Recent DCC advances?

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GWR_fan
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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby GWR_fan » Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:58 pm

Gordon,
Quote: "......and a touchscreen device is the last thing I would choose to control a layout anyway, due to the lack of tactile feedback from the controls."

Exactly how much feedback tactility does a typical DCC controller provide? You input a command and see the demand in action by the response from the locomotive. How does an input from a touchscreen differ from this? Wireless DCC is a reality and in operation is little different from bluetooth control. Wireless DCC though requires a standalone hardware device to enable operation. Bluetooth uses a free download software app to control the digital interface. You seemingly do not understand that bluetooth control does not have a DCC hardware device. The app operates the bluetooth receiver on the loco which inputs the decoder. Bachmann intends the bluetooth receiver to be an integral part of the decoder or possibly an add-on for existing decoder installs.

Perhaps look on You-Tube to the many videos that explain the simplicity of the system. I for one being more traditional (I have both digital and analogue and actually prefer analogue control) am not a fan of the bluetooth system but see it as a viable alternative to traditional DCC given the increasing popularity of touchscreen control and its basic simplicity in construction.

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Bufferstop
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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby Bufferstop » Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:53 pm

I don't think he meant tactile feedback, as in tactile feedback to a mouse that let's you feel the bump when you cross the edge of a window, more like the feel of a control knob that let's you feel the end stops or if it is styled to have a pointer even give you by touch alone a good idea of where it is set. I don't think there's any touchscreen device that can be held in the palm of your hand whilst operating it with the fingers of that hand, whilst held at your side or behind your back at the same time as telling your young audience what is going to happen and pointing to the action with your free hand. One of the best systems for experiencing feedback, is also one of the cheapest, a lever with a length of fine cord to pull of a signal against the force of a spring which emulates the effect of gravity on a heavy signal arm.
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BananaRepublic
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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby BananaRepublic » Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:03 pm

I'm actually with Gordon on the point about tactile response and feel of hardware knobs and buttons, but I can equally see that lots of people are quite comfortable with a touch screen.
Otherwise there wouldn't be all those people singing the praises of the Z21, TouchCab and the equivalent touch screen interfaces for JMRI and RocRail etc.
Not to mention how using smart devices and apps has become second nature to many millions of people around the world.

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AustralisRico
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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby AustralisRico » Mon Dec 07, 2015 10:01 am

GWR_fan wrote:AustralisRico wrote: "So far I have yet to see any advantage of the bluetooth Bachmann option over the Roco,..........."

The main advantage I see is that no DCC controller is required. Power is supplied to the track and bluetooth does the rest.

I don't really see the removal of the command station as an advantage. What happens if control is lost? Weather it be by interference (more on this later), the app crashing or the phone losing battery. On the Z21 system there's a stop button which you hit and it sends the stop command to all chips. With no command station connected via cable there is no such backup on the Bluetooth system.

As for interference, for one or two locos its probably not an issue but if you have more (say 10+) then I could see interference from all the different phones connected to the different Bluetooth receives causing issues with each other. The Z21 system has a WiFi router which all your computers (weather it be smartphone, tablet or laptop/desktop) can connect to via wifi or Ethernet and they don't interfere with each other as the router manages the wireless connections. And also as stated before it supports traditional controllers, the Bluetooth system cannot.

I must admit though that I personally I don't trust Bluetooth, it has a reputation for being the most insecure wireless and from experience I have seen it muck up alot at times. I would not trust expensive locos to such a system when a more reliable option is available which also has an inbuilt backup and uses current DCC rather than needing an add on which:
A) Takes up more space (even if not much) in the loco
B) While cheaper with just 1 or 2 locos, if I were to add it to all my locos (30+) all the Bluetooth addon's would cost more than the Z21 system did with the previously mentioned weaknesses and probably more I didn't think of (such as how do you program the loco number without a command station).

Don't get me wrong I am all for smartphones/tablets, hence why I bought the Z21, I just don't trust Bluetooth. Perhaps I'm jaded due to working in IT and thus feel safer with a wired backup as no wireless is perfect.

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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby Bigmet » Mon Dec 07, 2015 10:49 am

I suppose the way to do it with the architecture proposed for the Bluetooth control method, is a DIY manual kill switch for track power.

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AustralisRico
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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby AustralisRico » Mon Dec 07, 2015 10:57 am

Bigmet wrote:I suppose the way to do it with the architecture proposed for the Bluetooth control method, is a DIY manual kill switch for track power.

Surely killing the power suddenly isn't good for the DCC chip. Generally computers don't like their power being cut.

