Bit of fun

idlemarvel

Neither idle nor a marvel
13 Jul 2015
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Just for a bit of fun, I have made a video at 8 x speed of my indoor automated layout. The full 11 minute version was too much even for me.
Excuse the scratching noise, I guess that's the compressed sound.
 
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jimmielx

45mm gauge track - approx 16mm scale (1:19)
24 Oct 2009
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Fantastic! Uncoupling too. Nice!
 

dunnyrail

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25 Oct 2009
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Just for a bit of fun, I have made a video at 8 x speed of my indoor automated layout. The full 11 minute version was too much even for me.
Excuse the scratching noise, I guess that's the compressed sound.
What fun, when the superfluous noise went into ‘do dah‘ I was expecting it to burst out into song.
 

playmofire

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23 Oct 2010
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Wonderful, Dave, great to watch and all done at the same speed as so many people seem to operate their layouts on youtube!
 

PhilP

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Well you have seen how fast things were in old black and white films, haven't you?
:D:D:D
 

dunnyrail

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Just for a bit of fun, I have made a video at 8 x speed of my indoor automated layout. The full 11 minute version was too much even for me.
Excuse the scratching noise, I guess that's the compressed sound.

Thinking this through a little more, many moons back I created an automated layout. I got the concept from one of the in-house LGB mags. I did struggle trying to understand how revercing worked as I wanted trains passing at a loop going round in opposite directions. I did however manage to get 3 trains going round the same way with just 2 passing loops on the circuit. Also how the delay factor works, though I have an old shuttle unit that may do delay. Be interesting to get some more techie details.
 

Gizzy

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Really very clever Dave....
 

idlemarvel

Neither idle nor a marvel
13 Jul 2015
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Be interesting to get some more techie details.
More techie details then. The automation was done using Hornby RailMaster software. This runs on a PC and talks DCC through Hornby controllers, in my case a Hornby eLink. Using Hornby kit is hardly the norm for G-scalers but it does work although with severe limitations, namely 4 amps max current and voltage of about 14.5 v. That is okay for small indoor layouts with short trains running at slow speeds, like in the video clip.

The software works by either recording your DCC commands and replaying them, or you can program a sequence of commands to be executed at specific times. These commands can control locos, points, signals, un-couplers or any device you can control using DCC. For a loco they include things like "lights on", "forward to speed 20", "stop", "play sound of station announcement", etc. Basically you build a command list using a visual programming tool to move a loco from A top B, setting points and signals along the way, then play that either "on request" or at a specific time of day. This is bit like defining a "diagram" for a train along with the route settings. You can then chain these together for different locos to build a sequence like in the video.

It takes a bit of trial and error to define each train movement, but in principle the process is easy. It took me about an half an hour each to define the five train movements in the video, to get the loco to stop in the right places and play the sounds at the right times.

So far so good. The major flaw with RailMaster is there is no feedback mechanism, so you just have to trust that the loco completes all the tasks and ends in the right place before the next one starts. Hornby did announce loco detection for RailMaster about 5 years ago, supposedly based on RFID technology, but it has never materialised, which is a great shame. Without the ability to detect locos, to make sure you stop in the same place each time you run the program, you have to resort to certain tricks, like running into buffers at minimum speed, or if it is in a though station, having a section of track that you can switch the power off under DCC control, using an accessory decoder and relay for example.

Anyway, despite this flaw, you can see what is possible. It also has a built in scale clock so you can run a day's timetable in compressed real time, while you sit back and watch. For the money it is not a bad product. Some time ago Hattons (UK retailer) were selling off copies of the software for £5! Those are sold out, but you can still get the software with an eLink DCC controller and 1A power supply for £90 new. The Hornby eLink is literally useless with the RailMaster software as it has no conventional throttle or means of attaching one.

RailMaster is quite old technology, even when it was first released it looked dated. It is written in Visual Basic, and in the last few years has had hardly any updates or new features added. There is support of sorts but I suspect for Hornby this product is dead. You can see the Hornby demo video of RailMaster here: