Reduce wiring for train detection?

Cliff George

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Hi Cliff, I like the sound of your approach. The wiring would be reduced significantly and bringing all the gear back to a central, protected location is attractive. I am going into a research phase and I will consider and trial your approach in the process. I have also toyed with the idea of pneumatics however I have found the points switches I bought (before I was aware of a pneumatic solution) are still going strong after 7 Sydney summers but might consider this if and when they start to fail. I treat all my switches with Innox once a year and many of them still look almost new inside. How long have you been operating on this design and which software do you use for automation? Regards, Jordon

Morning Jordon,

I'm using RR&Co TrainController, the same as you. I have the Gold version but I'm sure I could do the same with either the Bronze or Silver version. I've been doing automated g-scale trains for more than 10 years now. Have you checked out any of my YouTube videos? They are getting a bit old now.

Regards
Cliff
 

Slawman

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Morning Jordon,

I'm using RR&Co TrainController, the same as you. I have the Gold version but I'm sure I could do the same with either the Bronze or Silver version. I've been doing automated g-scale trains for more than 10 years now. Have you checked out any of my YouTube videos? They are getting a bit old now.

Regards
Cliff
Hi Cliff,

The videos are great mate, thank you. Are there any downsides to using occupancy blocks as opposed to the reed or IR detection? I had been using three reeds per block for detection, direction and braking. Not quite wireless but well worth considering as an improvement to momentary detection.
 

Diesel2000

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I went through this exercise last year and determined that at present there still is no good wireless option for detector connections to their respective modules, especially for outdoor capability. Its possible to rig up something with infrared/photosensor using Arduino, but will require some programming knowledge, and weatherproofing would be ad hoc.

I'm using the Massoth digital track contacts and have wires running to their respective modules - originally Massoth and now Marklin CS3+ and S88. I also have 50 of the contacts for my layout and the work setting it up was substantial as I run all the wiring back into the house to the feedback modules. I originally had 24 wires for Massoth 4-channel switch decoders which I converted over to the feedbacks, so had to run an extra 26 wire pairs under the layout. Having a bus trench was helpful, and laying some extras so if I decide to change/expand then the work will be far less. I'm not sure at present there is a good/better/reliable option and it definitely requires solid labeling and organization.

I'm using iTrain and have track contacts at each end of connected blocks and 1 at entry/exit of stub sidings.

I've determined part of the fun is simply setting it all up to get it to work. Now I can spend my time engineering all the advanced operations in iTrain.
 

Slawman

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Well a progress update. I have found and am happy with my wireless switch implementation. The only wires required connect the switch machine decoder to the track for power & control. The train detection capability is a little trickier. There are a few options I have found that will transmit wirelessly. One is a PIR that stands next to the track and detects any train or carriage that passes (no magnets required) and the other is a more typical reed module that transmits wirelessly back to a central station. The reed module is potted and looks very well suited to years out in the garden.

The wireless reed module is my preference however it requires a new Control system, a 30z from Mxion. The system seems quite similar to the Massoth 800z I am using now but with modern developments incorporated, sort of what I would have expected if Massoth had continued to develop their technologies. I understand it will also operate with my Navigator hand controller.

I am using the single switch decoder from Mxion on some of the switches and they are working without an issue, they are also potted and weatherproof.

Does anyone have experience using this system or have an implementation on the forum? I have been in touch with the company and they are responsive and so far I am seeing the 30z as a nice upgrade to my now 12 year old 800z.
 

Diesel2000

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Well a progress update. I have found and am happy with my wireless switch implementation. The only wires required connect the switch machine decoder to the track for power & control. The train detection capability is a little trickier. There are a few options I have found that will transmit wirelessly. One is a PIR that stands next to the track and detects any train or carriage that passes (no magnets required) and the other is a more typical reed module that transmits wirelessly back to a central station. The reed module is potted and looks very well suited to years out in the garden.

The wireless reed module is my preference however it requires a new Control system, a 30z from Mxion. The system seems quite similar to the Massoth 800z I am using now but with modern developments incorporated, sort of what I would have expected if Massoth had continued to develop their technologies. I understand it will also operate with my Navigator hand controller.

I am using the single switch decoder from Mxion on some of the switches and they are working without an issue, they are also potted and weatherproof.

Does anyone have experience using this system or have an implementation on the forum? I have been in touch with the company and they are responsive and so far I am seeing the 30z as a nice upgrade to my now 12 year old 800z.