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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby BananaRepublic » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:43 pm

AustralisRico wrote:
Bigmet wrote:I suppose the way to do it with the architecture proposed for the Bluetooth control method, is a DIY manual kill switch for track power.

Surely killing the power suddenly isn't good for the DCC chip. Generally computers don't like their power being cut.


That's how the global "emergency stop" works, or can be selected to work, with most DCC systems. It cuts off power to the track.

Similarly, with a normal shut down of a DCC system, there is no broadcast command sent out to the loco decoders to instruct them to shut down, or to "warn them" that track power is about to be cut off.
As far as the decoders are concerned, track power just cuts off.




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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby BananaRepublic » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:44 pm

Bigmet wrote:I suppose the way to do it with the architecture proposed for the Bluetooth control method, is a DIY manual kill switch for track power.


Indeed.
All that is required, is a switch in the DC or DCC power supply to the track.



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Flashbang
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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby Flashbang » Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:21 pm

Hornby Elite and the Select (not sure of the eLink?) Prodigy Advance and the NCE PowerCab and some other well known DCC command stations do not remove rail power when the emergency stop command is sent. It is a data command (Broadcast) sent to all mobile Decoders to immediatly stop. Track power remains On.
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BananaRepublic
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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby BananaRepublic » Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:57 pm

AustralisRico, in all due respect, I think you are seeing too many imaginary issues here.


AustralisRico wrote:On the Z21 system there's a stop button which you hit and it sends the stop command to all chips. With no command station connected via cable there is no such backup on the Bluetooth system.


In most cases, that emergency stop button, either cuts or can be programmed to cut the track power supply.
Easily replicated with a simple switch in the track feed.


AustralisRico wrote:As for interference, for one or two locos its probably not an issue but if you have more (say 10+) then I could see interference from all the different phones connected to the different Bluetooth receives causing issues with each other.


In 98% of all cases, operation will be in the home environment, with only one, two or a few handsets being used.
The system can easily handle that amount of Bluetooth wireless traffic.
The Bluetooth system will handle many locos at the same time, the moving ones will be limited by the operator's ability to control them all. No different to DCC or DC for that matter.

Even in a club or group running session with several devices being used, there shouldn't be interference issues.


AustralisRico wrote:The Z21 system has a WiFi router which all your computers (weather it be smartphone, tablet or laptop/desktop) can connect to via wifi or Ethernet and they don't interfere with each other as the router manages the wireless connections. And also as stated before it supports traditional controllers, the Bluetooth system cannot.


The idea of the Bluetooth system is to remove the need for proprietary trackside hardware, "controllers" as you call them, included.
Neither do you need a router or WiFi.


AustralisRico wrote:I must admit though that I personally I don't trust Bluetooth, it has a reputation for being the most insecure wireless and from experience I have seen it muck up alot at times. I would not trust expensive locos to such a system when a more reliable option is available which also has an inbuilt backup and uses current DCC.....


What generation of Bluetooth are you thinking about?
If I read it correctly, Bluetooth 4 (LE) is supposed to have longer range, is more robust, has increased pairing reliability, is more secure, supports multiple data pairings, lower energy consumption and a faster data rate.


AustralisRico wrote:A) ...rather than needing an add on which: Takes up more space (even if not much) in the loco


The first "board", or decoder from BlueRail Trains, is larger than typical H0/00 decoders, but they claim to be working on smaller versions.
The Bluetooth components are built-in on the decoder board.


AustralisRico wrote:B) While cheaper with just 1 or 2 locos, if I were to add it to all my locos (30+) all the Bluetooth addon's would cost more than the Z21 system


That is a very valid point.
The key to success will be keeping the cost of decoders/boards down to reasonable levels.

However, another consideration is the complete absence of the upfront cost of buying a DCC system.
In the case of the Z21, that's a saving of UK£300.
Even if the total cost ends up costing more, it will have been spread across time and the purchase of those decoders.


AustralisRico wrote:...(such as how do you program the loco number without a command station).


If by Loco numbers you mean DCC type addresses, these are redundant.
New locos are automatically found by the Bluetooth system and you can call them what you want. Name number or whatever.
e.g. for the UK, full 5 digit TOPS numbers, or names like "Mallard" or HST etc.

Punching in loco addresses is replaced by just selecting locos from the handset screen.
These can be organised and grouped together for the locos actually running at any particular time.
Version 1 of the app allows 3 throttles to be displayed at once, which smooth scrolls left and right to bring in many others.
It should be easy in HMI terms, to control several locos at once. The limiting factor will be the human operators ability to do so, not the ability to access the individual throttles.



