computer control

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by conor, Dec 4, 2004.

  1. conor

    conor New Member

    ok so i pretty much know what im going to be buying but now i need to power it all. i was initially just going to for DC but i ws thinking of just going DCC but then i was on diditrax website and i saw an interface for computers. Does this let me control trains with DCC using my computer. I have no problem with technical computer stuff (im studying computer science) so this could be a handy thing. ive got an old mac that i was thinking of using but failing that ive another old computer running 3.1 that i could use. So would this let me control multiple trains at once with DCC without the need for a command station?

    i looked on the internet and found this website. what do you think?

    it seems to be good. if i went with this systme it appears that i dont need a power supply, it looks like i just hook this up to my computer via a serial cable and then hook their module up to the track as required. is that the case?

    heres the link
  2. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    You can use your computer as a command station, but it generally doesn't work very well - especially on old 'puter using 3.1.

    I use Lenz and run the system using my computer as a glorified (very, very glorified) throttle. Love this setup. The software I use is JMRI which is free ( which somewhat offsets the fact that you can't go comman-station free. Since it's open-source it should be particularly appealing to a CS major...

  3. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    PS - You might want to try posting this in the DCC forum (scroll down)
  4. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    hi conor, :wave:

    I don't get that from their website. It says you can use an existing DC throttle (power supply), or their SmartCab module (50w output). If you use DCC it will
    interface to your DCC controller which modulates your power supply voltage.

    It doesn't sound like a bad system, but the starter kit does not supply track
    power, if I read it correctly. :) :) :)
  5. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    I should clarify I have no idea if this system does that (no command center) -- I just know it CAN be done.
  6. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    The main component of DCC is the bit that puts the DCC sequences (commands) across the tracks. You need that bit. (let's call it the "base station" "Command station" "power pack" "booster" or whatever. and you then also then have a throttle. Some DCC systems, these are "all in one".

    Some of the more functional (read "more expensive") "comand stations" allow you to plug a computer into them. Software on that computer will then do what the "throttle" does instead.

    You will need to write your own computer software (see NMRA DCC Standards on the NMRA website) that will generate the appropriate DCC sequences (commands), just as your throttle does. There is already some software out there that will do this. how good it is, I don't know. But Windows 3.1???? Well.......... you need to check the specs for the software, but I don't think so. And an Apple Mac? Again..... check the specs, but probably not.

    There could be some real good software written, that would have a little pic of your loco, and throttle, and controls for horn, sound lights etc, all in an image of your loco cab dashboard. :):):) Also a layout diagram that you just "click" to set the turnouts etc. It all can be done with DCC, but, I suppose, it's just a matter of someone writing the software. :)

    Then........ install a minicam in the loco (I've laready got one) and have it put on the web (like a webcam) and then have all your DCC controls etc using the internet, and have a remote control layout!!!

    and.... have a view of your layout from the driver's perspective, at the top of the screen, and the loco controls at the bottol of the screen!!

    Now that would be something!!! Operate your layout from work!!

    And it all can be done NOW, with the equipment available. Just need someone to write the software. :)
  7. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Heck, Woodie, no need to write software to do that. I can run the layout from work right this moment, and I never wrote a line of code... Just need to set your 'puter up to let you remote in (I find it easiest to use MS Messenger for this) and you can run whatever software you use on the computer as if you were sitting there...
  8. conor

    conor New Member

    yeah hes right woodie. but your idea would work too. its just a pain, to go to all that effort and then if you go to that effort then it starts distracting your work, then you get fired and then you realise that there was no need to write the program.....
  9. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Does it include a train-cam? :eek:

    And weeeeee-dawgy!!!! TOOT!!! Can I have a go? :thumb: :cool: :D
  10. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    No train cam yet (so it's rather like running blind at the moment). But it's on my Christmas list for wifey, we'll see if she comes through...
  11. docsnavely

    docsnavely Member


    That website you linked seemed to me (a total novice) like a decent system. As for your computer, I don't think 3.1 will work with their software. If you read in the FAQ's, they talk about running their original program in DOS (which would work in a DOS prompt in 3.1, but who likes working with DOS????:confused: ) or their graphical interfaced program in 95 on up. I just wish I had the money to finish laying my track! :wave:


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