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Poll Question : Which software are you using for model train control?
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Offline michelvr  
#1 Posted : 02 May 2019 18:43:03(UTC)
michelvr

Canada   
Joined: 06/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,039
Good afternoon,

After reading and investigating which model train control software program to use I would like to know what my fellow Märklin enthusiasts have decided on. So if you are controlling your model trains with a computer, who’s software do you use?

Thank you for participating and your feedback would be welcomed.

For myself, I’m terribly confused Confused but open to being influenced so here's your chance!

Edited by user 02 May 2019 23:10:52(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Offline French_Fabrice  
#2 Posted : 02 May 2019 19:45:39(UTC)
French_Fabrice

France   
Joined: 16/05/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,234
Location: Lyon, France
Hi Michel,

All the software (commercial or free) driving model railroad share the same concepts when related to automation: blocks (a logical concept), sensors (or whatever they are called in the software) located inside the blocks, and routes (or whatever they are called in the software) which are oriented segments (again a logical concept) of traffic used to join the blocks together.

Sensors are most of the time physical stuff, which are connected to an entry of a S88 feedback device (contact track, reed, optical sensor, etc...)
A sensor generates an event, which in then managed by the software in order to know what to do.
Sensors are the "eyes" of the software, in order manage correctly the things.

Some events, instead of being the result of a physical sensor being triggered, may also be the result of some timers managed by the software.

My advice is : Choose the software you are the more comfortable with.
The criteria are : understanding, support, documentation, features, price.

All these software are very complex, and most of them have a broad range of features.
They also have a learning curve, which may vary depending on the software.
The most complex thing to understand is generally the automation.

Last advice: Start with something simple first
1) Connect the CS and test the communication
2) Add one loco to the software and interact manually with it to drive the loco
3) Add some switches to the software and interact manually with them and the loco
4) Then you are ready to start dealing with automation (blocks, sensors and routes)

Have fun
Fabrice
thanks 4 users liked this useful post by French_Fabrice
Offline DaleSchultz  
#3 Posted : 02 May 2019 20:00:24(UTC)
DaleSchultz


Joined: 10/02/2006(UTC)
Posts: 3,122

this won't help you quest, but only for completeness of the poll, I created my own software:

https://cabin-layout.mixmox.com/p/software.html


Dale
Intellibox + own software, K-Track
My current layout: https://cabin-layout.mixmox.com
Arrival and Departure signs: https://remotesign.mixmox.com
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by DaleSchultz
Offline michelvr  
#4 Posted : 02 May 2019 20:22:39(UTC)
michelvr

Canada   
Joined: 06/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,039
Hello Fabrice and Dale,

Thanks you for the inspiration and you help!

I must say that help is what I am after and coincidentally we certainly live in a small world! Because a friend of mine who inspired me to pursue model train control years ago is active again in this wonderful hobby of ours! I found out by reading the forums and saw his name on a post dated this passed April. And so I just phoned him up and had a wonderful chat about my quest with him this afternoon. What a wonderful world we live in!
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by michelvr
Offline Minok  
#5 Posted : 02 May 2019 21:08:24(UTC)
Minok

United States   
Joined: 15/10/2006(UTC)
Posts: 2,076
Location: Washington, Pacific Northwest
I've not yet settled on a choice either, and won't get there till I've got enough of a layout build constructed to do some running, so maybe 2020, but one thing I've kept an eye on is:

1) What do others that I have befriended on YouTube, Facebook, and here use - having access to asking folks you know about the software helps.

2) What sort of extra stuff do I want to do, beyond just the trains/blocks stuff do I want to do: eg in my case I want to have a car-system solution on my layout at some point. So as whichever choice one ends up with, will be a major commitment of time and learning the peculiarities and interface of a solution, not having to then go to a 2nd option for the added non-train stuff is critical.

3) Updates published in the last 5 years & forums - just to get a feel for how often it is updated and that its user forums are busy.

Beyond that it can often come down to just "what you like" - which could be your feel at home in the way the graphical interface is designed/layed out, or you like the color scheme, or you feel naturally at ease with the way it handles some aspect of control/design.
Toys of tin and wood rule!
---
My Layout Thread on marklin-users.net: InterCity 1-3-4
My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Minok1217/
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Offline DaleSchultz  
#6 Posted : 02 May 2019 21:53:57(UTC)
DaleSchultz


Joined: 10/02/2006(UTC)
Posts: 3,122
also , favored OS can also come into play....
Dale
Intellibox + own software, K-Track
My current layout: https://cabin-layout.mixmox.com
Arrival and Departure signs: https://remotesign.mixmox.com
thanks 3 users liked this useful post by DaleSchultz
Offline Danlake  
#7 Posted : 02 May 2019 23:11:05(UTC)
Danlake

New Zealand   
Joined: 03/08/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,456
In addition to the comments already made when deciding for a software;

1. The quality of the written software manual
2. Additional support available as dedicated forums and YouTube videos etc.
3. The price (as with most thing in life don’t expect top notch quality and reliable commercial software and support if it’s dirt cheap)

For those interested in computer software there is some brilliant instruction video from This Dutch guy (in English). There is now more than +50 instruction video available from beginner to expert:

https://rudysmodelrailwa.../traincontroller/page/6/

Even though these are tailored for Traincontroller the basic concepts of blocks and sensors, speed profiling etc. is pretty much identical for the various software programs.