Bigmet
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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby Bigmet » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:08 pm

AustralisRico wrote:
Bigmet wrote:I suppose the way to do it with the architecture proposed for the Bluetooth control method, is a DIY manual kill switch for track power.

Surely killing the power suddenly isn't good for the DCC chip. Generally computers don't like their power being cut.

DCC is designed tolerant of power interruption as well as for signal degradation due to the inherently noisy rail/wheel interface. Power cuts and lightning strikes have done my DCC system no harm while operating - we had a spate of both in my area - and these tend to be 'bad as it gets' events if you look at mains waveform.

The DCC system emergency stop whether manually invoked or by the system detection of a short circuit is 'soft' in all the brands I know: a command of universal stop is sent out, and the power on the track is significantly current limited. I can still alter decoder settings with the system tripped out on my Lenz 100 unit, very handy if there is a need to stop some locos moving when power is restored.

This is part of the barrier to entry facing all systems looking to advance beyond what DCC offers. Good robust design, tolerant of user error and power system defect.

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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby BananaRepublic » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:13 pm

Flashbang wrote:Hornby Elite and the Select (not sure of the eLink?) Prodigy Advance and the NCE PowerCab and some other well known DCC command stations do not remove rail power when the emergency stop command is sent. It is a data command (Broadcast) sent to all mobile Decoders to immediatly stop. Track power remains On.


Read what I said carefully.
In most cases where removing rail power is an available option, it is selectable by some method.
There are usually two or three stop modes.
Stop command to an individual loco (power still on)
Stop command broadcast to all locos (power still on)
Track power cut.

In the case of NCE the number of presses of the Stop button determines what function that button performs.
e.g. For the Pro Cab, three presses shuts the Command Station (and track power) down.
https://ncedcc.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/art ... top-button

With the Lenz system, the Stop button can be programmed to either stop all locos (global stop command - power stays on), or to shut down track power.

The MRC/Gaugemaster Prodigy Advance system has a similar dual function.
"For emergency stopping of the current locomotive, press STOP. Pressing and holding STOP for 2 seconds will stop the Main Track output".

From the Hornby Elite user manual...
"Press the STOP key located on the Elite. See Fig. 1.
2. The screen will show “E. Stop” (Emergency Stop).
3. All activity on the layout will cease. (All power is removed.)

Has that answered the question?

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Flashbang
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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby Flashbang » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:38 pm

I DID read your answer in complete detail.
My reply was to inform those who read these posts and use DCC that not all DCC systems and some of those of the more popular types in the UK, do not remove track power when the ES button is just initially pressed.
The Powercab doesn't remove track power at all regardless of how long or how many times the ES button is pressed! The Prodigy Advance on an initial press doesn't remove power but does remove it after a couple of seconds which could be too long in some cases! From the latest Select V1.5 manual... 1. Press the “STOP” button located on the unit.
The LCD display will flash “E5” (Emergency Stop). All locos will be commanded to stop. However, the rails will remain powered.

I was wrong about the Elite which as you correctly say does remove track power - what about the elink??
Not trying to be cleaver about it, just ensuring all who read these post fully understood, which you have now elaborated more upon.
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Bigmet
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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby Bigmet » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:09 pm

BananaRepublic wrote:...The first "board", or decoder from BlueRail Trains, is larger than typical H0/00 decoders, but they claim to be working on smaller versions. The Bluetooth components are built-in on the decoder board...

An old mucker who lives and works in Canada has seen the present hardware and tells me the decoder size is going to be challenging for HO and OO, he estimated inch and a quarter wide and over two inches long. Good for O and G, which have a major following in North America, especially among those who have their trains outdoors. Or operate on the floor of their massive loft apartment, trainset style.

What really caught his attention though is that the necessary conformance certification is for now only taking place for North America. The developer needs to see enough of a customer base elsewhere in the world to go after the approvals necessary to sell into those territories.

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Re: Recent DCC advances?

Postby BananaRepublic » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:58 pm

Bigmet wrote: An old mucker who lives and works in Canada has seen the present hardware and tells me the decoder size is going to be challenging for HO and OO, he estimated inch and a quarter wide and over two inches long.....


The first board is quite large at 58.6 x 28 x 5mm.
The company say they are working on smaller versions.
Full details of the first board ....[url]http://bluerailtrains.com/blue-horse/[/url]


Bigmet wrote: ....What really caught his attention though is that the necessary conformance certification is for now only taking place for North America. The developer needs to see enough of a customer base elsewhere in the world to go after the approvals necessary to sell into those territories.


That appears to be the plan.
North America has been done and the boards are now available.
They will gauge interest from other markets and pursue conformance approval if there's enough demand.




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