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mickt014

Full Computer control on N gauge

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Hi Gents, I am a complete beginner to DCC N gauge and would appreciate any advice on what systems to use to achieve full computer control. Reasonably happy with the DCC side but not really into DIY electronics so will be using commercial units. Is there a good collective source for this or do I just trawl through the Forums. Any advice or pointers will be gratefully received. I already have a NCE PowerCab system with usb  using Peco code 80 track on a 8x4 base. Have been looking at Megapoints kits. Many thanks in advance. Cheers

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It really depends what you mean by full computer control :)

 

if you mean being able to sit back and watch trains running routes, stopping at signals, stations etc and reacting to other trains around the layout then there are 4 major contenders for software - and you will need software

 

the main opensource choices are JMRI and Rocrail

 

commercially you have also have 2 main contenders in iTrain and Train Controller.

 

in respect of hardware Digikeijs make the most affordable units for the detection of the trains.

 

as you can see below I do all of this albeit in H0e which use N gauge chassis.

 

This video shows you it in operation and I will happily advise and help you in the same way as I have, and am still,  assisting others

 

 

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Iain,

many thanks for the video and advice, I love your layout. That is exactly what I would like to achieve. I have just found a free package called A-Track written for NCE systems. I will have a look at the other packages you mention. I still haven't got past planning the layout stage yet. I think I need to do a bit more research before I start pinning down track. I think I need to identify and list the basic components that I will need and do a lot more digging into it. Hope you don't mind if I come back to you, I think i may have a steep learning curve ahead and bound to have lots of questions. It's amazing the amount of choice available. Once again many thanks.

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The questions have been asked before, and answered before.  NCE does enough kit to make full computer control possible.  (Some makes do not...).  Otherwise, I would suggest looking in both the computer control section and searching the term on RMWeb.  There are things I would do differently if I was starting again...

 

James

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I would suggest going down the JMRI path as you're not locked into a single DCC vendor forever. It also allows you or a visitor to run trains with a phone as an additional controller.

 

Cheers

David

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@mickt014 the program you quote doesn’t actually provide automation in the way I have demonstrated. It provides the already free JMRI DecoderPro element to manage the loco CV and the capability to create an interactive mimic panel enabling onscreen control of the layout. It does not support the other aspects of automation such as train detection and dynamic routing.

 

i would therefore suggest that you stick to looking at the products I mentioned if you want automation.

 

a tip which has worked well for many people is that if you intent to have the layout driven fully automatically then you design it in the computer package first and test it thoroughly before committing to the build. This allows you to iron out layout errors, shows where it is inefficient and will help in the build as you will have identified where all the blocks need to be.

 

The choice of package may also be driven by budget, plus your desire (or ability) to handcraft the chosen program to suit your purposes.

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18 hours ago, mickt014 said:

Hi Gents, I am a complete beginner to DCC N gauge and would appreciate any advice on what systems to use to achieve full computer control. Reasonably happy with the DCC side but not really into DIY electronics so will be using commercial units. Is there a good collective source for this or do I just trawl through the Forums. Any advice or pointers will be gratefully received. I already have a NCE PowerCab system with usb  using Peco code 80 track on a 8x4 base. Have been looking at Megapoints kits. Many thanks in advance. Cheers

 

Hi,

there are many things to consider when thinking of automation. If you can I would try to visit some layouts with automation and to see how it operates. I myself use Traincontroller, but I am evaluating I-train at present both can have a steep learning curves and both have plus and minus points but once mastered its relative easy. I can vouch for Iain, his help with I-train has been very helpfull, also I’m happy to help if needed but I would really only consider the two programs mentioned above although the other programs are adequate they are nowhere in the same league as the two paid for programs.

 

andy

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hi there

 

im building a N guage railway that will be computer controlled ..(i have moved from z dcc computer controlled layout) i use digitrax dcc with cml electronics for pouints and signals and digitrax bdl168 for detection..... i use traincontroller gold for the software

 

I have been running computer controlled layouts for the last 15 years +....

 

i suggest you look closely at the software your going to use as this is the "brains of the railway" i did look at i train a short time ago to see it there is any real alterative to traincontroller as it is very expensive for the gold version ( which i have and its he latest version but the author seems to be anti uk now brexit is in motion)

 

How much automation do you want to achive??

 

 

having said that i dont think i trains has the level of control that trancontroller has ... i am aiming for 2 ways of running the layout 1) complete auto control including shunting  2) the computer running the main lines and myself shunting

 

both are achiveable with tc gold .... you need a lot of sensors to do this and reliable uncoupling/coupling so as im running all new stock im using the bachman couplings as they are reliable...

 

if you need any help with how to do stuff both in tc or the general sorting out where sensors and blocks need to bee to achive auto control please give me a shout im in the midlands if it hels to visit ... i hope to hve all my track down by the new year (if work doesnt get in the way

 

i hope this helps

 

anthony

 

 

 

 

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@ahellary Everything that you state you want to achieve is supported 'out of the box' with the standard version of iTrain which is less than a third the cost of TC9 - plus it runs on all platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux - even Raspberry pi). Another major benefit is that it is supported by a UK retailer - with none of the hassles and problems that Herr Freiwald is introducing with TrainController.

