What is Smartrax?
It is model railway operation, introducing computer software running on an external PC as an addition to manual methods of control – either DC or the latest DCC. This software incorporates three derivatives – one of which you choose at initial setup but you may choose a different one anytime by restarting the program and selecting the system you want at the prompt. You can also control other locos simultaneously with any version using hand-held or fixed manual controls.
A selection of representative layout designs in each variant [DCC, DC or DCC + DC] for operating real models is pre-loaded.
- For DCC using the Lenz ZXV100 master unit, or another make using Lenz ‘XpressNet’ protocols (which are NMRA-approved) e.g. ZTC and Hornby ‘Elite’ with their accessory ranges. **
- For DCC using the Lenz ZXV100 master unit, or another make using Lenz ‘XpressNet’ protocols for traction only e.g. ZTC or Hornby ‘Elite’. A Velleman VM110 or VM140 input/output card is required for points/signals control and track circuit feedback. **
- For conventional DC operation using the Velleman VM110 (or the more powerful Velleman VM140) input/output card, not only for points/signals control but also for track circuit feedback. Both of these cards incorporate pulse-width-modulation terminals which need to be connected to a suitable electronic amplifier stage as the output is far too weak to power motors even in the smallest scales . Take special care with coreless motors overheating. Also, note these voltages :- ‘N’ [12v], ‘Z’ [9v] and ‘T’ [5v] gauge.
- Buyers of the Velleman K8055/K8061 kit versions, which cost less but require practical electronics experience to build, may have the expert knowledge to build a suitable electronic amplifier [see stabilised on p19].
Most users will use their existing analogue controllers but a virtual control slider is featured for practical electronics enthusiasts able to convert the pulse-width modulated signal of 5vdc 25mA coming off the Velleman K8055/K8061 PWM terminals into 12vdc 1A or more and reverse its polarity using a DPDT relay or solid-state method to provide DC motor speed and direction. [see stabilised on p19]. Choose DC
**LH90 and LH100 handsets may be connected to the Lenz LZV100 as simultaneous controllers. Both control methods, PC or handset, require an XpressNet master unit.
The left button, when left-clicked, switches on the Create screen
This creates a blank drawing board for a brand-new layout project.It also creates a blank set of data files that will record all new actions.
After selecting Create mode an input box will open prompting you to insert your choice of project layout names.
Having done this and left-clicked the OK button you will see a blank drawing board. The menu options for this are the same as for the Develop screen.
If you wish, you can substitute the automatically generated blank files, by copying the corresponding data files of an existing project (using Windows Explorer® inside or outside the running program) in order to develop more than one version. Separate development is then possible in different names.
All versions of this software are here and bring easy control-panel modification, unique turnout-to-signals interlocking – and many more features; for example, you can now flip from Operate to Develop (and back again) at the click of a switch.
Just remember that, while in Operate mode you cannot alter or extend the presented layout which is generated by the software acting upon existing data files. Similarly, while in Develop mode, you cannot operate the layout, except with hand controls not linked to the PC but you can alter or extend the presented layout which is generated by the software acting upon data files that can be modified and saved in their new format.
After selecting either Develop or Operate mode you will see the screen below :-
The ‘Smartrax’ software system allows creation and storage of hundreds of layout designs – any of which can be opened, first by stopping program execution. Click the .txt file of whichever layout you want to open.
After selecting Operate mode you will see the interface connection status of the software. As long as the number in the text box is zero the system is ‘Off-line’ i.e. nothing you do in the Operate mode will cause anything to move on the actual layout although the virtual layout shown on the monitor will react to whatever buttons are pressed.
There is a 5 second window of opportunity to change the port number to the correct numeral for your system to go on-line, which it will also do automatically if your DCC system box is known to your PC, which you can determine by viewing Control Panel\System\Hardware\ Device Manager (Ports COM & LPT). The example below shows that there is a USB-to-Serial Comm Port connection via COM6 and the device was manufactured by the Prolific Company.
