"Westcroft". A computer controlled layout.

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sp4rky
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:05 pm

"Westcroft". A computer controlled layout.

Postby sp4rky » Sat Jan 12, 2008 3:42 pm

Hi guys,

Welcome to my layout thread.


This layout will be controlled completely by a PC but it will be able to run without. I've got all sorts of switches on order so build a control box and I also have loads of bits wired up to my computer so it can also do some controlling.

I have no idea what the final look of this will be. I would like an oval for a passenger train to run round on a schedule and also a shunting area for me to play with but I can't get my other half to commit to an amount of space that I can have :(


Anyway, I got bored of waiting for her so I've knocked together a long stretch of track to fiddle about with the computer controlled side of things.

So, without further ado, here are a few random snaps of some sidings, stock, and a train running by itself...


My bestest locos. A Class 08 shunter, AIX(?) Terrier and Class 37:
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The test layout:
Image

An old power supply made new again because I broke the direction switch on that Hornby controller:
Image

A shot of my tidy wiring:
Image

After a few mishaps I thought I should wire up an emergency stop button (the red one). I used to green button to replace some Reed Switches that I don't have yet:
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My single Reed Switch for testing purposes. It's a bit big. And yes, it's sewn onto the track at one end:
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My test subject - a 'toy' train. You can't quite see it in this picture but it's got a magnet superglue'd to the bottom:
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Here's some random debuggering output on the PCs monitor that helped me work out where something was going wrong.
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Is it possible to embed a YouTube vid on here?
I took a short video of the test train moving into a siding:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSniItBlstM

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SouthernBoy
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Location: The past: We do things differently there

Postby SouthernBoy » Sat Jan 12, 2008 6:09 pm

Very good. I'll be following your thread with interest, I know nothing about automatic control but would like to learn. What will you use on the computer to control the trains - a proprietary programme or something you design yourself ?

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Chuffer Chuff
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Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:55 pm
Location: Warwickshire, West Midlands (Near The GWSR)

Postby Chuffer Chuff » Sat Jan 12, 2008 6:56 pm

Wow! This layout is so interesting!

Computer control as well! I shall be watching this thread with great interest!

Look forward to more progress! :wink:
"You only get one chance in life, so make the most of it!"

sp4rky
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:05 pm

Postby sp4rky » Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:47 am

Hi SouthernBoy,

To answer your question, I'm writing my own program to control the layout using things called Phidgets that plug into a computer that can then control the speed of a train and also switch the points.

Unfortunately it's all a bit 'dumb' at the minute. All the trains head over to the far left of the layout, activate a switch, then head to where they're meant to go. Which means a loco going from the top siding to the second one down will do a lot more travelling than required (if you follow).

I'll be working on this all day today so I might have some more to show by this evening :)

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Chuffer Chuff
Posts: 528
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:55 pm
Location: Warwickshire, West Midlands (Near The GWSR)

Postby Chuffer Chuff » Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:48 am

That sound like a lot of fun getting the trains to do as they're told! :lol:
"You only get one chance in life, so make the most of it!"

sp4rky
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:05 pm

Postby sp4rky » Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:59 am

haha, you bet :)

Just waiting for the missus to go to work then my play time can begin!

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Chuffer Chuff
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Location: Warwickshire, West Midlands (Near The GWSR)

Postby Chuffer Chuff » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:00 am

May I ask why you have to wait until the missus has gone to work...? :wink:

Is it because your supposed to be doing more important things?
"You only get one chance in life, so make the most of it!"

sp4rky
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:05 pm

Postby sp4rky » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:03 am

Something like that...

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Chuffer Chuff
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Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:55 pm
Location: Warwickshire, West Midlands (Near The GWSR)

Postby Chuffer Chuff » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:08 am

Haha! Thought so!

Railway modelling takes priority! :lol: You've got the right idea!
"You only get one chance in life, so make the most of it!"

m.levin
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:46 pm

Postby m.levin » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:35 am

I know the people are sat there saying "wouldn't it be easier to just go Dcc and connect to the PC that way?" But the fun you must be having. are you going to have signal control from it to?
I was thinking you could build a circuit that send a pulse out, from one output, that the Phidgets can read, which will then send a signal back toi the PC, to tell you the state of the signal.

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Chuffer Chuff
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Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:55 pm
Location: Warwickshire, West Midlands (Near The GWSR)

Postby Chuffer Chuff » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:40 am

Computerized signaling! Thats what I'd like for my layout! :wink:
"You only get one chance in life, so make the most of it!"

sp4rky
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:05 pm

Postby sp4rky » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:46 am

Wow, M.Levin, that sounds like a good idea but building circuits is over my head at the minute.


The idea with this layout is to have the PC control everything so if I want to I can just sit and watch everything happen.


The only real problem I've come across so far is working the points. The switches that plug into the Phidgets kit cost £15 each (!!) and I'll need 2 switches per point. Add that into a little shunting area and we're looking at a lot of money :(

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Chuffer Chuff
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Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:55 pm
Location: Warwickshire, West Midlands (Near The GWSR)

Postby Chuffer Chuff » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:47 am

Mmm...now that is going to prove very expensive for you!

How many points have you got on the layout? :wink:
"You only get one chance in life, so make the most of it!"

m.levin
Posts: 1981
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:46 pm

Postby m.levin » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:52 am

Its a shame you are not 100% with cuicits as you would be able to build your own switching curcit for half the price.

sp4rky
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:05 pm

Postby sp4rky » Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:01 am

I was hoping to find a little tutorial about making a switch somewhere on t'internet but I can't seem to :(


Chuffer: On my test layout I have 3 points, but on my proper layout I think I'll be looking at about 10-15 depending on space for sidings.


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