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Offline csdeneen3  
#51 Posted : 07 September 2015 23:31:55(UTC)
csdeneen3

United States   
Joined: 28/03/2014(UTC)
Posts: 7
Location: FLORIDA, ORLANDO
Fabrice

I have looked at all of your work on your layout and all I can do is add to the many voices that are in awe of your accomplishment. I also started to read this thread and so I have some questions that perhaps you can answer.

My father got for me (ostensibly) a starter Marklin (4x8 foot) set in 1961. It was brought out at Christmas every year for about 8 years and then has been stored forever. My parents have passed on and I've now got the bug to put together a layout. Not as intricate or detailed as yours, but.... to include a turntable - I have purchased a Marklin 7286, sheds etc.

Questions - because of the age of the starter set, I have M track and have looked at K and C. I want to go digital but am very "dumb" as to what to get. I also want all of my switching to go digital versus having a million of the little blue boxes (which I do possess some) - so what digital items do I need; I would like some thought as to changing the engine from my starter from analog to digital - what do I need to purchase, should I do that etc. And I would like to know what command central I should purchase - CS2, or ? I will tell you that I do like the M track and find it to be inexpensive to come by. I am not sure that doing the block process is necessary should one have all of their engines digital. But I don't know.

I realize that this post is all over the place - it certainly mirrors my uncertainty as to what to do. Can you help?

Chuck
Offline French_Fabrice  
#52 Posted : 09 September 2015 20:34:32(UTC)
French_Fabrice

France   
Joined: 16/05/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,275
Location: Lyon, France
Hi Chuck,

Thank you for your compliments, and Welcome to the forum !

Well, you are in need of some kind of "Marklin digital beginner's guide".

This thread is more dedicated to "driving a layout with a software", which is too much advanced for what you are looking for. The only common point with your expectations, is you need a full digital layout being set before allowing computer driving, and especially automation...

Anyway, I'll try to give you some first answers. Then, I suggest you either to browse the forum (or use the search function), and/or create a new post (or many) in the "Digital" section. You will find that many people have the same questions as you, and most of the answers are already there.

I begin with a bit of history. I think it will be useful to understand where we come from... Even if I'm not strictly exact or some infos are missing, the general idea is correct.

1) The beginning
Marklin has created the first digital system for model railroad in the early 1980s.

The technical ideas are:
-Many locos on the same electric circuit can be driven at different speed, each loco separately and regardless of each other
-The speed of a loco is no more linked to the voltage level provided by the voltage regulator of an analog transformer.
-Instead, the voltage level is always "Vmax" in digital system. To be able to drive each loco separately, a special electronic device (a loco decoder), must be embedded in each loco. This decoder analyzes special binary information, which among other infos provides the speed level...
-To "speak" to each loco, a transformer (analog) is not adequate. A specialized "command center" must be used to be able to "speak" with each loco decoder. Each loco on the same electric circuit is different from another one by the address (numeric value) of the decoder. The address of a loco is set by 8 micro-switches in the decoder. The "language" spoken from the command center to the decoder is called a "protocol" (how the binary information must be sent to be understandable). The first protocol was called "Motorola" protocol, then later called MM1 protocol.
-The first "command center" was the 6020 (central unit), then a bit later the 6021 (control unit). The command center (6020) was a "black box", without any button on it. You must at least add one device allowing human interaction, equipped with a rotating knob and a set of buttons allowing to enter the address of a loco decoder, and a button allowing to activate / deactivate the lights of a loco. This device what called a "control 80" (6035). The 6021 was a 6020+6035 in one box. 80 addresses were available for locos.
-To drive the switching of the turnouts and/or the signals in digital mode, specials external devices must be added. This device is called a decoder for electromagnetic devices. The name was K83 (6083) for temporary pulses (solenoid devices) and K84 (6084) for permanent circuit flip-flop (for instance, provide some light to buildings). Each K83 was able to drive 4 different turnouts/signals; Same thing for the K84 which allowed to permanently switch 4 distinct electric circuits. A total of 255 addresses is available for electromagnetic devices. Each K83/K84 decoder has 8 micro-switches inside allowing to change the base address.
-To allow human interaction with the turnouts/signals/light circuits, a specialized command box "Keyboard" (6040) was added to the 6020/6021.
-The last novelty created, was about feedback occupation of the tracks by loco/coaches/wagons. The goal was to be able to provide some basic (and sometimes advanced) automation features. A special electric circuit separated of the main digital power is used. It is called the S88 circuit (or S88 bus). Special decoders (S88 decoders), each having 16 distinct input plugs, are used for feedback information. A maximum of 31 S88 decoders may be chained together.
-To allow human interaction in setting a sequence of turnout/signals switches based on feedback information, an additional box was mandatory with the 6020/6021. This box was called the "Memory" (6043).
-Finally, an other additional box allowing a serial connection at 9600 bauds from a computer to the 6020/6021, was called "Interface" (6050/6051).

