Big decision - DCC.
But it isn't a simple as that ! The layout being large will be divided into regions(super blocks) to allow fault finding. In addition the railway will be divided into track sections for signal control, and these smaller blocks may have isolating switches as well.
Because most of my points will be live frog, only overshooting will create shorts - I hope. Normally the railway should work okay.
There is a lot to decide at the moment in terms of DCC's role in running the railway. We would demand flexibility for the different types of operations envied. DCC main use will be train based - operators will have freedom to run their trains far closer to prototype practise.
Instead of a separate electronic control ( similar to the Bruce Chubb PC interface) I may be able to use the DCC accessory units. It may get to the stage that a separate system would be purchased to gain the inputs required.
The computer interface has to be powerful enough to allow myself to program what I want the railway to do. The computer:
The computer would be able to:
The above diagram looks complex, and it is. But it is made up of many conponents. I have shown several Computers, but it may be one single PC in the end. All the conponents, the DCC system, the Main CMRI system, the driving CAB, the CTC + panels all can be added as time progresses.
I have shown the control system for signals etc as being three CMRI's - well it may be a single larger system. CMRI has been used as anknown example.
The internet connection may initially be just a dialin connection, or a password protected site for authorised users. Eventually it would be nice to incorporate a web cam or two plus feeds of the signal panels etc. To drive a train off the internet by unknown people is not in my plans.
Signal and Telegraph:
Yes I enjoy running my trains to the signals. I would like a CTC panel to be located upstairs completely separate to the railway. The CTC panel wold not be full size nor completely accurate, but I would like to base it on full size Victorian - Australian practise if possible, and be real as what is allowed.
Signals will be interlocked. Points, Signals will be operated as per Victorian/Australian Practise along with Track detection. By using CTC I hope driver will obey the signals rather than have the signals control the trains. The issue of seeing all signal aspects could be fixed by having a mimic drawing on the facias with signal and track detectors - making it easy for a driver to stay out of a station operator's way down one end and safely drive his train around even though he cannot see the actual signal aspects !
I would have some local panels as well reflecting some of the different Victorian Panels I have seen. These panels would have some interaction with the main CTC panel/PC. Depending on the station the local panel may be exactly like the CTC's representation , or have more or less control, ie the CTC may only control mainline points for a loop and off mainline access. The local panel may control more. Remembering not all Points may be motorised will also dictate some panels.
I would hope the CTC panel would be able to have some form of TV surveillance of certain spots - he may be responsible for the staging yards as well, at least he will see what is in ‘em.
Some panels may be switched in yet give control to the mainline to the CTC.
Finally I would have a crude CTC style panel down in the main room somewhere to hard work every point form one position. That will make running trains by oneself different again.
Communications would be hectic enough as it is. Perhaps a telephone system or more likely a radio set with multi channels linking the station operators, drivers, CTC operator and "controller". The goal would be the cut down on the yelling across the room.
Yes trains play an important role in operating the railway. I would eventually like to have a few TV camera equipped locos ( probably dummy units pushed by powered ones ) with the drivers near the CTC operator ( or more likely one in the lounge on the TV and another near the CTC operator. If I really wanted to go ‘sick' I might build a diesel simulator with the TV screen built into a mock cab ‘window' and full sized controls - even sounds. The CTC operator may be able to drive a train off the monitor on the console !
The driver would be able to obey the signals ‘fully' and rely on radio chatter to tell him what to do. In yards the local station operator would be telling him what to do by radio as well, very realistic !
It may be setup as well that the driver may have CAB signalling to give additional informationm incase he cannot really see the signals on screen.
More on Operation
The railway must be enjoyable by one person. With some computerisation this would be achievable. He could be running one train, or working a station. He could have the computer take and drive in trains, or just have one train circulating the mainline continuously, perhaps have a railcar doing the shuttle on the branch to the mainline etc.
The same could be said for two operators and so on until you get the normal manning levels to keep the most people running the railway.
The key is flexibility. From one operator alone in the room itself to many in the room and out of the room ( CTC and remote drivers) - one could even run the railway upstairs via the CTC panel.
It may even come to pass that the PC could interface to the Internet to allow friends to help operate the railway from interstate or across the town ! These days you can send voice,video, and data down the same line. You could allow outsiders to see and/or hear the operations.