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 Signaling my model railroad
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LVRALPH
Fireman



Posted - 04/17/2010 :  08:02:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
See next post.

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LVRALPH
Fireman



Posted - 04/17/2010 :  09:23:21 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have been planning this project for years and it's finally time to do it. I have always wanted operating signals on my layout. Hueber has been busting me to get this project operational. Tony, a real life dispatcher says the railroad will operate much smoother.

I told Mark F, steam nut, and Rick B. last week i wanted to do this. Mark, wants to implement this on his RR so he is interested in what and how it happens.

I decided years ago to use the CMRI system. I have purchased a SMINI board along with a a RS-232 to RS- 485 converter. RS 485 or 486...whatever it takes.

First, I know little about electronics. Oh, I have a basic knowledge, from self study and MR articles, but for all practical purposes, I KNOW NOTHING! Programming a computer is even worse. My only D in college was a programming course. I hated that! I should have named the title of this thread signaling and electronics for idiots, or blithering morons. That would fit me.

But I want a prototype dispatchers panel with interlocked operating signals. This is the way I have chosen to accomplish that goal.

Six years ago I purchased and installed DCCOD detectors on the RR. Only the staging yards need to be equipped, but that will require 20 more detectors, so that is off in the future.

In looking around at all the help resources I found a lot of info and help but no step by step guide similar to my steel mill project. This will aim to fill that void. So come a long for the ride. If you are knowledgable about the subject, please do not hesitate to offer suggestions and help.



Edited by - LVRALPH on 05/23/2010 11:39:45 AM

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MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/17/2010 :  4:41:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sounds great Ralph! As you noted above, yes, I am interested! In fact, I will offer to help in any way I can. Like you, when it comes to electronics, I'm also an idiot, but hey, two idiots are better than one, right? But seriously, between the two of us, maybe we can make it work!

Mark

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LVRALPH
Fireman



Posted - 04/18/2010 :  09:37:47 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Sounds great Ralph! As you noted above, yes, I am interested! In fact, I will offer to help in any way I can. Like you, when it comes to electronics, I'm also an idiot, but hey, two idiots are better than one, right? But seriously, between the two of us, maybe we can make it work!



Yes, Mark, we can do it! We work well together. Remember wiring up a control panel in Laurel Springs late into the night? That was before I passed out on the mother of all yards!

My big problem now is I can't find the CMRI stuff I ordered. That is 250 worth of stuff! Could delay the start of this. I also might have to sell a couple of craftsman kits to fund this.



Edited by - LVRALPH on 05/03/2010 07:36:01 AM

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MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/18/2010 :  11:13:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ah yes, and don't forget, "heat your work, not your solder. mmmmmm"!

Mark

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LVRALPH
Fireman



Posted - 04/18/2010 :  7:10:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Ah yes, and don't forget, "heat your work, not your solder. mmmmmm"!






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dnhman
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 04/19/2010 :  08:50:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good luck with the project Ralph will be watching with interest,,,

Cheers!, Joe

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Al Silverstein
Engine Wiper

Posted - 04/22/2010 :  07:50:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As one who has had a working signaling system since the late 1970's I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you will not only have to learn the electronics hardware side of the creation of the signaling system but you will also have to learn how to program the signaling system.

My first signaling system was a home brew of electronic circuits with loads of wires, connections, logic circuits, relays, etc. It was hard work figuring out the circuitry and logic for each lamp. If I had not had a fairly solid electronic hobbyist background the signaling system would not have been built.

My second signaling system was built in 1985-1987 using the CMRI articles in Model Railroader. This was a little less challenging from the electronics side. All I had to do was interface existing detection and control devices to the CMRI. The real trick was the development of the software that would control the lights. I decided when I started using the CMRI to create a small test layout consisting of an oval, passing siding, and a spur as a test bed. It was one of the smartest things I ever did. It took me only about two weeks (1-2 hours per day) to build hardware side of the project. It took me almost 4 months (1-2 hours per day) to develop the software to run two 2 dual D signal masts and 5 single D signal masts. Once I got this far moving and expanding the CMRI to my main layout was easy. All I had to do was expand the hardware to take in more input sources, expand the the hardware to control more output lights, and add lines of code to handle the additional logic.

A working signaling system is neither cheap or easy to create. It can require a lot of funds, work, and learning new computer skills.

There is one saving grace to your situation that I did not have when I started with the CMRI and that is there is a group over at Yahoo Groups that is dedicated to the CMRI system.

AL



Edited by - Al Silverstein on 04/22/2010 07:52:19 AM

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dave1905
Fireman



Posted - 04/22/2010 :  09:27:56 AM  Show Profile  Visit dave1905's Homepage  Reply with Quote
What type of signaling are you installing ABS/APB or CTC?

