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Author Topic: Is There Such a Thing As Automated DCC Operation?  (Read 11916 times)
BradKT

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« on: March 08, 2010, 09:49:55 PM »

I am building a DCC layout that is about 80-85% complete. 

I have seen automated functions in layouts where a train stops at a stop (such as a station or a factory)  and then restarts and continues on after a set period of time.  I checked with Circuitron and, while they have the circuit boards that enable DC powered trains to do this, they don't have anything that would work with DCC.

Is there anything out there that would enable the automation of a DCC layout so that my trains could make automatic stops?
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poliss

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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2010, 09:56:35 PM »

Yes, the new Hornby Sapphire decoder can do this. Don't know how easy it is to get in the USA.
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BradKT

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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2010, 10:01:55 PM »

Could you explain a little more about this works or refer me to a website that does?

I should have put this question in my original post.  Is there anything out there that would work with a Bachmann EZ-Command DCC system?  If not, what kind of system would it work with?  I use Digitrax DCC decoders in my engines, which are either Atlas or Athearn.  I also have a few Bachmann DCC engines that use Bachmann DCC decoders.

Are we talking about a system that is controlled by a PC or what?

I need to learn a little more about this in order to determine whether this is a feasible idea.  I idea that I have in mind is automating 1 or 2 stops at the refinery, the cement plant, the passenger station and the truck-rail terminal.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2010, 10:04:42 PM by BradKT » Logged
BradKT

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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2010, 10:06:24 PM »

Could you explain a little more about this works or refer me to a website that does?

I should have put this question in my original post.  Is there anything out there that would work with a Bachmann EZ-Command DCC system?  If not, what kind of system would it work with?  I use Digitrax DCC decoders in my engines, which are either Atlas or Athearn.  I also have a few Bachmann DCC engines that use Bachmann DCC decoders.

Are we talking about a system that is controlled by a PC or what?

I need to learn a little more about this in order to determine whether this is a feasible idea.  I idea that I have in mind is automating 1 or 2 stops at the refinery, the cement plant, the passenger station and the truck-rail terminal...and maybe regulating the speed of the trains.
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poliss

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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2010, 10:18:30 PM »

It's a DCC decoder feature. Your controller needs to be able to operate CVs in the 127-140 range. I don't think this is possible with the E-Z Command, but the Dynamis could do it.
Here's a (rather complicated) guide on how it works. http://www.ontracks.co.uk/index.php?page=fromLibrary&guide=155
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2010, 10:37:34 PM »

A station stop is easy to implement with any decoder that features "stop on dc."  The only other things you need are a block occupancy detector to start a timer when the train arrives in the station block, the timer to time the station stop, a relay to switch the block over to DCC when the timer times out, and a source of dc power.

If you have many locomotives that you would like to choose from and do not feel like replacing all those decoders, there is another approach.  Use a Digitrax DB150 booster set on "program" in place of the dc power supply.  In program mode, this booster sends out an "all stop" signal which will stop all locomotives that it is powering, no matter what their addresses.  A train entering the station block will be powered by the DB150, which will stop it and start a timer.  The timer will throw a relay after some period of time to connect the station block to the regular DCC booster, restarting the locomotive(s).  Beauty of this is that the deceleration and acceleration rates set in the locomotive(s) still apply so the stops and starts are gentle and can be easily adjusted.

If you have an extra computer available, you could consider using JMRI's Panel Pro to do the same job.  The program is available for free but you need an interface between the computer and a compatible command station (it has to have a suitable Input/Output bus.)  You can use a block occupancy detector to detect when trains arrive in the station block, just like the systems mentioned above, but you also have a neat alternative.  You can instead use transponding, if you have decoders that support it.  With transponding, your computer can identify which locomotive(s) are in the station block and react accordingly.  You could, for example, have all freight trains pass through the station without stopping, and maybe some limited passenger trains run through as well.  But all the local passenger trains and a few limiteds would stop.

With a computer in the loop, automatic station stops are almost trivial.  Beyond that, the sky is the limit.  Anything from a complex railroad running itself to being able to run your layout from anywhere on the planet that you have access to the internet.

