Lowa

Train Automation - Track Switch Motors

112 posts in this topic

21 hours ago, mattmarsden said:

Hi Tom, the latest version of nControl works really well. I've got a dedicated intel atom pc to run nControl and run a remote desktop to it from an iPad so I can walk round with it and change the switches by tapping them on the iPad.

Ahhhh, great idea! Didn't think of remote desktop as a solution to going mobile with this.

The excuses to not buy this setup are quickly diminishing (although, I would still like the lights that have been posted earlier in this forum :hint :hint).

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On 2/21/2017 at 10:52 AM, Lowa said:

Thanks for sharing this.  You even managed to connect to the blinking functions of the lights!  Super cool!

Thanks for the effort with the software. Hopefully we can get the sensors sorted out :) It's nice having a lot of features for the signals and as suggested having a 3 aspect signal would be even more cooler!

I just had another thought.. How hard would it be to make nControl handle colour schemes so we could have a dark night running mode?

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On 2/24/2017 at 0:53 PM, mattmarsden said:

Hi Tom, the latest version of nControl works really well. I've got a dedicated intel atom pc to run nControl and run a remote desktop to it from an iPad so I can walk round with it and change the switches by tapping them on the iPad.

You're a genius!

I gave it a try with remote desktop and it works great both with phones and tablets.  What are you using ?  I ran a couple of tests on Android and found that Google remote desktop works best for my phone and TeamViewer was the best option for my tablet.  TeamViewer gives me a perfect image on my tablet.  On my phone the Google solution works better because TeamViewer only support 'native touch screen controls' for tablets, not for phones.  Also the responsiveness is great, it didn't see any latency.  

This is a great solution, thanks for sharing this!

On 2/25/2017 at 10:17 AM, Younge said:

Ahhhh, great idea! Didn't think of remote desktop as a solution to going mobile with this.

The excuses to not buy this setup are quickly diminishing (although, I would still like the lights that have been posted earlier in this forum :hint :hint).

Yes, we have preparing the production of the lights.  We're waiting for the cables, we cannot 3D print those...  They are currently being made by a supplier, once we have them we can start making the lights!

It's pretty cool to control everything with a tablet.  Based on the MQTT suggestions of @skaako we managed to develop a prototype of a WiFi based LEGO train controller.  So now we can do the switches, traffic lights and the train (and the head lights of the train) with nControl from a tablet!  It's pretty neat, we'll make a WIP video to show it...

 

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On 2/26/2017 at 5:01 AM, skaako said:

Thanks for the effort with the software. Hopefully we can get the sensors sorted out :) It's nice having a lot of features for the signals and as suggested having a 3 aspect signal would be even more cooler!

I just had another thought.. How hard would it be to make nControl handle colour schemes so we could have a dark night running mode?

The sensors are working with our controllers but I still need to see how to do it for 'generic controllers'.  

We'll certainly add a 3 aspect signal, I have been looking into making the actual lights and it seems to be possible to get everything I need into the housing.  We also ordered 4 wire cables to make those lights.

'Dark night running mode'  That's a nice idea!  I don't see much issues for the track layout, all the graphics are programmed so it's just a matter of changing the pen color.  The tile layout is going to be more complex as the graphics are bitmap.  But we have vector drawings of all the bitmaps so it's feasible.  I like the idea; we could also add a light sensitive sensor so the switch happens automatically... and that could also switch one other illumination in the LEGO setup.

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1 hour ago, mattmarsden said:

I just use the Microsoft RDP app on an iPad, works really well

I'll have to try that out too. I use the MS RDP app on the Mac and it works really good for this too. That's how I have it setup on my first video.

 

4 hours ago, Lowa said:

It's pretty cool to control everything with a tablet.  Based on the MQTT suggestions of @skaako we managed to develop a prototype of a WiFi based LEGO train controller.  So now we can do the switches, traffic lights and the train (and the head lights of the train) with nControl from a tablet!  It's pretty neat, we'll make a WIP video to show it...

Thanks Tom :) I had been thinking for a long time that MQTT would be the perfect protocol for a layout. And nControl works great with it. I've got my train loaded up with gear too (Just waiting for some special LED's as I want to try something different with the lighting). I'll try and get a video together once it's all up and running too. 

I'm excited to see what you have got running. Can't wait to see the video :)

4 hours ago, Lowa said:

The sensors are working with our controllers but I still need to see how to do it for 'generic controllers'.  

We'll certainly add a 3 aspect signal, I have been looking into making the actual lights and it seems to be possible to get everything I need into the housing.  We also ordered 4 wire cables to make those lights.

'Dark night running mode'  That's a nice idea!  I don't see much issues for the track layout, all the graphics are programmed so it's just a matter of changing the pen color.  The tile layout is going to be more complex as the graphics are bitmap.  But we have vector drawings of all the bitmaps so it's feasible.  I like the idea; we could also add a light sensitive sensor so the switch happens automatically... and that could also switch one other illumination in the LEGO setup.

Thanks for the effort put in getting this going. I'm still a while from having my test layout going so not too urgent for the sensors.

That's great about the 3 aspect signal! Yea getting all of that into a signal is not the easiest of tasks. Will be great to see them when they are ready!

Thanks :) I was testing the lights on the train and had to keep turning off the monitor to get a good idea of the brightness. Could you create another set of bitmaps with the dark colour scheme and switch to them when night mode is active? Having a light sensor would be even more awesome. When the light reaches certain levels it could trigger delays to turn parts of the scene on or off gradually. 

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@Lowa I received the motors and controller this morning, nice work.

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On 3/3/2017 at 7:15 AM, Q3671 said:

@Lowa I received the motors and controller this morning, nice work.

Great, let us know how it goes!

We just uploaded a YouTube video to show train automation with a tablet: we control the switch motors, traffic lights, train head lights and the train from nControl.  As this is broader than 'track switch motors' I posted it in a new thread:

 

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With all of the options for train and track control now available to us LEGO modelers (your products at the forefront), I don't see where the other RR modelers can say that we are not REAL model railroaders. 

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I think the conventional model railroaders do think of us as real modelers, but the fact is, NMRA is at least 50% a trade organization. There is no incentive for TLC to join nor any of the nascent entrepreneurs.

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On 9.3.2017 at 1:55 PM, Rotundus said:

With all of the options for train and track control now available to us LEGO modelers (your products at the forefront), I don't see where the other RR modelers can say that we are not REAL model railroaders. 

Who cares what others think? :laugh:

When people come to my place and see my Lego railroad they obviously first look at it as a toy (because that's what it ultimately is) but after a minute or two they realize that it's more than just a toy, especially thanks to all the modifications and automation and customization I'm doing which you can clearly see. And they become really fascinated by it. Track switch motors, custom lighting, fine voltage control, signaling... all this is "real model railroading". 

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Posted (edited)

McWaffel said...  "Who cares what others think"    

I agree. Let me say this though... Being taken seriously by the "Powers That Be" (read NMRA) would mean that all these wonderful products could be made available to us through our local train and hobby stores.  Something that currently just isn't possible.  Catalogs such as Walthers would pick them up. Which would expand the market reach as well as increase the legitimacy for our small manufacturers. Which in turn would enable and encourage even more products to be developed and made available to us.

To Lowa and all the other manufacturers that make these products... Keep on doing what your doing. This can only be GOOD for our hobby!

To the Mods...  I really don't want this thread to get hi-jacked!  That was not the purpose of me saying what I did. If you feel that this conversation has taken too far of a left turn, do what you got to do.

Edited by Rotundus

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