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I'm looking for a control panel using an iPad. I want to have two different screens or track diagrams, with touch screen buttons on each turnout. Anyone have any ideas where I could start ?   An iPad is ideal so I can move it too different locations around layout. 

I'm currently using the DCS system, be nice if I could keep what I have and the other work also.

Original Post

Yes I've seen some examples of what you're trying to do, created in LCS.  There used to be some quirks about "drawing" the layout with certain radii of track.  But the iPad view just has to be representational, like a schematic.  It doesn't have to be exact.

Some other options might be C-MRI and JMRI.  I don't know much about them, other than they exist, and are mainly used by the advanced DCC crowd.  Supposedly DCC is not a requirement to use JMRI layout control, but you'll have to do more research on your own.

Perhaps if MTH didn't sic their legal eagles on the folks who tried to interface DCS with a computer (as it was designed to do) years ago, we would have already had a DCS layout control app from a third party.  At this point, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for MTH to come out with it on their own.  My $.02.

Last edited by Ted S

I don't have to have it work thru the DCS just operate along side it. 

Two separate systems.  kinda like I know I can put toggle switches in and still keep the DCS intact. The AIU is just remote operated switches or relays. Stair well wiring in a house two switches one light.

What is  JMRI or C-MRI  ?

Last edited by clem k

Big_boy_4005 (Elliott) is using JMRI/CMRI on his huge layout. It works with TMCC, but I don't thing it works with DCS directly, maybe DCS via TMCC? Anyway Elliott talks a bit about using it here and there in his layout build thread. Looks a bit complicated to me. Also, I am not sure there is an ipad (or other tablet) app for this? Elliott was doing his all on a PC.

The Lionel LCS system looks a lot less complicated and I think it would be much easier to get setup and running like you want it to. But, I have no experience with either system. Just DCS and Legacy with their remotes here.

rtr12 posted:

Big_boy_4005 (Elliott) is using JMRI/CMRI on his huge layout. It works with TMCC, but I don't thing it works with DCS directly, maybe DCS via TMCC? Anyway Elliott talks a bit about using it here and there in his layout build thread. Looks a bit complicated to me. Also, I am not sure there is an ipad (or other tablet) app for this? Elliott was doing his all on a PC.

The Lionel LCS system looks a lot less complicated and I think it would be much easier to get setup and running like you want it to. But, I have no experience with either system. Just DCS and Legacy with their remotes here.

I think there is a better chance to avoid obsolescence if you go with Lionel. Their solution looks pretty snappy. I know some folks on the forum are using it.

George

I posted screen shots here on the forum of my LCS Layout displays on the iPad. I have 7 LCS pages total, easy to create. I also posted the LCS one line diagram. It would be straightforward to run the trains with DCS and Legacy Cab2's. The LCS controls the rest of the layout. Don't under estimate the cost of an LCS system for a very large layout.

clem k posted:

I wonder how many components I have to buy with the LCS system.  I have thirty turnouts to control

Just from reading the documentation, you would need 8 ASC2 devices, 2 STM2 devices, LCS WIFI, a Legacy Command BASE, LCS cabling, the LCS app and potentially a SER2. As others have said, it's not inexpensive.

George

George S posted:

I think there is a better chance to avoid obsolescence if you go with Lionel.

Sorry but I vehemently disagree.  JMRI is open source.  That means all of the software and hardware specs are in the public domain.  Individuals are free to copy, manufacture, and continue to improve the hardware and software.

I love the idea behind LCS, and it might be simpler in some ways.  But I'm a little reluctant to get in bed with one manufacturer's new-ish proprietary system.  Some posts I've read lead me to believe that certain modules were only just recently introduced to address issues encountered by early adopters.  Remember the gnashing of teeth when Lionel dropped ERR and the command receivers were discontinued?  I would like to see a little more maturity and longevity before I jump in with both feet.

If portability of the virtual control panel is a concern, there are plenty of tablets (or "convertibles" like the Microsoft Surface) that run Windows.  NOT trying to disrespect LCS.  But i'm taking my time and considering JMRI for the reasons above.

Ted S posted:
George S posted:

I think there is a better chance to avoid obsolescence if you go with Lionel.

Sorry but I vehemently disagree.  JMRI is open source.  That means all of the software and hardware specs are in the public domain.  Individuals are free to copy, manufacture, and continue to improve the hardware and software.

I love the idea behind LCS, and it might be simpler in some ways.  But I'm a little reluctant to get in bed with one manufacturer's new-ish proprietary system.  Some posts I've read lead me to believe that certain modules were only just recently introduced to address issues encountered by early adopters.  Remember the gnashing of teeth when Lionel dropped ERR and the command receivers were discontinued?  I would like to see a little more maturity and longevity before I jump in with both feet.

If portability of the virtual control panel is a concern, there are plenty of tablets (or "convertibles" like the Microsoft Surface) that run Windows.  NOT trying to disrespect LCS.  But i'm taking my time and considering JMRI for the reasons above.

You can vehemently do whatever you choose.  ERR was not Lionel ‘s design. I suspect they bought it to protect their intellectual property and thought they could quietly kill it without an MTH style lawsuit. Just because something is open source doesn’t guarantee anything. Maybe you are a programmer with electronics background. Sure you can keep it going when everyone else moves on. A pure user will be left in a lurch. So, you’re arguments don’t really hold water, except that it’s a cheap way to go if you have the talent to develop the edge systems and features yourself.