Jim

p.s. unfortunately, E-Z Command does not have a suitable bus so the JMRI route is out.  But the other two methods will work.  Using a stop on dc decoder will probably require some programing beyond the E-Z Command's capabilities but that is what friends are for.  Using a DB150 does not require any extra programming.

J.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2010, 10:45:00 PM by Jim Banner » Logged

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BradKT

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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2010, 12:14:32 AM »

If I am going to seriously consider doing this, I may very well "graduate" to a different power supply/booster system.  I have the basic Digitrax DCC decoders installed my Atlas and Athearn engines.

Would you recommed that I migrate to a Digitrax power supply/booster system?  Any recommendations that aren't prohibitively expensive?  As nice as the feature would be, there does come a point where the expense is just not worth making the trains stop 3 or 4 times on a fairly large layout.   

Is there any system made by Digitrax that could program the basic DCC decoders to make automated stops?  In other words, I am looking for something that would only act on specific decoder addresses (I think).  If I understood Jim Banner's post correctly, using the Digitrax booster would only stop all trains on the layout wherever they are whenever I stopped one at a station.  That won't work for me.  Is there any way that I could use the basic DCC decoders to do this?  Does anyone know where I can read up on this topic to get some more information? 

I hope that I don't have to replace my Digitrax decoders.  If I could program my basic Digitrax decoders to do so just by substituting a Digitrax power supply/booster system for my present Bachmann EZ Command System, then I would seriously consider it.  If I would have to replace the power system plus the decoders and get some sensors, too, then the expense is not worth it to me. 

I'm ignorant on this issue and some of the discussion has gone right over my head. 

What are we really talking about here? 

I hope that my questions are making some sense.

And by the way, I do have a extra PC (Compaq).  I think that it currently has Microsoft Wondows 98 installed on it.

Anyway, that's what I currently have to work with.  Any suggestions?  I am just trying to get some information here.
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lescar

New and jumping in with both feet, up to neck.


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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2010, 06:01:47 AM »

BradKT:

You may want to check out this post,  I asked basically the same question.  It has a lot of good information.

 http://www.bachmanntrains.com/home-usa/board/index.php/topic,11970.msg97158.html#msg97158

Les
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All Comments and suggestions are all ways welcome and appreciated
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2010, 12:39:39 PM »

First, a clarification.  Using a Digitrax DB150 booster in addition to whatever command station you use to run the rest of the layout would NOT shut down all the trains on the layout when one is stopped in the station.  The relay used in this setup would switch just the isolated station track (just one block of track) from the command station output to the DB150 output.  That would stop the train at the deceleration rate that is programmed into the decoder.  Once the timer had timed out, the relay would switch the station track back to the command station.  From time to time, command stations update all the commands to active addresses.  The next update would start the train at the station moving again, accelerating up to speed at the acceleration rate programmed into the decoder.  Even though I have called it a station track, the isolated section of track could be anywhere on the layout.

Now you probably would not want every train to stop at the station.  One way of handling this would be small magnets on the locomotive detected by reed switches beside the track.  These would trigger a "no-go" timer which would prevent the automatic stop circuit from working for a while, at least long enough for that train to make it past the station.

I am not sure if all Digitrax decoders include stop on dc but I will check.  If they do, that would be a cheaper solution than using a second booster.

Jim
« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 09:57:01 PM by Jim Banner » Logged

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lescar

New and jumping in with both feet, up to neck.


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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2010, 04:36:51 PM »

BradKT:

I just saw this at Tony's Train and thought of this post, not sure if this will work for you, but it worth a shot.

http://www.tonystrains.com/technews/station_stopper.htm

EDITED: Sorry jump the gun, I didn't notice that was discontinued.

Les
« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 04:41:03 PM by lescar » Logged

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NarrowMinded


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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2010, 09:17:25 PM »

Just my two cents here, I use reed switches and magnets attched to my rolling stock that I want to stop. By doing this no matter what engine is pulling my passenger cars they stop lined up with the platform.

Mr. Banner is going to cost me money if I keep reading his post regarding DCC, I love the thought of the loco's smoothly starting and stopping.

