Check out the newest Quaker Valley JMRI CTC panel at http://www.quaker-valley.com/CTC/QV_CTCnew.html
and the original Quaker Valley JMRI CTC panel at http://www.quaker-valley.com/CTC/QV_CTC.html
The Quaker Valley Railroad has been developing a CTC Panel using the
Panel feature in Decoder Pro for about four years. In the summer
of 2006, I attended the NMRA Philadelphia Convention and sat in on all
of the JMRI clinics. I met some of the key people behind the development
and learned a lot, especially about the then newest features of Panel Pro
in version 1.7.5. I also gave a clinic describing how I was using
JMRI Panel Pro with my NCE system to develop a virtual CTC panel.
I even have acquired a touch screen which allows me to change the lever
position by touching them on the screen. No more mouse or trackball
for the Dispatcher.
I always wanted to develop the panel to use the turnout and signal levers and code button just like the real ones. I thought it would require scripting. After I saw the new features of Panel Pro, I realized I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is also a new set of backgrounds and USS icons I wanted to explore.
I have already created a CTC panel for my small demo layout that has four fully functioning CTC levers. One trick I used with the 1.7.5 version of JMRI s is to create two "ghost" buttons beside the signal lever and actually display the 3 positions of the signal lever as a 3 position signal. In the screen shot to the left, you can see the ghost rings beside the center signal levers. If you look carefully, they are the smudges just left and right of the center signal levers. I left the outside levers with visible buttons which change color as they are activated. If the left button is active, the "signal" is red and a left lever is displayed. The fourth lever is in this position. The first lever is right, when only the right button is active, the "signal" is yellow. When neither button is active, the green "signal" displays a vertical lever.
There is another virtual signal created to generate the yellow signal aspect. In this example, a signal IH441 watches only the right ghost button IH442. The signal lever on the panel IH440 watches the left ghost button IS441 and the second signal. This is how I get the 3 positions to display the signal lever.
The code button at the bottom of each position is momentary and controls the turnout and signals. You can flip the lever back and forth without setting it. Only when the code button is pressed does the turnout and signal follow. And because of the way the JMRI routes function can work, they will only follow if the interlocking is unoccupied.
Sweet! No more throwing turnouts under moving trains.
So how does this all work in Panel Pro?
Each position has four inputs from the Dispatcher. These are the turnout lever, the left and right ghost signal lever buttons and the code button. There are four block detector inputs from the railroad. I use NCE BD20s which detect current in each block. These are connected to a NCE Auxiliary Input Unit (AIU) which is on the cab bus and makes the block occupancy info available to the command station and thus to Panel Pro.
My friend Ken McCorry uses an infrared detector at the points in each interlocking to hold this block occupied when a car is over it. In this way, he has found no need to place resistor wheel sets on any freight cars. I have been experimenting with detection of my caboose fleet and will likely only detect them.
There are two routes for the turnout. One sets it Normal and one sets it Reverse (or Thrown) to follow the turnout lever. Panel Pro allows multiple sensors, so I have made sure the block is unoccupied before these routes are used. I simply show the turnout position as driven by Panel Pro in the two lights above the turnout lever. I don't have and don't see the need for feedback from the turnout on the railroad. The second lever in the panel above shows a turnout in the Reverse position.
The signal lever requires five routes. I use two internal turnouts which follow the ghost buttons if the block is unoccupied. These each require two routes to set them. Because the left position is red, it will over ride the right if both are set. I included the right turnout (IT542 in the example) and set it normal when IT541 is Thrown. A 50 msec delay in the route makes sure only one signal turnout is set. The left and right green lights display the signal turnout setting. The fifth route clears both turnouts whenever the interlocking is occupied. The third set of levers shows the signal dropped, even though the signal lever is still set to the left.
So the Laurel Run example shown requires input from 4 block detectors, has one real turnout to throw and has 4 signal heads to set for the railroad. There are the 4 Dispatcher inputs, two internal turnouts for the signal direction and 4 internal signals to display the signal lever and center signal light.
With the test successfully behind me, I am reworking my Quaker Valley
CTC panel to work like the demo. In September 2006, I have already
started and have created the new background image. I also added levers
and code buttons for the existing turnouts and added TOL indicators where
block detectors are installed. I haven't added the signal levers
yet, as I need to detect occupancy of the interlocking trackage.
I also added a JMRI clock. I hope it will one day be a fast clock
married to the NCE command station, but for now it tells real time from
the PC. Yes it was nearly 2 am when I took this shot.
There is a train coming out of staging at Punxsatawney, and the Dispatcher has set the turnout for him to take the Quaker Valley main at Twin Rocks. An eastbound train is taking the siding at Shinnton, while a westbound is holding the main. Note the Dispatcher has already moved the turnout lever 49 for the main, but must wait for the interlocking to clear before pressing the code button.
This background was developed using MS Paint. I started with the
dual background panel provided in the resource folder of Panel Pro.
This now includes a better shade of green and the button punch outs as
on the real US&S panels. I again stacked two separate CTC panels
one over the other as I need more than the 15 positions available on a
single panel. I reused the track artwork in the black areas from
my older panel. I even kept the Quaker logo in place. I added
a USS&S plate, starting with a scan of a real plate from a photo.
I cleaned up the lettering and then added it to my panel.
The upper section of the panel represents the modeled portion of my Quaker Valley line which runs north and south between Buffalo NY, through Costello and ending in Lynnsburg, a town in the hills of Western Pennsylvania between Altoona and Johnstown. The lower panel section shows Conrail's secondary track between these two towns. I have abbreviated the staging yard tracks on either side of the modeled lines. In reality, the yards at McKeesport and Altoona are two ends of the Westbound staging yard. Johnstown and Harrisburg are the Eastbound staging yard.
Sweet! And Decoder Pro is still freeware. Thank you Bob Jacobsen, Dick Bronson and the JMRI crew!
Check out the older CTC panel used on the Quaker Valley at http://www.quaker-valley.com/CTC/QV_CTC.html
Learn more about the JMRI project, Decoder Pro and Panel Pro at http://jmri.sourceforge.net/
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