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Newbe questions !! Sorry - RR & Co - Getting You Started. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Tue Jan 11th, 2011 08:18 pm
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Alan
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Guys I am going to need some help, and a lot of it, I don't know the first thing about computer controled trains, but with the new plans for New Bournville, and the fact that I will be most of the time operating it on my own , I thought I needed to know more.

Take it easy with me guys :roll:

First where should I look to read up the basics

And should I be planning this at such a early stage ( track planning stage ) or can I add anything after the track is layed

Sorry guys told you I ddn't know anything, but I do know that I will be in good hands here ;-)

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 Posted: Tue Jan 11th, 2011 08:26 pm
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henryparrot
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Alan
aswell as Railroad & co there is Itrain you can download it and Xander will give you a couple of months free registration before deciding to buy and its cheaper

http://berros.eu/itrain/en/


Brian

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 Posted: Tue Jan 11th, 2011 10:08 pm
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wogga
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Hi Alan it is worth thinking about at the track planning/laying stage however not totally nessacary as you can wire up afterward to suit.

First thing it must be a DCC system and it must be connected to a PC with an interface. The only thing different from a standard DCC system is train detection so the computer program knows where on the track a train is. This is acheived by block detection very similar to the prototype i guess.

Sections of track are isolated from each other to form a block. Power to the block is run via control board so when a loco enters that block the current drawn by the loco is sensed and fed back to the computer program so it knows
where the loco is.

Most DCC systems are suitable for computer control infact i can only think that the Prodigy/Gaugemaster is not and i would be wary of Hornby Bachmann starter kits.

For a large layout it will be ideal, i only have a small but the appeal to me is like going to an exhibition i can watch trains running from all angles and soak up the scene.

As Brian has indicated there are a few train control systems about, First and foremost is RR&co Traincontroller no shortage of support an advice on here its availible in three flavours varying fron £80 to £400 but i will say you get what you pay for unfortunaely bronze at £80 is limited in functions.

Brian has indicated iTrain cheap still being developed but worth an exploration we have an expert in this who has just joined.

And as Sol announced Hornby are releasing Railmaster no info yet.

But let me finish off by saying Alan even though you can fully automate a layout with Traincontroller you can mix and match auto and manual so you could have the compter running a mainline on timetable and you can be sat in a corner with your handheld controller shunting to your hearts content in a yard somewhere.

Over to you Alan us "geeks" are a patient bunch.

Traincontroller here

http://www.freiwald.com/pages/index.html



Pete



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ECOS2 with RR&Co Traincontroller and a load of other electronics so i can sit back and watch the trains go by.
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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 06:36 am
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John Dew
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Hi Alan

Couple of points to add to Pete's excellent summary:

You can retrospectively convert a layout, particularly a DCC layout, to computor control. It is however much better when desigining a new layout to plan for the fundamentals of computor control even though you dont initially instal all the hardware

I am not sure what DCC system you use but it is probably a good idea to have a separate power bus for the points (which of course must be controlled by a DCC decoder).

Pete has mentioned that occupancy detection is key so even though you dont initially install detectors the block configuration merits a lot of careful planning

As you know there are a number of enthusiasts here so you will get lots of help. It is interesting to see the different ways we have used the Software......Geoff with his switchboard and route setting for manual control, Brian with his signalls and Max with his Shunting Puzzle.....I guess Pete and I go for the full Monty

Hopefully a quick scan of the tutorial I wrote will help get an idea of the basics.....its in 2 parts because I am in the middle of reorganising/editing it

I would strongly recommend downloading both systems......RR&Co has a demo version and unlike Itrains a simulator.

I would also look at the forums for the two systems........ it will give you an idea of their respective development history.


Regards  

 

 

 

 

 



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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 08:28 am
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Alan
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wogga wrote: Most DCC systems are suitable for computer control infact i can only think that the Prodigy/Gaugemaster is not Over to you Alan us "geeks" are a patient bunch.

http://www.freiwald.com/pages/index.html



Pete


:twisted::twisted::twisted:

Hit a brick wall straight away, as I have two Prodigy Gaugemaster systems :sad::sad:

Thanks for your advice guys, I will go away and sit in a dark room and read up as much as possible, then the questions will start ;-)

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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 08:34 am
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MaxSouthOz
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You can probably get good money for the Prodigy's on ebay, Alan.  Then you can buy yourself a Lenz.  :thumbs  :mutley



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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 08:51 am
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Alan
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MaxSouthOz wrote: You can probably get good money for the Prodigy's on ebay, Alan.  Then you can buy yourself a Lenz.  :thumbs  :mutley
:cry::cry::cry::cry:

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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 09:23 am
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henryparrot
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What is this then?