Have fun exploring. And remember computer control is not only about letting the PC do all the work. There can be a large satisfaction of designing your own schedules and getting success and you can still run part of layout automatically while the other part manually.

Best Regards
Lasse

Digital 11m2 layout / C (M&K) tracks / Era IV / CS3 60226 / Train Controller Gold 9 with 4D sound. Mainly Danish and German Locomotives.
thanks 2 users liked this useful post by Danlake
Offline Johnvr  
#8 Posted : 03 May 2019 07:12:08(UTC)
Johnvr

South Africa   
Joined: 03/10/2010(UTC)
Posts: 1,149
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Originally Posted by: michelvr Go to Quoted Post
Good afternoon,

After reading and investigating which model train control software program to use I would like to know what my fellow Märklin enthusiasts have decided on. So if you are controlling your model trains with a computer, who’s software do you use?

Thank you for participating and your feedback would be welcomed.

For myself, I’m terribly confused Confused but open to being influenced so here's your chance!


Hello Michel,

Here is a thought for you, an "inconvenient truth" if you don't mind ...

You need to design your automation almost before you lay your track.
Automation requires sensors and blocks all around your layout, especially around station entry and exit points, but also on the main lines.
I know that you have already started laying your track, but you are still in the early stages, so attaching sensor wires is still possible for you.

Regards
John

Offline michelvr  
#9 Posted : 03 May 2019 14:47:59(UTC)
michelvr

Canada   
Joined: 06/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,039
Originally Posted by: Johnvr Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: michelvr Go to Quoted Post
Good afternoon,

After reading and investigating which model train control software program to use I would like to know what my fellow Märklin enthusiasts have decided on. So if you are controlling your model trains with a computer, who’s software do you use?

Thank you for participating and your feedback would be welcomed.

For myself, I’m terribly confused Confused but open to being influenced so here's your chance!


Hello Michel,

Here is a thought for you, an "inconvenient truth" if you don't mind ...

You need to design your automation almost before you lay your track.
Automation requires sensors and blocks all around your layout, especially around station entry and exit points, but also on the main lines.
I know that you have already started laying your track, but you are still in the early stages, so attaching sensor wires is still possible for you.

Regards
John



Hello John,

Funny you say that because yesterday I was attaching sensor wires throughout my layout. Easy to do and a fitting tribute to the design of Märklin's C track!

Cheers,

Michel

Offline French_Fabrice  
#10 Posted : 03 May 2019 19:32:18(UTC)
French_Fabrice

France   
Joined: 16/05/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,234
Location: Lyon, France
Hi Michel,

Related to contact tracks (i.e. sensors for later automation Wink ) with C-track, you have three main options:
-Buy the set of cut tracks provided by Marklin ->OK, but may be expensive at last, and it exists only for straight pieces of tracks...
-Do them yourself, by cutting some pieces of rails with a dremel or similar... Nothing special to say on this, except it is a definitive change, but it's up to youSmile
-Do them yourself, by cutting the right bit of electrical conductor below the pieces of track, and then use some insulators between the right contacts.

This later option is the simpler, less expensive and not definitive (you may solder later the electrical conductor cut previously).
However, be warned that an insulated piece of track done with this method may touch the rail of the next piece of track (non-insulated). If this is the case, then your sensor will be always on, thus is useless for feedback detection.
As a result if you use this method, inspect carefully if an "insulated" rail doesn't touch the next one when joining the tracks, in order to have a correct S88 feedback.

Experts of C-track (I'm not) may provide a tip to avoid such unpleasant situation.

Best
fabrice
thanks 3 users liked this useful post by French_Fabrice
Offline Thewolf  
#11 Posted : 03 May 2019 21:07:11(UTC)
Thewolf

Canada   
Joined: 08/09/2015(UTC)
Posts: 1,659
Location: Longueuil-Canada
Hi Michel Cool

Fabrice is right.

Personally I chose the second method explained by Fabrice, the one where it is necessary to cut the inner bridge of the inner rail.

