“Model Railroad: Choosing the Right Scale for Automation”

Choosing the Right Scale for Automation

Most model train enthusiasts now create their collections depending on scales. Scales are ratios or percentages that are used to scale up or scale down models in relation to their real-world counterparts. Every model train is built to one of the widely used scales that are proportionate to real trains. 

For instance, HO scale models are 1/87th the size of the genuine thing, whereas small N gauge miniatures are just 160/th the size of a real train and considerably bigger G scale models are 1/25th the size. Everything in a model train set, including the trains, tracks, and accessories, is constructed to the same scale if you purchase one with a certain gauge. 

Model train enthusiasts may also consider that O scale is frequently described as 1:48 scale in North America and that a 1-inch O-scale object would be 48 inches long if it appeared as a full, life-sized object when measured with an ordinary Imperial ruler. To put it another way, the items in true O-scale are 48 times smaller than the real-world objects they represent.

Modelers occasionally buy and utilize scale rulers with hash marks on them that show how many feet or inches an object is in the scale they have selected.

Choosing the right scale for depends in part on one’s own preferences. To design one’s own equipment based on tastes or to make greater use of materials that are readily accessible in the marketplace, some modelers employ non-standard or non-commercial scales.

3.1. Popular Scales for Automated Model Trains

Even down to the precise placement and quantity of rivet detail, some manufacturers are producing models that are exceedingly realistic and highly accurate. Scale models are accurate miniature recreations of full-sized prototypes. Popular train scales differ from one another as follows:

3.1.1. N-Scale

For people who live in flats or have little space, the N-scale is a great option. This is the most often used scale in North America. When not in use, N-scale trains are simple to stow and have a sturdy design for trouble-free running. Younger children will require an adult’s assistance to put up or take down a set; adults and teens may use the small size without issue.

At a 1:160 ratio, N scale is about half the size of HO scale. In comparison to HO scale layouts, modelers frequently utilize N scale to construct more intricate layouts in constrained places. Or they may build spectacular N scale civilizations in big rooms like garages or basements, employing the size to produce a realistic-looking yet scaled-down setting.

3.1.2. HO-Scale

HO stands for “half-o” scale models. Due to its ability to fit a lot of railroad activity into a little space, HO is the most common scale with the largest assortment of sets and accessories. Children might require adult assistance to assemble or disassemble the kit.

In the United States and Canada, HO is by far the most often used model train scale. The ratio of the HO scale is 1:87. Modelers that work in HO scale typically have the most options for buildings, locomotives, and rolling equipment. To create a straightforward and appealing display or layout, many modelers start with tools in this model train size and a flat sheet of plywood.

3.1.3. O-Scale

Another well-liked scale is the 1:48 ratio O scale. Additionally, “On30” Sets are O Scale trains that run on a tighter track that is only 30 scale inches wide. For use with Christmas villages, these are perfect. When there isn’t enough room for larger trains, “O27″ gauge sets are a viable option because they can navigate tighter curves. A full circle of track has a 27” diameter, thus the number 27. 

O Scale was one of the earliest model train sizes and was used by historic manufacturers to build significant quantities of toy trains from the late 1800s to the present; if you grew up with Lionel trains, you’ll recall that they were O Scale models. They’re a solid choice for kids or long-term setups because to their tough construction. There are many of animated sets.

Many toy trains are O-gauge, which means they may run on O-size rails, although they’re usually not accurate scale replicas. O scale may be used by modelers with enormous expanses to build intricate and regal settings. They frequently utilize an On30 narrow-gauge version to simulate various industries, like logging railways.

To dig deeper into choosing the right scale for your model train, check this: https://myhobbylife.com/n-scale-vs-ho-scale-which-model-train-gauge-is-right-for-you/

3.2. Factors to Consider: Space, Budget, and Complexity


For many model railroaders, a finished, permanent layout that can be imagined as a whole tiny world is the ultimate objective.  Others might choose a modular structure that they can transport to events and exhibits or an exhibition arrangement.  Like any well-rounded pastime, one must get familiar with the fundamentals.  

A pastime like model railroading might be stressful in today’s age of quick gratification since it requires a lifetime of learning and not everything may come at once.  The richness of model railroading is what makes it a lifetime pastime. 

However, there are foremost factors to consider in getting into this hobby:


What kind of available area do you have? This is one of the factors that is essentially “fixed” from the beginning. However, don’t allow the fact that your bookshelves are limited prevent you from having a model railroad. You can maximize just about any room with a little imagination. You can fit a lot into any awkwardly sized or shaped area using multi-level designs, modular layouts, and other innovative options.

If you require a lengthy mainline but have limited room, you may want to think about designing on a smaller scale or using many levels. Model trains are capable of navigating tight bends and switches as well as rather steep gradients, but they are not without limitations. There is a limit on how near clearances may be in yards, tunnels, bridges, etc. The model trains you choose will determine these minimums.


