The Trainiac application
Trainiac [treɪnɪæk] noun., the empowerment of virtual engine drivers
On a regular running session, you can operate turnouts and signals from the graphical interface of your command station. Only in rare circumstances will it be necessary to use the Trainiac application. For example to change the length of a train or fix a derailed one. Additionally, you can use the application to get status and information on each train. We will later make it possible to control the locomotives manually from the Trainiac application, such that you have all functionality in one application. You can also use the Simple Routing feature to set the route ahead of a train and thereby literally have full control of your layout in your hand.
The Trainiac application is included in the starter kit as it is essential to configure the system and features.
The Miminiac application
Miminiac [ˈmɪmɪnɪæk] noun., the excellency of mimic panels
You will need the Miminiac application in two circumstances. If your command station doesn’t have a graphical interface, it will be preferable to use the Miminiac application to switch turnouts and signals than doing it from a handheld throttle using accessory addresses. With the Occupancy Identification feature, track occupancy will be shown directly in the Miminiac application. You can also select tracks where you want the identification of the train to be shown.
The second circumstance where the Miminiac application is needed is for setting up the system. For this reason, it is included in the starter kit. You simply draw a mimic panel for your layout and the system guides you through the calibration process. You will only have to define turnouts and do some recordings on the layout with one of your locomotives to be ready to operate the system. Signals and other more advanced features can be set up later if necessary. After the calibration is done you can decide to not use the application any longer.
The features below will be fully described and documented as they become ready. When a feature is purchased by the one-time payment it will be locked to your license, all updates will be forever free. You will be able to try features for a limited period before buying them, more information will follow later.
The Trainiac and Miminiac applications can be installed and used on multiple devices simultaneously. The license key is stored in the Trainiac device. You are therefore able to use the system on multiple layouts by moving the Trainiac device between them.
An important aspect of railway safety is the enforcement of restricted speed areas. This feature lets you place restricted speed indicators anywhere on the layout. The virtual engine driver ensures that the train is slowed down before reaching the restricted speed indicator and does not increase the speed before the entire train has left the restricted area defined by another speed indicator.
What if you want the restricted speed to depend on the chosen route? Advance speed indicators enforce the speed limit found by the next speed indicator ahead. This can be used to make the speed limit dependent on the chosen route. Place for example an advance speed indicator before the turnout area into a station, and if the main lines and sidings have different speed limits, these will be enforced before the train reaches the turnout area.
Having arrived at the station, the virtual engine driver of passenger trains will automatically stop at the platform for a defined period of time even though the platform exit signal is cleared. When the defined time period comes to an end, the virtual engine driver checks the platform exit signal and proceeds if possible. Otherwise, the virtual engine driver keeps the train standing until a route has been made and the platform exit signal is cleared. This ensures that the train does not make a non-prototypical movement toward the platform exit signal, but stands still as the signal can be seen from the current position.
Increase the number of simultaneously running trains on your layout with the block automation module. It implements a block controlled automation by linking multiple signals together like pearls in a necklace. A signal automatically changes to the danger aspect when passed by a train. It is later automatically changed to a second, third or fourth aspect depending on the simulated signal type. The aspect is changed only when the protected block is cleared by the tail of the train leaving the block. This method relies on the calculated position of the locomotive and the user-defined length of the train. As this method does not rely on current sensing, no requirement exists for current consumption of the tailing wagon. The last signal in the chain is often the entry signal to a station and can optionally be controlled by the signalman.
It can be complex to implement a block-based control approach with interlocking and reservation of routes. The simple routing module enables one-click routing directly within our application. You just have to name the main lines and station tracks. The system can then automatically determine available routes from the current position of the train. By clicking on one button all related turnouts and signals are set. The system then suggests further routing options and you decide how far you want to create the route at the present moment. If the virtual engine driver is enabled, the train will automatically run toward the end of the route. For example, moving a train from track 3 on a first station to track 2 on a second station is as simple as selecting the train in our application and clicking on «western line» and then «platform 2».
The routes are created instantaneously and delayed reservations are not possible. The routes are not interlocked and collisions must be prevented by the operator. However, it allows you easy control of the layout without remembering turnout and signal addresses.
The fiddle yard is often out of sight and the purpose is solely to store trains. This module implements a virtual signalman who determines the routes in and out of the fiddle yard based on various settings. The track leading into the fiddle yard can hold multiple trains waiting to enter the fiddle yard. When space is available it can select the shortest track that fits. In the application, you will be provided with a list of all trains in the fiddle yard. You can by a single click determine which train should be the next one to leave. The route will automatically be set by the virtual signalman and therefore you do not have to remember which track each train is occupying. Light and sound can automatically be disabled when the trains are waiting in the fiddle yard.
This feature can activate railway crossing electronics to start the flashing light, sounding of bells and the lowering of barriers at different times. It supports multiple tracks and can keep the railway crossing active between passing trains. The activation starts when the front of the train passes a defined location or alternatively when a route is created. The deactivation starts when the entire train has passed another defined location.
Advance signals and signals with more than two aspects usually show the aspect of the next signal. Many prototypical security systems transfer this information to the onboard security system only when a signal is passed. Therefore, when a train proceeds toward a signal that has been reported to be at danger but later has changed to clear, the train will start the braking and slowly approach the signal. Just before reaching the signal, the new aspect of the signal will be registered and the train can start to accelerate again. This feature simulates this behaviour.
Most command stations can create consist of locomotives. But the functionality is often limited to just send identical speed requests to all the locomotives. This feature however takes the locomotive consist to another level. Because the system knows the exact speed of all locomotives at each speed step, the system customizes the speed request to each locomotive to match the wanted speed. The system further knows which of the locomotives are the leading and tailing ones and is, therefore, able to switch the headlight accordingly. Motor sounds will be activated in all locomotives whereas for example whistle sounds only will sound from the heading locomotive.
This feature will change the sound of locomotives for example when steam engines travel uphill and downhill or when diesel engines are expected to accelerate. When passenger trains are ready to leave the station, the door closing and whistle will sound before departure. This feature though depends heavily on the functionality of the sound decoders in your locomotives.
The intention of Railmagic is to provide virtual engine drives and leave the routing to the operator. This feature goes a step further and implements full automation of the layout similar to other computer-controlled systems. The automation is added to the Miminiac panel.
In combination with the routing automation feature, this feature can control the layout based on a timetable.
With this feature, the occupancy of tracks can be shown in the Miminiac panel. For selected tracks, the identification of the train can also be shown in the panel by a display with 4 to 5 digits.