On 10 tracks I miss a cut off and what Fabrice explains as a disadvantage I have it. So before putting it into use I do a test on my cs2. If the S88 light is on all the time, I missed my cut. Some will write to you that they are 100% successful and that they never miss.

I answer them:''Well, good for them''.

Have a nice evening

Serge
Project Laurentides-Neudstadt-CS2-Track C- Itrain-Digital
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by Thewolf
Offline Danlake  
#12 Posted : 03 May 2019 21:08:56(UTC)
Danlake

New Zealand   
Joined: 03/08/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,456
The trick with C track is to very closely inspect that there is an an actual gap between the rail ends. Let’s say you have 3 pieces of straight track like 24188 and you want to turn one of them into a homemade contact track.

After you cut the taps underneath and installed the red isolators and clicked the tracks together, then take a torch a shine at the rail gap. You will notice some rail gaps are quite large and sufficient while others much narrow. And many times the rail end is not actually a 90 degree but an angle towards each other. So in that case you need to file away some of the steel at end of the rail.

Another common mistake is to install the red insulator wrongly as you keep flipping the tracks over.

So best advice once your done take you cheap multi meter and check for electrical continuity. If you got a beep you haven’t isolated properly.

Best Regards
Lasse
Digital 11m2 layout / C (M&K) tracks / Era IV / CS3 60226 / Train Controller Gold 9 with 4D sound. Mainly Danish and German Locomotives.
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by Danlake
Offline michelvr  
#13 Posted : 04 May 2019 01:23:55(UTC)
michelvr

Canada   
Joined: 06/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,039
Originally Posted by: French_Fabrice Go to Quoted Post
Hi Michel,

Related to contact tracks (i.e. sensors for later automation Wink ) with C-track, you have three main options:
-Buy the set of cut tracks provided by Marklin ->OK, but may be expensive at last, and it exists only for straight pieces of tracks...
-Do them yourself, by cutting some pieces of rails with a dremel or similar... Nothing special to say on this, except it is a definitive change, but it's up to youSmile
-Do them yourself, by cutting the right bit of electrical conductor below the pieces of track, and then use some insulators between the right contacts.

This later option is the simpler, less expensive and not definitive (you may solder later the electrical conductor cut previously).
However, be warned that an insulated piece of track done with this method may touch the rail of the next piece of track (non-insulated). If this is the case, then your sensor will be always on, thus is useless for feedback detection.
As a result if you use this method, inspect carefully if an "insulated" rail doesn't touch the next one when joining the tracks, in order to have a correct S88 feedback.

Experts of C-track (I'm not) may provide a tip to avoid such unpleasant situation.

Best
fabrice


Hello Fabrice,

Yes I know when it comes to Märklin C track the good news is that all pieces have a gap when assembled together! Smallest gap is .1 mm biggest is 5 mm! To put that into perspective the width of a piece paper is .0.01mm Mellow I think that's correctBigGrin

I had checked this out earlier in my quest to see the quality control of the Märklin C track pieces. Not one from over 400 pieces are touching the other rail on the adjacent track piece. Since my room is alway at a constant 16 degree C there is no danger of expansion of the rails.
Offline michelvr  
#14 Posted : 04 May 2019 01:37:21(UTC)
michelvr

Canada   
Joined: 06/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,039
Originally Posted by: Danlake Go to Quoted Post
The trick with C track is to very closely inspect that there is an an actual gap between the rail ends. Let’s say you have 3 pieces of straight track like 24188 and you want to turn one of them into a homemade contact track.

After you cut the taps underneath and installed the red isolators and clicked the tracks together, then take a torch a shine at the rail gap. You will notice some rail gaps are quite large and sufficient while others much narrow. And many times the rail end is not actually a 90 degree but an angle towards each other. So in that case you need to file away some of the steel at end of the rail.

Another common mistake is to install the red insulator wrongly as you keep flipping the tracks over.

So best advice once your done take you cheap multi meter and check for electrical continuity. If you got a beep you haven’t isolated properly.

Best Regards
Lasse


Hello Lasse and Serge,

I just posted what I had found out about the Märklin C track “GAPS” between adjacent pieces. Perfect for contact tracks! Every single piece that has been isolated has been checked with my multi meter and electrical continuity is isolated. Don't forget they are the sections where the red insulator was installed. Please be advised that when you nip the inner rail tab make sure that there is a good 3 mm gap. I had a problem with a piece of track and couldn’t find it until that piece of track with the “touching tab” was inspected with my magnifying glasses. That's how I found it, that son of a gun was causing that short unbelievable actually!
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by michelvr
Offline Tomgi  
#15 Posted : 06 August 2019 14:32:39(UTC)
Tomgi

