Topics

Getting Started with Signals

rsauerbrun
 

Hello group …

I am now ready to start adding signals to my JMRI layout panels, and need some basic advice. I have experimented a little, and always seem to find a rabbit hole to go down and get stuck. Here are my details:
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • Java 1.8.0_161
  • JMRI 4.11.6
  • Digitrax DCS51 - Zephyr Xtra
  • DS64s for turnout control
  • BDL168 for occupancy block detection
  • SE8C for signal control
  • LocoBuffer USB interface to LocoNet
  • Modeling the Santa Fe in the transition era

Initially, I want to add signal masts and logic to my Panel Pro layout editor panel. Once everything is working on the panel, I will be adding the model signals to the layout and wiring to my SE8C.

My panel is working well, and I have control of my turnouts from JMRI. I also see the occupancy sensors on the panel when the BDL168 detects a train in a block. I have also used some basic scripts to run trains back-and-forth.

My primary questions involve the initial choices when I start to define the signal mast table entries:
  • Signal System
  • Mast Type
  • Mast Driver

I have uploaded my panel to the "Basic Signal System" folder … Thanks in advance for your help,

Richard

Dave Sand
 

Richard,

Signal System: Look at http://jmri.org/xml/signals/

Pick a system that comes closest to what you need. I would start by looking at the SP systems.

Mast Type: This will depend on the signal system. Generally the type describes the size and number of heads.

Mast Driver: Since you are using the SE8C you have a choice of turnout controlled or head controlled. With head controlled, you define heads using the SE8C option and then assign the heads to a mast.

If you have not purchased the SE8Cs yet, I recommend that you look at the RR-CirKits SignalMan. Then you can use the DCC Signal Mast Decoder mast driver which greatly reduces the LocoNet traffic.

Dave Sand

On Jun 13, 2018, at 9:05 AM, rsauerbrun <richard@...> wrote:

Hello group …

I am now ready to start adding signals to my JMRI layout panels, and need some basic advice. I have experimented a little, and always seem to find a rabbit hole to go down and get stuck. Here are my details:
• Windows 10 Pro
• Java 1.8.0_161
• JMRI 4.11.6
• Digitrax DCS51 - Zephyr Xtra
• DS64s for turnout control
• BDL168 for occupancy block detection
• SE8C for signal control
• LocoBuffer USB interface to LocoNet
• Modeling the Santa Fe in the transition era

Initially, I want to add signal masts and logic to my Panel Pro layout editor panel. Once everything is working on the panel, I will be adding the model signals to the layout and wiring to my SE8C.

My panel is working well, and I have control of my turnouts from JMRI. I also see the occupancy sensors on the panel when the BDL168 detects a train in a block. I have also used some basic scripts to run trains back-and-forth.

My primary questions involve the initial choices when I start to define the signal mast table entries:
• Signal System
• Mast Type
• Mast Driver

I have uploaded my panel to the "Basic Signal System" folder … Thanks in advance for your help,

Richard

Dave Sand
 

Richard,

Panel comment.

You have a custom icon, Button_32.gif, located in the JMRI install location.

It is recommended that you put custom components in the user files location.  Use Help >> Locations and select the Open User Files Location button to open the file manager.  Create a resources directory.  I would create an icons sub-directory for any custom icons.  This enables you to update JMRI without loosing custom components.

Dave Sand

Ken Cameron
 

Richard,

The quick hints are:

1. The BDL168 will show up as a set of 16 sensors.
2. The Se8c will show as a block of turnouts (for driving the LED's), 8
sensors (relating to the pushbuttons/inputs), and 8 turnouts related to
driving turnouts.
3. The DS64's will be smaller blocks of turnouts and sensors.

NOTE: I strongly suggest you never leave any of the devices at the original
address. Second, carefully map what addresses are used by each board to make
sure there are no conflicts. It is easy to mess this up. You set the node
address, and that maps the ranges of the other turnouts and sensors on that
board.

4. You will create signal heads using the Se8c driver type in the signal
head table.
5. You will create signal masts from the signal heads.
6. If you want to have approach lighting or more than one type of flashing
aspect, you will have to configure the Se8c for 'dark' as the fourth aspect.
Warning: too many signals displaying a flashing aspect at the same time can
consume a lot of LocoNet bandwidth.

-Ken Cameron, Member JMRI Dev Team
www.jmri.org
www.fingerlakeslivesteamers.org
www.cnymod.com
www.syracusemodelrr.org

suzie_tall
 

Richard

Since you are using an SE8C which does not on the whole handle flashing too well without causing a lot of traffic and does not handle Lunar heads you might like to use a signal system which has minimal flashing and no lunar. Southern Pacific (as suggested above) SPTCO-1930 tends to fit this spec quite well, and might be not too far from your area of operation.

