NR_Comp_CPU03_SA

 

COMPUTERIZED RAILROAD

 

and the Computer that Runs the Railroad

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  The North River Railway is a "heads-up" model railroad where the engineers can give their full attention to running their train instead of worrying about routing power via a control panel.   Three wireless walk-around controllers allow the engineers complete freedom to follow the train wherever it goes worrying only about the speed and direction of travel.

Trackside switch machine control operates the turnouts right at the switch so the train crew doesn't have to hunt on a distant panel for the correct control.   Admittedly, some machines are too far to reach conveniently in this manner so some switches can also be operated from push-buttons on the table front.

Control is by a computer controlled block system.   Tracks are wired as if for a conventional block system so that any unmodified engine will operate without the installation of receivers of any kind.   The computer uses photo cell detection to detect the approach of a train to a block to turn the blocks on and off as the train progresses on its route.   Signals display the correct track occupancy so as long as the engineer doesn't run red a signal, two trains can pass where sidings permit.

The turntables are also fully automated with alignment accuracy ranging down to about ten mills (0.010 inch).   Pressing the -CW- button twice will cause the table to index clockwise past the first track, slow and lock in place to the second and put power to the appropriate stall track(s) without any intervention from the crew.

Track, turnout and other power systems are protected against shorts with an alarm that sounds when shorts occurs.   The computer will periodically recycle and attempt to re-start the system until the short is removed.

 

 

 

NR_Comp_Pwr_02S

 

Power for signals, computer and auxiliary circuits is controlled here.  Five switching regulators are currently in use with room for four more.  The transformer bay is in the metal cage underneath.

 

 

NR_Comp_Main01S

 

This is the main computer bay.   The three train control receivers can be seen along the bottom.   Above that is the card cage containing the CPU and room for 12 auxiliary control cards.   A phone cable distributes the control throughout the railroad.

 

  

    

NR_Comp_CPU01S

 

The CPU is an 8085-based 11mhz controller with 32K memory.  The buttons and LEDs to the left are for testing during construction along with a post code for daily operation.

 

 

  

NR_Comp_Aux01S

 

The auxiliary cards contain (8) relays used for block (track) control, 16 signal or photo-cell detectors, and 16 complementary circuits.   Note the jumpers on the lower right used to set a unique address for each card.

 

 

 

 

NR_Comp_Reg01S

 

All regulators are physically interchangeable but each contains a custom wound inductor tuned for the desired output. Outputs range from 25v at 3amps to 5v at 2 amps. 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

NR_CompPanel01S

  

This simple panel serves multiple functions.   When not in use it provides a fast clock usually set to 4 hours per day.   In test mode it will display the status of any selected device, and in general use it is used to connect a cab to a new train or relinquish control

  

 

 

NR_Comp_Stand01S

 

Typical electric switchstand.   Turning the stand will make electrical contact under the table to throw and electrical switch machine. Contacts on the machine provide feedback to the computer as well as guaranteeing continuity to points.

 

NR_Comp_Cells01AS

 

An infra-red emitter at the top flashes a 10khz beam upwards.  Anything passing within two or three inches will reflect enough light to the detector below.   A high and low pass filter makes sure that transient light changes do not trigger a false signal.   Infra-red insures an invisible night time detection that gives no distracting light.

 

 

   

 

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Model Railroading is fun in Connecticut.
Bob Van Cleef, MMR

Last update   07/20/2012