In this instance the serial port converter mentioned plugs into Port 6 of a laptop PC at one end and into the RJ9 socket of a Lenz Li101F modem at the other end. The RJ9 socket lights up red to show that a ‘handshake’ exists. Proof of this is shown by the display illustrated below.
Other makes of DCC system box that incorporate provision for computer control – such as the HORNBY ‘Elite’ (built-in modem) – also feature an RJ9 socket which connects directly to a designated PC comm. port that appears in Device Manager as shown above in NH1.3.
By clicking the ‘squares’ picture, the entire screen acquires a background of light grey ‘graph paper’ squares and a horizontal scrollbar appears. Moving the scrollbar button changes the number (also shown) of small squares per large square as an aid to scale drawing. Clicking the ‘squares’ picture again removes the ‘graph paper’ background.
Click on any object (lines are a special case because they involve co-ordinates, so click on the line number) then click the trash picture.
This saves the current appearance of the drawing board.
In operation, this facility is unlike e.g. MS ‘Paint’ because you may need to pick and choose various different items to move while excluding others in the same area. Clicking either mouse button on ‘single’ allows one object to be moved; clicking the background moves that object to its new location. Sequential object clicking on ‘some’ allows several different types of object to be moved at the same time without spoiling their formation. But lines green numbers can be moved in the existing orientation using ‘some’ or by either end using the left or right mouse button in ‘single’ to change the orientation or to create a small circle to go in the centre of one track crossing another, such as at the centre of a single or double-slip, or of a diamond or right-angle crossing.
Clicking on ‘all items’ relocates the entire screen content : this is done by ‘clicking’ any object such as a buffer stop, or even a (green) line label, then clicking the background where you want the entire layout sited. Left or Right ‘mouse down’ precision drag operates on ‘one’, ‘some’ or ‘all items’ and variable size graph squares can be called up to aid exact positioning.
Create track, track width and tunnel
This is a dual-purpose tool, the principal use is for creating new track lengths identified by a green number automatically generated and located at an intermediate distance from the ends of the track unit.
The other facility is track width or gauge. This is variable between gauge 1 and gauge 10 to allow for the creation of large layouts with fine tracks or quite small ones with broader rail spacing, or possibly a mixed-gauge layout. Moving the vertical miniature scroll bar to the bottom limit replaces the variable-width parallel lines with a single line of dots and dashes intended to represent hidden tracks at various levels or tracks running in tunnel. Raising the scroll bar above the bottom limit returns the variable-width line spacing to normal. See track unit reference in label.
This facility allows a bitmap to be taken from anywhere in the computer and placed on the layout mimic. Checking the box superimposes the image on top of existing objects but leaving the box unchecked superimposes existing objects on top of the new picture.
Moving the cursor arrow over image shows the number of the next picture available for creation. Also, see Colourlight Signals.
The Data subfolder contains more than two hundred images, mainly signals, and you can easily design more using the ‘Paint’® program that is bundled in all versions of MS Windows®, by scanning from printed material e.g. magazines or by downloading images from the internet and modifying them.
The picture below shows the progression, through various directory levels, from clicking the signal icon above to placing a signal on the chosen layout, in this case of the semaphore type. Always choose a
signal image in the Danger or Caution i.e. ON position. It will always
be identified by either a letter ‘R’ or ‘Y’ in the third code position e.g.
UHR N (Home) or UDY N (Distant). No recourse should ever be made to those signals in the OFF subdirectories, except perhaps as a template if you choose to design your own.
Pictures below show two groups of signals, semaphore and colour light, including those fitted with a theatre indicator panel.
Every signal arm or colour light head is available in four orientations, East, North, South and West. When attached to a track plan, the most appropriate orientation should be employed, thus a track going from left to right would employ signals chosen from the Eastbound group, a track going upwards from the Northbound group.
We see some symbolic types of semaphore signals above.
Signals are accessed by a similar process to that outlined for pictures but, since most semaphore signals have moving parts, they have a separate creative method also used for colourlight signals. Semaphore signals without moving parts, i.e. ‘fixed distant’ or (rare) ‘fixed home’ types have their tooltiptext “fixed” automatically rather than set to an even number between 0 and 254.
