Computer control for layouts

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by MadHatter, Feb 27, 2007.

  1. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Hi All :wave:

    I have a Digitrax Zephyr. One day when I start on my larger layout I want a single section that can be controlled from my laptop- like CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) and someone acting as a dispatcher. I don't want to control the trains, just the points and signals.

    I was just wondering if anyone can suggest an easy to use program, I see that they are all in the region of +/- $100 so I guess the price won't really matter.

    Any help will be appreciated! :thumb:
  2. cmhockman78

    cmhockman78 New Member

    if you want to control things from your computer you might want to look into a PLC
    you can get a micro PLC for around 40 bucks
    the only drawback would be that they only have about 8 outputs
    so it depends how many signals you want to control
    but they are very easy to program
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Look up the JMRI stuff... a google search should find it for you.

    There are also some discussions about this in the DCC forum.

  4. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Thanks MasonJar- their help file doesn't help much though as I've tried to start a panel but to no avail, do you perhaps know what to do??
  5. I believe you've made a good choice with the Digitrax system if you're interested in getting into computer control. You need an interface to connect your Digitrax system to your PC using either Digitrax's MS100 serial connector, or a LocoBuffer connector. I recommend the LocoBuffer, as even Digitrax's own employees prefer this. They now have a USB version of it as well that is even more convenient. There is some more information in a recent thread in the DCC forum here if you're interested. You'll find lots more information along these lines in the DCC forum as well.
  6. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    A fellow I know has his MRR all run by computer... including the trains! I'm not entirely sure how he does it, I haven't had the chance to pick his brain for the details, but here's his web page. I do know he's using Digitrax with the USB-to-Rails system, but that's about it.
  7. rekline

    rekline Member

  8. This is very doable to accomplish. I personally have the Digitrax system on a small first-time layout myself that will be fully automated using TrainController software. I'm using a DS64 to control the Tortoise switch machines I have and a BDL168 for block detection. I haven't looked at this USB-to-Rails system, but it seems like a more generic implementation of a DCC computer interface. Regardless, with DCC it is very possible to have your layout controlled entirely by computer.

    Here is a link showing a large layout being run totally by computer using the Digitrax system and TrainController software, if you're interested. Check out the McKinley videos, they're a fantastic (albeit complex) example of what can be accomplished with digital control systems and computers. Welcome to the new age of model railroading. :wave:
  9. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Thanks for the replies one and all, I googled a manual and I got something of use.

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