Friday, September 24, 2010

Dispatchers Panel

The dispatchers panel was completed yesterday. The dispatch will be able to see the whole railroad at one time. We did find one little glitch that we hope to have fixed soon. Some turnouts are made to show on two pages. Each Occupancy Block freezes on the screen temporarily on the three screens that relys on the server. We have a workaround for now, but the fix is being worked on.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Let the testing begin...

The last major construction hurdle has been completed for starting operations. All the panels are working. The dispatchers computer is working. I hope to have all monitors up and running this week. I'm running engines and a few cars around the layout while testing all sidings. I do have a few little things to work on, but that is part of the process after building for a year.
I found a wire that wasn't soldered good enough and one set of wires reversed, which only showed up when I tried to cross over two different blocks. It looks like I'll need to clean tracks and wheels and hopefully everything will run a little smoother.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Well most of the lights are working.....

However they aren't supposed to all be on.

During the building of the panel many things had changed and none of it was tested. When I turned everything on, nothing worked, including what was working.

I tried different things, checked wires, nothing helped. I decided to go back as far as I could and start with introducing one new thing at a time.

I first took out the new panels, but it didn't help. I took out upgraded I/O's and programs. No good. I had run a new networking scheme and noticed that one half, while it didn't work wasn't giving me errors like the other line. I disconnected the offending network bus, changed files and started up the half system. Now this side was working again. OK progress.

I went back to the other network and brought online one I/O at a time and things were starting to look up. I ran across one bad network cable (which was probably the biggest offender), I got eventually got everything I had before working and called it quits for the night.

I came back down in the morning and put all the new files back in. So far so good. Now it was time to bring on the new panels. I started with the smallest I/O first. It was OK with just a small wire goof. Now the big one. I turned it on and got the lights you see above. There were data file errors, some plugs had two wires backwards, a couple of cold solder joints and "THE BIG ONE".

I just realized I'm missing a button and there is no way to put it in where it belongs. I'll have to make a new panel or come up with a work around. This panel took about a week, with all my great experience, I might be able to cut down the time in half. At least most of the soldering work is already done. The LED's would be the ones I would be required to remove for this change.

The other godd news is that everything that is installed is working correctly. Now to find a plce to put that button.

MODEL RAILROADING IS FUN..... model railroading is fun.....model railroading is fun

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The light bulb comes on

I spent the last three days wiring up a panel for my main yard. I have 37 buttons and 39 lights to connect to my computer I/O. When I finally get near the end it hits me, the computer I/O only has 32 connections for buttons and lights! DUH! And the light bulb comes on.
Now I have to find places to connect for the leftovers. It sure is great when a plan comes together. The good news is I can start testing this panel tomorrow.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Portland Panel

The Portland panel started out smaller but had to be increased in size due to the addition of a few more tracks. I took a larger panel and modified it down to a comfortable size. It is still a little bigger than I would like but what are you going to do!

I was told that to a certain person I know, this next picture might be like a playboy centerfold, so I had to include it.

This is the inside of the Portland panel without the lights and wiring to make everything work. The upper right is the circuit breakers for Portland. One for the mainline and one for everything else. The big green panel on the left is the computer I/O and will be used so the computer can the see input from the buttons and send output to the lights. The other panels are where all the buttons and lights get connected. Then those boards will connect to the I/O.

I was able to get about 1/3 wired up and I couldn't stand it any more. I will take a break until tomorrow.

Tell me again, why I am doing this..........

The two wire DCC lies

If DCC truly only required two wires, what would I do with my spare time? Steve Holzheimer came over to help and we spent two hours running wires not related to the track wires. We ran new network cables based on the suggestion of Dil Huey. We then went on to mount and wire all the Digitrax UP-5's and wire them up.
Today I probably test it all.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


The engines can still run from end to end. I put in two turnouts and the three tracks for the coach yard and REA building in Portland and ended up with a problem in the circuit board. The problem it turned out was a stray wire on one of the tortoise from pin 7 to 8. Once that was fixed and the circuit board changed out I was back in business.
I added three tracks in Portland yard and 4 turnouts. The tortoises are installed, but the computer program I am using has some limitations on the number of turnouts per screen page, so these turnouts are not functional in the computer yet. There are some ideas floating around on how to get around this.
I decided to do some of the odds and ends while debating how to handle my screen problems. I finally moved a workbench to the location where the dispatcher will be, so I can get all the screen set up. I added a light over this area, so the dispatcher can see. There were a bunch of sidings that did not have any track, so today seemed like a good time to install them. Three sidings had their track installed and 1 turnout that still needed to be installed. Three other sidings were prepped by installing the roadbed leading to the siding.
I have been working with the car cards to get them ready for when I want to actually host a mini Op Session.
I guess that is about it for now.