Learning JMRI

Since all of my electronics were performing correctly it was now time to determine how to automate the processes.  I have selected JMRI which is a Java based open system that connects to model railroads.  As I have talked about previously I have standardized on Digitrax and I have connected my computer running JMRI to the Digitrax electronics and they communicate back and forth.  I picked JMRI because it is fully functional with the Mac OS and it has extensive functionality.

First step was signaling. JMRI has several different ways to model signaling. I initially tried aspect signal masts modeling the UP2008. This brought me into a very complex task as the different aspects were foreign to me and I am trying to model a main line that loops on itself at both ends. I set up what I have just wired right now and tried to make it work. After many hours I decided this was too complex for me now and would be very confusing for my grandkids to understand.   My target is to teach my grandchildren how to manage the trains to the signals.
I then tried simple signaling (part of JMRI) where you used only heads and set up criteria for each head. This was more time consuming as head was linked to blocks, turnouts, and other signal heads. I was able to get the effect that I needed.
I then set up the entire layout, even areas I have not wired up yet. I then laid out the signals that I needed. I made a lot of changes from the original plan using the logic and processes from JMRI.  Luckily we were crossing the Atlantic so I had a lot of free time to load all of the parameters in. JMRI was very helpful as I could put into simulation mode (Loconet Simulation) and test out out all of the functionality. I was able to verify all signal operations, turnout controls and blocks. Hopefully when I plug it into my track when I get home all will work as planned.
I was still traveling so I worked on Logix and created APB controls. APB is absolute permissive blocking, which is a technique that only one train can be in a block and the block is held while it is in the block and then released after it leaves.  This keeps trains that you a common main line from colliding into each other.  I had to read up on the desired process then implement it. Logix was great and I was able to implement it as I wanted. Next up was learning scripting. This is a bigger challenge and I still have a lot to learn. Luckily many examples are provided by JMRI that I was able to learn from.   The first script that I loaded was the turnout initialization script.  I think the other scripts will need to wait until I get my entire layout wired up and I can understand all the ins and outs of JMRI.
Next post will be did everything work as planned.

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