We believe simplicity is what you desire. We have removed the necessity for electrical block isolation and occupancy detection. Our solution consists of only three types of components; magnets placed underneath the baseboard, a control device placed next to your command station and trackers placed in the locomotives. This trinity can determine the position of all trains with a precision of a few millimetres anywhere on the model railway. Train automation simply relies on knowing the position of the trains. With the position of the trains known, the trains can be controlled based on for example the distance to the next signal at danger.
A new star is born
Have you ever watched the night sky and noticed some of the star constellations? This is possible because your brain recognizes known patterns. Railmagic works similarly, but instead of observing patterns of the light emitted by stars, it senses patterns in the magnetic field from magnets spread under the baseboard.
Self-adhesive magnets are fastened underneath the baseboard of the layout and create a weak magnetic pattern. This creates a kind of an invisible star map. In each locomotive is installed a tracker that can record magnetism. After an initial run on the layout where the pattern is recorded, the system can recognize the pattern and determine the position of the locomotive on the layout. We use precise instrumentation and advanced algorithms to get a persistent accuracy of a few millimetres.
Tracking the locomotives
In each locomotive must be installed a tracker that reports the magnetic field sounding the locomotive and an estimation of the travelled distance. As you may have spent a fortune on decoders and want to keep them, it has been an extraordinary challenge to design a solution where your decoders can be reused. The tracker works in close conjunction with the decoder and determines the travelled distance by measuring the back-EMF signal from the motor. It is therefore crucial that your decoders utilise back-EMF, which is most likely the case if they are from this millennium. The tracker is easy to solder into the locomotive as only four wires are needed. If you find soldering difficult, someone in your local model railway club will probably help you. The tracker costs as little as $7.
During our work of testing the tracker in combination with different decoders, we observed that even the most popular decoders have some flaws and introduce irregular speed control of the motor. We have therefore initiated the development of what we believe is going to be the best decoder on the market. No more CVs, it is going to be self-calibrating and running smoothly out of the box. This decoder will of course incorporate the tracker and simply be installed in the decoder socket in the locomotive.
The control device
The control device is electrically connected between your command station output and the tracks. It registers commands sent to the trains, turnouts and signals by recording the DCC/MM-signal. The device is able to establish a bidirectional communication channel with the trackers and thereby receive information regarding the measured magnetic field. It uses pattern recognition to determine the position of the trackers.
We provide an application, in which you can awaken the virtual engine driver of any train. When you do this, the control device takes over the control and sends instructions to your command station like any other computer-controlled system. These commands are sent to your command station via either LocoNet, XpressNet or Ethernet.
The innovative step that allows Railmagic to enhance train automation seems like magic. And maybe that is not far from the truth as it involves the invisible power of magnetism. Magnetism is hardly understood by most humans and might therefore seem to be pure magic. But in reality, the enhancement comes from five years of innovative development.
Fantastic, but how is it controlled and which features does it have?