Given an unlimited money, any activity may be pursued to the fullest extent. However, because this is not usually the case, it is wise to prepare your investments beforehand. The beginner sets are one accessible way to enter the world of model railroads.

Since there are so many manufacturers on the market, H0 is the gauge that is most reasonably priced for creating models. Even again, not everything is inexpensive; some rare objects are precious because of their antiquity or the meticulous workmanship that went into making them. You can choose whether you would want to own a sizably huge collection or fewer items displayed elegantly.

You could also consider how much N and HO scale models cost differently. Both models are often affordable to start with, although historically N scale models have been less costly. However, this only applies to purchasing the actual trains. The cost of building the train layout is comparable to that of a HO-scale setup.

But you’ll probably do better with HO scale models if you want to seek used models and materials. Both scales are well-liked, although HO scales are somewhat more well-liked and, thus, more frequent on the second-hand market.

The pricing for models in all the other gauges is essentially the same, with the exception of the range of models and the cheaper prices in gauge H0. Remember that a lavishly ornamented landscape in garden size will be substantially larger than its equivalent in H0 or N.

Please bear in mind that buying models and accessories online has been significantly simpler in recent years. Whether you purchase new or used goods, if you are fortunate and patient you might be able to save some money!


Choose whether you want to utilize a model kit or start from scratch when building your projects. Many train model hobbyists like to manufacture their own structures out of supplies they find lying about the house, such as cardboard, wooden dowels, and styrofoam. Others purchase model kits from a nearby or online retailer of railway models and assemble them themselves.

Since model kits are fully created, there is no need to bother about size or measuring your parts. The drawback is that you may need to use a hobby knife to cut the individual components out of certain model kits, especially the wooden ones. Because little components may easily break if not handled carefully, this procedure can become tiresome. The little components, however, will improve the level of intricacy on your projects.

Decide on a sort of construction material. You may choose whatever you like, however, if you opt to use model kits to construct your projects, you can do it using wood, plastic, or even both. Although both are top-notch materials, some people find plastic to be more convenient to deal with than wood. The drawback of plastic is that, in contrast to a wooden model kit, it is more difficult to build or paint certain textures, such as wood surfaces.

If you want to add wooden structures to your plan, wooden kits are ideal. However, you will still need to apply glue to hold everything else together. Many wooden kits come with an adhesive that allows you to attach components together. As we have discussed, the disadvantage of utilizing a wooden kit is that the components are more delicate to deal with and require more cutting than plastic.

You must also ascertain the environment in which your constructions are located. Will the desert be present? Do you intend to surround your community with mountains covered in pine trees? Are there going to be any broad fields with a few hills? Your structures should (or will) likely fit the setting you select.

Next, you must choose how intricate you want your structure to be. Although it may seem obvious, it helps if you decide how many structures you want to include to your layout. If you wish to develop a city around your track but there are only one or two structures there, the city will appear barren. Naturally, the more buildings you build, the more life there will be, and the more it will resemble a busy metropolis.

On the other hand, you could choose to try a simpler design with just one or two structures. This is why deciding on a certain setting or time period might help you decide how many structures to include. If you merely want to construct a few structures, for instance, a rural town or a peaceful railroad station could be more to your taste.

3.3. Compatibility with Automation Systems 

If you’re just getting started with model railroading, you might be unsure about which brand to use. Fortunately, since many model train parts are interchangeable, you don’t have to stick with one manufacturer. 

The majority of systems on the market right now function effectively, have a solid track record, and are accessible at a basic level with a comparable set of capabilities. Determining the popular choice among your friends and the clubs in your area is significant, to ensure that you will have access to knowledgeable local users when you need assistance in comprehending how certain features operate.

For users’ ease into the technology, the majority of manufacturers provide an introductory system. While others are solely appropriate for solitary usage, others may be expanded upon, and some can be used as parts of bigger systems. Introduction systems often have fewer features, less power, and support fewer locomotives.

Don’t worry if you purchase track components from a different source from that of your train.  The gauge, or the distance between the rails, should always be the first thing you check when matching trains and track sections. Any scale and from any manufacturer that employs that same one-gauge track can be operated.

You’re in excellent company if you purchase trains from many manufacturers, as the majority of model railroaders do. The main issue is if the couplers, which join train cars, are made by the same manufacturer as the locomotives. Fortunately, coupler designs across most contemporary manufacturers are very uniform, and if you ever need to replace one, there are plenty of coupler replacements available.

In the field of model railroading, direct current (DC) and digital command control (DCC) are the two basic categories of control systems. With DC, all you have to do is turn on the power to start your train. You don’t have a lot of control over the function, though, and you can’t use any special effects. You’ll need a DCC system if you want to fully manage your train’s bells and whistles.