Double-arm semaphores consisting of a ‘Home’ arm and (below it) a ‘Distant’ arm are dealt with as for three-aspect colour light signals, to which they are the mechanical equivalent.
Semaphore signals are either lower quadrant (old style) or upper quadrant (generally post 1930) but both styles are ‘ON’ when the signal arm is horizontal and the lamp is either yellow or red depending upon whether a Distant (prepare to Stop) or Home (Stop) signal is being represented. The precise type of signal image used e.g. GN ‘somersault’ is up to the user to draw at the size wanted. This can be done in MS ‘Paint’ and a suggested background size is 50 x 100 pixcels for a single arm single – see signal library in Data/Graphics directory.
MS Wordpad® may be used for examining files of type *.txt. thus:- project you are working on <signal.txt> will show the pattern below.
The colourlight signals in the diagram above include ‘theatre’ signals as used in the vicinity of large stations and ‘feathered’ signals often seen at mainline junctions. Dead end colourlight signals are a special 2-aspect type with a yellow lens above a red one, the next signal being a red lamp on a buffer beam. When selecting these to appear on your virtual layout you should uncheck the signal tick box. Subsequently, if you examine the file <signal.txt> you will notice at the end of each signal record line either #FALSE# or #TRUE# as appears on the tooltiptext of the signal check box. It is this condition which causes the top signal aspect to be coloured yellow or green.
There are also colourlight ground signals of the variety having a theatre box above the basic ‘Halt’ and ‘Proceed’ lights.
The ‘C’ prefix letter denotes a colourlight signal and the number next to it denotes the number of aspects. After that, the letter denotes Red, Yellow, Double (Yellow) or Green. The fourth character is a # (for blank) which always goes with Red or a platform number or route letter that always goes with one of the ‘theatre’ type OFF signals.
Taking each item in the sequential record, the first item is the tooltiptext for the signal in the ‘ON’ or danger position.
The second item is the tool tip text number relating to the signal in the ‘OFF’ or proceed position. These change whenever the corresponding signal on a route changes. The two numbers, both automatically generated and never the same, are used in the transmission byte to operate the correct signal aspect on a real model layout – if it exists. The text file for that project <signal.txt> can be modified to include different tool tip text numbers than those automatically generated depending upon the wiring pattern employed. (see article on multiple-return matrix wiring)
The third item is the path of the signal aspect picture file. Users can design their own historical signals such as the GNR ‘somersault’ pattern or NER ‘slotted post’ design if they wish by examining (within MS ‘Paint’ ) any aspect in the signals folder and following the same format to make the images alternate smoothly without jumping out of phase.
The fourth and fifth items are the screen location coordinates.
The sixth item refers solely to 2-aspect signals, other than distant, i.e. ‘dead end’ (yellow over red) #FALSE# or block section (green over red) #TRUE#.
The colourlight signal folder names ‘Comp’ (Comprehensive) and ‘Norm’ (Normal) mean signals with/without theatre indicators for indicating platform numbers etc or extensions for showing white ‘feathers’ at a junction or series of junction. The fourth and fifth items are Top and Left co-ordinates.
All entries describe a signal in the ‘ON’ position and the # mark indicates a blank theatre indicator. Signals in an ‘ON’ state are generated by the software using information contained in the five characters (e.g. C2R#S) towards the right-hand end of the fourth item. When the signal is installed, a backup file should be created in case it is accidentally deleted.
If a colourlight 3-aspect signal is to show ‘Green’ when its path is selected in Operate mode, then (during the creation of the relevant path in Develop) the right mouse button should be pressed down upon that (3-aspect) signal. 128 is then added automatically to the solenoid number shown as a tooltip text. Alternatively, the signal solenoid operating number should have 128 (bit 8) added to its existing 7-bit (even) solenoid number by modification within <path.txt> after creation of the path it serves. A typical entry of this kind will look like this:-
“signal solenoids are 236,228,168,”
An unmodified number may represent either a 3-aspect signal intended to show Yellow, or a 2-aspect signal intended to show Yellow in advance of a dead end (Red lamp on buffer stop beam).
