Over the past several weeks, I've been working with Dave Hikel to beta test a new PC-based train control system that he and his company, Hikel O Gauge Trains, has developed. While I'm not at liberty to share the details of how the system was developed or exactly what are its component parts, I can provide the forum with some aspects of its installation on my own layout.
My layout is strictly command control and I have both DCS and TMCC/Legacy installed. During the beta test, I also had a TMCC command base installed and was able to run trains, simultaneously, using a Windows DCS Remote, a Legacy Cab-2, a TMCC Cab-1, an external computer (a Mac!), my wife's iPad, and my iPhone.
The system, at present uses a web browser for external PC, smartphone and tablet control. Future versions of the system, with different capabilities, are being planned to utilize an iPhone or Android app, instead of the PC and a browser, for smartphone and tablet control. The following discussion relates only to the current system, not to future systems that will utilize an app.
The following screen shot is from the PC upon which the system is running.
This screen shows the track plan for the middle level of my layout, the engine list of all of my PS2/PS3 and TMCC/Legacy engines, and the engine control screen for a selected engine.
Clicking on a switch track will throw the switch to he orientation opposite of what it's currently set, and the track plan will show the changed orientation.
Clicking on the controls of the Engine Control panel will start up, operate and shut down a selected engine. Clicking in the box with the picture of the active engine will show a list from which an engine may be selected, as is shown in the screen shot below.
Clicking on an engine in the list makes it the active engine in the Engine Control panel.
The following four screen shots appear on the smartphone or tablet that is connected over a wireless network (or even the Internet) to the application running on the PC. Multiple smartphones or tablets, each running a different engine or operating different switch tracks or accessories, may be operating simultaneously. This type of operation was demo'ed at last October's York show at the MTH booth by Dave Hikel, and will be once again at this April's York show, as well.
The following screen shot of a smartphone, tablet or external PC shows my layout's lower level track plan. Again, switch tracks may be operated from this view by tapping (or, on a PC, by clicking) on the switch track on the track plan.The icons along the left edge of tne screen allow selecting different screen views, as well as enlarging or shrinking the view of the screen.
The following smartphone/tablet/external PC screen shows the engine list from which an active engine may be selected.
The following screen shot is the smartphone/tablet/external PC view of the Engine Control screen, including throttle, direction indicator and button, horn button, bell button, startup and shutdown buttons, PFA button, as well as the engine's soft keys.
The last smartphone/tablet/external PC screen shot is a view of my layout's upper level track plan which also includes buttons for all of my layout's accessories, as well as a button to reset all switch tracks to their default positions.
As mentioned above, the system allows operation of all of my engines (PS2, PS3, TMCC, and Legacy), accessories and switch tracks from the PC running the program; the DCS, Cab-1 and Cab-2 remotes; a smartphone or tablet; and an external PC; simultaneously.
The only thing I've not yet done is to set up track occupancy awareness, so that the system knows which track blocks are occupied.
For more information as regards the system, attend the York DCS Users Group Meeting or visit the MTH booth at April York!