2) from the beginning to 2004
-Other manufacturers have also created electronic digital systems, mainly in the 2-rail world. They also started to develop an other protocol, called the DCC protocol. It allows much more addresses (today, around 10000 addresses for locos, and 2048 for solenoid devices). The S88 bus was unchanged, and became a "de facto" standard.
-Marklin enhanced a bit the number of functions available for a loco, with 4 more additional functions (F1 to F4, loco lights is called F or F0)
-Marklin launched a new track system, called C-Track (beginning of 2000's)

3) from 2004 until now
-Marklin created an all-in-one command center called the CS1 (central + 2*control80 + 128*keyboard + memory + interface) (ref 60212), with a 8-inch yellow/black sensitive screen, 2 command knobs, many functions buttons and an ethernet interface to computer. The CS1 was manufactured by ESU. The CS1 is a mini computer dedicated to model railroad command.
-At the same time a new protocol called "mfx" was launched. Its main feature is the automatic recognition of a loco (no more need to set the address with the micro-switches)
-Loco decoders, then later accessory decoders, started to be programmable by software, using a set of CV (Configuration Variables)
-In 2008, a new CS was launched: the CS2 (60213). Its features included a full redesign, a color screen, and the ability of speaking multiple protocols (MM1, mfx and DCC)
-The last CS were the 60214 and 60215 with no major enhancement compared to the 60213 (more recent firmware, more output power and a galvanic insulation)
-Marklin stopped the production of M-Tracks; MM1 protocol was enhanced to allow 255 loco addresses (on very recent locos), and 320 addresses for solenoid devices.
-A new set of devices, replacing K83/K84/S88 have been launched last year. They are called M83/M84/L88... I don't know them, except M83/M84 support MM and DCC and mfx protocol.

4) Back to your questions
4.1) M-Track

4.1.1) normal tracks
Some members say it's better to switch to K or C. Others say the opposite and say digital is working fine with M.
My personal opinion is "I don't know", as I've switched to K-track 30 years ago. I think that if the tracks are in good condition (no rust), it should run fine most of the time.
Advice: browse the various threads related to M-track and digital and/or create a new dedicated thread in "Digital" section.

4.1.2) turnouts
-A K83/M83 must be used to drive 4 turnouts/signals
-About the lantern, it should run without trouble, except you are wasting "digital power for locos".
Advice: Search for more infos on this topic or use a dedicated booster to drive accessories

4.1.3) contact tracks for feedback
-M tracks use special contact tracks 5115/5145 for feedback, which have the 2 rails insulated from the metal (in a normal track, both external rails have the same "0" potential)
-They may be difficult to find. Other solutions are "reed" feedback + magnet or "control" tracks.
Advice: browse the forum about this topic, answers are already there

4.2) K or C-track
-Both are fine for digital (avoid 2100 K-track series, use 2200 K-track series instead)
-Common problem: the turnout engines for both K and C-track have many trouble (not reliable). The problem exists since a long time. No definitive solution yet (except use of 'servos') but workaround exists. Browse the forum, many many posts discuss this topic.

4.3) Getting rid of a million blue boxes
-The CS2 has 128 pages of 16 entries to drive 2048 turnouts (320 with MM protocol); no more blue boxes needed... but if you're in a hurry to switch manually turnout 8, 99, 268 very quickly, you first have to switch with the stylus to the good page before... which may be too late...
Advice: go to marklin web site, go to the "Tools & Download/Product database", then search for item 60215 and download the user's manual of the CS2.


4.4) Converting a loco from analog to digital
It's a vast topic !
-a loco decoder is mandatory. Many brands are available. I recommend either Marklin or ESU (my personal choice is ESU). You need soldering abilities and a solder iron for electronics. It's not very difficult but you must be careful.
-The main problem is the mechanical part, which depends on the model you want to upgrade. This topic may be long to discuss in general, so provide either the reference of the loco to convert and/or its type, and browse/ask the forum how to convert such a loco... Generally, with recent decoders, at least the magnet must be changed. ESU has magnets for standard Marklin engines. When converting an analog loco, the inverter must also be removed. If your loco has a standard Marklin engine AND a standard brush plate, you may use Marklin conversion kits (engine only) 60941, 60943 or 60944 depending of the engine type, then add a decoder of your choice.

Advice1: An engine cleanup is recommended if the loco hasn't run since a long time. You must disassemble the engine for this. Lighter fluid is adequate to clean it up.
Advice2: Some Marklin dealers are able to convert analog locos to digital. Ask them...

4.5) Which "Central Station" ?
-I know 2 brands: Marklin and ESU. Many others exist but I don't know them. I personally own a CS2 (60214) and I'm pleased with it.
-Marklin have a smaller version of the CS2, called the MS2 with less features.
Advice: Browse the forum to learn more infos on MS2 (I don't have some), and to decide if a MS2 is enough to start (MS2 price is 100 EUR, CS2 price is 800 EUR !)

4.6) Discard the block process until you're fluent with all digital basic behavior

5) Misc. infos
Marklin is planning to publish the long awaited "Beginner's guide" (ref 03081). See there:
http://www.maerklinshop....in-maerklin-digital-book
I hope you are able to read German...The planned delivery date for this item is November 2015.


I hope this basic information will answer some of your expectations.

Cheers
Fabrice
thanks 7 users liked this useful post by French_Fabrice
Offline csdeneen3  
#53 Posted : 14 September 2015 01:09:31(UTC)
csdeneen3

United States   
Joined: 28/03/2014(UTC)
Posts: 7
Location: FLORIDA, ORLANDO
Originally Posted by: French_Fabrice Go to Quoted Post
Hi Chuck,

Thank you for your compliments, and Welcome to the forum !

Well, you are in need of some kind of "Marklin digital beginner's guide".

This thread is more dedicated to "driving a layout with a software", which is too much advanced for what you are looking for. The only common point with your expectations, is you need a full digital layout being set before allowing computer driving, and especially automation...

Anyway, I'll try to give you some first answers. Then, I suggest you either to browse the forum (or use the search function), and/or create a new post (or many) in the "Digital" section. You will find that many people have the same questions as you, and most of the answers are already there.

I begin with a bit of history. I think it will be useful to understand where we come from... Even if I'm not strictly exact or some infos are missing, the general idea is correct.

1) The beginning
Marklin has created the first digital system for model railroad in the early 1980s.

