Re: Poughkeepsie Show, 11/10

Geoff Dunn

There is actually no need for a "laptop" - at the Atlanta NMRA convention, someone was using a "RaspberryPi" (a $35 or so index-card sized computer) running Linux and JMRI to power the throttle interface.  This won't do all the JMRI functions but it performs the functions we used at Poughkeepsie.  The Wi-Fi apps don't do all the functions a purpose-built throttle can do, but we didn't use any of those functions on Sunday.  (We programmed decoder values from the NCE PowerCab).

My one concern is getting too hung up on the technology - I want to use the technology to run trains, not spend my train show time playing with the technology.



---In AlbanyNTRAK@..., <KramF@...> wrote:

Hi All,

I'll add that this was my first experience with DCC, having outfitted 3 locomotives with decoders over the past couple of weeks.  I was interested to try out Geoff's NCE system, as I have been thinking about getting my own DCC system sometime in the future when I actually have time to run trains at home.

I have to say that using the JMRI setup with my iPhone and a free app as a throttle is an appealing alternative to purchasing a wireless throttle.  This does require a laptop and a wireless router, but I have these lying around my house already, so for me there would be almost no cost. Even if you needed to purchase a router, you could still acquire all the components, including the NCE USB gizmo needed to connect to the laptop, much cheaper than a throttle, assuming you have a laptop you are willing to use for trains. There is a more sophisticated app for the iPhone that costs about $10 that I believe allows you to run more trains at the same time.  Geoff's Android app allowed you to operate 2 trains at once.

I really liked being able to walk around the outside of the layout along with my train, where I could talk to the people who were impressed that we were using our phones for throttles, as well as keep a watchful eye over little fingers near the edge of the layout.  It seems to me that you could add an additional dimension to shows by doing some switching at the various yards and sidings along the way.  As Geoff said, the one drawback of using the phones is that if you get a call, or have to close the app to answer a text, your train stops.

John Henry discussed using a device called a Sprog, available for $105 over the internet, which used with JMRI, eliminates the need for a DCC setup like the PowerCab.

I should also mention that we again had the Hyde Park Club's 8 foot Hyde Park module, which is a fairly accurate representation of the Hyde Park railroad station and FDR's mansion.  They also use circuitry that moves a DC train back and forth on the siding and controls a turnout so that the train moves from one track to another.  This adds nice animation to the scene, and runs all day with no need for attention from the layout operators.  You can see a photo of the Hyde Park module here ( ).  It's the one with the Amtrak train passing the station.


-----Original Message-----
From: geoffdunnsoccer <geoffdunnsoccer@...>
To: AlbanyNTRAK <AlbanyNTRAK@...>
Sent: Mon, Nov 11, 2013 9:21 pm
Subject: [AlbanyNTRAK] Poughkeepsie Show, 11/10

On Sunday, Mark, his son James, Matt, and I brought modules to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center for the annual Poughkeepsie show.  Dave also came to help set up, run, and take down - his first full day with N-Trak.  John Henry came and ran trains.  The layout ran well.

We had a "linear" layout with two corners, so it was more like a U shape.  Two end loops provided two distinct track loops.  One was dedicated to DC and the other to DCC.  For the DCC section, we ran an NCE PowerCab, JMRI on a laptop, a wireless router, and used Wi-Fi enabled phones as throttles.  This setup was set up and tested at home with an Android device.  This worked fine at the show, but nobody with an Apple device could connect to the wireless router.  James figured out that the wireless router needed a different security configuration and made the changes so the Apple phones could connect.  After this, the Apple people and I could all run DCC trains pretty reliably.  There were one or two minor glitches but it really worked pretty well.  I think I prefer to have a dedicated device for running trains - especially when my wife calls on my throttle, I mean phone.  We probably are limited by the power output of the NCE PowerCab as far as the number of trains running, but I don't think there were any issues adding throttles to JMRI.

The number of vendors (and attendees) was down from last year.  I had a list of Unitrack to buy, but the vendor who used to bring lots to sell wasn't there.  I picked up a few other things though...

It was a good day and a successful show.  Doug, we got a $30 honorarium - I'll get that to you at some point.


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