Digital Stuff....

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by mav_uk, Dec 19, 2001.

  1. mav_uk

    mav_uk Member

    Okay, I have found out what the cost of going digital is (very cheap in Holland - 150nlg for the tranformer bit, and about 150nlg per engine:D )

    So now I have other things I'm interested in, how easy is it to use digital points? And how easy is it to run the whole thing from a PC (windows or Linux - I have both boxes available). Can you create a realistic flow of trains using this?

    And finally do I have to do anything special to the track for any of the above? The layout is not down yet (keep looking into the room that needs clearing for the track and getting scared - does anyone else have this problem...:cool: ) so mods and layout things are going to be easy to sort at the moment.

    Thanks guys,

    And of course Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hi Stu, How easy is it to control points and use a computer? Well, that would depend on your comfort level with computers. For me, forget about it. I'm just about computer illiterate. I would refer you to Yahoo boards, there is one I read for Digitrax users, I would think there are also ones for NCE and Lenz. From what I've read, many people have setup problems, but there are also many who offer advise and seem to have the answers. I use DCC but do not control my points with it. My thought is that I want to get as close as possible to the way a real railroad ran in the 50's. The engineer certainly didn't have buttons to select routes thru switches! The only thing I would use a computer for would be as a CTC board, but that won't happen till I stumble across someone in my area who wants to operate on my railroad with it and is willing to help (read do it himself) me set it up. Regarding trackwork, there is nothing special which has to be done, actually it is simpler than standard DC control. Other than gaps for turnout frogs, which are the same for either system, just run a heavy (12 gauge) bus wire along the underside of your track board and install feeders (20 gauge or so) every so often. How often is a point of great debate, I wire every piece of rail. Others say every 6 feet, still others say something else.

    Good luck, Gary
  3. YakkoWarner

    YakkoWarner Member

    The main problem to overcome is that you need an input/output device like a PLC (programmable logic controller) to actuate your switches and locos. Since many devices are operated at different voltages, you either need an i/o (input/output) card for each voltage or you must ensure that all of your devices are the same voltage.

    Also, some components work from A/C power, and some from D/C power. If you are not familliar with control devices and or PLCs I would not tackle automating your layout as a do it yourself.

    You can purchase small PLCs with 8 i/o and about 64M ram for less than US$100. However, you need to interface it with your PC, and interface it with your controlled devices. I automated a G scale street car run for a buddy of mine, total cost was around US$300 and 40 hours.

    All of his devices (loco, switches, signals, sounds and lighting) run on the same voltage and all of the i/o was digital. (analogue is more expensive and trickier to work with.) We didn't hook it up to a PC except to download the program. The program was written in Visual Basic 6.0 and constrained to a Windows CE environment.

    BTW, It works great!
  4. mav_uk

    mav_uk Member

    Okay thanks for the advice, now for some more questions (I'm afarid that at this point I am going to show my level of knowledge in building tracks........)

    As far as equipment goes...

    I am using Marklin (i think that's spelt right) C track so the digital system will be whatever that uses. Locos are 1 Lima TGV (still gotta get the coupling fixed) and the Marklin loco that came with the C track starter kit.

    As far as computer knowedge goes, I develop VB applications (so the VB6 part is a doddle providing I have the API). Okay for the new questions:

    what are turnout frogs?
    how much does it cost to for each wire (I have to admit that I know nothing about the didgital train controls..)

    Well other than that thanks for your help so far!

    Cheers, Stu:)

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