Video's on working with Traincontroller

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RudyB
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Traincontroller 16: Engine Speed Profiling

Postby RudyB » Sun Jul 26, 2015 10:58 am

When a new engine is brought to our layout and we 'throttle it up', the speed at which it moves at every DCC speed step is unknown. To know the engine speeds they need to be measured. This is done by counting travel time over a given distance, which results in a scale speed in m/s. Given your layout scale (N, HO, O, ...) the 'real world' speed in km/hr is calculated. Traincontroller has a built in function to do these measurements, this is called Speed Profiling.

Why is speed profiling of our engines important?

Well ... first of all of course to have our TC speed gauges show the correct values in km/hr.

But more important, to have the correct brake- and stop distances, in cm, when using one sensor per block. One and the same engine, with the same block entry speed, will stop repeatable at the same spot. But it's probably not the point that we specified in cm. Also, different engines, and different block run in speeds, will give a large spread in the stop positions. Absolute accuracy can only be accomplished when the engine speeds have been measured.

The video shows how to prepare the engine'e CV values, how to prepare the measurement track, how to perform the speed profiling and finally to perform a measurement to add the 'brake compensation'.

Link to video Traincontroller 16: Engine Speed Profiling

A PDF document with a step by step 'cook book' explanation is also available via the link.


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Traincontroller 17: Acceleration, Deceleration, Weight, Powe

Postby RudyB » Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:14 pm

As a preparation for speed profiling, we changed the decoder’s CV3 and 4 values for acceleration and deceleration to zero, or as close to zero as possible without visual loco jerk with a speed step change. But of course we like our trains to look like they have a mass and that it takes some effort to get them moving … speeding up slowly, and also braking slowly.

We probably remember from school that F=ma, or a=F/m. A higher mass, or less engine power, leads to a lower acceleration. Traincontroller can take care of this ‘mass simulation’. It controls the train’s acceleration and deceleration by sending out the DCC speed steps carefully spread over time.

This video shows how we can go about.

In the train properties window, on the 'General' tab there is an entry for weight. This influences acceleration and deceleration. The higher the weight, the more time it takes to get up to speed or to slow down.

On the ‘Speed’ tab, there is an entry for engine power. This also has an effect on acceleration. To make things even more realistic, at a certain point a heigh mass with (too) little engine power, also influences the maximum speed that can be reached.

Then there are two sliders called 'acceleration' and 'deceleration'. Just play with those and watch the effect until you have something that looks nice to you.

It is possible to create 'train sets', which is done by allocating wagons to engines. When both the engine and the wagons in the train set have been given a specific weight (their prototypical weights can be used of course), Traincontroller dynamically keeps track of the total train weight. If cars are added, their weight is added and vice versa. The total train weight, combined with the engine power and the acc / dec sliders now influence acceleration, deceleration, and maximum speed.

Link to video Traincontroller 17: Acceleration, Deceleration, Weight, Engine Power


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Traincontroller 18: Use Your Own Engine and Car Images

Postby RudyB » Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:03 am

When an engine or a wagon has been added, it can happen that the image you like to use is not available by default in TC. Luckily there is an option to import our own images, although it is not as easy as simply uploading a jpg or bmp file. The image has to be converted to a special TC format. The program needed for the conversion is called TrainAnimator. It is available for free at the TC website: http://freiwald.com/pages/download.htm.

A paid version of the program is also available. It includes a database with some 2000 images, ready for use. But of course ... to us hobbyists it is more fun to create our own images! :)

The start of the process is a nice image of our engine. We could make it ourselves with a digicam, or we could try to find it on the Internet. Chances are that a nice image is already available there. A website with thousands of loco images is: http://pc.pxtr.de/stocke.htm

The video shows how to go about with the TrainAnimator program. The 'trick' is to start off with an image that is not too large, or you may end up with much too big a file size for just some small TC loco icons. The magic number is an image height of 48 pixels.

TrainAnimator has some built in functionality to crop an image, but no resize. It can be worthwhile to first use an external editor to prepare the image. But not everyone has Photoshop installed, or knows how to use it. Not to worry ... some very good image editors are available for free.