The technical ideas are:
-Many locos on the same electric circuit can be driven at different speed, each loco separately and regardless of each other
-The speed of a loco is no more linked to the voltage level provided by the voltage regulator of an analog transformer.
-Instead, the voltage level is always "Vmax" in digital system. To be able to drive each loco separately, a special electronic device (a loco decoder), must be embedded in each loco. This decoder analyzes special binary information, which among other infos provides the speed level...
-To "speak" to each loco, a transformer (analog) is not adequate. A specialized "command center" must be used to be able to "speak" with each loco decoder. Each loco on the same electric circuit is different from another one by the address (numeric value) of the decoder. The address of a loco is set by 8 micro-switches in the decoder. The "language" spoken from the command center to the decoder is called a "protocol" (how the binary information must be sent to be understandable). The first protocol was called "Motorola" protocol, then later called MM1 protocol.
-The first "command center" was the 6020 (central unit), then a bit later the 6021 (control unit). The command center (6020) was a "black box", without any button on it. You must at least add one device allowing human interaction, equipped with a rotating knob and a set of buttons allowing to enter the address of a loco decoder, and a button allowing to activate / deactivate the lights of a loco. This device what called a "control 80" (6035). The 6021 was a 6020+6035 in one box. 80 addresses were available for locos.
-To drive the switching of the turnouts and/or the signals in digital mode, specials external devices must be added. This device is called a decoder for electromagnetic devices. The name was K83 (6083) for temporary pulses (solenoid devices) and K84 (6084) for permanent circuit flip-flop (for instance, provide some light to buildings). Each K83 was able to drive 4 different turnouts/signals; Same thing for the K84 which allowed to permanently switch 4 distinct electric circuits. A total of 255 addresses is available for electromagnetic devices. Each K83/K84 decoder has 8 micro-switches inside allowing to change the base address.
-To allow human interaction with the turnouts/signals/light circuits, a specialized command box "Keyboard" (6040) was added to the 6020/6021.
-The last novelty created, was about feedback occupation of the tracks by loco/coaches/wagons. The goal was to be able to provide some basic (and sometimes advanced) automation features. A special electric circuit separated of the main digital power is used. It is called the S88 circuit (or S88 bus). Special decoders (S88 decoders), each having 16 distinct input plugs, are used for feedback information. A maximum of 31 S88 decoders may be chained together.
-To allow human interaction in setting a sequence of turnout/signals switches based on feedback information, an additional box was mandatory with the 6020/6021. This box was called the "Memory" (6043).
-Finally, an other additional box allowing a serial connection at 9600 bauds from a computer to the 6020/6021, was called "Interface" (6050/6051).

2) from the beginning to 2004
-Other manufacturers have also created electronic digital systems, mainly in the 2-rail world. They also started to develop an other protocol, called the DCC protocol. It allows much more addresses (today, around 10000 addresses for locos, and 2048 for solenoid devices). The S88 bus was unchanged, and became a "de facto" standard.
-Marklin enhanced a bit the number of functions available for a loco, with 4 more additional functions (F1 to F4, loco lights is called F or F0)
-Marklin launched a new track system, called C-Track (beginning of 2000's)

3) from 2004 until now
-Marklin created an all-in-one command center called the CS1 (central + 2*control80 + 128*keyboard + memory + interface) (ref 60212), with a 8-inch yellow/black sensitive screen, 2 command knobs, many functions buttons and an ethernet interface to computer. The CS1 was manufactured by ESU. The CS1 is a mini computer dedicated to model railroad command.
-At the same time a new protocol called "mfx" was launched. Its main feature is the automatic recognition of a loco (no more need to set the address with the micro-switches)
-Loco decoders, then later accessory decoders, started to be programmable by software, using a set of CV (Configuration Variables)
-In 2008, a new CS was launched: the CS2 (60213). Its features included a full redesign, a color screen, and the ability of speaking multiple protocols (MM1, mfx and DCC)
-The last CS were the 60214 and 60215 with no major enhancement compared to the 60213 (more recent firmware, more output power and a galvanic insulation)
-Marklin stopped the production of M-Tracks; MM1 protocol was enhanced to allow 255 loco addresses (on very recent locos), and 320 addresses for solenoid devices.
-A new set of devices, replacing K83/K84/S88 have been launched last year. They are called M83/M84/L88... I don't know them, except M83/M84 support MM and DCC and mfx protocol.

4) Back to your questions
4.1) M-Track

4.1.1) normal tracks
Some members say it's better to switch to K or C. Others say the opposite and say digital is working fine with M.
My personal opinion is "I don't know", as I've switched to K-track 30 years ago. I think that if the tracks are in good condition (no rust), it should run fine most of the time.
Advice: browse the various threads related to M-track and digital and/or create a new dedicated thread in "Digital" section.

4.1.2) turnouts
-A K83/M83 must be used to drive 4 turnouts/signals
-About the lantern, it should run without trouble, except you are wasting "digital power for locos".
Advice: Search for more infos on this topic or use a dedicated booster to drive accessories

4.1.3) contact tracks for feedback
-M tracks use special contact tracks 5115/5145 for feedback, which have the 2 rails insulated from the metal (in a normal track, both external rails have the same "0" potential)
-They may be difficult to find. Other solutions are "reed" feedback + magnet or "control" tracks.
Advice: browse the forum about this topic, answers are already there

4.2) K or C-track
-Both are fine for digital (avoid 2100 K-track series, use 2200 K-track series instead)
-Common problem: the turnout engines for both K and C-track have many trouble (not reliable). The problem exists since a long time. No definitive solution yet (except use of 'servos') but workaround exists. Browse the forum, many many posts discuss this topic.

