Friday, 24 June 2011

Two Videos - A Demo of the CTC Panel and SPAD Detection

Just a short post for now, kind of jumping the gun in the design process but oh well :)

Two short YouTube Videos, one displaying a basic rundown of the panel:

The second video is a demo of the SPAD Detection system - still in testing, and only enabled if the operator chooses so.

Thats it for now, I continue to code away at the system which currently weighs in at around 2200 lines. I am also writing code to support the tracking of train numbers as they move around the track, to enable the dispatcher to easily track the trains without referring to another board.


Monday, 20 June 2011

And so, it begins.

So I guess I better start by introducing this site... It will be a progress log of sorts, of my layout currently under design/construction.

The current track plan looks a little something like this - since it is a 2 level layout, the diagram is in two parts:

-Lower Level:

Upper Level:

Those two double-track circles below are helixes - more on those later..

I hope to write as I begin construction, but these first few posts will be the design of the layout, and how it came to be what it is above.

I think I first started on this path late last year, when I purchased a copy of the CAD program AnyRail. I can personally recommend it, it may seem simple but for my needs it was immensley powerful, and just what I needed to get some ideas down. After toying with various designs a house move steered me in the direction of single car garage - approximately 2.8m by 4.5m of space. Since I wanted a bit of running length in my trains I opted for N Scale, namely American Modern-Image UP/BNSF. Why both? It gives me an excuse to buy more locos and have more trains on the layout - I know of some areas where BNSF and UP share track, so that is the area I am going for. Nowhere in particular, when I start the scenery I'll worry about the locale then. I'm not much of a purist when it comes to the running of trains, however I like to keep some degree of realism.

Control Frameworks

With running the trains comes the underlying components to make it all work. I'm planning on using the following:

Construction Materials
-NCE ProCab (have a PowerCab that can be easily upgraded, and will acquire some wireless throttles)
-Atlas Code 55 Turnouts, #5, #7, and #10.
-Micro Engineering Code 55 Concrete/Wooden Tie weathered flextrack. After speaking to some people about Micro Engineering track they remarked it can be stiff and the way the rail is set into the ties is a little weaker than say Peco, where they sink the rail into the tie. But I like the look of Micro Engineering, and it may take some getting used to considering my prior experience, but I like a challenge.
-Up until recently I was going to opt for Spline Roadbed, however I have decided to use 9mm ply since it is easier to put up and less time-consuming. I plan to use a 1:1 copy of my CAD drawings, so this will ease the construction of curves and trackage.


I've given Signalling its own category, as it seems to warrant it given the amount of time and research I have put into it already! The signalling system I am planning to use is by a company called CTI Electronics. After looking at other DCC-based systems I started to really like CTI's solution, since all logic is coded manually. With the software design experience I have I found I could read the manual and launch straight into coding panels, with signals, switches and block detection. I originally started with some basic interlockings (single line CTC track, Loop Interlocking) and have now begun coding the layouts logic systems before its even started! I've found it has helped greatly. Below you will see the layout converted into a modern CTC Panel:

I've found that by drawing the panel has influenced another aspect of my design, operational capability.

Operational Capability
After building several layouts in the past, I've found that once I've completed the initial construction and scenery, I get bored with seeing a train go round and round. Whats the point, apart from watching it go round and round? gets a little boring after a while.

So this time round, I wanted to bring in something to sustain interest - Operations.

Operations I liken to a game like Chess - the layout becomes a puzzle, and it is up to you to solve it. This layout is designed for Moving Freight, not running around in circles.

How do I plan to move freight? well so far I have drafted an operational schedule of trains. I did not want to move forward with the plan unless I could get operational capability out of it.

I'm going to stop here since I can see my post is rapidly switching between subjects, I might edit each component into individual posts later - thats the whole idea of blogs right?