Dialogue box image
Clicking initially displays the last dialogue box shown but clicking the upward arrow produces the common dialogue box after going deeper into the directory structure. When you click the bitmap (e.g. turntable.bmp) the picture will appear on the project screen. However, there is a checkbox to the right of the signalbox icon. Depending on whether before selection this was checked or not checked will affect the picture placed on the layout screen.
The picture object is superimposed over any existing object. and can be moved on the screen whenever either the ‘single’ or ‘several’ option buttons in move object is clicked.
The picture can be moved on the screen whenever one of the option buttons in move object is clicked. It will be positioned beneath an existing object or track length.
Immediately afterwards an input box will appear inviting you to attach what is known as ‘tool tip text’ to the picture object. This will appear as a straw-coloured oblong box if you type something to go in it. No box will appear if you don’t.
button in the ‘move object’ tool square and then clicking the background when (by holding down the mouse button) you can drag the picture anywhere on the screen and it will stay in place on releasing the mouse button. You then click save.
This button is used for creating power sections, normally associated with non-DCC electrification but sometimes used for large DCC layouts to avoid power drop by creating so-called ‘power zones’.
You will find it in the Electrical subdivision of Signals, which are found in the Graphics subdivision of Data.
This is a frequently used tool because labels are employed for ENTRY EXIT route selection but note that only black UPPERCASE characters are recognised for this purpose. Mixed case characters are inert when clicked.
Numbers in red e.g. 5B, or 30 represent solenoid or self-latching relay throws. Two different types of label numbering are used to denote solenoid operation
If the DCC option was selected, solenoid numbers 0-99A or B will be used. Thus, a set of points could be worked by solenoid numbers 17A and 17B
If the DCC + DC option was selected, there is no L, R suffix but each number is even and unlikely to be consecutive. Thus, a set of points could be worked by solenoid numbers 4 and 122. Also, different hardware is employed; instead of accessory modules. This consists of a Velleman USB Experiment card and a “double-pyramid” relay stack (see article in the SmartHelp folder).
There are examples of both systems in the Layout folders and, should you select a layout for viewing that was laid out for DCC accessory modules, the operating system will automatically switch to “DCC”. On the other hand, a layout arranged for DC solenoid operation will appear in either DC mode or DCC + DC mode, according to which was selected.
Similarly, on the ‘Design’ screen, numbers in green e.g. 1, 2, 10,306 are track unit ‘handles’ which, when clicked, unlock that track and allow it to be moved if the ‘one’ option button in move options is clicked. Either end of a track unit may now be moved by clicking the left or right mouse buttons, and holding it down while simultaneously moving the mouse. Alternatively by clicking the ‘some’ option button, any green line (or combination of them) can be moved without altering the length or orientation. Use of the save tool will fix the altered line position – and everything else on the screen.
This stops program execution and allows the program to be restarted in any of the three modes. If you alter any of the layout parameters in Design mode (or by manipulation of the text files in the Layout Folders using WordPad®), restarting will be necessary for alterations to take effect.
This is a separate form containing a text box which expands to display a ‘rich text format’ (*.rtf) file of the Help pages for all modes in which you are working. Any difficulties can be resolved by opening ‘WordPad’® independently and navigating to the Help file you require.
This is a ‘shell’ instruction which automatically opens the text-processor program ‘MS WordPad’® so that the data files that relate to each project can be opened and manipulated if necessary – for instance Top and Left values can be made identical over several similar objects (such as correcting jerky signal aspects) to improve the visual appearance of a layout.
This feature allows the drawing board, which is bigger than the screen, to be moved up, down or sideways in order to access different areas. Naturally, one will try and keep everything within the confines of the visible screen if that is possible, but, if a linear layout is planned, it will probably be necessary to swipe it horizontally. Simply hold either mousebutton down and move the mouse sideways.
When plotting track units in a layout design it is most important, with crossings, double and single-slips, also scissors junctions, to include a stretch of common track which can be so short that its height is the same as its width i.e. ‘a circle’ and therefore unnoticed.
