Kilsby Drift – Automation

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to form a team to help exhibit the layout but with the house move to Dorset the friends that have agreed to help are going to be farther away and less available and whilst I’m sure that over time I’ll be able to get other people to help it would be nice to be able to run some trains automatically.

My initial thoughts are to automate the main running lines, these consist of the following

  • Long loop around the scenic part of the layout that could be spilt into two blocks with some signalling to control and maybe have that towards the end of the loop so that I can use a couple of signals chained together. 
  • 4 fiddleyard roads on the non scenic side which should all be able to handle at least two trains and potentially up to 3 for shorter consists such as Inspection saloon, Nuclear flasks etc

In operation from a starting position of all trains in the fiddleyard the operation should be

  • Start train and run up operating sequence if required for sound (Pendelino)
  • Set route out of and back into the fiddleyard
  • Train exits FY onto the main loop and moves around the board
  • Shuffle up next trains in that road to the front (trains start, move and stop) Sound not required
  • If FY block is clear train on the circuit can re-enter the FY and stop.
  • Next train in the sequence is selected

This then drives out some design assumptions and considerations

  • All trains will be DCC controlled, have unique numbers and could be consists of multiple driving units
  • Trains will be of different lengths but these could be standardised for a timetable type operation
  • An operating sequence will either need to be defined or if randomised would need to somewhat get feedback
  • Blocks could be standardised or different lengths but if so the same trains need to return to the same point
  • The scenic signals could be chained from the fiddle yard being available for re-entry?
  • Stopping sound fitted locomotives with inertia (Pendelino) is challenging its hard to do manually when at speed

Block Operations

  • Set Route
  • If we assume that each FY road can be broken down into 3 blocks each of around 1 M long then a Pendelino will cross 2 blocks and a 4 car 350 unit one block
  • 4 Car emu at front goes off first
  • Pendelino advances to end block but still occupies middle block
  • End block becomes free
  • Signals change to green to allow emu back into the FY
  • EMU complete circuit and slots in behind pendo in free block
  • Pendolino moves off
  • EMU Shuffles up 2 blocks to free up space for Pendolino to return
  • Signals change to green to allow pendo back into
  • End of sequence
  • Change road or rerun sequence

Block design

  • Blocks will either need to be able to read and control trains (Assume Railcom) or will need to store the train numbers in the control software
  • Blocks will need to have an occupancy detection if a Train is on track Indication TOTI
  • Blocks may need a stop point- emergency stop for that road ?
  • Rakes of wagons longer than one block need to be detected if used ?
  • Occupancy will need to feedback to train operating software

The next post needs to cover the solutions I think this breaks down into 2 areas

  1. Operating and control
  2. Blocks and occupancy detection

I’ll start the investigation looking at what I can achieve with JMRI as I’m already somewhat familiar with that and MerG detection options as there are lots to consider

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