With the SE8C you will be best defining all the heads on the SE8C in the signal heads table using the SE8C driver. This will allow each head to display red, yellow, green and dark which will enable JMRI to work fully with the SPTCO-1930 signal system without generating too much traffic. Just make sure that your SE8C is configured for dark on the fourth aspect and not one of the flashing colours should you want to look at approach lighting at any time.

Build the masts in the signal mast table using the SPTCO-1930 system and the head controlled mast driver, using as many heads as are required. You will generally require a double head mast approaching a turnout in the facing direction and single head masts when approaching turnouts in the trailing direction. The two turnouts at the lower left can probably be considered as a single plant so no need for signal masts between the two turnouts, just double head masts on each of the four approaches (I am assuming the return loop will be operated bi-directionally - can be much simplified if not). If the yard area is to be operated at restricted speed then you will want a triple head mast approaching it in the facing direction so that red over yellow over yellow can be displayed to indicate the branch diverging aspect which will signal use of restricted speed in the yard. Single head Dwarf masts can be used on the exit from the yard and the spur above the station where trains will always be running slowly approaching the signal masts.



Suzie x

rsauerbrun
 

Thank you to all that have replied to my post ... all this information has been very helpful. Here is where I am now:

  • I have defined all my signal heads and tied each to the address from the SE8C (sorry Ken, but I am using board ID 01, so the first head address is 257)
    • I have a lot of experience with the SE8C and am using them successfully on two large club layouts
      • On both layouts we are using Railroad & Company Train Controller to manage signal aspects
      • But now, on my new home layout, I prefer to use JMRI
  • I have my SE8C configured so the fourth aspect is "dark"
  • Trying the SPTCO-1930 system, I have assigned the heads to the first mast and both tables look correct
  • Next, I connected masts to turnout LT1 … but did not get what I expected
    • The connect window only allowed selection of two masts
    • I expected three … the double headed mast to the turnout's facing point (left hand), the single and dwarf masts (right hand)
  • My layout panel is completed and all track and turnouts are assigned to blocks
  • I am using a BDL168 and all blocks are assigned to the correct LocoNet sensor address

Do I have errors in my panel where the block and turnout connections should be?


Dave Sand
 

Richard,

You only have 2 signal mast locations because there is not a block boundary at the point end of the turnout. The turnout needs to have its own block.

You have the same issue with the turnout for the stub siding track.

In both cases, you assigned the turnout to the same block as the track connected to the point end of the turnout.


For signal mast logic purposes, you will need to create virtual signal masts and attach them to the end bumpers.


Are the two bottom tracks also part of the yard or are they connected to the rest of the layout which will not be signaled?

Dave Sand

On Jun 15, 2018, at 12:26 PM, rsauerbrun <richard@...> wrote:

Thank you to all that have replied to my post ... all this information has been very helpful. Here is where I am now:

• I have defined all my signal heads and tied each to the address from the SE8C (sorry Ken, but I am using board ID 01, so the first head address is 257)
• I have a lot of experience with the SE8C and am using them successfully on two large club layouts
• On both layouts we are using Railroad & Company Train Controller to manage signal aspects
• But now, on my new home layout, I prefer to use JMRI
• I have my SE8C configured so the fourth aspect is "dark"
• Trying the SPTCO-1930 system, I have assigned the heads to the first mast and both tables look correct
• Next, I connected masts to turnout LT1 … but did not get what I expected
• The connect window only allowed selection of two masts
• I expected three … the double headed mast to the turnout's facing point (left hand), the single and dwarf masts (right hand)
• My layout panel is completed and all track and turnouts are assigned to blocks
• I am using a BDL168 and all blocks are assigned to the correct LocoNet sensor address

Do I have errors in my panel where the block and turnout connections should be?


rsauerbrun
 

Thanks Dave,

Yes, it has been my practice to include each turnout's facing point end with the preceding block. I have done this to conserve on the number of blocks I need to wire to the BDL168. But I better understand how JMRI signaling now works. I can assign virtual blocks (not detected on the actual layout) to each of the turnouts. That should then allow JMRI to assign the masts I expected.

And I get the idea of attaching virtual signals to the end bumpers. As I wish to use Dispatcher to automate my trains, I will need signals at the bumper ends to stop the trains.

The bottom track is not part of the yard, and runs as a mainline that connects to the reverse loop on the west end. You can, however, get to the yard from that track by taking the reverse loop and switching tracks.

Thanks again,

Richard

rsauerbrun
 

I have just uploaded the latest version of my panel. With help from several folks, I have completed the tables and added the signals to the layout. I am now ready to "Discover" the signal logic as per Suzie's excellent tutorial on the JMRI site.

However, when I right click the first signal, choose "Signal Mast Logic" and then "Discover", I get a message that says "Layout Block Routing is not enabled - Do you want to enable it?" I click "Yes" and then JMRI seems to freeze and nothing happens. I have waited about 15 minutes but there is no change and I cannot close the window, but have to kill the Java process to exit.

What did I miss?

Dave Sand
 

Richard,

Virtual blocks can work but are difficult to implement correctly. The problem is that the virtual block has to become action/inactive in the correct sequence relative to its neighbors.

