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Martijn Meerts

Automated computer control chapter 3 - Advanced blocks

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Martijn Meerts

No problem. If you have any questions, just ask.

 

I was supposed to write more chapters on this, but I guess I got sidetracked 🙂

 

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gavino200

Fantastic thread. Thanks Martijn. I'm thinking of setting up the tracks on my new layout with isolated joiners for later addition of block detection. 

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cteno4

It’s a smart thing to do as you can just run them all into a terminal block to do regular point power routing until you want to get fancier for automation, election, or just fancier block running.

 

jeff

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Martijn Meerts

It definitely makes things easier later on when you build the layout with blocks / computer control in mind. I've retrofitted a couple of 'normal' layouts to be computer controlled, and it can be a bit of a mess 🙂

 

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chadbag
15 hours ago, cteno4 said:

It’s a smart thing to do as you can just run them all into a terminal block to do regular point power routing until you want to get fancier for automation, election, or just fancier block running.

 

jeff

 

Or just buy one or two of the block detectors from Digikeijs now (or other affordable ones -- $100 can get you 32 zones) and just wire it up, even if you don't do anything with it at the moment 🙂

 

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Martijn Meerts

Yep, you can actually just add detection modules right from the start. I don't know much about Digikeijs, but it looks like good quality stuff. When I started working with the ECoS (which can also do occupancy detection using S88), the best option was LDT. More expensive than the Digikeijs modules, but they have been proven quite well considering Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg runs on mostly LDT electronics.

 

If I were to start now though, I might get the Digikeijs S88 modules. In fact, I'm planning on getting something like the LDT HSI-88, which allows me to separate controlling trains and accessories from receiving feedback, as wel as have multiple chains of detection modules. It's a bit more flexible, more reliable, and I could use LDT's S88 modules for the yard and helix on 1 detection chain, and the use Digikeijs S88 modules for the other 2 chains.

 

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gavino200
2 hours ago, chadbag said:

 

Or just buy one or two of the block detectors from Digikeijs now (or other affordable ones -- $100 can get you 32 zones) and just wire it up, even if you don't do anything with it at the moment 🙂

 

 

Can you expand on that, Chad? How does it work? How is it wired? Does it work with other systems? Pros, cons, etc. 

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chadbag
3 hours ago, gavino200 said:

 

Can you expand on that, Chad? How does it work? How is it wired? Does it work with other systems? Pros, cons, etc. 

 

Digikeijs makes several different detection block systems depending on whether you want/need RailCom etc.  They all support LocoNet so should work with any LocoNet compatible command center/booster.  Other companies make similar systems and any of them should work.
 

 When you put the isolating joiners in and wire each block to power, you connect those power wires to the detection system module instead of the command center/boosters, which is/are  connected to your command station.  So once you decide you want to actually use detection, it is already wired up! (See manuals for exmaple wiring).

 

If the Digikeijs interest you here is the US distributors page showing the various modules (there are really two of interest the 4088-LN and the 5088 if you want RailCom reporting -- or the 4088-OPTO if you are doing 3 wire with the Digikeijs command station or you want to hook up other sensors to it as well -- the manual (under support on the website) for the 4088 shows installations using the -OPTO version with hall effect, reed, and other sensors -- I've not done any of that).  https://www.digikeijs.us/digital-model-railway-accessories/model-railway-feedback-modules/loconet-feedback.html

 

I've only used the 5088 myself and I have the Digikeijs command station but supposedly it should work with any command station -- I've not done it (yet) hwoever.  (As part of my software dev efforts I will be eventually getting other command stations to test with and will test these sorts of combos)

 

Upi can also do what Jeff said which is just connect all the wires to a distribution block and later replace that with the detection modules.  I just find it easier to wire them modules in up front since I know I will eventually want them anyway.  

 

EDIT:  I should add that I have their 32 block "combo" set, normal 2 wire non OPTO version available.  I'll post it again in the classified FS area of the forum.  I bought it but then realized I'd like to use RailCom so never used it.

Edited by chadbag
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Madsing

Just to confirm chadbag's post. I am also using Digikeijs DR4088 feedback modules (four of them) and they work very well with my Z21 command station and the Rocrail software.

In addition: Martijn's post (this post) about blocks is excellent. I recommend everyone interested in layout automation to read it and follow these recommendations. I did that a few years back when I started my layout and it proved really useful!

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Martijn Meerts

Good to hear these old posts have been useful 🙂

 

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