BTW, Lionel LCS is super expensive. I’m not endorsing it. I can’t afford it, but it is the only real option to solve Clem’s question. From what we have discussed, JMRI won’t run on an iPad. Sure tell Clem to buy a Surface...

Oh, and since it’s open source can he call you 24x7 for support?

George 

Last edited by George S

I run Legacy and DCS and use my iPad to control turnouts using the LCS system.  You can do it for a lot less money with ASC ($35-$45) rather than ASC2 ($90-$100) modules.  You will need 8 ASC devices (each will control 4 turnouts),  LCS WIFI ($130) module, one LCS DB9 cable and power supply ($27), a Cab1L command BASE ($105) or a Legacy Command base, a SER2 module ($36),  the free LCS app.

The advantage of using ASC rather than ACS2 modules are that they are half the cost  and can be connected together with plain wiring, rather than the expensive LCS cables ($14 each).  They can control either momentary solenoid turnouts or stall motor turnouts (eg, Tortoise).  ASCs are out of production, but I had no trouble finding them at train shows, on the forum and on the bid auction site. 

The STM2 devices mentioned by George are optional.  They add a feedback on turnout position, but I have not had any problems with my iPad being out of sync with the actual turnouts. So, I have not used them. 

If you have crossovers, you can get by with even less ASC modules by connecting both turnouts to one set of relay contacts.  You tap on the crossover on the iPad and both turnouts throw.  If you have 4 crossovers, you can eliminate 1 ASC module.

Here is a diagram of the LCS setup that George described.  Mine is similar except there are no ASC2 modules, but instead, all the ASC modules are daisy chained off the SER2 module using plain wire.  

If you decide to go with ASCs, I can draw a wiring diagram for you. It's a little more complicated than the plug-and-play LCS modules and cables, but it's not rocket science either.  

Here is the yard portion of my track plan with multiple crossovers.  Main route shows in green and alternate route in red.  Tapping a turnout throws the turnout and reverses the colors.  A second tap toggles it back. 

Go Here for a thread with more discussion of iPad turnout control.

Bob Glorioso

George I didn't intend my post as a personal attack, and I'm sorry if you interpreted it that way.  i wasn't looking to turn this into a public debate.  I encourage Clem and others to read my posts and consider my words at face value.  I don't know Clem personally.  He expressed a concern about portability.  The Surface and other tablet PCs running JMRI would offer that, just like an iPad.

Three-rail O is already loaded with proprietary systems.  Does that leave us better, or worse off than model RR hobbyists in other scales?  The beauty of open source is there is no incentive for manufacturers to 'kill' anything or act selfishly, because there are no profits to protect.  To Lionel's credit, compared to MTH they have been very good about making their codes available since the beginning and encouraging 3rd party development.  So if they lost interest in LCS in the future, there's a chance the specs would be released to the public domain, or like ERR the whole product line could be sold to another company.

JMRI has been around a long time, and it probably has a larger user base than LCS.  No cutting edge development is required to use the system.  If something better comes along, I'm sure the community would devise a "migration path" to the new technology.

As far as being cheaper- I have no idea of how the cost of JMRI hardware (sensors, actuators, etc.) compares to LCS.  I only pointed it out as an alternative (the only one I know of), and encouraged Clem to do a little research.  I'm in the process of designing an elaborate layout, and I'll probably implement one of these systems myself.  I'm trying to learn as much about LCS as I can, and I want it to succeed.  More choices are better for everyone!

Edit: Yes he can call me.  Unlike Lionel my phone system isn't down.    But if he really needs the answer to a JMRI question, he can go here.

Last edited by Ted S

Four years ago I along with two professional layout builders researched all the available tablet based control systems. The layout builders were initially biased in favor of a German tablet based system that interfaced with DCC components. I had the opportunity to use that system on a completed layout. The unanimous  conclusion was there was nothing even close to comparable to the Lionel LCS as an off the shelf integrated system that was self contained with all necessary components available from a single supplier. We proceeded to build the layout incorporating the LCS.

Lionel's support was immediate and they provided all necessary testing software and R&D support when we built a system beyond that which they had tested. The LCS has functioned flawlessly for three years, including an expansion we did last year. I can recommend LCS without hesitation. If anyone wants to see a large, complex LCS in person send me an email.

I have Ipad control of my layout, using various "division" maps to control turnouts and uncouplers. I am using a system Designed by Dave Hikel. It works with DCC using a box he designed that translates the MTH control functions, for use using DCC Traincontroller software. Traincontroller is a DCC layout control software, so you can program the layout to do a lot of things, include running trains in an automatic mode, where the train will stop if the block ahead is occupied.

Works well for me, however there is some stuff to buy, as you need to add DCC to the layout, allowing you to add track occupancy detection. I use NCE AIU (other brands will work just as well) to detect what blocks are occupied. This occupancy detection is also used for my block signalling using Custom Signals supplied hardware.

If you contact Dave (a member of this forum), he can explain things better than I.

 

George S posted:

BTW, Lionel LCS is super expensive. I’m not endorsing it. I can’t afford it, but it is the only real option to solve Clem’s question. From what we have discussed, JMRI won’t run on an iPad. Sure tell Clem to buy a Surface...

JMRI works great on an iPad, or any web enabled device for that matter, using the built in web interface. Anyone with a tablet or laptop can pull up my layout map and run it. I've even run it on my phone, although the display is too small to be practical.

The layout map is exported from my AnyRail plan, and loads the geometry exactly as is into JMRI. You have to set up the mapping of turnouts, macros, and so on in JMRI itself, but I imagine that is similar to other options in that regard. JMRI in turn controls my NCE command station via RS232.

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