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"Traincontroller" is the main component of the "Railroad & Co" suite of programs. It allows both simple and advanced control of railways; it allow manual control to be mixed with automatic control. It doesn't assign any one way to "do business": instead it provides a range of ways that it can help with your railway.
Traincontroller is available in three version. "Bronze" is the entry level version, and does have some limitations. "Silver" is a very capable package; "Gold" includes some high-end functions. We've recently upgraded to version 8 "gold"; previously the railway ran effectively eith "silver" but we wanted access to some of the high-end features.
It is important to recognise that there isn't any one "right way" to do things. It is often possible to find several ways to achieve an end goal; some may be better or worse for any given railway but none is "right" or "wrong". This website is limited to describing how I've used it for the South Downs Railway; it may well be appropriate for other users to do differently!
There are things that Traincontroller will do well, and not do well:
- It is good at providing a display of "what is where" on the railway. When engines move - either under manual or automatic control - the switchboard display will update.
- It is good at providing a range fo ways to move a train from one location to another: for example from platform to platform between stations.
- It doesn't know the exact position of trains on the railway. Instead it only knows when certain locations with sensors have been reached. Consequently it is not good at shunting trains: activities in goods yards with coupling & uncoupling, and attaching a new engine at a station terminus, remain manual operations.
Traincontroller allows a lot of different kinds of windows. It is up to the user to decide how to use them and how to lay them out on screen. Some people have one monitor, shared among all uses; others have several monitors to make sense of the railway. traincontroller 7 has allowed much better control over window layout that previous version; windows can be tabbed within a "main window" or can float and overlap others. Some of the windows you will come across include:
It's important to use the right terms with Traincontroller - they are the same terms used elsewhere in the model railway word but possibly not with the same meanings.
A Switchboardis a diagrammatic representation of a railway and/or control indicators. Railways will usually have at least one switchboard with a diagram of the track layout; it may be appropriate to have other switchboards to provide some kind of control panel.
A Block is a section of track where a train may stop or start. Platforms in a station, or tracks in a goods yard are good examples. A block should be a single piece of track with no points included inside it. Normally a block should be longer than the longest train that will go there.
A Routeis a path through the track joining two or more blocks. Normally the routes are auto-calculated.
A Contact Indicator is some kind of track sensor used to indicate train presence.
A Schedule can be considered a "recipe" to move a train from one location to another. It includes the start and end points and the route to be taken.
An Engine is a DCC controlled engine. It can be driven under automatic control, or manually.
A Trainis an engine plus other rolling stock. It can be driven manually or under computer control. traincontroller uses the weight of the train to decide how fast its engine will accelerate, and to determine its top speed.
A Train Groupis a collection of engines or trains that you wish to associate together. For example 2short trains" may be a useful group to control the length of train that can go onto a short platform. An engine or train can belong to several groups.
A Flagmanis a logical control which can be activated by a condition (e.g. by a sensor becoming active). Traincontroller then allows actions to be assigned. It is possible to build complex logic behind "Flagmen".
Edit Mode and Normal Mode are the two states the program is in. In Edit mode, the configuration can be changed but nothing can be running, and in normal mode trains can be run.
The Threshold Speed of an engine is the minimum speed it will reliably run at. This is a "creep" speed at which the engine will approach a sensor it is to stop at.