This is because the collision avoidance logic relies on every track unit in a path setting being tried for convergence against every other track that is already highlighted in colour i.e. ‘not black’.
The right button, when left-clicked switches on the Operate screen.
Whilst in this mode, you cannot alter or extend the presented layout which is generated by the software acting upon existing data files. To modify these you need to switch the program over to Develop – no need to restart.
To connect a virtual control panel created with this software in DC mode to the model railway it represents, you will require a Velleman I/O experimental interface kit K8055, available readymade as VM110. As the Velleman range doesn’t include one you will also need an electronic motor driver from SuperNeoMagnets connected to the track on one side and the GND DAC2 and PWM1 terminals on the K8055 or VM110. This will need a power supply from SuperNeoMagnets, providing a stabilised 12vdc at about 1.5A but other values are available for different scales. Unstabilised DC sources can rise above 18v under ‘no-load’ conditions which could damage electronic components.
To connect a virtual control panel created with this software in DCC or DCC + DC mode to a model railway it represents, you will require a Lenz Set 90 or 100, a TR150 transformer and a LENZ Li101F interface module. This is connected to your PC serial port or to any USB port via a USB-to-serial-port with its own CD-Rom software. The latter method is described in the respective converter manufacturer’s instruction booklet. The newer LiUSB module is also compatible with ‘Smartrax-DCC’ and its port number is found by selecting “Device Manager” in Windows Control Panel and entering it in the input box that appears when “click here to change port number” is actuated.
A drop-down box in MENU labelled LENZ appears and the Li-USB option should be clicked.
Connecting the PC Mimic to your railway
In order to gain PC control over your DCC model railway, automatically overriding the handset (if plugged in e.g. via a Lenz LA152 adapter), you need to click the Operate button. The next screen you will see is that shown below.You sometimes need to click through several descending directories ending as shown in order to locate the Smartrax directory. If you have already run this program, (and nothing else since) you will not need to descend through the directories.Several sub-folders holding data for different railway layouts are shown – the main thing to remember is that you click the text file to access the library folder because this file, which has the suffix *.txt, connects the path to its folder. But the path may not always be the same from one installation to another – it depends where you have placed the software directory. The next screen you will see is that shown below.
The u.s.b. port number 0 is used for off-line operation e.g. when no hardware is connected to the PC. If a Lenz Li101F interface (or LiUSB) is connected between the PC and a Lenz LZV100 command station, input the Comm Port number you want to employ and press OK. The choice of number will be that selected when you run the LENZ software driver for the interface hardware employed. If you cannot find the number in the Data/Sundries file called <port.txt>, using a text reader such as MS WordPad® or MS Notepad®, then use the Call Me facility. Users of DC mode will not see a prompt for the u.s.b. port number. Their u.s.b. configuration applies to the Velleman K8055/VM110 only and is plug-and-play using their software.
All data files are easily accessible because the ‘WordPad’ text processor is bundled with ‘Windows’. Smartrax runs on all versions of MS ‘Windows’ from 98 to ‘8.1’.
If you have chosen the DC option.you will require a dual motor driver module for controlling trains by PC [see stabilised on p19] – please ignore the next illustration and ensuing paragraph which applies to the DCC and DCC + DC option.
If you don’t connect a suitable DCC amplifier, you will see the screen
on the left
You will be offered a ‘window of opportunity’ lasting a few seconds during which you can change the port number by entering the appropriate digit in the text box that opens. This also happens whenever you switch from ‘Develop’ mode to ‘Operate’ mode.
On connection, you’ll see displayed the screen above right after which locomotives and pointwork/signalling may be controlled from the PC monitor using the mouse or equivalent keyboard controls. Locomotives function numbers may also be controlled from the keyboard. Functions F1 to F12 are controlled from the function keys found at the top of the keyboard and F0 (lights) by the Esc key.
When the self-extracting setup program has finished working, go to the default location C:\ or wherever you have opted to place the software. The Smartrax directory will include the subfolders Data and Layouts. Click the Data and Layouts subfolders and continue clicking to ensure they contain the correct subfolders as shown on the following pages.
