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Discussion Starter #1
Dear Friends

Does anybody know of a EMD Class66 driver who would be interested in discussing the actual working procedures of the locomotive.

It is my intent to create a virtual cab experience by modelling the internal environment of the cab, much like other simulators, but using more of the real dynamics of the actual locomotive and with feed back from of a G scale model on the track.

Obviously I need to to benefit from the real experiences of a Class 66 driver.

In the BR days you could refer to the Train crew manual  but the manual now stays with the engine and generally that would only be half the story to be told.
The drivers experience is crucial to a realistic simulation.

Off forum of course in order not to offend the uninterested.

Contact via   [email protected]

Regards
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Tac

If one body is interested.

I am trying to control a battery powered Aristocraft Class 66 locomotive via a remote laptop using a radio link, using a 3D virtual cab on screen with authentic graphic images of controls actuated via a rollerball.

The model locomotive sends back from the track an image as seen on a minature camera, looking forward from the drivers viewpoint. 
This is to be merged with the virtual cab image. The real functions of the controls and train dynamics are to be simulated.  All sounds and actions are to be accurately reproduced.

The laptop take care of the simulation and communicates by Blue tooth or UHF 433mhz serial data. 

In other words : Train simulator meets train controller  to produce the virtual train driver.

Cool Yes?.

If anybody is interested in contributing their expertise, I need a PIC chip prgrammer, a Blue tooth electronics engineer, a Java script- visual basic- C++ engineer, and a Class 66 driver  to help me.
I have a number of guys interested who have already contributed significantly to this non commercial venture.  We need a few more wiz kids to fill in the gaps in our knowledge and experience.

Regards

Francis
 

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Cool project, there are a few different ways you could do it.  If you are able to dream this up, you should be able to teach yourself how to program the pic controller.  Have a look at the Basicmicro Atom...they use a modified form of the basic language that is pretty intuitive.  Since much of what you want to accomplish on the loco end is doeable using DCC, I'm assuming you want the microcontroller to coordinate the activities of the decoder(s), servos, cameras, wireless data etc?  

Keith
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Guys

Thanks for you endorsements. It is a cool idea


One of my associates has had considerable success using the UHF module by RF Ltd that transmit on 433MHz.. He has developed for himself a live steam locomotive that uses cruise control. The Radio is an intermittant key fob controller system that only transmits to increment or decrement the speed or to make an emergency stop. He has a slotted wheel encoder on the wheel axle of the locomotive and uses it to provide a speed related output.  He is "old School" and uses TTL logic throughout , it works fine.  I suppose a more modern solution would use a PIC chip talking to the USB of the laptop and a radio link.  If any of you guys have that PIC chip expertise I'm listening.

In any execution of the task at hand, it is only the instanteous speed which needs to be accurately detected at all times. A digital or frequency modulated signal could be relayed back to the laptop via a radio link and it would be used in the control program to determine any change in outgoing command from the laptop to accelerate or decellerate.  The walky talky channels may provide a frequency to use with a simple variable fequency audio tone which could be converted to a digital signal once received at the laptop end.  The accuracy of the speed signal would depend on the accuracy of the analogue to frequency and frequency to analogue conversion. It could be pretty close. The aristocraft power bogies give an opportunity of fitting the slotted wheel encorder to the motor shaft and a disk with a high number of slots would allow good differentiation even at low speed.  The motor control would be via a FET PWM motor contol system that was close loop controlled as directed by the input command from the radio link.
The accelleration profile of a particular loco would be a function of the load on the drawbar but this is a real parameter that the driver punches into the loco's on board computer in real life. It is the "train length" parameter. I suppose it could be used as an indication of the train load.   This is a gap in my experience and a chat with a Class66 driver would be a great help.   

I have the expertise to produce a convincing 3D cab environment but need help merging the incoming video of the track image with the 3D graphic.  I am lead to believe someone with Java script experience would be a great asset.
Are you out there?

The cab 3D image could be changes by program selectio so that you could be driving any locomotive you want. Could this be a super train training simulator.


The other function like, notching up, braking, and horn can be communicated from the laptop control to the engine via a digital radio link.  The suggestion is that a blue tooth link may have some merit as an option though the 433Mhz is  considerably cheaper to implement. Normal 27Mhz radio control could be used also.


Must speak with a Class 66 Driver

Regards

Francis Leach
www.3d-companions.com
 

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Hi Francis, 

I think you may want to spend some time getting up to speed, if you aren't already, on the capabilities of modern decoders.  For example, they can provide the load dependent back-emf that essentially will provide you with the current load data stream you need.  Also, the speed curves are totally programmable and can be made to compensate for the loads at varying degrees.  Similarly, the sound systems can also be made to function based on load and so an incredibly realistic operation can be made to happen without the need for the secondary pic controller.  
Since the decoders already use pwm to run the motors, you can save your secondary pic for just coordinating things.   I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of what you are doing, but just wanted to point some things out to save you from reinventing the wheel.  On the live steam cruise control you mentioned, I created one using a microcontroller several years ago...works very well. :)

Keith
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi Keith


Thanks for the prompt to consider the decoder option. I will search out more information on that.

I do not know whether or not it is applicable, but the engine is battery powered and there is no intent to have more than one locomotive set up this way.  Conventional 27Mhz  Radio control gear is very available and cheap.

Does the DCC system work with any radio link or is it proprietary equipment sourced from the makers. e.g. Crest.

I would be very interested knowing the details of your PIC based cruise control, can you help me with it.. 
Communicate via the link on my website if you wish

Thanks

Francis
www.3d-companions.com


 
 

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Hi Francis,

I'm not sure how familiar you are with the different DCC makers, but several have systems that enable a computer to control the trains directly, or by handheld devices that interface with a pc.  Check out Zimo especially...they have some very sophisticated controllers...the trick is to be able to turn all that available data into your screen feedback I guess eh?  Most DCC systems rely on the track to send/receive the digital information to the locomotive, though I believe Airwire is a company that can use battery power.  I'm not sure, however, if they are capable of bi-directional data transfer which is definitely something you need by the sounds of it.  As far as my speed controller...it's not something I want to share info about right now...sorry! 

Keith
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hi Keith

I do not want to use the track as a part of the data link, as the proposed system has to be suitable for use on anybodies track. I am a member of the Gauge One model Railways Association (G1MRA) and as a member we can be expected to be invited to run on any members track, not just my own.
As you say, the system does require two way communication, video and speed from the loco to controlling laptop and commands laptop to loco.
I will check out DCC as an option but I do not think it is applicable from what you say.

I totally understand your reluctance to share info about your sucessful speed controller system. Why should you?

Thanks anyway

Francis
 

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Hi Francis,

I see in the news that Apple is going to bring out a software development kit for the iphone.  Given all it's abilities, it might be possible to make it work for you somewhere in the loop.

Keith
 

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Dear Sir ,Would any loco driver do? Steam/diesel hydraulic/diesel electric/diesel mechanical or electric overhead or third rail? or has it to be a class 66 loco. Nearly all diesel cabs were similar in layout. Jim Brodie ex steam engine cleaner.
 
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