Dave Husman

Iron Men and wooden cars
Visit my website : www.wnbranch.com

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slimrails
Moderator

Premium Member


Posted - 04/22/2010 :  11:31:00 AM  Show Profile  Visit slimrails's Homepage  Reply with Quote
As a fellow electronics blithering idiot, I'm very interested in this. I considered mounting and wiring up ONE Tortoise switch motor to a toggle switch and indicator LED to be a personal triumph!! When trying to figure out DCC, I found a gap between the concept and the technical explanation. Subsequently, I got lost and made a mistake when I laid my track. Keep us posted step by step, Ralph...I want to learn as much as I can about this stuff without the charts, graphs, diagrams, and specialty language!


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MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/22/2010 :  2:57:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, as Ralph already knows, I too am interested in learning. I've done some research in the past and understand the basics. I've done my share of computer programming in the past as well, so the logic part comes easy to me as well. I think I'm more challenged on the hardware side, so this will be a fun learning experience!

Mark

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LVRALPH
Fireman



Posted - 04/23/2010 :  06:41:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Guys, thanks for the comments. I guess I should state I'm not a complete blithering idiot regarding electronics. I have a library of books on electronics that I purchsed to teach myself the subject. I'm facinated by the subject, but there is way to much math for me. I just want to know how to build it and troubleshoot it, thats it!

I have built from articles in MR a working CTC-16 system, except I move so slow, DCC came along and took over. Made it easier for me to transition to DCC adjusting CV's etc. Plus I have a ton of leftover electronic parts for my hobby bin.

I noodle with the stuff. I am not an expert. But I am not afraid of it.

As for the programming, reading Bruce Chubbs book, I've got the basics down. The devil is in the details. I figure I was smart enough to pass the CPA exam and I wrastle with the tax code on a daily basis, I have the constitution for this. I've noodled with logic IC's in the past to create signals way before CMRI.

Yes, it is expensive. I already have $250 worth of DCCOD'S I built from kits installed on the layout doing nothing but blinking away detecting trains. Thats a very expensive set of blinking lights. I need to take the next step.

It will take another $1,500 to get it going, $900 which is needed right now. A CTC board was always part of the prime directive and I feel will add tremendously to the fun of the layout. Plus it will cut down radio traffic considerably.

In all my research of resources on the web and in print, nothing was there in plain, simple, how to language. Kind of like the old 1001 model railroad ideas. They had a step by step photo article that walked you through everything. It is what I have in mind for this thread.

I will present from the complete novice standpoint (I'm a hair above that) how to pull this off. I will not be technical unless needed.I just want to document in plain english and photo's what might be obvious to some, but not me how to do this. And all in one place.

I will compare this to the first time craftman kit buyer. He opens the kit sees all these parts and mumbles what have I done. Scott Masons DVD's bridged that gap, I hope to bridge the signalling one here. Like Scott said, If you are a motivated beginner and can read and follow directions, you can do this. I might even turn this into a clinic at Valley Forge 2012.

There are other choices out there. I will not yea or nay them, but allow you to watch while big stooge here trys to figure this out. It will be fun to see Hueber run and hide behind a sheet of plywood again!



Edited by - LVRALPH on 05/05/2010 07:00:14 AM

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LVRALPH
Fireman



Posted - 04/23/2010 :  06:43:47 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dave1905

What type of signaling are you installing ABS/APB or CTC?



CTC. A CTC board will be upstairs and the dispatcher will clear the routes for crews.



Edited by - LVRALPH on 04/23/2010 06:51:48 AM

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LVRALPH
Fireman



Posted - 04/25/2010 :  08:15:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
St Anthony's the man! Found my previous CMRI order. It was in a box labeled signal parts and detectors. Duh! I never looked in it because I was sure that was my Oregon signal stuff and infared detectors. Duh!

After speaking with Don Wood of EASEE Interfaces, I discovered I did not need $80 dollars of stuff so I was able to order 4 more detectors (DCCOD's) so I will be able to detect all of NY Division staging.

The next post I will start a discussion with a system overview on how it all connects.

One thing that will be important is good soldering skills and the ability to solder PC boards. It is not a hard skill to learn, but necessary. On a scale level I rate it about a 5, so it's not to bad.



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LVRALPH
Fireman



Posted - 04/25/2010 :  08:23:22 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is what Hueber and I are aiming for.






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Edited by - LVRALPH on 04/25/2010 08:24:18 AM

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LVRALPH
Fireman



Posted - 04/25/2010 :  08:50:01 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I will get started with a system overview. Here is a link that I think lays it out clearly how it all goes together. I have Digitrax DCC as my system.

Turnout control is where I have issues. Mine are conrolled by a home built power supply from a MR article with + 12V, -12V and GND. This diagram only has + 12 V and GND, so how does the machine turn the other direction?

Also, I have Digitrax DS-54's connected to my machines. Can I retain these or will I have to replace or change them. Will I need to use JMRI to program my system or write my own code?

http://www.kk5im.com/rrimages/CMRIwiring.pdf



Edited by - LVRALPH on 05/05/2010 07:18:11 AM

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