Layout data files (as above) are working files that need to be write-permit, so make copies in case you accidentally delete them and save yourself the effort of doing them all over again!
Capturing feedback input
Reporting a locomotive or train as having run across a small isolated length of one rail (generally about an inch) of 2-rail track, at a location on a layout which energises the coil of a relay, is known as feedback. Sometimes this is done with reed switches between the rails and these require miniature magnets beneath locos or rolling stock. If the feedback system is turned on using the virtual toggle switch provided, every time a track sensor is passed, a number between 1 and 5 will be displayed in the text box above the feedback switch to illuminate a digital input l.e.d. on the Velleman VM110 USB Experiment Input/Output card (1 and 8 on the larger Velleman VM140 card). A sophisticated alternative known as R.F.I.D. (Radio Frequency Identification Document) is available to members of M.E.R.G. (the Model Engineering Railway Group). This identifies a locomotive, wagon or carriage using a tiny programmed glass tube fitted below each vehicle.
Explanation of terms
Setting up a route
In order to switch a route you need to use the “CLICK HERE” label on the left of the menu (grey line) near the top of the screen. This will cause a drop-down list to open showing all the train paths that have been programmed into the layout project you have open. If it is brand new, perhaps your own layout, there won’t be any and then you need to switch the toggle from Operate to Design, click on “Help” and follow the Design mode instructions headed Programming a Path. The terms ‘Path’ and ‘Route’ are synonymous.
For the purposes of this narrative we will assume you have clicked an existing layout in Operate mode. “CLICK HERE” will reveal all the existing paths so try clicking one of them – e.g. in the layout “Minories-Plus” <PLATFORM 1 to DOWN>. The route will now illuminate with coloured tracks; signals on that path only will go to Green or Yellow in the case of colour-light signals – possibly with a direction number or letter in a ‘theatre’ box. Semaphore signals will rise or fall according to type.
After the first route set, any conflicting routes will automatically disappear from the menu. It should not therefore be possible for a train crash to occur!
When designing your layout it is a good idea to create it initially using software such as ‘WinRail™’ and then make a screenshot of it. Save the screenshot as a BMP file using exactly the same name as you called your layout when it was created in create mode. Edit the screenshot (e.g. in “MS PAINT”) to get an (inert) image that sits centrally on the screen in design mode. The inert image can then be used as a template for aligning tracks on your developing layout. To make it disappear, delete it from the Images folder later on in layout development when it has no further use. Keep the original (WinRail™) files that created it so you can reuse in the future should you wish to modify your virtual interactive layout plan. This is so easy compared with modifying a real layout control panel full of real contemplating employing this software.
Do remember, when designing level rail crossings, double and single slips, to place a track with no dimensions i.e. a small circle the same diameter as the track width in the centre of ‘X’.
Should you fail to do this, as was mentioned earlier, it will be possible to defeat the route-conflicting logic which relies on the same track number on a potentially conflicting route to disallow it and remove the menu list item that would normally be visible.
Sending a solenoid number and altering wait time
Waiting time can be set and retained in a file called <wait.txt> stored in the Data\Folder\Text sub-folder. It governs the interval between successive discharges in the solenoid firing train that switches junctions and signals forming a route and may be set at any value between 0.5 and 5 seconds.
The waiting time slider is below and to the right of the pocket watch symbol.
Twin loco control panel
To obtain control of a loco running on a particular layout the chip and running numbers need to be added to the the text file <loco.txt> using the facility shown in dia. Help 2.14. Details will then be shown whenever the menu caption ‘LOCO’ is clicked. If an entry needs to be deleted from <loco.txt> e.g. if you no longer use the loco,
then it can easily be deleted by selecting WordPad text files in Operate mode and deleting the appropriate line. When the amended file is saved the entry will no longer appear when next the layout is opened in Operate mode. Be sure there is no space between the cursor and the last text line before saving the file because extra blank lines at the end of any text file will cause an error message to appear when executive tries to read the last line should it not have text in it.
