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Dentith Bridges Underlying Technology - Layout Design, Trackwork & Operation. - Getting You Started. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Thu Mar 11th, 2021 08:51 am
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Barchester
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Hi All,

This thread will be developed in parallel to my Dentith Bridges thread and will be dedicated to the more technical aspects of the layout development.

More to come

Cheers, Andrew :cheers




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 Posted: Thu Apr 1st, 2021 08:12 pm
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John Dew
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Andrewdonald wrote: DCC - NCE and DCC Concepts booster - this may turn out to be a limiting choice
Will use a Mimic panel to control routing but hope to introduce automated control at some point. To this end block detection will be a feature
Layout will be three levels - lowest level Fiddle yard and storage. Middle level perimeter incline/decline from the fiddle yard to the upper level. Upper level main station, multi platform, goods facility, engine shed, turntable and industrial setting.

Andrew



Hi Andrew

Sorry for the delay in responding to this post. I have been controlling my layout automatically for over 10 years. I am addicted to it although its not to every ones taste. I am delighted to find a potential fellow enthusiast :lol: and more than happy to share my experiences.
Here are a few initial questions/comments

this may turn out to be a limiting choice........ could you expand a little on that?

Will use a Mimic panel to control routing..... if you eventually opt for automatic control, routes will be set by the software and all turnout will be wired to a DCC accessory decoders. It would be prudent to take this into account when wiring your panel.

Granby is quite a large layout but when I started I built just a small section with six turnouts. I wired them to both a mimic panel and a DCC decoder. I then pottered about on this while I determined whether I was going to invest in computor control. After I crossed that Rubicon I continued to create duplicate set ups switchable between a manual panel and a DCC decoder. After a while I realised the mimic panels were redundant and I now use either the computor screen or the DCC throttle.

Note: If I did not have RR&Co I would not want to rely solely on DCC decoders to throw turnouts.....too cumbersome

To this end block detection will be a feature Have you decided what system you will use? Most people use some form of current detection. If you opt for this, it is a good idea now to feed +ve track droppers (clearly identified) to an  accessible intermediate connection before connecting them to the +ve DCC bus. This actually makes sense for fault finding but will make the later creation of detected blocks relatively simple.

I can see that you have already done a great deal of research so I apologise if this is already covered.


You may not want to clutter your layout thread with the technical stuff in which case I suggest starting a separate thread and we can get a mod to move this reply there.

Best wishes




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 Posted: Fri Apr 2nd, 2021 06:04 am
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DaveH_Murcia
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I can only echo what John has said really. It's important to decide what aspects of a layout are your key areas. Like John (and with advice from him along the way) I went down the Railroad & Co software route with full block detection and automated points. I enjoy the electrical side, automating operation and the basic build less so the scenics but I think getting it stright in your head what the eventual aim is with your layout can save so much time (and money) along the way.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 2nd, 2021 10:46 am
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John Dew wrote: Andrewdonald wrote: DCC - NCE and DCC Concepts booster - this may turn out to be a limiting choice
Will use a Mimic panel to control routing but hope to introduce automated control at some point. To this end block detection will be a feature
Layout will be three levels - lowest level Fiddle yard and storage. Middle level perimeter incline/decline from the fiddle yard to the upper level. Upper level main station, multi platform, goods facility, engine shed, turntable and industrial setting.

Andrew



Hi Andrew

Sorry for the delay in responding to this post. I have been controlling my layout automatically for over 10 years. I am addicted to it although its not to every ones taste. I am delighted to find a potential fellow enthusiast :lol: and more than happy to share my experiences.
Here are a few initial questions/comments

this may turn out to be a limiting choice........ could you expand a little on that?

Will use a Mimic panel to control routing..... if you eventually opt for automatic control, routes will be set by the software and all turnout will be wired to a DCC accessory decoders. It would be prudent to take this into account when wiring your panel.

