Archive for September, 2016

An Old Hobby Resurfacing

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

For those few who have known me for a long time, you know one of my hobbies is model railroading. I haven’t had much chance to engage in it recently, though I did start an N-scale layout while I was in the townhome. Well, recently, I’ve joined a model railroad club (Neuse River Valley –, and I’ve started working on the club’s HO layout. Since my interest is primarily in the underpinnings – the physical wiring, control system, etc – I’m working on setting up the JMRI server and related components for this layout. I’m also going to be doing some minor scenic work, but my main concentration will be on layout control.

The club has a laptop set up under the layout that’s intended for use with JMRI; today I got the drivers installed on the OS and managed to get decoder detection working on a temporary programming track. I’m starting to do some reading about JMRI and how it operates, and for the most part it looks like it all Just Works(r)(tm). Which based on what it was the last time I looked at it several years ago is both a large relief and a not-so-small miracle.

The specs so far – the Windows 7 laptop is hooked up to a Digitrax PR3, which in turn is connected via LocoNet to a Digitrax DCS200. The WiFi router that we’ll be using for mobile phone control has to be replaced, but we will be replacing that soon. Once that’s done, I just have to scan all the locomotives on the programming track, and they should be controllable through JMRI.

We will not have actual switch control through JMRI – all the switches on this layout and the N-scale layout are manual, and the idea of making them remote controllable is a non-starter due to cost. I was told there are about 80 turnouts on the HO layout alone, and adding remote machines to them at $35 per is… well, cost-prohibitive is the nice way to put it.

Mind, when I start building my home layout, the turnouts will be remote powered, and ultimately JMRI will be controlling the turnouts. I’ve just got other things going on at the homestead that take priority over the railroad layout. Stay tuned for more updates on what I’m doing with the club layout – if I start making enough posts, I may spin up a new site dedicated to my model railroading endeavors. If I do, I’ll let you know here.