One option is to use a web based editor like e.g. https://pixlr.com

Another option is to download one of the many free image editors that are available. I use Photoshop for the more intricate work, but for just some fast and easy editing I prefer FastStone: http://www.faststone.org

When the image is cropped and resized to 48 pixels height, we can load it into TrainAnimator. The TrainAnimator crop sliders are not needed now, since our image already has a perfect fit. All that may be needed is to make the surroundings of the engine or car transparent, such that the image icons look good on a light as well as on a dark background. The available previews show the result of your work.

Link to video Traincontroller 18: Use Your Own Engine and Car Images


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Traincontroller 19: Create and Use Vehicle Groups

Postby RudyB » Thu Aug 06, 2015 10:38 am

Traincontroller 19: Create and Use Vehicle Groups

It is possible to restrict the use of blocks or schedules to only certain trains. To do this, we need to go to the 'Trains' tab of the block or schedule's properties window. In the left hand pane there's a list of all available vehicles, either listed in some default available groups, or, if we use the bottom tab called 'Vehicles', in a plain list of all available vehicles.

To restrict a block or schedule to certain vehicles, we need to add the ones that we want to allow to the right hand pane. As long as that pane is empty, all trains are allowed. As soon as at least one train is in that pane, only that one is allowed, all others are not.

As long as we have just a few engines or cars, there is good oversight and it is easy to select the vehicles that we want to add to the right hand pane. When we'd have a lot of engines, it becomes a more tedious job when for instance we need to select 12 cargo trains, and when we have to repeat this several times with other blocks or schedules. This is when the use of 'Vehicle Groups' comes in handy.

The video shows how we can create these Vehicle Groups and how we can assign trains to them. Their purpose is ease of the selection process later on. To spend some time once with the creation of well chosen groups, can save us a lot of time later, every time when we need to make train selections.

The video also shows how after the creation of a "Cargo' group and an 'Intercity' group they are used to restrict traffic to certain blocks. Then we also create some rules and some scheduled stops for Spontaneous Run after which we send off the trains on a Spontaneous Run. Then we enjoy and see that what we designed workes out well. I love it when a plan comes together. :)

Link to video Traincontroller 19: Vehicle Groups


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Traincontroller 20: The Switchboard Editor

Postby RudyB » Sun Aug 09, 2015 2:51 pm

The Switchboard will probably be the TC screen we watch most of the time. First of all we of course would like it to have all the functions and indicators we need to control our layout. Then, it might also be worthwhile to spend some time to make it look as nice as we can get.

In video 14 we saw how all the panel colors can be changed and how we could select a different interface look & feel. In this video we'll have a look at all the options the Switchboard Editor has to offer.

Link to video Traincontroller 20: The Switchboard Editor.


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Traincontroller 21: Block Speed Settings

Postby RudyB » Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:31 pm

On my layout I want some trains to make a scheduled stop at a station, while others just need to rush through. With the trains that need to stop, I think it looks nicer when they already slow down in the previous block and then smoothly enter the station at an already reduced speed. There are several possibilities to do this in TC. The video shows some of these possibilities.

In TC, the maximum speed at which a train can drive in a block is the minimum of several settings:
- max engine speed
- max block speed at green signal
- max block speed at yellow signal
- block speed settings per Schedule
- temporary speed limits

The position where a train starts to slow down in a block is the 'brake marker'. If a slow down takes place in the previous block already, then that starts at the 'brake marker' of that block, unless a 'speed marker' was placed, in which case this 'speed marker' position is used (which can be placed before or after the brake marker).

Alternatively a 'temporary speed limit' could be used as an 'operation' with an 'action marker'.

As often, several options are available. Which one to choose may depend on the task you like to accomplish or on your personal preferences.

Link to video Traincontroller 21: Block Speed Settings.


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Traincontroller 22: Block Stop Position Settings

Postby RudyB » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:10 am

While in the previous video we saw how different block speeds can be managed, this video is about having different stop positions in a block.

For instance, at a station, we may want long trains to halt at a different spot than short trains, such that the carriages are always nicely aligned with the platform. And maybe we want a train that is on a 'drive through' to stop at the end of the block, if the next block is occupied.

This is all possible, and it is even quite easy to do. The video shows how.

Link to video Traincontroller 22: Block Stop Position Settings


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Traincontroller 23: Run a Second Train Into a Block

Postby RudyB » Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:37 am

In the previous 2 videos we saw how we can have different trains run at different speeds in one and the same block and how we can create different stop positions also.