Granby is quite a large layout but when I started I built just a small section with six turnouts. I wired them to both a mimic panel and a DCC decoder. I then pottered about on this while I determined whether I was going to invest in computor control. After I crossed that Rubicon I continued to create duplicate set ups switchable between a manual panel and a DCC decoder. After a while I realised the mimic panels were redundant and I now use either the computor screen or the DCC throttle.

Note: If I did not have RR&Co I would not want to rely solely on DCC decoders to throw turnouts.....too cumbersome

To this end block detection will be a feature Have you decided what system you will use? Most people use some form of current detection. If you opt for this, it is a good idea now to feed +ve track droppers (clearly identified) to an  accessible intermediate connection before connecting them to the +ve DCC bus. This actually makes sense for fault finding but will make the later creation of detected blocks relatively simple.

I can see that you have already done a great deal of research so I apologise if this is already covered.


You may not want to clutter your layout thread with the technical stuff in which case I suggest starting a separate thread and we can get a mod to move this reply there.

Best wishes


Hi John,

I am pretty much lined up with your "thought processes and approach", but in the very early stages of development. My broad intentions are as follows (sorry if this is a bit long to read, perhaps you or a moderator could suggest a place to establish at Dentith Bridges Technical Details thread)
  1. The multiple level approach lends its self quite nicely to a learn as you go approach - as you did, I will start with the fiddle yard on the lower level, slowly building up the complexity of the points network as I gain confidence, just a few points will do to start with
  2. With regard to my comment re a limiting choice, I am/was concerned that the lack of a USB/Serial connection for the PowerCab would be an issue. I have since obtained the NCE USB interface and have tested it with JMRI, using both a Windows platform and a my preferred Mac platform and it works just fine. I do note however that the RR&Co website specifically mentions NCE Power Pro and not the PowerCab.
  3. I intend to run a dedicated DCC power bus for the track, employing a number of power districts protected via circuit breakers, a dedicated DCC accessory power bus and a dedicated low power DC bus for none DCC stuff (lighting and such) and to provide a power supply for the Megapoints Controller network that will manage remote control of points, point status feed back and occupancy feed back.
  4. The Megapoints Controller network  will, eventually, also have a DCC interface that will enable DCC control and Megapoints control. The Mimic panel will be "driven" by a Megapoints Multi panel processor that will enable direct push button control of points, but will also respond to remote switching of points (via DCC) and will indicate the state of the points and will also provide occupancy feed back.
  5. Occupancy will be detected using Megapoints occupancy detectors which a current sense detectors that sample current on the appropriate track feeder wire.
  6. I intend to employ a modular wiring layout design and I am looking forward to the wiring aspect of the build.
  7. For the fiddle yard I will be using Cobalt IP digital point motors, so DCC control will be available straight out of the box. I will also have Megapoints point motor drivers, thereby enabling the dual control capability.
  8. For the middle and upper levels I will use MTB1 point motors, again driven by Megapoints point motor drivers. I chose the MTB1 motors primarily for their very low profile so as not to overly impact on the track layout design due to headroom constraints.
  9. At this point I have not decided which control software I will use (I won't need it for some time yet and I need to do some more research in this area), but I am keen to here about any advice you and the rest of the forum group might have to share - one decision I have already made in this regard is that I will not be using JMRI.
This has been a bit of a slog, please accept my apologies for that. I do have some preliminary drawing worked up that I would be happy to share in a Dentith Bridges Technical Details thread if you think it would be of interest.

Cheers, Andrew :cheers

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 Posted: Fri Apr 2nd, 2021 10:50 am
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DaveH_Murcia wrote: I can only echo what John has said really. It's important to decide what aspects of a layout are your key areas. Like John (and with advice from him along the way) I went down the Railroad & Co software route with full block detection and automated points. I enjoy the electrical side, automating operation and the basic build less so the scenics but I think getting it stright in your head what the eventual aim is with your layout can save so much time (and money) along the way.
Thanks Dave,

Please see my response to John. I think the scenery production is going to be a challenge for me - low on skill set and patience think......... :roll:

Cheers, Andrew :cheers

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 Posted: Fri Apr 2nd, 2021 11:46 pm
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John Dew
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Hi Andrew

As I suspected you have done a lot of research. That is a very comprehensive spec.