4.3) Getting rid of a million blue boxes
-The CS2 has 128 pages of 16 entries to drive 2048 turnouts (320 with MM protocol); no more blue boxes needed... but if you're in a hurry to switch manually turnout 8, 99, 268 very quickly, you first have to switch with the stylus to the good page before... which may be too late...
Advice: go to marklin web site, go to the "Tools & Download/Product database", then search for item 60215 and download the user's manual of the CS2.


4.4) Converting a loco from analog to digital
It's a vast topic !
-a loco decoder is mandatory. Many brands are available. I recommend either Marklin or ESU (my personal choice is ESU). You need soldering abilities and a solder iron for electronics. It's not very difficult but you must be careful.
-The main problem is the mechanical part, which depends on the model you want to upgrade. This topic may be long to discuss in general, so provide either the reference of the loco to convert and/or its type, and browse/ask the forum how to convert such a loco... Generally, with recent decoders, at least the magnet must be changed. ESU has magnets for standard Marklin engines. When converting an analog loco, the inverter must also be removed. If your loco has a standard Marklin engine AND a standard brush plate, you may use Marklin conversion kits (engine only) 60941, 60943 or 60944 depending of the engine type, then add a decoder of your choice.

Advice1: An engine cleanup is recommended if the loco hasn't run since a long time. You must disassemble the engine for this. Lighter fluid is adequate to clean it up.
Advice2: Some Marklin dealers are able to convert analog locos to digital. Ask them...

4.5) Which "Central Station" ?
-I know 2 brands: Marklin and ESU. Many others exist but I don't know them. I personally own a CS2 (60214) and I'm pleased with it.
-Marklin have a smaller version of the CS2, called the MS2 with less features.
Advice: Browse the forum to learn more infos on MS2 (I don't have some), and to decide if a MS2 is enough to start (MS2 price is 100 EUR, CS2 price is 800 EUR !)

4.6) Discard the block process until you're fluent with all digital basic behavior

5) Misc. infos
Marklin is planning to publish the long awaited "Beginner's guide" (ref 03081). See there:
http://www.maerklinshop....in-maerklin-digital-book
I hope you are able to read German...The planned delivery date for this item is November 2015.


I hope this basic information will answer some of your expectations.

Cheers
Fabrice


Thank you Fabrice for your informative and lengthy response - very interesting and thorough. Sort of like opening up a fire hydrant and standing in front of it. But...

Couple of questions - Trossingen 1 and 2 which I have religiously followed, I believe that you are not using M83 or K83s - or that you utilize another type - could you give a reason?

I am going to go with the CS 60215 and will keep you informed (make that bother you with many, many questions) as I go on.

The lok that I have which I want to convert is a 3048 (01 097). I see that one can utilize Marklin mfx or ?? I would like to have sound, smoke (lok originally came that way), and lights. Do you have any recommendations/links that would aid me in this: decoder, etc. I can soldier and am not too afraid of destroying this. I have also seen posts that chat talk to a 5 pole vs 3 pole motor - do you have any experience with this?

I have already pre-ordered the Marklin digital Beginner's guide (03081) - will have to translate the book; my german is not that great.

I can purchase the 5115 and 5145s - not a problem. I am assuming that I only need one for a layout? And which one is recommended?

And.... your post, while answering questions, opened up more thoughts in my head (see above about that fire hydrant).

Again, many thanks for your thoughts - I realize you have Trossingen to take care of, so whenever you get a chance.

Cheers.
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by csdeneen3
Offline Chook  
#54 Posted : 14 September 2015 03:29:48(UTC)
Chook

Australia   
Joined: 15/08/2012(UTC)
Posts: 234
Location: Perth, Western Australia.
Fabrice your description is the best historical explanation of the Marklin digital system and its components that I have read in English.
Thank you.

Regards....Chook.
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by Chook
Offline csdeneen3  
#55 Posted : 14 September 2015 09:00:30(UTC)
csdeneen3

United States   
Joined: 28/03/2014(UTC)
Posts: 7
Location: FLORIDA, ORLANDO
I guess the question on the M83 / K83 is are they protypical in opening/closing or do they snap quickly. See my response to Fabrice.
Offline French_Fabrice  
#56 Posted : 14 September 2015 14:22:44(UTC)
French_Fabrice

France   
Joined: 16/05/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,275
Location: Lyon, France
Hi Chuck,

Some quick answers:

Turnouts

-I use K83 for driving K-turnouts with Marklin motors. The points are moved immediately (no slow movement).
-When I do not want to use Markin motor with K-turnouts, I use ESU servos and a special decoder (ESU SwitchPilot Servo V2, with DCC protocol). Use of servos allows a) slow movement and b) reliability. Please note that using servos implies a permanent layout, and not a "carpetbahn".
-For C-track turnouts, you may either use K83/M83 or use an embedded (single) decoder located below the turnout. In the later case, no K83/M83 is required. The reliability of C-track turnout motor is not better than K-track.

Converting a 3048

I have a 3048, bought in 1970, that I've converted 4 years ago.
-The brush plate is not standard, so no possibility to put a 5-pole motor kit 60944. Instead, I've changed the inverter coil with a permanent magnet from ESU (51960).
-The choice of decoder: Either Marklin or ESU. As I've chosen ESU for all the decoders I'm fitting, I put a 54610 (NO sound)
-There is enough room to put an ESU 54610/64610 decoder where was located the inverter
-The most boring thing is replacing the front lamp. The genuine lamp is wired against the chassis. If you let it as it, the light will flicker (see explanation in ESU manual).
-The original smoke device runs well with the decoder
-I have never converted a loco from analog to digital WITH sound. If you wish to convert a 3048, then I'm thinking the decoder & loudspeaker should be located in the tender...
-Browse the forum about 3048 conversion. Some people have already done it.

