Model Railroad Automation - First Thoughts
by, January 12th, 2010 at 10:59 PM (10585 Views)
Model Railroad Automation is a free .NET based Loconet automation software program. Unlike JMRI which is developed by a broad range of contributors, RRAuto appears to be developed by a one-man enterprise, software developer Perecli Manole. Editing with RRAuto feels like using visual basic or another visual based development tool. I used RRAuto to set up a panel that would operate turnouts and provide track indications.
RRAuto has four editing modes (Tracks, Blocks, Routes, & Signals). There is also an operations mode, where editing is no longer available. Switching between modes is as easy as clicking on the correct icon, or selecting it from a menu. There is an object browser and a properties window available during both editing and operations modes, but editing can only take place while in an editing mode.
Objects are placed on a grid by right clicking within the grid and selecting the type of object to place. Once an object is placed, it can be selected and it's properties edited via the properties window, while it's methods(or behaviors) can be set via the object browser. For instance to place a right hand turnout and have it control turnout #9, I would:
The process works pretty smoothly once you figure out that the switch states, Straight and Diverging are not available in the property window of the select track object, but instead in the object browser.
- Enter Edit Track Mode (if I hadn't already).
- Right click on the grid and select
- Place/Replace Track->Right Hand Turnout
This will place a track segment on the grid as well as a corresponding segment in the object browser.
- Double click on that track segment in the object browser - to program it's behaviors
- Right Click Straight or Diverging (these are the switch states)
- Select Add 'Set Switch' Packet
This will create a Switch change packet and place it into the object browser.
- Select the new Switch change packet and changes its properties in the properties window. In this case,
- Set Switch to 9
- Set State to Closed or Thrown
Track segments can be rotated after placing them. Moving track segments has to be done by typing in new coordinates in the properties window for that segment. There are track segment objects for:
There is no object for a crossover and I have not been able to figure out how to place two turnouts in a crossover configuration and get them to operate and be displayed like a crossover. (Only one side of the crossover will display as thrown or closed.)
- Curve 1 - a wide curve
- Curve 2 - a narrow curve
- Turnout Left
- Turnout Right
- Single Slip
- Double Slip
- Three Way
Once a turnout has been set up, using it in operations mode is a little annoying in that you have to right click on the turnout the select Set Turnout->Straight or Diverging. I much prefer the JMRI method of a single click toggles the turnout.
Setting up track occupancy is pretty slick. First I set up sensors using the object browser, these correspond to the DCC addresses of the individual track sensors I have installed, (In my case a BDL168, a BD4 and a DS64)
I entered the Edit Blocks mode and blocks to correspond with my relevant sensors. After that, I reentered Edit Tracks mode and selected each track segment that was a portion of the block and sets its Block property in the Properties window to the correct block. The program will connect tracks that are part of the same blocks, and in operation mode, those blocks will light up when occupied.
The program (v22.214.171.124) does not have a help file so you may want to download the previous version which does. The files are not compatible, but its kind of nice to ope it up and look for help. There is also no throttle, but the previous version did have a throttle.
Overall, I found Model Railroad Automation very easy to use and I like many of the things about the presentation more than JMRI. It is more limited than JMRI, but its a nice program to explore, especially since all I'm out is about 5 hours learning how to use it and fiddling with it.
I was able to build a fully operational panel in about 5 hours. RRAuto has a solid foundation and I'm going to keep using this program and continue to watch for updates. :thumbs_up:
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