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Offline moman2  
#1 Posted : 10 November 2023 23:20:03(UTC)
moman2

United States   
Joined: 22/10/2021(UTC)
Posts: 7
Location: AZ
Hi all,

I wanted to share a free cross-platform program that I've been developing on and off for about 10 years now. Perhaps not-so-creatively named "TrainControl", the idea is to make operating your Marklin layout as easy (and therefore as fun!) as possible. Over the past year or so I've doubled down on maximizing stability and compatibility with both the CS2 and CS3, and now with the new "v2.0.0" release, it should be quite refined and ready for use by the community!

The key feature of the UI is that there is a keyboard shortcut for everything. I've found switching between locomotives via the Central Station itself to be exceedingly time-consuming, and having two (or three, or four) knobs just doesn't cut it for a large layout. Touchscreen/mouse-based UIs have a similar slowness issue. So, with TrainControl, you can select locomotives, set/increment speed, set functions, decelerate, emergency stop, etc., simply by using the keyboard, without having to look at the screen at all. There are also keyboard commands for applying function presets for a specific locomotive, turning off all functions, applying a speed preset, etc., so that you don't have to spend time doing any of these repetitive tasks manually.

You can learn more and download TrainControl here: https://github.com/bob123456678/TrainControl/.
Your Central Station must be connected to your local network for it to work, and don't forget to turn on the CAN broadcasting setting.

TrainControl program for Marklin Central Station 2 and 3 - UI

In line with the "easy and fun" theme, in addition to manually controlling trains, if you have the right S88 sensors, there are also facilities for semi-manual (i.e., conditional routes dynamically switch your switches and signals while you run the trains), semi-automated (you pick the destination for a specific train, and it goes there on its own), and fully automated (press one button and things happen) operation. The latter is similar to how other software does blocks. I plan to post some tutorials in the future on these features.

Originally, the program simply mirrored the Central Station's database, which it still does. In other words, it will download the locomotive database, routes, and layouts (CS2 only), and keep it up to date with the latest addresses and configuration. However, almost everything short of programming locomotives can now also be done within TrainControl itself, which adds quite a bit of versatility.

TrainControl can be used concurrently on multiple computers, and concurrently with the knobs on the Central Station itself, if desired. Personally, I run this on a small desktop connected to the CS3, along with a wireless keyboard. Others I know run it on their laptops. For those who want to program their own logic, you can use TrainControl's Java API as an interface to the CS2/CS3 to do all sorts of things.

A lot of my early inspiration came from RocRail, so a shout-out to that group is well-deserved. Perhaps one day this UI could be extended to other control systems as well.

In the meantime, I hope you find this handy, and I welcome any feedback or ideas for the future. I've tested it mostly on Windows 7/8/10/11, so input from Mac and Linux users would be appreciated (the only thing that is Windows-only is the embedded layout editor). Enjoy!
thanks 11 users liked this useful post by moman2
Offline Mark5  
#2 Posted : 21 November 2023 06:07:14(UTC)
Mark5

Canada   
Joined: 29/01/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,420
Location: Montreal, Canada
Very interesting and congrats on all the hard work.
How would you compare this to Rocrail?
Does it have most of the functionality of Rocrail?
DB DR FS NS SNCF c. 1950-65, fan of station architecture esp. from 1920-70.
In single point perspective, where do track lines meet?
Offline moman2  
#3 Posted : 23 November 2023 01:50:44(UTC)
moman2

United States   
Joined: 22/10/2021(UTC)
Posts: 7
Location: AZ
Thanks! Rocrail has a lot more advanced features and compatibility with more controllers beyond Marklin's, but is also going to be harder to set up.

An easy comparison would be to think along the lines of the base functionality of the Central Station 2/3, with some enhancements to routing, automation, and an easier UI sprinkled on top.
Offline Richard Joint  
#4 Posted : 18 December 2023 03:13:42(UTC)
Richard Joint

Honduras   
Joined: 20/07/2019(UTC)
Posts: 15
Location: Tegucigalpa
BigGrin This software (Train Control) interests me but I am having difficulty getting a handle on this. When I go to the sight suggested I see no way of signing up and there is some clutter of unnecessary Jargon . Can somebody help me
get going? Is anybody on this Forum actually using the software? At some point I thought I had ´got in´but then lost the page! Any help appreciated.
Offline JohnjeanB  
#5 Posted : 18 December 2023 10:59:05(UTC)
JohnjeanB

France   
Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,114
Location: Paris, France
Hi Y'all

I hope not to be too much off topic with this.

This new CS3 release V2.5.1(0) works without problems with Rocrail.

However, it seems that this version calls for firmware updates on many MFX locos (MFX / sound locos are to huge majority of my locos:
- a warning is first displayed on the CS3 the firmware has been changed
- the loco is moved to the top of the list (with another warning) waiting for a full MFX registration
- By my medium-size layout, I had to move locos one by one to the programming track and upload all loco parameters to have the loco icon back to its normal place

Naively I would suspect that such a change indicates that Märklin is up to something big in the digital field.

Rocrail complained / observed that Märklin was not providing any help to software creators like Rocral and probably iTrain and not answering any letter requesting some specific information.

Cheers
Jean
Offline kiwiAlan  
#6 Posted : 18 December 2023 15:52:31(UTC)
kiwiAlan

United Kingdom   
Joined: 23/07/2014(UTC)
Posts: 8,102
Location: ENGLAND, Didcot
Originally Posted by: JohnjeanB Go to Quoted Post

This new CS3 release V2.5.1(0) ...
However, it seems that this version calls for firmware updates on many MFX locos (MFX / sound locos are to huge majority of my locos:
- a warning is first displayed on the CS3 the firmware has been changed
- the loco is moved to the top of the list (with another warning) waiting for a full MFX registration
- By my medium-size layout, I had to move locos one by one to the programming track and upload all loco parameters to have the loco icon back to its normal place
...