 

 

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Many thanks for the replies guys. It has given me some food for thought. I noticed that train controller wasn't available in UK...his loss. Guess that leaves iTrain to dig into deeper. I will try and find a local club as well. I will be wanting to be able to manually control some aspects and work along side the automation. Guess I will have to go fully manual to begin with and start automating as the funds become available. Has anyone used Megapoints kit, it seems fairly comprehensive or would I be better staying with NCE. Best start being nice to the wife and get my shopping list in for xmas.......Cheers

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3 hours ago, mickt014 said:

Many thanks for the replies guys. It has given me some food for thought. I noticed that train controller wasn't available in UK...his loss. Guess that leaves iTrain to dig into deeper. I will try and find a local club as well. I will be wanting to be able to manually control some aspects and work along side the automation. Guess I will have to go fully manual to begin with and start automating as the funds become available. Has anyone used Megapoints kit, it seems fairly comprehensive or would I be better staying with NCE. Best start being nice to the wife and get my shopping list in for xmas.......Cheers

 

Hi,

 

traincontroller is is available in the uk, it is sold through digital river but you place the order through the traincontroller website.

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23 hours ago, WIMorrison said:
21 hours ago, WIMorrison said:

@ahellary Everything that you state you want to achieve is supported 'out of the box' with the standard version of iTrain which is less than a third the cost of TC9 - plus it runs on all platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux - even Raspberry pi). Another major benefit is that it is supported by a UK retailer - with none of the hassles and problems that Herr Freiwald is introducing with TrainController.

 

 

hi there

does it control turntables ? signals ? transponding? will it do this senario?

 a loco hauled train finishes at the teminus  the loco uncouples phyical and logic wise ... a loco is selected from a choice of 10 locos sat in the engine shed and is moved to the coaches that just arrived and is joined then at a certain time the train is dispatched when its cleae of the station the loco tha brought the train in is releast to the shed turned and put ready to be used again? as thats the sort of control also stoping trains if passenger at the center of the platform of a through staion based on length but  goods trans stop right up at the signal if they need to stop? 

 

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24 minutes ago, WIMorrison said:

Turntables - yes

signal - yes

railcom - yes

sorry i ment transponding which is the digitrax system

 

also what about the senario?

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43 minutes ago, ahellary said:

 

 

Train Controller will handle all of that, and lots more.  It is the bees' knees in my opinion but I'm biased as I've had the Gold version for years.  As mentioned it's expensive and you have to teach yourself, however there is a well used forum where most of the tips can be picked up.  I'd say the best thing to do is download the free trial versions of these programmes, learn them  and attempt to do what you want to achieve in simulation mode.

 

Cheers .. Alan

     

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Just now, Alan Kettlewell said:

 

Train Controller will handle all of that, and lots more.  It is the bees' knees in my opinion but I'm biased as I've had the Gold version for years.  As mentioned it's expensive and you have to teach yourself, however there is a well used forum where most of the tips can be picked up.  I'd say the best thing to do is download the free trial versions of these programmes, learn them  and attempt to do what you want to achieve in simulation mode.

 

Cheers .. Alan

     

alan

i already use tc gold  so i know it can i was asking the fact will i train do the same i see its limited by the number of locos is that controlled at one time or total on the layout as i have around 35 locos atm

anthony

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15 minutes ago, ahellary said:

alan

i already use tc gold  so i know it can i was asking the fact will i train do the same i see its limited by the number of locos is that controlled at one time or total on the layout as i have around 35 locos atm

Anthony

 

Ah, apologies - I must have thought I was replying to the OP.  Brain cell hasn't woken up yet ...

 

Cheers … Alan

 

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The limitation on number of operable trains is the ability of the host computer and DCC system to process commands, with the major issue being within the DCC Command station. The DCC Protocol is also significantly limited in the available transmission bandwidth and a bit you to control multiple end points.

 

35 Locos should not present a challenge to any competent program and certainly would not cause any issue for iTrain.

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On 03/10/2019 at 08:44, WIMorrison said:

The limitation on number of operable trains is the ability of the host computer and DCC system to process commands, with the major issue being within the DCC Command station. The DCC Protocol is also significantly limited in the available transmission bandwidth and a bit you to control multiple end points.

 

35 Locos should not present a challenge to any competent program and certainly would not cause any issue for iTrain.

yes i dont have issues with the number of locos ... i thought (wrongly ) that i train was limited by the number of locos .... but you havent answered my senario qustion can i train do it? as i cant see how it could having read the manual

Edited by ahellary
wrong word

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10 minutes ago, ahellary said:

yes i dont have issues with the number of locos ... i thought (wrongly ) that i train was limited by the number of locos ....

