Lowa

Train Automation - Track Switch Motors

118 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).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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". 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi!

I am following this thread for a few months now and was eager to see a completed train automation system in order to buy all the components. The switches seem to work marvelously (from what I red here) but would also like to have sensors and also a mean for the software to directly send commands towards the train motors. And combined wit the train lights, of course :)

Still, no new posts since March...

Any news in this direction?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, adn2377 said:

Hi!

I am following this thread for a few months now and was eager to see a completed train automation system in order to buy all the components. The switches seem to work marvelously (from what I red here) but would also like to have sensors and also a mean for the software to directly send commands towards the train motors. And combined wit the train lights, of course :)

Still, no new posts since March...

Any news in this direction?

Hi!  

I know...  we have been very busy (kickstarter campaign for the switch tracks...) and indeed didn't spend enough time to keep everybody up-to-date...  But we have continued moving in the direction of full layout automation!

What is ready and available:

  • We have controllers that can handle 4 sensors (Quad Sensor Controller), controllers that can handle 4 train traffic lights (Quad Traffic Light Controller) and 'starter controllers' than can handle 2 switch motors, one train traffic light and one train detection sensor.
  • The sensors, traffic lights and controllers are fully operational and available in our webstore: https://www.4dbrix.com/shop/  The sensors and traffic lights are supported by nControl 2017.3 which is available for both Windows and MacOS on our download page: https://www.4dbrix.com/downloads

What is currently in development:

  • We're working on a Wifi based train controller that can communicate with nControl, e.g. receive instructions based on sensor feedback.  We have fully functional prototypes of the controller but we still need to turn it into a 'final product'.  Besides the motor, the train controller will also be able to control the head lights and will be ready for the 'train position system' that we're working on...
  • We also started working on button controls that will allow you to create a control panel out of LEGO bricks, it's inspired by the 12V train system.
  • We have been working on solutions to export an nControl project to a webpage that allows you to control your layout from a phone or table.  The initial tests look very promising...  Another successful approach to control layouts with mobile devices was to connect the automation system to a LattePanda (Windows based single board computer) and then control it by remote login.  We managed to setup the LattePande so it automatically becomes accessible with a table/phone after it booted, so you don't need to connect any peripherals to it.  It just acts like a wireless nControl hub to control your layout with a mobile device.  

We hope to find the time to make a couple of movies the coming week to show the automation system, motors, lights and sensors in action!  

If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to let me know...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A 4DBrix user testing out his automation system on a train and monorail layout... 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@adn2377 we finally managed to finish the first video of the starter controller with sensors, lights and motors!

This video shows the possibilities of our automation system. We have two monorail trains running on two loops that cross each other.  Each loop has a sensor to detect the trains.  The sensor flips the cross switch in the correct position for the oncoming train.  When two trains approach at the same time, one of the trains is stopped.  The automation process also keeps the traffic lights in sync.  Let us know what you think!

FYI: We have also finalized our design for the WiFi controller for LEGO trains.  We're going to make a video showing the same configuration but with trains ASAP!

If you are wondering where we got the monorail trains from, they were designed and built by Brick Loco.  You can find all their trains here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/148062782@N06/

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, kieran said:

Nice, works really well

Thanks!

With the sensors it does take a bit of time to program everything and get it right...  But the simulation mode of nControl helps a lot, you can really test the whole configuration before building the layout and putting the trains on the track.  This way of working really makes it a lot of fun...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.