ITs a prodigy computer interface cable

http://www.gaugemaster.com/prodigy_pc_interface.html

Edit /   I have had a look around since posting this apparently yes it connects to a computer but you can only use it with their provided software which changes cv`s and lets you make throttles etc.

You cannot use it with any external software because gaugemaster(MRC) refush to publish what protocol they use so you are stuffed.

Thats a shame because the base system is popular and nearly all people who have it are pleased with how it works

Brian

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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 10:20 am
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Alan
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I knew this would happen :roll:

If  a computer is going to run the layout why do I need the Prodigy or similar ?

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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 10:41 am
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MaxSouthOz
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The computer just takes the place of the throttle, Alan.



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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 10:43 am
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henryparrot
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Alan

Because the computer has to interface with the dcc hardware in other words it has to be able to talk to the dcc system to tell it what to do.

Unfotunately nearly all dcc systems except the Gaugemaster(MRC) prodigy do that . Even a Hornby Elite does.

Personally think gaugemaster have made a big boo boo there.

Basically its the language used to talk to each other most common are Xpressnet and loconet plus a few others

Apparently gaugemaster wont publish what language their system uses so you cant talk to it.

I will look for cheapest solution for you you could keep the prodigy for normal use but switch to something else to use puter.

Brian

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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 11:11 am
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Alan
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:cheers Guys

I thought it was something like that !

So can I have one system that runs the layout DCC ( Prodigy ) and another that could run it from the computer ?

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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 11:18 am
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henryparrot
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Yes

All you do i set up a changeover switch to use either prodigy or the other system thats bits easy

What you need to do is find the cheapest system that will give you pc control i will have a look Alan but of the top of my head the Horrnby Elite is probably going to be the cheapest solution,

Obviously if you were prepared to spend a bit more there are better systems but you only want pc control so perhaps thats not neccesary.

Brian

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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 11:40 am
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Alan
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Thanks Brian

If you need some sort of DCC control system to power the computer, do you also need a different power source for the points ?

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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 11:47 am
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MaxSouthOz
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The actual power that operates the turnouts in TC comes from the LS 150, Alan.  That's the reason I went Lenz all the way.  I was joking before about ebay, but the reality is you should bite the bullet and buy an up market system and be done with it.

ECOS is the ultimate and probably not for you.  Lenz will run TC, I'm not sure about NCE, but playing with lesser systems is just asking for it.

Lenz make all the bits you need for train control.  That was my choice.



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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 11:49 am
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henryparrot
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If you want them controlled by the computer they  have to be controlled by the dcc system so what you have are things called accesory decoders the most common one used is the LEnz  LS 150 which doess 6 points.

This set up could be used by both the prodigy and a new pc controlled one

As with all things it depends what point motors you intend to use there are varoius accesory decoders some are better suited than others to differant point motors and of course you have to way up the cost of certain accesory decoders

For example i have 6  ls 150`s 1 nce switch and 1 switchpilot so you can use differant manufacturer ones dependant on what point motors you use.

Brian

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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 11:55 am
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MaxSouthOz
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Brian, I reckon that someone starting out shouldn't have a cocktail of brands and systems.  It's OK for experienced people like yourself, but it's a bit much for Alan to get his head around first off.  The KISS principle.

No offence, Alan.  :oops:



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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 01:13 pm
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Alan
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None taken.......................But I am worried about the Kiss :roll:

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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 04:10 pm
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John Dew
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Alan wrote: Thanks Brian

If you need some sort of DCC control system to power the computer, do you also need a different power source for the points ?


Using KISS..........Yes

You run a Power bus giving power to the track and DCC instructions to both the track and accessory decoders and a completely separate bus from a separate transformer to power the point motors

In my case, using Lenz, there is a third bus...for feedback

Incidentally I was in a similar position to you 3 years ago.......new house.....new layout......knew I wanted DCC and computor control but knew nothing  about either.

Did lots of research......came to the same conclusion as Max......use one DCC system its simpler.

I started work on the layout knowing the eventual aim but didnt buy the RR&Co software or interface for another 12 months but it was then plug and play because the correct wiring was in place...............of course during the first 12 months I was learning all about RR&Co with the demo version. 

 



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 Posted: Wed Jan 12th, 2011 07:35 pm
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MaxSouthOz
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Keep It Simple, Silly.  ;-)



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