To save space there are 14 speed levels because DCC locos can accelerate and decelerate automatically between speed steps at a rate that may be varied by altering the appropriate C.V. for that loco. There are no C.V. tables or amendment instructions in this Help file so you should refer to the Lenz handbook either LH90 (potentiometer based) or LH100 (keypad based) according to the handset you use. Alternatively any website e.g. http://www.loystoys.com/info/decimal-programming.html or reference book dealing with NMRA configuration variable codes may be consulted.
This version offers fingertip control via a touchpad or control by mouse.
Click the speed band to unlock this control. Now slide the cursor along the band either way to obtain the speed you want. Alternatively, unlock the speed band by clicking on the speed you want irrespective of the speed already shown. The last speed/direction set will be displayed plus the loco chip number selected when LOCO is clicked.
The coloured border around the speed number will change its background colour to either red or blue according to direction, even if the loco represented is stationary.
TO SLOW DOWN or STOP A LOCO, whatever its speed or direction, slide the cursor to a lower speed number or zero. Stopping a pair of locos selected as ‘header’ and ‘pilot’ in a consist is automatic as both are covered by one chip number. In order to perform an emergency stop (all locos whether under direct control or not) click the yellow ‘system power’ button. Warning this will stop all driving wheels immediately, without any coasting. Alternatively, an individual loco will coast to a stop by sliding to or clicking the zero speed number.
Tick the ‘operate’ box so the caption changes to ‘program’ and click the command buttons so they remember which ON/OFF switch is to be set to ‘trigger’ mode and which to ‘latch’ mode. For example, a whistle or horn [usually F2 or F3] needs to be set to ‘trigger’ mode so that it stops when you lift the mouse button. On the other hand ‘engine start up’ needs to be ‘latch’ mode so the sound of running engines continues until the button is switched OFF – when the function score will decrement by 1. The function ‘bits’ are different numbers from the function numbers themselves specially chosen so that, whatever combination of functions is clicked, they will only ever add up to the same number for the same functions. The function group number advances by 1 for every group of four function numbers after F0 to F4 so there are three groups between F0 and F12. higher function numbers than F12 are not covered at present so the function buttons can be as large as possible yet economise on workspace. Untick the ‘command’ box to return to the ‘operate’ mode when the command buttons will command the function you want for as long as you want.
Automatic loco control
This feature enables users to devise their own automatic control routines by direct access to a text file in [c:\Program Files]\Smartrax\Data\Folder\Text\timetable.txt
DCC track power
This control lets you turn track power OFF and ON by computer.
Automatic loco control sample
The automatic sequence only responds to file <timetable.txt> but you can save an alternative e.g. <timetableB.txt> and rename it to <timetable.txt> when you want to use it. Keep ‘back up’ copies as creating an impressive sequence involves trial and error. Make sure the conductive path i.e. wheels and track is clean and in DCC use the C.Vs for accelerate/decelerate.
In DC there is an inbuilt variable flywheel effect :- see blue or red numbers beneath
The ‘routines’ checkbox. The number range is between 0 pulse width [stop] and 255
pulse width [100% or full speed].
‘Smartrax’ software prevents the speed/direction slider from moving beyond the
zero point in each direction until the direction colour number has returned to zero.
The adjacent zero and full scale for the opposite direction will now be available.
DC track power
This only applies where there is computer control over speed and direction, a facility
available on one channel only at present because the method of loco reversal uses both
variable PWM outputs of the K8055 I/O Experiment Card rather than encroaching on the digital outputs to provide reversing solenoid operation. In theory, up to 4 x K8055 cards
can be employed in the ‘Smartrax’ System and as many as 8 x K8061 cards or their factory-built equivalents VM110 and VM114. Which translates to up to 8 locos under
computer control. This is only ever going to happen if user group pressure demands it,
OR the source code itself becomes Open for anybody to modify.
Below you will see a representation of three different computer-generated speed levels
available to analogue locomotive users upon the single channel available at present.
Control buttons and systems
It is intended that many of the controls should be self-explanatory.
If they are not, a little experimentation will help to sort things out but if satisfaction is still not obtained, please e-mail the software designer at the address in Call Me who will respond. Please make the minimum £10 PayPal contribution to development and maintenance to my e-mail address.