With the MTH news there has been more discussion about the future of model railroading electronics. Most of the electronic features I would like exist but not integrated for use with model railroading. I am fortunate to have a wife that let me build a 2 story “Train Mansion” behind our house. The lower level will be a 30’ x 40’ layout. I designed a layout out using RR-Tracks and will start to build when I retire. The electronics design for the layout is taking much longer than I thought it would. Both because some of the features need to be developed and some because my wish list is getting longer. My work deals with computers and I want some features that are not off-the-shelf for model railroads. This is my current electronics wish list.
- Run both DCS and TMCC/Legacy engines from multiple types of devices.
- Control the turnouts and layout with touch screens not physical switches. At first I thought about using servos for under the layout switch machines controlled by LCC because they could be made and controlled for less than $3 a switch. In the end I decided to use Tortoise switch machines for reliability and their 2 internal relays.
- Low cost block detection. (Designed and built detectors for a Layout Command Control, LCC, network that costs less than $1 per sensor.)
- Low cost block signals with modestly complex rules. (LCC signal control and 3D printed block signal for less than $14 per 3 aspect block signal.)
- Ability to have computer controlled layout operation with either JMRI or TrainController. Currently only JMRI supports LCC
- Entire layout video camera visible.
- Ability to turn-on, run and watch the layout from anywhere in the world that has internet.
- Place small wifi video cameras in some engines so with a tablet or smartphone one can operate an engine the view more like a real engineer and obey the block signals.
- Ability to have computer based operating sessions that anyone with internet can participate in.
- RFID detectors under the track and RFIDs on engines and rolling stock. Currently LCC does not support RFID in their protocols.
- Manage traffic on Superstreets.
More of the electronic protocols and hardware need to be made open source so that more innovation and sharing can occur.