NM
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BradKT

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« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2010, 09:33:53 PM »

How does the reed switch and magnet setup work?  Does anyone have any pictures or can you refer me to some information to read and to try to digest?  I am unable to picture this setup and how it works in my mind.

If you have problems posting them here, you can e-mail me at:

Bradfordtalamon@att.net

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NarrowMinded


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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2010, 11:06:38 PM »

Hi, it's pretty simple for DC I use these because they are all in one.
first the timer/relay activation

http://www.prosecuritys.com/6062.html



1. place a reed switch at left, right, or center of your track at the stop.

2. Place a magnet on the loco or rolling stock so it aligns with the reed switch so it passes over the switch. this will close the switch when it passes over it.

3.connect 12dc to the board at POS.+ & NEG-   

4.connect one side of the reed switch to + pos. side, connect the other side of the reed switch to the "TGR" trigger side. now when the reed switch is activated/closed the timer cycle is started.

Now the track

1.Isolate the section of track that will be your stop/block , gaps at both ends on one rail (dc only needs a gaps on one rail)

2. run a feed wire for track power to the "C" common terminal on the timer/relay


3.run a wire from the "NC" Normally closed terminal to the isolated rail.

now when a loco or car Magnet passes over the reed switch it will activate the timercycle the relay will open and disconnect power from the isolated track which stops your loco. when time expires the relay closes and energizes the rail. and your train starts up.

NOTE: for DCC you will need a board with a DPDT double pole double throw relay. or power a separate DPDT relay from the timer. which means two commons, two normally closed and two normally opened. and both rails would need to be isolated. and connected to these in sets

Please feel free to point out any errors you may see in this post or better ways to do it.
my 2 cents

NM

W
« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 11:16:28 PM by NarrowMinded » Logged
BradKT

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« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2010, 03:50:41 AM »

When I talked to Circuitron about if I could do this with DCC, they told me about the method that Narrowminded just set forth.  The only drawback with that approach is that as soon as the train hits the isolated section, it just stops...there is no slow deceleration.  That's no problem for Atlas engines, but Athearn and Bachmann engines will stop instantly.  The relay then cycles and restarts and the train starts up again after a set period of time.

I am not going to tear up my layout to isolate a few sections of track on my main lines.

Jim Banner mentioned the use of transponders.  If either Jim or anyone else could explain that approach to me, I'd like to hear it.   

1.  Does the transponder go in the engine?

2a.  How is the transponder wired? 
  b.  What does the transponder hook up to?
  c.   Does the transponder react to an optical sensor (block detector) or
       what? 

3a.  What are the optical sensors (block detectors) wired to? 
   b.  A circuit board? 
   c.  Am I correct that the optical sensors operate on DC power as an     
       accessory and need a separate power source?

4.  Are the optical sensors (block detectors) mounted in the track?

I have some experience using Circuitron's crossing signals in conjunction with optical sensors mounted in the track.  If I am envisioning the transponder approach correctly, we are talking about a transponder for EACH engine in a consist, as well as for each train...which would presumably be mounted in the locomotive.  I also assume that each transponder has to be individually programmed, which is beyond the capabilities of the EZ Command System.

Couple that with the optical sensors (block detectors) to go in the track and the appropriate circuit board to wire them to...plus the power source.

I would then also have to replace the EZ Command system with a Digitrax Zephyr starter set in order to be able to program the transponders...and that assumes that I can do that with the starter set, but I am going to do a little more research before I do so.

That's my first impression about what we are talking about here and that sounds like it is way too expensive to me.  I have pretty much made up my mind that I am probably going to replace the EZ Command power supply with the Digitrax Zephyr starter set (which I understand includes both the power pack and the booster).

Thanks for the information guys, but this seems like it is just too expensive (not to mention too much work) to me just to have a few trains make 3 or 4  automated stops.  It's a nice feature and I don't knock it, but there is a question of diminishing returns to consider here.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 03:55:29 AM by BradKT » Logged
BradKT

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« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2010, 01:10:37 AM »

That thought did occur to me.  I have and I am thoroughly reading them before I make any final decisions.
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