Three sets of SD units wait on crews to head north out of Black Mountain yards to the Leatherwood branch in the coal fields of Eastern, KY

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Layout PC interface - Part 1

I first started using an MRC Prodigy Express, and really liked it. But I got interested in wanted to have parts of my layout computer controlled. MRC does have PC interface but it lacks compatibility with other PC train control software. It is more of a super throttle for the PC. I went with a Digitrax Zephyr DCS 50 with an attached UT4 utility controller for walk around control. Took a little time to get used to a different DCC system but Zephyr is better then I expected. I connected the Digitrax Loconet to the PC using a Locobuffer USB. A big reason for choosing the Locobuffer instead of the Digitrax PR3 was for the protection from surges and feedback for the PC that could interfere with the Loconet.

JMRI was chosen for the program to control the trains. Very simple program to use and best of all its free. I have had to ask the JMRI Yahoo group for a little help with Decoder Pro for programming decoders but once I figured out how to use the program everything went pretty well. JMRI can also program sound decoders but I will eventually get a Digitrax PR3 for this. Another good feature of JMRI is Panel Pro program. Users can build Dispatcher panels of there layout and control all switches from the panel. But the switches have to be DCC controlled first. Total cost to have PC interface was $65.00. That was for the Locobuffer

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