2 or 3 button ensures than a train entering the shed will have its route set to allow it to exit again on the far side. Very Handy.

Inside the shed is complex. It has it's own panel.

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Full track layout, with point circles to click. The route set buttons are here again. The extra one on here is a yard road 8 set. This fires all the motors to enable a train to arrive or depart form the long siding that doubles as a turn back for the diesel depot. Once again, Very Handy.

I have both of these panels on the screen of the MacBook that is running Panel Pro. This is in the shed. 

I do operate Amblethorpe without computer assistance using just my NCE PowerCab, but it is a lot easier with Macs and iPads to control the track and iPhones to drive the trains and occasionally throw a point.

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