Cheers
Fabrice

Edited by user 14 September 2015 18:57:57(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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Offline Nielsenr  
#57 Posted : 15 September 2015 02:28:34(UTC)
Nielsenr

United States   
Joined: 06/10/2010(UTC)
Posts: 882
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Originally Posted by: csdeneen3 Go to Quoted Post
Fabrice

I have looked at all of your work on your layout and all I can do is add to the many voices that are in awe of your accomplishment. I also started to read this thread and so I have some questions that perhaps you can answer.

My father got for me (ostensibly) a starter Marklin (4x8 foot) set in 1961. It was brought out at Christmas every year for about 8 years and then has been stored forever. My parents have passed on and I've now got the bug to put together a layout. Not as intricate or detailed as yours, but.... to include a turntable - I have purchased a Marklin 7286, sheds etc.

Questions - because of the age of the starter set, I have M track and have looked at K and C. I want to go digital but am very "dumb" as to what to get. I also want all of my switching to go digital versus having a million of the little blue boxes (which I do possess some) - so what digital items do I need; I would like some thought as to changing the engine from my starter from analog to digital - what do I need to purchase, should I do that etc. And I would like to know what command central I should purchase - CS2, or ? I will tell you that I do like the M track and find it to be inexpensive to come by. I am not sure that doing the block process is necessary should one have all of their engines digital. But I don't know.

I realize that this post is all over the place - it certainly mirrors my uncertainty as to what to do. Can you help?

Chuck


Chuck,

Contact me if you are ever down in the Ft Lauderdale area. I am out of town at the moment but will be back next week.

Robert
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Offline French_Fabrice  
#58 Posted : 30 April 2016 10:49:08(UTC)
French_Fabrice

France   
Joined: 16/05/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,275
Location: Lyon, France
Hello friends,

A recent thread opened by John (river6109) is of great interest for computer driven layout.

It covers most of the essential questions a beginner (in computer driven layout domain) may asks.

Among the various questions, you may find in this thread some answers about:
-How to do the transition from and already built digitized layout to the computer world
-Pros and cons of different ways to have layout feedback
-What to do imperatively (Read the doc, and go step by step)
-Some thoughts about still having a CS2-like device or not
-Which program to use (always a sensitive & complex question... )
-...and more

Instead of doing a summary of the content, it's quicker to provide the link.
https://www.marklin-user...ces-and-programs-you-use

John's thread may also generate new questions.
Feel free to post these new questions either here (not to hijack John's thread if the questions haven't strong correlation to original topic) or anywhere in a new thread.

Thanks to all members who have already provided information.

Cheers
fabrice
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Offline river6109  
#59 Posted : 30 April 2016 11:42:09(UTC)
river6109

Australia   
Joined: 22/01/2009(UTC)
Posts: 13,029
Location: On 1965 Märklin Boulevard just around from Roco Square




fabrice, thanks for widening the subject, sometimes it happens when members or computer controlled enthusiasts talk between themselves and exchange experiences or software applications and we the naive and inexperienced computer user are than asking ort wondering what it is all about and we give up because the language is used we don't understand or follow.

there are still abbreviations used I don't know what they mean and this type of information I wish someone would either explain or clarify what the abbreviations mean and what this particular component does. some of them are in the topic I've opened.

furthermore I like to continue with my reflective opto couplers, whether you use an existing or new layout I think it would be terrific if one could use them as I think they would be compatible. it has been aired on numerous occasions, including myself, switching tracks aren't very reliable, magnet and sensors are fiddly and awkward to handle or difficult to fix where as mine is mounted between 2 sleepers and has a maximum 8mm sensor capacity, ideal for the slider to go over and create a pulse.

I will soon look at the different advises which have been given and look, read at some of the free Computer programs, as you've outlines although I'm interested in it I'm sure there are others who also have an interest and don't go down that track because of various reasons,

if you look at the cost of buying all these modules and components, which can ran into 10.000 of thousand of dollars (large layout like mine)I think it is vital one gets accustomed to a computer controlled system with very little cost attached to it and even if you buy a program you never would spend this amount of money.

What I would like to see and with the help from Juhan if we could have a sticky topic about computer control whereas it is set up in categories, sections so one could follow it and set it up step by step in a broad spectrum,

John

.
https://www.youtube.com/river6109
https://www.youtube.com/6109river
5 years in Destruction mode
50 years in Repairing mode
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Offline French_Fabrice  
#60 Posted : 30 April 2016 12:29:39(UTC)
French_Fabrice

France   
Joined: 16/05/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,275
Location: Lyon, France
John,

I really share the same thoughts.

A glossary of terms is an extremely good idea. Please tell me which acronyms/abbreviations would need to be explained, and I'll initiate a post which may be enhanced by many members.

This current thread has been made sticky thanks to Juhan's kindness.

Creating a new sub-forum dedicated to computer driven layout may also be interesting. The difficulty is how to structure it (and if it needs to be structured !).
Having a structured thing eases understanding, but may also prevent creativity from many members... and the work to do is huge ! It's up to Juhan to decide if it's worth the job.

If we stay with the current thread organization, maybe a table of contents/table of topics can be an intermediate solution ? It will provides links to other threads...

Among various topics/threads, I'm thinking about:
-Concepts/basics of computer driven layout
-Essential hardware
-Feedback techniques and correlated hardware
-How to transform an existing layout towards a computer driven layout
-Softwares (there is a risk such a topic becomes controversial...)
-Books
-What a beginner must read and understand (maybe a set of links to other topics ?)
-feel free to add other topics
...while staying in the Marklin world.

Not obvious Unsure but really interestingWoot .


