Image above captured on the upper deck of the layout where scenery has progressed to some extent...
Shot with Olympus C-750

Welcome to the SP Oregon Division!

An N Scale RR depicting the good old days along "The Friendly".

Friday, April 28, 2017

Layout DCC Network Upgrades

Our last ops session was way back in October due to some upgrade projects that have not played nice.  We had a faulty UT4R throttle that was causing radio communications to get blocked, but was intermittent (not the known DT400R sleep issue).  This had caused an unresolved set of issues but has now been ferreted out.  Things appear to be stable once again. We have added a few more DT300R and UT4R throttles to the layout since putting the new Amtrak trains in service (and another manifest), so every power lashup still maintains its own dedicated throttle during Ops. We also retired an old DT100 throttle that was never very user friendly, since the addition of the new throttles. Thanks to Ted C for one of the 300's as a gift... which Ray was able to repair, along with a couple more of his throttle additions also.  Yes we have a dedicated throttle for every consist, and each is stored at the yard office where the power set was last tied down.  Operators dont need any button other than throttle speed, direction, and accessory functions, which makes it user friendly for new operators unfamiliar with Dgtrx, as well as eliminating the baggage that goes along with entry errors.

Basically we have two computers running the layout now.  Windows no longer runs the signaling system, as Ray has set up a Rasperry Pi to run JMRI over a dedicated signal network.  To do that, we split the Digitrax Loconet into two separate buses, which rendered the new Signaling network, and a Throttle network.  The Signal Net runs from the RasPi through a Locobuffer terminator, and on to all the SE8C signal, BDL168 block detect, PSX circuit brkr, and Loco IO cards, along with a TC64 (more IO's).  The Throttle Net runs with Windows and JMRI from either / or the Layout / House desktop, through another Locobuffer (PR3 depending which), to the DCS200, DB150 booster, UP5, UR91 receiver, BDL168 cards, and to a dedicated port that drops Railsync from all the throttles.  The throttles are then powered by a dedicated 1 amp power supply to keep them stable (and prevent their batteries from discharging prematurely).

We ripped out all but one Dgtrx PM42 crt brkr card, and upgraded to PSX crt brkrs for all blocks other than internal yard tracks.  This should stabilize sound unit drop out issues we were having when a short occurred on totally unrelated blocks across the layout.
Funny, at the beginning of this layout build, all the wiring was so neat and thorough, but now we are short on real estate and have to fit in cards and devices wherever they may under Eugene Yard.... that has made for some less than stellar wiring practices as of late.... so no pics!

Unfortunately we lost 3 Win XP machines in the month of October to unrelated issues (AND a backup that was graciously provided failed on its monitor output)... wtf?  Ray is trying to cobble parts together so we can revive one machine to put the Dispatch machine back in service for the spare bedroom (which also has been a server for hosting ATCS), but typically remote ops make that machine just a backup.

A test ops has been set up for this weekend, to give the layout a thorough workout... but its starting to turn into more like a full blown ops session as the date has gotten closer.  I think we're good to go...


  1. But DCC only needs two wires LOL.

    1. Stop on by Rod, I need someone with a sense of humor when dealing with these two wire systems. :)

  2. If I lived in your country I would luv to stop by. Visited many times for work and pleasure railfanning in all sorts of places following mostly my beloved AT&SF. You can see my now sold Santa Fe Railway Southern Division on my blog if you get tired of wires. Santafesd40.blogspot
    Regards Rod.

    1. Sorry to see your layout go Rod. :(
      Whats going on in the land down under?.... both you and Brendan got rid of some really nice layouts!

  3. Replies
    1. The layout is stable once again!
      We had Kel in Ohio dispatch the first half, and Brian in Van BC the last half.
      Worst issue was the yard goat stalling repeatedly... thanks to layout owner forgetting to clean multiple class tracks. Doh!
      The inaugural runs of the Coast Starlight were a success, but post ops I found one of the SDP40F TCS decoders was sick, so its currently back at TCS...
      Good Times.