Unlike TrainController, iTrain apart from the Pro version does have limits on the number of trains/signals/blocks etc.

https://www.berros.eu/en/itrain/pricing.php

 

I have exceeded some of those limits with my 20' x 12' layout using TrainController.

Most users wouldn't

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On 02/10/2019 at 01:24, DavidB-AU said:

I would suggest going down the JMRI path as you're not locked into a single DCC vendor forever. It also allows you or a visitor to run trains with a phone as an additional controller.

 

Cheers

David

Why not? JMRI is no different as a programme from Rocrail, iTrain, TranController etc. in that is a computer program to control a railway not a DCC system.

 

If you buy a complete DCC system, it doesn't matter what software controls it, change the DCC system and it may mean changing virtually everything, whatever program controls it.

Loconet, Lenz RS bus, Can Bus etc are non compatible and some systems can only operate with one of them, others can work with two or more.

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On 03/10/2019 at 07:27, ahellary said:

hi there

does it control turntables ? signals ? transponding? will it do this senario?

 a loco hauled train finishes at the teminus  the loco uncouples phyical and logic wise ... a loco is selected from a choice of 10 locos sat in the engine shed and is moved to the coaches that just arrived and is joined then at a certain time the train is dispatched when its cleae of the station the loco tha brought the train in is releast to the shed turned and put ready to be used again? as thats the sort of control also stoping trains if passenger at the center of the platform of a through staion based on length but  goods trans stop right up at the signal if they need to stop? 

 

Turntables - yes

Signals - yes

Transponding - No

Railcom - yes

Uncoupling/Coupling - yes,

Actions - yes

Stopping in Platform Centre - Yes

Stopping at Block End - yes 

 

In short the only thing that is not, and will not be supported (AFAIK) is transponding as that is unique to Digitrax whereas Railcom is very heavily used in Europe. I will admit that the Actions in iTrain are not as powerful as currently available in TC9, however the upcoming release has many enhancements that close the 'percieved' gap even more.

 

8 hours ago, melmerby said:

Unlike TrainController, iTrain apart from the Pro version does have limits on the number of trains/signals/blocks etc.

https://www.berros.eu/en/itrain/pricing.php

 

I have exceeded some of those limits with my 20' x 12' layout using TrainController.

Most users wouldn't

 

In fairness Keith very few people exceed the limits in the iTrain versions and if you have a layout that has 128 locos 'in steam' at the same time then that is not an average home user and probably warrants the Professional version, whereas many home users need the functionality within the top of the range TC9 Gold to operate their layouts.

 

Dhr Berkout decided to create a gradation in the licencing in iTrain through the controllable assets on a layout and the addition of some extra capability in the different versions (reading CVs, extra displays, etc) but provides the same control functionality in all versions. Herr Freiwald has chosen to limit functionality in TC9 across the versions by restricting the capability in the 'lower' versions. Different ways to achieve a similar objective - open and published variations in pricing :)

Edited by WIMorrison
Spelling :(

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2 minutes ago, WIMorrison said:

 

Turntables - yes

Signals - yes

Transponding - No

Railcom - yes

Uncoupling/Coupling - yes,

Actions - yes

Platform centre - Yes

Block end - yes 

 

In short the only thing that is not, and will not be supported (AFAIK) is transponding as that is unique to Digitrax whereas Railcom is very heavily used in Europe. I will admit that the Actions in iTrain are not as powerful as currently available in TC9, however the upcoming release has many enhancements that close the 'percieved' gap even more.

 

 

In fairness Keith very few people exceed the limits in the iTrain versions and if you have a layout that has 128 locos 'in steam' at the same time then that is not an average home user and probably warrants the Professional version, whereas many home users need the functionality within the top of the range TC9 Gold to operate their layouts.

 

Dhr Berkout decided to create a gradation in the licencing in iTrain through the controllable assets on a layout and the addition of some extra capability in the different versions (reading CVs, extra displays, etc) but provides the same control functionality in all versions. Herr Freiwald has chosen to limit functionality in TC9 across the versions by restricting the capability in the 'lower' versions. Different ways to achieve a similar objective - open and published variations in pricing :)

so atm train controller is the way forward i must admit i have over 255 sensors on my railway

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1 hour ago, WIMorrison said:

 

 

In fairness Keith very few people exceed the limits in the iTrain versions and if you have a layout that has 128 locos 'in steam' at the same time then that is not an average home user and probably warrants the Professional version, whereas many home users need the functionality within the top of the range TC9 Gold to operate their layouts.

 

I have 129 locos/trains, not all are powered devices but all are controlled/trackable, also other objects such as blocks/sensors and suchlike where I again have more than 128.

 

Something I would like in TC which I raised with Herr Freiwald as a prototypical device not catered for in TC8, is a traversing table with more than one track.

It was not added to TC9, sector plates and traversers can still only have one track!

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Keith

 

if you look at the link you posted then you will see that it is 128 locos but 256 Feedbacks not 128 as you state ;)

 

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