Cheers
Fabrice
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Offline Danlake  
#61 Posted : 30 April 2016 15:58:28(UTC)
Danlake

New Zealand   
Joined: 03/08/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,499
Hi John,

Until we get more info consolidated on this forum, below website has some really good videos on running a computer layout.

Check e.g. the Traincontroller section. More than 30 YouTube videos, very well made. The first videos is on how to setup the system and then progressively gets more advanced. There is also videos on other softwares.

https://rudysmodelrailway.wordpress.com

By the way many of the paid software can be used for a free trial period and some of them can be used for free in demo mode, so one can shop around until one find the software that suits ones needs.

Brgds 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 river6109  
#62 Posted : 30 April 2016 17:28:52(UTC)
river6109

Australia   
Joined: 22/01/2009(UTC)
Posts: 13,029
Location: On 1965 Märklin Boulevard just around from Roco Square
Fabrice, I've just noticed a sticky, will let you know tomorrow which abbreviations there are.

regards.,

John
https://www.youtube.com/river6109
https://www.youtube.com/6109river
5 years in Destruction mode
50 years in Repairing mode
Offline DaleSchultz  
#63 Posted : 02 May 2016 00:49:39(UTC)
DaleSchultz

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2006(UTC)
Posts: 3,354
Originally Posted by: Ross Go to Quoted Post


I have tried to improve your diagram to have and extra s88 contact and include the diode trick for better power supply.
It is best to use occupancy sensoring rather than momentary contacts for more reliable operation.


well, I dont agree with the statements as presented.

Yes, adding a diode would improve the power pickup if you elect to use occupancy sensoring.

However I disagree that using occupancy sensoring rather than momentary contacts is more reliable. What are the reasons for declaring that occupancy sensoring provides more reliable operation?

If you think about it, the diode trick is only really needed, because a long section of track is being isolated for occupancy.
i.e. the need for the 'fix' sheds light on a serious disadvantage for using occupancy detection.

The choice between using point detection of long occupancy should be decided by the following:

1) software being used and what approach you want to take to know where trains are. Eg. do you care only that a train is in a section of track or do you want to know where the leading axle of the train is? etc.
2) Solid reliability reasons

Dale
Intellibox + own software, K-Track
My current layout: https://cabin-layout.mixmox.com
Arrival and Departure signs: https://remotesign.mixmox.com
Offline Ross  
#64 Posted : 02 May 2016 04:18:48(UTC)
Ross

Australia   
Joined: 25/09/2006(UTC)
Posts: 716
Location: Sydney, NSW
Hello Dale,

Please find reasons below highlighted in blue to your general comments which are or could be misleading to less experienced users.


Originally Posted by: DaleSchultz Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: Ross Go to Quoted Post


I have tried to improve your diagram to have and extra s88 contact and include the diode trick for better power supply.
It is best to use occupancy sensoring rather than momentary contacts for more reliable operation.


well, I dont agree with the statements as presented.

Did you bother to read my article on the diode trick?

http://members.ozemail.com.au/~.../pdf/the_diode_trick.pdf

Yes, adding a diode would improve the power pickup if you elect to use occupancy sensoring.

It should be used for occupancy or momentary contacts for better power supply and it is cheap to implement.

However I disagree that using occupancy sensoring rather than momentary contacts is more reliable. What are the reasons for declaring that occupancy sensoring provides more reliable operation?

Occupancy sensors win over momentary sensors for the following reasons. You have a 2m length block which three momentary sensors 35mm in length, the distance between the sensors will be 947mm which is not monitored. Now you drive a loco/train that is shorter than the gap between the two sensors and it stops because of dirty track between the two sensors. This train is not monitored and with commercial software another train maybe able to enter the same block and crash. Your software may have further checks and balances to overcome this short coming. With commercial software a user can added these checks also, by in my experience most people don't bother or don't have the knowledge to implement these checks. Another reason is if a wagon or part of the train separates between contacts, the block will be seen as unoccupied and the next train will enter the block and crash.

If you think about it, the diode trick is only really needed, because a long section of track is being isolated for occupancy.
i.e. the need for the 'fix' sheds light on a serious disadvantage for using occupancy detection.

If a loco only has four wheels with one having a rubber tyre the orientation of of the loco will perform better in one direction than the other irrespective of the type of sensor. The diode trick improves reliability and I recommend you to implement it. Current sensoring can also be used instead of the diode trick.

The choice between using point detection of long occupancy should be decided by the following:

1) software being used and what approach you want to take to know where trains are. Eg. do you care only that a train is in a section of track or do you want to know where the leading axle of the train is? etc.

How you use track sensors is important. The block must register it is occupied if a train/engine/wagon is present. Another reason for occupancy sensors is when long trains can be in several blocks at the same time. I use occupancy and momentary sensors on my layout. I also monitor the centre rail with the collector shoe of a loco using a momentary sensor for shunting requirements. The centre rail is used to monitor the position of the turntable and transfer tables. Current sensoring can also be used but is generally more expensive.

2) Solid reliability reasons

The above is what we should all strive for to keep frustration levels low.

Ross
Offline DaleSchultz  
#65 Posted : 02 May 2016 16:18:36(UTC)
DaleSchultz

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2006(UTC)
Posts: 3,354
yes, I did read your PDF as well as the original one in German.

Any decent software can maintain state that once a train has passed a point, and not yet reached the next sensor point down the track, it still has to be between those two points. It is so fundamentally simple.

I have been using sensor points since 1989 without issues.



