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Author Topic: DCC shuttle controller  (Read 403 times)

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Offline DaveEssex

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DCC shuttle controller
« on: March 15, 2019, 04:58:58 PM »
Does anyone know of a DCC shuttle controller that will handle a Y junction at one end to allow two locos to run alternately down a track.

I have tried one that is made in the USA which unfortunately has a fundamental flaw in its design that makes it unusable.

Any pointers appreciated otherwise I will have to go back to DC control for that part of the layout.

Thanks,  Dave

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2019, 09:35:18 PM »
What was the device you tried, and what was the flaw?

To be honest, I always think things like automated shuttles are much easier with good old DC.  If you want to achieve the same thing reliably with DCC then you're into occupation detectors and the electronics and software programming to control it all, either built into the command station or via PC software interfaced to the command station.   Even more advanced would be to use Railcom or RFID tags to report back exactly which loco is where on the layout.

You can achieve such things to some extent without the occupation detection, but you're reliant on simply programming the manoeuvres into the software and hoping that the loco replays accurately every time without any timing issues due to jittering (dirt) or derailments etc.  The software can only assume it knows where each loco is.

When my modular baseboards are not part of a larger system I can run a simple automated system using DC, controlling 7 trains between two 4-track fiddle yards. It's all driven by a Heathcote Electronics shuttle unit and a bunch of their IR-DOT detectors. A train sets off from the fiddleyard, and when it reaches the far end fiddleyard the detector for that siding triggers the shuttle module to prepare to run in the opposite direction plus it fires the necessary points for the next train via a diode matrix. The next train then runs back to the first fiddleyard after a suitable delay.

I'll be running the above automated system at the N Gauge Southeast show in 3 weeks time  :D
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 09:39:32 PM by ntpntpntp »
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline DaveEssex

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2019, 10:01:15 PM »
The device I tried was the Tam Valley shuttle.  The flaw is in the design of the software.  The stopping points are implemented by breaks in the track so changes in current can be detected (This is OK).  The problem is with the software that appears to run in a loop, so when it detects the stopping point, it depends on where it currently is in the loop and how much further round the loop it has to go before it reaches the code that reacts to the stopping point input. The nett result is the actual stopping point is extremely variable, so some times it stops before the station and sometimes it runs into the buffers.  The stopping point can vary by anything up to about 300mm.  The program should really be event driven so when an event (eg stopping point reached) occurs the program can then immediately react as appropriate, rather than having a variable delay.

Where is the N gauge Southeast show in 3 weeks time, I would like to come if I can?

Dave

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2019, 10:41:09 PM »

Where is the N gauge Southeast show in 3 weeks time, I would like to come if I can?

Dave

It's a joint venture with this very forum and East Surrey N Gauge group.  It's at Purley, Surrey
https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=40087.msg546862#msg546862


As programmer with decades of experience in various languages, it sounds like a dreadful software implementation if the main loop takes that long to cycle.    As you say, should be event driven.
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline Paul-H

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2019, 09:37:17 AM »
Block Signalling do a DCC Shuttle Module

http://www.blocksignalling.co.uk/index.php/10-products/57-dcc-shuttle-sdcc1

Don't know if it supports  Y though

Paul
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Offline Paul-H

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2019, 09:39:57 AM »
Just wondering as I know nothing about these things, but when using a DCC Shuttle does the section of track have to isolated from the normal DCC bus or do they work along side the DCC controller

Thanks
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Offline Railwaygun

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2019, 09:27:59 PM »
i talked to the Man from MERG at Abingdon and he suggested these modules

ATC x1
CSR4 x1
PB3 x1 ?? (solenoid driver - illegible code!)

https://www.merg.org.uk/kits.php

45    Automatic Train Controller (ATC) - Basic Shuttle Kit
Will control a simple end-to-end shuttle. See kit 773 for suitable PSU.

46    Cab Select Relay Kit for ATC Expansion (CSR4)
Provides switching for multiple endpoints to Shuttle system

?? 84    4ch Pulse Motor Driver (CANACC4)
CBUS driver for 4 solenoid point motors, includes CDU.

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Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2019, 09:43:33 PM »
Just wondering as I know nothing about these things, but when using a DCC Shuttle does the section of track have to isolated from the normal DCC bus or do they work along side the DCC controller

Well, with DCC it's about automating the transmission of speed and direction commands to a particular loco address, so there's no need to have the shuttle track isolated unless you're using a dedicated piece of hardware acting as a mini DCC command station just for that function.  Using a software only approach it just needs to be able to interface to the main DCC system and send the commands via that system out to the loco.  With the right train detection or feedback it's then possible to automate running something over any part of the layout.

I still reckon plain old DC is easier for this :-)
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline nookfield

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2019, 11:09:34 PM »
The Sig-na Trak (CML Electronics) DSS1 LocoShuttle can change turnouts  if your DCC system supports Loconet.

https://www.signatrak.co.uk/products/layout-automation-and-accessory-control/dss1-locoshuttle
 

Offline Nigel Cliffe

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2019, 08:54:19 AM »
Yes, I was going to say "CML DSS1" as well, assuming a LocoNet based system.  I'd be surprised if it couldn't do what was described. 

Can do something similar (but far less flexible/powerful) with a NCE MiniPanel.   The MiniPanel can get complicated if wanting to use multiple loco addresses on the shuttle system.   (For some situations can get round that complication by using a consist address - the shuttle is programmed to control the consist address loco, and to run any loco on the shuttle, you temporarily put it into a consist of one loco using advanced consisting ). 


Offline DaveEssex

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2019, 09:39:45 AM »
Question to ntpntpntp..

I am planning to come to Purley at the weekend..  Which layout will you be on?

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: DCC shuttle controller
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2019, 01:28:06 PM »
Question to ntpntpntp..

I am planning to come to Purley at the weekend..  Which layout will you be on?

Hi, I'll be on Königshafen Altstadt - a quite long & thin German layout. Stand 10 if I remember correctly. I'll be the older and larger of the operators :D   Do please drop by and say hello!
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

 

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