In this video we're going to use both possibilities to run a second train into a block that already contains a one.

The use for such an operation could be for instance when a train runs into a terminal track and we don't want that train to return onto the main track, driving backwards.

We'll first need to decouple the loc. If we have a decoupler installed, TC can do that for us. Or, when using Kadee couplers, TC can perform a 'Kadee shuffle'.

Then a new loco needs to run into the block, carefully, driving slow, and also stopping in time, before it hits the wagons.

The video shows how this can be accomplished.

Link to video Traincontroller 23: Run a Second Train Into a Block/


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Traincontroller 24: Graphics for Icons and Backgrounds

Postby RudyB » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:05 am

The Gold version of Traincontroller has a built in graphics editor with which it is possible to modify, or create our own, icons.

Well ... it is an editor, but it has only limited functionality. You'll probably find yourself better off using an external editor and then copy-paste the pixels into the TC editor.

It can also handle transparency, but unfortunately it is not (yet) possible to import .png files (that have an 'alpha channel' for transparency). Often, copied graphics still need some fine tuning for the transparency inside the TC editor itself.

For icons, it usually works best to create and edit the largest size. TC automatically creates the smaller sizes. Usually this gives nicer and more predictable results than start small and then let TC enlarge.

About size:
- TC calls it 28 x 28 pixels.
- The actual grid is 27 x 27 though, because TC overlaps the grid blocks by one pixel.
- the editable canvas is 26 x 26 because TC keeps one blank pixel between icons.

A background image can be used to for instance create a 'switch panel'. For backgrounds, use the 27 pixel grid as a measure. Icons cannot be placed directly on a background image. First place them outside the image and then drag them onto it. Or, first place all images and then place the background as the final step. Also note that the top left grid block of a background image can not be covered by an icon.

The video has a short demo on how this can all work out. If you like to have a closer look at the panel ... the .yrrg file including the graphics used (with the LCD available in 4 colors) is available for download on the Blog's Software page.

Have fun.

Link to video Traincontroller 24: Graphics for Icons and Backgrounds


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Traincontroller 25: Flagman

Postby RudyB » Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:47 pm

We use physical sensors to let TC know an event has happened (mostly the event is that a train ran over the sensor, but there may be other uses like physical switches on a real control panel). But TC also has the option to use 'software sensors', so called 'Flagman', to let us know that a certain event has taken place.

A Flagman is a 'virtual man' who raises its 'virtual flag' when an event, or a logic combination of events, takes place. The flag is lowered again as soon as the events are not true anymore. In software terms, the Flagman is a memory location that can have two states: 1 or 0, TRUE or FALSE.

The events on which the Flagman should react are specified in the 'Trigger' tab of the Flagman properties (opened via a double click on the Flagman). It can be a single event, e.g. 'Block 6 occupied'. It can also be a logic combination of several events, e.g. 'Block 6 occupied' AND 'Block 7 occupied' OR 'Schedule 3 is running'.

What can we use Flagman for? Well ... actually for anything we can imagine. Whether you need them depends on the things you like to accomplish.

A simple use could be just for graphics purposes, as is shown in the video with the toggle switch.

Also, it can be very useful to start or stop certain Operations as soon as a logic combination of events becomes TRUE.

Flagman can also be used inside Blocks. When a Flagman inside a block becomes TRUE, then that block gets the status 'Occupied'. The video also shows an example on that.

Link to video Traincontroller 25: Flagman


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Traincontroller 26: Flagman Trigger Logic

Postby RudyB » Sun Aug 30, 2015 1:08 pm

In the previous video the Flagman was introduced. Flagman can be used to monitor a user specified status on the layout. As soon as that status becomes valid the 'red flag is raised' and a series of Operations can be started. When the status is not valid anymore the flag is lowered.

The status that we want the Flagman to monitor is specified in the Trigger tab. This trigger can make use of the status of almost every element available on the layout, combined with logical statements like AND / OR. Complex logic can be created this way.

The TC Gold version also has some further logic functions that make use of a counter:
- 'Exact (n)' means exactly n of the elements inside this group must be valid to become TRUE.
- 'At most (n)' means that max n elements must be valid.
- 'At least (n)' means that minimum n elements must be valid.