Dale
Intellibox + own software, K-Track
My current layout: https://cabin-layout.mixmox.com
Arrival and Departure signs: https://remotesign.mixmox.com
Offline river6109  
#66 Posted : 02 May 2016 16:57:07(UTC)
river6109

Australia   
Joined: 22/01/2009(UTC)
Posts: 13,029
Location: On 1965 Märklin Boulevard just around from Roco Square
Fabrice: here is an example


An Arduino or RaspberryPi sort of solution would also be possible. However, thats more for folks that want the joy of doing the hardware and firmware writing fun.
I am, at present, completing a course in VHDL (I took a university course in Verilog about 12 years ago) - so using that technology I'd even be able to program an FPGA to create the track signalling in a very fast and reliable way. All a wonderful project. All not where I want to necessarily spend my hobby time at this point. I think I'd get more "joy by the minute" in laying out track, building substructure, mountainsides, bridges, laying out train stations, and the somewhat less 'electronics involved' tasks. I think I can do both, and maybe some day, I'll even look at building an FPGA based solution that could do mFX (assuming its not cryptographically protected).. but for now I'll stick to someone else building/testing the hardware.

regards.,


John
https://www.youtube.com/river6109
https://www.youtube.com/6109river
5 years in Destruction mode
50 years in Repairing mode
Offline French_Fabrice  
#67 Posted : 03 May 2016 19:18:33(UTC)
French_Fabrice

France   
Joined: 16/05/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,275
Location: Lyon, France
Well, John

Most of the terms you quoted in your previous post are not DIRECTLY related to layout computer control, except if you wish to build your own electronic Central Station.

They are extracted from Minok's reply in your thread (https://www.marklin-users.net/forum/posts/m516699-computer-control--devices-and-programs-you-use#post516699)

Clearly, Minok seems to be an enthusiast/have some deep knowledge regarding building advanced electronic boards.
I don't have such skills, so my only contribution is to add links to Wikipedia related definitions.

Arduino : see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arduino . See also Yaasan's project: https://www.marklin-user...ommand-station--Railuino
Raspberry Pi: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry_Pi
FPGA : see https://en.wikipedia.org...-programmable_gate_array
Verilog: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verilog
VHDL: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VHDL

Any people having some knowledge in this area is welcome to provide additional info.

Cheers

Fabrice
Offline Minok  
#68 Posted : 12 May 2016 00:14:10(UTC)
Minok

United States   
Joined: 15/10/2006(UTC)
Posts: 2,152
Location: Washington, Pacific Northwest
One second... I've got to reboot my brain here. I read Johns post and immediately my brain set of an alert, "Didn't I write something like that on a post? I swear I did. Those sound like my words. Am I loosing my mind? Maybe there was a posting glitch in the board system?" Now, in the larger context, I get what is going on - John was quoting my post as an example of terminology overload. Yup, I'm guilty and will try to explain.

The discussion my quote came from was where I was looking for the most efficient way of getting the computer control signals form the PC software encoded into the right protocols (say mfx or MM) and onto the track rails. The idea of buying a Central Station for the sole purpose of it being an interface to the PC that did the real control work seemed wrong - there should be, for those intending to use computer control, a way to get the PC generated commands encoded in the right protocol and put on the track (ie modulated into the power that is put on the track). So we were discussing ways of doing this.

The Central Station (CS1,CS2 and upcoming CS3/3plus) are computers themselves (they run linux I've read). So they boot up, and have a general purpose microprocessor in them that reads software instructions from onboard memory (the firmware), and consumes power at the rate of the internal computer system that is the Central Station, plus the power drawn by the consumers on the layout (locomotives, car and layout lighting, switches, signals, etc).

A more fundamental (and way more hobbyist) approach is to control things at a much lower level. As Fabrice mentioned, if you wanted to build your own replacement for a Central Station like device. The terms are more in the electrical & computer engineering realm than train digital control.

Arduino and Raspberry Pi - small computers on a small circuit board with basic input/output
One can use a smaller mini-computer on a board: Arduino and Raspberry Pi are such devices. You write software on a normal PC, put that software (firmware) onto the Arduino or Raspberry Pi system and have a mini-central station without all of the knobs, LCD display and the like. These small computers on a board have input/output pins and other standard interfaces for network, USB, audio, can drive LEDs etc. So if you want to save some money (in exchange for a lot of time likely to exceed the money saved divided by your hourly pay rate), you can build your own Central Station like device. You'd need to be an electronics hobbyist and get joy out of doing that electronics and programming (and not miss the train aspect while your working that) to go down that path.

FPGA/Verilog/VHDL - even lower level digital logic circuit design for the electrical engineering junkie
To get even closer to the pure electrical signal stuff one can, where it makes sense, forgo a chip that executes instructions, and instead implement a digital logic circuit out of logic gates and other silicon chip components (bits that are on the chips of a general purpose computer CPU as well as basic logic). The benefit of such a very low level design is you can make your solution very fast, and it uses the least power possible. Think of this as soldering together a bunch of logic gates and some higher level logic components: logical AND, OR, NOR, NOT gates, simple memory blocks you can shift digital data bits into and out of, and the like.
In the modern world, rather than building a very big circuit board with dozens of individual chips, designers make use of a generic chip (FPGA - Field Programmable Gate Array) and then just program it. The FPGA has a large pool of the various logic gates and components one used to buy small individual chips to get - they are all built onto the silicon inside the single FPGA chip. However, you can configure how that FPGA chip works by connecting up its individual logic parts via some instructions. VHDL and Verilog are the languages used to describe how the logic on such an FPGA chip should work (logically) - which is the converted into data that is sent to the FGPA when it boots up to configure it to be the circuit you want. That circuit can have somewhat arbitrary amounts of input and output pins and could well work to read/write mfx, mm, and other protocols with a lot of work (assuming the mfx protocol isn't encrypted). If you found you made a mistake in how you wired up the internals of the FPGA, you can change our sofware description (in Verilog/VHDL) and produce a new set of configuration data for the FPGA - no need to unsolder anything or rewire it (unless you added or changed what the pins out of the FPGA did).