Are you saying that the cs3 is updating the firmware in each Marklin decoder?
Offline BenP  
#7 Posted : 18 December 2023 20:36:04(UTC)
BenP

United States   
Joined: 04/02/2021(UTC)
Posts: 344
Location: Michigan, Ann Arbor
Originally Posted by: JohnjeanB Go to Quoted Post
Hi Y'all

I hope not to be too much off topic with this.

This new CS3 release V2.5.1(0) works without problems with Rocrail.

However, it seems that this version calls for firmware updates on many MFX locos (MFX / sound locos are to huge majority of my locos:
- a warning is first displayed on the CS3 the firmware has been changed
- the loco is moved to the top of the list (with another warning) waiting for a full MFX registration
- By my medium-size layout, I had to move locos one by one to the programming track and upload all loco parameters to have the loco icon back to its normal place

Naively I would suspect that such a change indicates that Märklin is up to something big in the digital field.

Rocrail complained / observed that Märklin was not providing any help to software creators like Rocral and probably iTrain and not answering any letter requesting some specific information.

Cheers
Jean


What about ESU lok/soundpilot decoder update needs, Jean? I have no current layout or access to ESU-based locs (everything dismantled and packed for move), so cannot test myself. My little MS2 was updated after cs3+ update and works on mfx locs i recently bought.
Ben
Digital M (+ some K) track layout with mostly vintage rolling stock and accessories, and small Z scale layout.
https://youtube.com/play...0kgVYbh0CeDTF-bYXoD_2-V9
Offline moman2  
#8 Posted : 21 December 2023 09:59:53(UTC)
moman2

United States   
Joined: 22/10/2021(UTC)
Posts: 7
Location: AZ
Originally Posted by: Richard Joint Go to Quoted Post
BigGrin This software (Train Control) interests me but I am having difficulty getting a handle on this. When I go to the sight suggested I see no way of signing up and there is some clutter of unnecessary Jargon . Can somebody help me
get going? Is anybody on this Forum actually using the software? At some point I thought I had ´got in´but then lost the page! Any help appreciated.


You would need to first download the TrainControl.jar file from the latest release. This is available here:
https://github.com/bob12...78/TrainControl/releases

Then open command prompt/terminal and run the command "java -jar TrainControl.jar" to start the program. You can put this command in a batch file or shell script if you want to be able to more easily launch it.
https://github.com/bob12...ol/#running-traincontrol

There is no standalone executable for the software at the moment, so a bit of technical knowledge is required to get things going. Java also needs to be installed on your system. Hope this was helpful!

Also, make sure your CS2/CS3 has CAN broadcasting enabled. Otherwise, most things won't work properly.



Offline JohnjeanB  
#9 Posted : 21 December 2023 10:07:31(UTC)
JohnjeanB

France   
Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,114
Location: Paris, France
Hi Alan
Originally Posted by: kiwiAlan Go to Quoted Post

Are you saying that the cs3 is updating the firmware in each Marklin decoder?

I am not in a position to say anything but Märklin is, on its messages. I was forced to bring my locos one by one on the programming track.
What the CS3 did I am not sure but only then, would the locos be back in the list and the little red oval bar become full
Cheers
Jean

Offline JohnjeanB  
#10 Posted : 21 December 2023 10:10:57(UTC)
JohnjeanB

France   
Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,114
Location: Paris, France
Hi Ben
Originally Posted by: BenP Go to Quoted Post


What about ESU lok/soundpilot decoder update needs, Jean? I have no current layout or access to ESU-based locs (everything dismantled and packed for move), so cannot test myself. My little MS2 was updated after cs3+ update and works on mfx locs i recently bought.
Ben


I am pretty sure that Märklin does not care about the update needs of competitor items.
I suspect (not sure here) that most of the firmware change is related to mapping changes which Märklin does not do with ESU decoders

Cheers
Jean
Offline moman2  
#11 Posted : 21 December 2023 10:39:37(UTC)
moman2

United States   
Joined: 22/10/2021(UTC)
Posts: 7
Location: AZ
Originally Posted by: JohnjeanB Go to Quoted Post
Hi Y'all

However, it seems that this version calls for firmware updates on many MFX locos (MFX / sound locos are to huge majority of my locos:



MFX registration has always been a bit less stable with multi-protocol/non-Marklin decoders or locomotives that remained idle for a while, so perhaps this update will fix that. I didn't see anything outright broken or changed with existing ones on my layout, though I do have several Piko and ESU decoders running in MFX mode so it will be interesting to see how that goes in the long term.

Speaking of the CS3, it seems the 2.5 update did change the web UI quite a bit (doesn't seem to be particularly more usable at first glance, just different, and I see the locomotive icon UI doesn't let you crop the images any more. Still looking into that...). They also changed the default URL to icon images, so the TrainControl is now also updated to work with that.
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by moman2
Offline moman2  
#12 Posted : 02 January 2024 05:10:28(UTC)
moman2

United States   
Joined: 22/10/2021(UTC)
Posts: 7
Location: AZ
A quick update: after using CS3 v2.5 for the past week or so, MFX registration has been a lot more stable. Inactive decoders are recognized and correctly re-registered even if not on the programming track, which has saved a lot of time and frustration.

There must have been some bugs in how Marklin did it before, especially on large layouts.
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