How Flagman and their possible complex trigger logic can be used is up to our own creativity and imagination and the goals we like to accomplish.

The video shows examples of all the logic groups available.

Link to video Traincontroller 26: Flagman Trigger Logic


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Traincontroller 27: Combi Groups and Train Descriptions

Postby RudyB » Thu Sep 03, 2015 1:03 pm

One of the logic functions that is available in TC Gold for the Flagman trigger, is the so called ‘Combi Group’. Inside a Combi we can place Blocks and/or Schedules.

The Combi becomes TRUE when a train is on one of the Blocks that is mentioned inside it. If a Schedule is also specified, then the Combi is TRUE when there is a train on a Block AND it is on one of the Schedules.

In stead of monitoring all trains, we can limit the Combi to only certain trains. This is done via the Train button next to the logic function dropdown, which shows only when we selected a Combi.

Actually we can do more than only use trains, we can use so called Train Descriptions. A Train Description can contain one or more trains, one or more wagons and one or more properties like speed or weight. This makes it possible to really focus the Flagman Combi group on a very specific train with very specific properties.

The video shows how the Combi Groups work in general and then how to create the Flagman that monitors if a certain train is driving. In the next video we're going to use these 'train driving' Flagman to update our Train counter.

Link to video Traincontroller 27: Combi Groups and Train Descriptions


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Traincontroller 28: Counter

Postby RudyB » Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:23 am

The Traincontroller Switchboard can have counters. We could use a counter to for instance show how many trains are in a hidden yard or shadow station, or how many schedules are active, or how many trains are actually on the move at any moment in time, or ... well, what ever you may like to count, up to how many mugs of coffee you had. :)

A counter has three parameters:
START defines what number the counter starts at after a reset.
ON defines at which count the switch function of the counter switches on.
OFF defines at which count the switch function of the counter switches off.

The switch function can be used to start Operations, or as a Condition or a Trigger in other Switchboard elements.

Up- and down counting is not done via a Trigger tab in the counter itself, it is done via an operation in any other Switchboard element.

A counter can also be clicked on with the mouse to count up. A right click opens a menu with the possibility to also count down, or reset the counter.

The video shows a counter for trains in a hidden yard and a 'running trains' counter.

Link to video Traincontroller 28: Counter


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Traincontroller 29: Start/Finish Operations and Macros

Postby RudyB » Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:19 pm

In the previous video we had a look at the LCD counter for 'running trains'. The counter was triggered via Flagman. The other counter in the LCD panel, the Schedules counter, is triggered directly from the Schedules themselves, using so called Start and Finish Operations.

With every Schedule it is possible to specify a series of Operations to take place when the Schedule starts, before the train leaves. These can be train functions, like putting lighting on or off, or sounds in a sound decoder. It could also be other Operations though, actually the whole list is available via the 'List' button.

In a similar fashion Finish Operations can be defined, to be executed when the train has come to a halt at the end of the Schedule.

There may be cases where you like to specify the same list of operations to be used with different Schedules. In stead of having to enter the whole sequence multiple times, it is easier to define a so called Macro. The list of Operations now needs to be entered only once, in the Macro, which we can given an appropriate name. After having defined the Macro, it is now available for use in any Operations list.

The video shows how to create a Macro and how it is used in the Schedule Start Operations list.

Link to video Traincontroller 29: Start/Finish Operations and Macros


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Traincontroller 30: Extended Accessories - Counter

Postby RudyB » Sun Sep 13, 2015 1:17 pm

Traincontroller 30: Extended Accessories - Counter

In the previous video's we had a look at counters. They have the size of one icon, which can sometimes be a bit too tiny to clearly read. There's a larger, a 4x4, /Nixie Tube' counter on the switchboard. This is made using Extended Accessories.

These' EA's are very versatile and powerful tools. We can use them for nice graphics or for very versatile multi aspect signals or displays, and complex switching arrays.

When we couple a 'switch' connection to the EA, it functions as a combined multi state switch and multi state Flagman, sort of a 'Super Flagman', that can raise different colors of flags and start different Operations lists based on it's several states.

In this video we'll have a first look at how to define an Extended Accessory and how to build the Nixie Tube 'counter' with it, which is actually not a counter, but a 4 state Switch/Flagman.

Link to video Traincontroller 30: Extended Accessories - Counter


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