For example: A-B-C where B is a virtual block. Moving from A to C requires that B becomes active after A but before C and inactive after A but before C. Going from C to A reverses the logic. The problem is that you have to figure out the direction of travel to determine the correct logic set.

Dave Sand

On Jun 16, 2018, at 7:25 AM, rsauerbrun <richard@...> wrote:

Thanks Dave,

Yes, it has been my practice to include each turnout's facing point end with the preceding block. I have done this to conserve on the number of blocks I need to wire to the BDL168. But I better understand how JMRI signaling now works. I can assign virtual blocks (not detected on the actual layout) to each of the turnouts. That should then allow JMRI to assign the masts I expected.

And I get the idea of attaching virtual signals to the end bumpers. As I wish to use Dispatcher to automate my trains, I will need signals at the bumper ends to stop the trains.

The bottom track is not part of the yard, and runs as a mainline that connects to the reverse loop on the west end. You can, however, get to the yard from that track by taking the reverse loop and switching tracks.

Thanks again,

Richard

Dave Sand
 

Richard,

If you look at Help >> System Console, you will probably see some errors about layout blocks.

I am not sure how there errors were created.  The most likely cause is trying to rename or move block names.  Due to internal dependancies, that rarely works.

If you want, I can clean up the XML and post it.

Dave Sand



On Jun 16, 2018, at 8:37 AM, rsauerbrun <richard@...> wrote:

I have just uploaded the latest version of my panel. With help from several folks, I have completed the tables and added the signals to the layout. I am now ready to "Discover" the signal logic as per Suzie's excellent tutorial on the JMRI site.

However, when I right click the first signal, choose "Signal Mast Logic" and then "Discover", I get a message that says "Layout Block Routing is not enabled - Do you want to enable it?" I click "Yes" and then JMRI seems to freeze and nothing happens. I have waited about 15 minutes but there is no change and I cannot close the window, but have to kill the Java process to exit.

What did I miss?

rsauerbrun
 

Dave,

That would be great … thank you. Here is what I did to get the signals to connect as I expected (if this will help):
  • Added 8 new blocks (not actually detected on the layout, so no BDL168 address)
  • Changed the block associated with the 8 turnouts and selected the appropriate new block
  • Resaved the panel & configuration

Let me know if you need anything else,

Richard

Dave Sand
 

Richard,

I have uploaded the fixed panel xml file.

There were 3 unrelated issues.
  • An internal structure for 3 of the blocks was missing.  
  • Block 7 was assigned to a track segment near turnout 1 and by the turntable.  Non-contiguous block assignments always create problems.
  • Another track segment in the ladder did not have any block assigned.

If you had looked at task manager you would have seen that JMRI was looping when trying to enable block routing.  That was caused by one of the above problems.

In the Layout Editor Tools Menu, there is a Check item.  You can use that to look for incorrect or missing block assignments.  The missing list can get quite long when blocks are not assigned to yards and industry spurs,


Dave Sand



On Jun 16, 2018, at 10:06 AM, rsauerbrun <richard@...> wrote:

Dave,

That would be great … thank you. Here is what I did to get the signals to connect as I expected (if this will help):
• Added 8 new blocks (not actually detected on the layout, so no BDL168 address)
• Changed the block associated with the 8 turnouts and selected the appropriate new block
• Resaved the panel & configuration

Let me know if you need anything else,

Richard

rsauerbrun
 

On Sat, Jun 16, 2018 at 08:50 am, Dave Sand wrote:

 Thank you very much … I am DL to give it a try.


 

On Jun 16, 2018, at 10:06 AM, rsauerbrun <richard@...> wrote:

Dave,

That would be great … thank you. Here is what I did to get the signals to connect as I expected (if this will help):
• Added 8 new blocks (not actually detected on the layout, so no BDL168 address)
• Changed the block associated with the 8 turnouts and selected the appropriate new block
• Resaved the panel & configuration

Let me know if you need anything else,

Richard

 

 

rsauerbrun
 

Thanks to everyone that has helped … my panel is really starting to come to life. The only issue I have now (uploaded latest version), is with the configuration for the two facing point turnouts at the reverse loop entrance/exit.

Dave Sand
 

Richard,

I would use the same block for both turnouts and the short connecting track segment. 

The block boundaries will be at the frog ends of the turnouts.  Each boundary gets a double head mast.  This arrangement behaves the same as a double slip turnout. 

If the loop is not bi-directional, the signal masts protecting the loop entrance can be single head. 

Dave Sand


----- Original message -----
From: rsauerbrun <richard@...>
Subject: Re: [jmriusers] Getting Started with Signals
Date: Sat, 16 Jun 2018 17:48:05 -0700

Thanks to everyone that has helped … my panel is really starting to come to life. The only issue I have now (uploaded latest version), is with the configuration for the two facing point turnouts at the reverse loop entrance/exit.