The 30z and feedback components are brand new from MDE, so unlikely anyone has actual experience with them yet. I've tried out a lot of Marius's products and they are generally very good and mimic Massoth, but add functionality where those products lack. The wireless track contacts are very intriguing as I've spent untold hours running wires for the track contacts. If the wireless connection to the RBM can be used in the S88 bus on CS3, then I could use this if expanding further. That would be fantastic functionality and make automating outdoor layouts MUCH easier to do.

I use the EKW single channel switch decoder and the DWA motorized switch machines on my layout and have found those to be good additions. Some switches just need the motor drives instead of the solenoids to operate well and reliably.
 

Slawman

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The 30z and feedback components are brand new from MDE, so unlikely anyone has actual experience with them yet. I've tried out a lot of Marius's products and they are generally very good and mimic Massoth, but add functionality where those products lack. The wireless track contacts are very intriguing as I've spent untold hours running wires for the track contacts. If the wireless connection to the RBM can be used in the S88 bus on CS3, then I could use this if expanding further. That would be fantastic functionality and make automating outdoor layouts MUCH easier to do.

I use the EKW single channel switch decoder and the DWA motorized switch machines on my layout and have found those to be good additions. Some switches just need the motor drives instead of the solenoids to operate well and reliably.

His range of products is innovative and as you say, takes existing capabilities and adds that little extra. I will have first hand experience with the system soon and will keep everyone posted. If everything goes to design the only wires I will have in the garden will be connecting track power to the rails....:)
 

Slawman

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Well an update is in order here. I have been successful in converting my system to wireless (aside from power connection). All detectors, signals and switches are either wireless or controlled via the rail connectivity. I have implemented full automation using iTrain and have about 20 wireless reed detectors deployed on the layout. It was a steep learning curve from the Massoth and Traincontroller software system I was using filled with technical road blocks but I found the supplier very knowledgable and supportive throughout and I am very happy with what I have running now. No more rats nest of wires and now possible to lift and relay track without such a massive effort. Happy railroading to everyone.
 

Slawman

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I have a post-script here for anyone who may stumble across this thread. To my great disappointment, this Mxion system has turned out not be reliable enough to operate an Automated layout. The detectors will work most of the time but will fail occasionally and completely so the whole system needs to be re-booted. This means that the automation stops working and in the worst case trains run into each other. The DCC headend operates reliably, just the feedback system is not reliable.
 

Paul M

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That's a shame after all that work
 

dunnyrail

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I have a post-script here for anyone who may stumble across this thread. To my great disappointment, this Mxion system has turned out not be reliable enough to operate an Automated layout. The detectors will work most of the time but will fail occasionally and completely so the whole system needs to be re-booted. This means that the automation stops working and in the worst case trains run into each other. The DCC headend operates reliably, just the feedback system is not reliable.
I wonder if any slight dirt on the track or wheels could be causing issues? Have you tried a squeeky clean track and wheels in your trains?
 

PhilP

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A fundamental problem with DCC, is that there is no error correction, or confirmation of delivery to the underlying transport mechanism of the system.
So if you alter the speed (say) of a loco, all the CS does is send 'address x to speed-step y', which it sends a number of times.. There is nothing sent back from the decoder to say 'decoder x is now running at speed-step y'.

If things get 'busy', then data can be lost.

PhilP
 

Slawman

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I wonder if any slight dirt on the track or wheels could be causing issues? Have you tried a squeeky clean track and wheels in your trains?
The problem was that the entire feedback system would freeze so no location information was being received from any detectors (not just a missed signal here or there). Pretty sure it was an issue with the firmware the supplier could not resolve. All other functionality would continue as normal. The problem was specific to the wireless detectors, block (current sensing) detection works fine and is reliable.
 

Slawman

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A fundamental problem with DCC, is that there is no error correction, or confirmation of delivery to the underlying transport mechanism of the system.
So if you alter the speed (say) of a loco, all the CS does is send 'address x to speed-step y', which it sends a number of times.. There is nothing sent back from the decoder to say 'decoder x is now running at speed-step y'.

If things get 'busy', then data can be lost.

PhilP
Yes, it is frustrating that more modern technologies are not really being brought into this space. There just isn't the volume to warrant much investment. I am not trying to do anything difficult technically.... RFID would be a good technology to incorporate, cheap, reliable and off the back of the FMCG industry well supported.