The conclusion I'd posted on the other thread was that while building my own CS replacment might be a fund electronics and design project for someone, I'm more interested in working with the trains and layout construction, so even though it may end up being a seeming too expensive for what I use it for device, I may likely end up with a Märklin Central Station as my PC to Track interface, never using the CS features on the device itself.
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/
Offline Minok  
#69 Posted : 12 May 2016 00:25:48(UTC)
Minok

United States   
Joined: 15/10/2006(UTC)
Posts: 2,152
Location: Washington, Pacific Northwest
Originally Posted by: DaleSchultz Go to Quoted Post
yes, I did read your PDF as well as the original one in German.

Any decent software can maintain state that once a train has passed a point, and not yet reached the next sensor point down the track, it still has to be between those two points. It is so fundamentally simple.

I have been using sensor points since 1989 without issues.



Dale,

I think one of the points behind Ross' perspective is that the system without occupancy sensing in the longer middle section works well... so long as nothing unusual happens.

It may work perfectly for most layouts. As you mentioned, it is indeed pretty basic to say that if I detect at entry the train, then I expect to detect at exit the train leaving and once its left can feel pretty sure the entire block is unoccupied.

But as Ross points out - there are some assumptions in there that are required to make things reliable, the principle of which is that what came in must go out. If a trailing car comes uncoupled over a particularly long un-monitored section of track between the 2 monitored short sections, the automation software would have no way of knowing this necessarily (*) - and may free up the track when there is a wayward coach sitting on it.

*: there are ways to detect and minimize this risk in software, admittedly. If the train comes in on the sensor track, the software can time how long the train takes to pass the incoming sensor track, and accounting for speed changes or no speed change, expect that the same amount of time would be shown for the full train crossing the exist sensor segment. If the exit sensor showed passage in a shorter time either the train was traveling faster, or was shorter. So if its not faster, you can conclude something didn't exit. One possible solution - but you need the PC controlling software to provide you with these logic capabilities - not sure if things like TrainController or WinDigiPet give that level of timing and logic capabilities.


It may well be that these unusal conditions occur in such a tiny percentage of cases and only on certain layout configurations with whatever equipment one may have, that for many of us, the chances of the benefit of sensing the middle long stretch will only avoid an unintended collision on track once every 10 years or longer. But for others it may be something that has a higher probability - say once every week of running, and for them it may be worth addressing the issue on the sensing side rather than fixing the cars to avoid decoupling (or maybe they purposely like those unusual situations and handling it is part of the play/simulation they do?)
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/
Offline Danlake  
#70 Posted : 12 May 2016 07:36:48(UTC)
Danlake

New Zealand   
Joined: 03/08/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,499
Originally Posted by: Minok Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: DaleSchultz Go to Quoted Post
yes, I did read your PDF as well as the original one in German.

Any decent software can maintain state that once a train has passed a point, and not yet reached the next sensor point down the track, it still has to be between those two points. It is so fundamentally simple.

I have been using sensor points since 1989 without issues.




*: there are ways to detect and minimize this risk in software, admittedly. If the train comes in on the sensor track, the software can time how long the train takes to pass the incoming sensor track, and accounting for speed changes or no speed change, expect that the same amount of time would be shown for the full train crossing the exist sensor segment. If the exit sensor showed passage in a shorter time either the train was traveling faster, or was shorter. So if its not faster, you can conclude something didn't exit. One possible solution - but you need the PC controlling software to provide you with these logic capabilities - not sure if things like TrainController or WinDigiPet give that level of timing and logic capabilities.



To my knowledge Traincontroller does not have such a feature as mentioned above. However in the gold version you can use below features:

Scheduled watchdogs: you can set a max time interval between 2 indicators. If the train does not arrive within the set time the software assumes the train got stuck somewhere between the 2 contact indicators.

Detection of lost cars: with a special rule in a schedule it's possible to define a preset number of passed blocks that are being kept reserved that will result in a red signal in the block the train presently is occupying.

Unless you have a huge layout I haven't really had issues with lost cars and collisions. I normally spot any lost car before the accident happens. Like in the real life the dispatcher still needs to keep an eye out.

By the way the Traincontroller manual clearly states as well advantages of using occupancy rather than momentary sensors, but with computer control the main thing is to have a well designed and adequate block systems, to few sensors = less control and automation.

Brgds Lasse

Digital 11m2 layout / C (M&K) tracks / Era IV / CS3 60226 / Train Controller Gold 9 with 4D sound. Mainly Danish and German Locomotives.
Offline DaleSchultz  
#71 Posted : 12 May 2016 19:34:39(UTC)
DaleSchultz

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2006(UTC)
Posts: 3,354
I have had couches come uncoupled 2 or 3 times only. The last time it happened, it happened to be touching one of my sensor points anyway so I was wondering why the track was still being shown as occupied, so I took a look and saw the wagon.

Note that uncoupled cars without a loco pose almost no risk of damage if hit by a train anyway.

Dale
Intellibox + own software, K-Track
My current layout: https://cabin-layout.mixmox.com
Arrival and Departure signs: https://remotesign.mixmox.com
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Offline French_Fabrice  
#72 Posted : 26 March 2020 17:45:23(UTC)
French_Fabrice

France   
Joined: 16/05/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,275
Location: Lyon, France
Hello,

Quite a while I didn't post there !

I add this link: https://www.marklin-user...-s88-feedback#post611018
in case you have some instability with S88 feedback.

Beware: it is not a general answer on how to get rid of S88 instability. It is related to a very special case.

The reason why I add this link is because having unstable S88 feedback prevents automatic driving of trains with a software.

Cheers
Fabrice

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