At this point I have not decided which control software I will use (I won't need it for some time yet and I need to do some more research in this area), but I am keen to here about any advice you and the rest of the forum group might have to share - one decision I have already made in this regard is that I will not be using JMRI.

If you are going to buy a software package the choice is probably going to be between RR&Co and Itrain. Both systems allow you to download the software (and manuals) and operate the system live and in demo mode.......there are time limitations in live mode.

I would encourage you to download both systems or at least the manuals. Once you are certain that computor control  is a must, there are a number of strong arguments for purchasing the chosen system immediately and developing it in parallel with the track installation rather than waiting until the last spike.

I purchased mine while working on the branch.......18 month embargo on loco purchases :shock: :lol:.......I now regret not spending more time working with it on the trial layout before pressing on with the main layout. Its a steep learning curve and the lessons learned can influence block structure and the number of occupancy detectors required

Best Wishes



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 Posted: Sat Apr 3rd, 2021 12:29 am
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Andrewdonald
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Thanks for the excellent advice John. As you say, now is an opportune time to "experiment" as it is very early days.

I will down load the demo software and manuals in the next few days.

Cheers, Andrew :cheers

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 Posted: Sat Apr 3rd, 2021 02:48 pm
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John Dew
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Andrewdonald wrote: Thanks for the excellent advice John. As you say, now is an opportune time to "experiment" as it is very early days.

I will down load the demo software and manuals in the next few days.

Cheers, Andrew :cheers


Excellent

RR&Co Train Controller comes in three flavours Bronze Silver and Gold. You will find Bronze lacks too many features. I suggest you download Gold TC and the Gold/Silver manual which has the differences between gold and silver highligted. Other than those two you dont need any of the other software for your evaluation


I think Itrain has a a similar structure so download the premium set

A guy called Rudy has done about 50 excellent TC tutorials on Youtube. There are itrain videos on Youtube also.

Have fun



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 Posted: Tue Apr 6th, 2021 01:28 pm
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Andrewdonald
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Not much physical work done on the physical layout due to Easter break and family visits, but I have had time to ponder the control system and CTC some more.

The block diagram of the Megapoints Controllers network is shown in the enclosed PDF file. As it turns out I did not realise that the DCC interface is only one way. In other words I cannot get feed back from the network to the NCE USB interface and then to the controlling software.

Dave Fenton of Megapoints tells me that they are working on a JMRI interface but he does not know when that will be ready for production. (I am not keen on JMRI anyway).

One option I am investigating is the possibility of interfacing the Digikeijs 4088 with my NCE/DCC concepts booster. But I don't hold out too much hope.

Attachment: MP Lower Network.pdf (Downloaded 2 times)

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 Posted: Tue Apr 6th, 2021 06:08 pm
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John Dew
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Andrewdonald wrote:
The block diagram of the Megapoints Controllers network is shown in the enclosed PDF file. As it turns out I did not realise that the DCC interface is only one way. In other words I cannot get feed back from the network to the NCE USB interface and then to the controlling software.


I guess it will not affect your turnouts because most people dont think turnout position reporting is essential but it does limit your options in regard to occupancy detection. Will the Megapoint Controller accept feed back from another occupancy detection system?



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 Posted: Tue Apr 6th, 2021 11:39 pm
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Andrewdonald
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Thanks John,

Yes, I am pretty sure it will as long as the out put from the detector is basically a 5volt DC short to ground.

There are diagrams at the end of this document that show how the sensors are linked to the feedback board. FeedbackModule-user-guide.pdf 

Cheers, Andrew :cheers

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