Sweden   
Joined: 20/02/2015(UTC)
Posts: 64
Location: Uppsala Lan, Uppsala
I accidentally voted for Itrain and now I can't change it. Sorry about that. At the moment I'm not using any computer control software but I'm about to try Rocrail with my recently aquired Intellibox Basic.
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Offline JohnjeanB  
#16 Posted : 06 August 2019 17:33:47(UTC)
JohnjeanB

France   
Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 576
Location: Paris, France
Hi
Very interesting discussion Thank you all
My remarks:
- the best moment to adjust sensors is when C tracks are laid (not yet screwd) but without landscape
- I fully agree with Fabrice about gaps. Initially it works but after a while (repairs on tracks, switch motors, etc it happens that 1 or 2 among the 100+ insulation that one is failing so better increase the gap when too small
- I am a Rocrail enthusiast It is free, support is excellent and possibilities are better than competition
Cheers
Jean
My lay-out videos
latest vid
humping yard
Offline Thewolf  
#17 Posted : 06 August 2019 18:26:33(UTC)
Thewolf

Canada   
Joined: 08/09/2015(UTC)
Posts: 1,659
Location: Longueuil-Canada
Originally Posted by: JohnjeanB Go to Quoted Post
Hi
Very interesting discussion Thank you all
My remarks:

- I am a Rocrail enthusiast It is free, support is excellent and possibilities are better than competition
Cheers
Jean


Hi allCool

I'm sorry, but that's the kind of remark that makes me jump.

I am a fan of Itrain but I recognize that other software like Rocrail have their qualities.

Everyone is free to choose and overall all software is identical in value. They are simply different in design and..... price.

Have a nice day

Thewolf
Project Laurentides-Neudstadt-CS2-Track C- Itrain-Digital
Offline JohnjeanB  
#18 Posted : 07 August 2019 13:01:04(UTC)
JohnjeanB

France   
Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 576
Location: Paris, France
Message deleted
My lay-out videos
latest vid
humping yard
Offline JohnjeanB  
#19 Posted : 07 August 2019 13:07:19(UTC)
JohnjeanB

France   
Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 576
Location: Paris, France
Hi
@the wolf: Sorry to hurt your feelings but I believe Rocrail is excellent.
Rocrail Forum support in 4 to 5 languages, a new version every day, free of charge (except donations).
When you are stuck, simply press the help key and trough Internet you will get your answer in your language.
Its strength: made by a community of developpers around Rob Versluis with a passion for trains and not appetite for money
Turntable management is far superior. Management of car system is also possible,
I could not find any functionality that other product have and Rocrail hasn't but I am interested in a factual comparison
here are some examples
- turntable management

- humpyard

- car system

Cheers
Jean
My lay-out videos
latest vid
humping yard
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by JohnjeanB
Offline Thewolf  
#20 Posted : 07 August 2019 15:18:32(UTC)
Thewolf

Canada   
Joined: 08/09/2015(UTC)
Posts: 1,659
Location: Longueuil-Canada
Originally Posted by: JohnjeanB Go to Quoted Post
Hi
@the wolf: Sorry to hurt your feelings but I believe Rocrail is excellent.
Rocrail Forum support in 4 to 5 languages, a new version every day, free of charge (except donations).
When you are stuck, simply press the help key and trough Internet you will get your answer in your language.
Its strength: made by a community of developpers around Rob Versluis with a passion for trains and not appetite for money
Turntable management is far superior. Management of car system is also possible,
I could not find any functionality that other product have and Rocrail hasn't but I am interested in a factual comparison
here are some examples
- turntable management

- humpyard

- car system

Cheers
Jean


I'm sorry, but your obstinacy in pretending that Rocrail is better than any other irritates me so much, but it doesn't matter.Cool

I share the fact that you are happy with your software as I am happy with mine.

You want a comparison? Here's what I think about the two softwares

- personally the only advantage of Rocrail is that it is free.

-Itrain is affordable and significantly cheaper than Traincontroller.

-The TCO of Rocrail is awful to me, the one of Itrain is prettier, less loaded on the screen
.
-Both are equal in terms of possibilities.

But I don't care about any of this. The only thing that matters to me is that the software gives me what I expect from it. And Itrain gives it to me as Rocrail gives you what you expect from him.

I will never pretend that what I use, contemplates using is better than what someone intends to use or uses.

We're free!

Thewolf

Project Laurentides-Neudstadt-CS2-Track C- Itrain-Digital
Offline Thewolf  
#21 Posted : 07 August 2019 16:45:03(UTC)
Thewolf

Canada   
Joined: 08/09/2015(UTC)
Posts: 1,659
Location: Longueuil-Canada
Hi Cool

The TCO of Itrain :

TCO Itrain.jpg

Have a nice day

Thewolf
Project Laurentides-Neudstadt-CS2-Track C- Itrain-Digital
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