However, not all DCC systems are created equal. Some companies produce exclusive DCC systems, such as the MTH DCS system and the Lionel TMCC system. Due to their divergent development paths, the TMCC control system from Lionel and the DCS system are incompatible. Just make sure to thoroughly read the package before buying a new DCC-capable locomotive.

4. Tools and Technologies for Automation

Many newbies overlook a basic tool kit during the initial thrill of purchasing their first train set. But as time passes, students quickly learn that model railroad machinery has a variety of tiny screws, nuts, and bolts concealed in the mechanics.

Check this link for Essential Tools for Model Train Building and Maintenance


Control of model railroads today frequently uses digital technology. They do not, however, guarantee a model railroad’s diverse and dependable functioning. It is true that different trains with digital controls can operate separately on the same track. However, a human operator typically isn’t able to keep an eye on more than one or two trains that are in motion at once. The switching of turnouts and signals, much alone the switching of whole routes and the comfort of a switchboard as a whole, is not noticeably simpler with digital systems than with traditional analog management.

Digital model railroad control is only completely flawless when it is computer-based. It can always ensure the safety of train operating. The computer prevents running trains from colliding by using extra monitoring features like block securing or interlocking based on routes. On demand, it may operate any or all of the trains on the layout automatically, giving the model railroad semi- or completely autonomous operation. A single operator may easily, safely, and conveniently carry out large and varied operations of the layout by utilizing a computer.

4.1. Software Solutions

Depending on how much time you enjoy spending on your computer and what your final objectives are, you can pick a different kind of model railroad software.

Some model railroad software is pretty straightforward and simple to use. However, once you master them, you could have a fantastic virtual railroad on your computer with very detailed graphics and could be a lot of fun to build and run without ever having to touch a single piece of model track. Other programs are very powerful but difficult to use and have steep learning curves.

4.1.1. Train Control Software

Traintastic – This is a client/server software application to control a model railroad. While the model train layout is controlled by one PC, numerous more PCs may be used to watch what’s going on. It is in an early stage of development; it contains limited functionality.

Traintastic’s capability is still being expanded, although it is currently restricted. Features currently implemented:

Interface/command station support:

  • DCC++EX (DIY command station using Arduino and motor shield)
  • ESU ECoS 1 and 2
  • LDT HSI-88
  • LocoNet (e.g. Digitrax, Uhlenbrock Intellibox, Digikeijs DR5000)
  • Märklin CS2, CS3 and CS3+
  • XpressNet (e.g. Roco MultiMAUS)
  • Z21

Control locomotives and accessory

  • Read feedback sensors
  • Act as WLANmaus controller, so the WLANmaus/Z21 app can be used with any command station.
  • Board to draw a schematic layout of the model railroad.

Rocrail- A model railway system may be built and managed using the model railroad software Rocrail. It is made to operate miniature trains and all of its attachments. It is a cross-platform program that supports models from several well-known OEMs and is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Raspberry Pi. In addition to these platforms, it features a web interface and an Android app that, once set up, may be used to operate the train system.

A railroad layout must initially be made in order to utilize this program. On the layout, one or more user interfaces may be installed. The program also allows for the creation and saving of several layouts as new train routes. It may be setup and used to control any external controllers that may be present.

Randall Train Automation Controller (RTAC) – This is free model railroad computer control software with the primary objective of automating the operation of trains and other event-based tasks. It connects to the command center of a model railroad via JMRI.

An event-based script is used by the “Conductor” server to power computer automation. On a network of Android tablets, the “RTAC” software program shows the system status.

4.1.2. Layout Design Software

AnyRail – This is probably the easiest-to-use model railway design tool around. It is also completely autonomous, allowing you to use practically any track when building. Have fun creating your layout since AnyRail makes sure everything fits. With AnyRail, you may quickly complete the planning stage or fiddle around to your heart’s content without needing to be an expert in computers.

iTrain– If you wish to automate only some of your layout and maintain control over the remainder, iTrain provides a simple to use method for controlling your model railroad with your computer(s). For instance, automated block control prevents accidents while allowing you to manually or totally automatically control which train is moving along a chosen path.

The application may be used on all popular computer operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux, thanks to contemporary software approaches. Additional computers can be utilized as extra overviews or controllers thanks to client-server architecture. With an optional layout overview for big layouts, the switchboard is completely expandable and supports many tabs for various views of (parts of) the layout.

A train on a main line might alternatively be operated manually, with the others running automatically. They will keep an eye on the train that is being run manually and make sure that it doesn’t cross any lines and enter an area of the track that is already in use (and an automated train coming up behind won’t either). Watching trains go about the layout in completely autonomous mode is something you can simply take pleasure in.

iTrain is compatible with the accessories and feedback programs made by various suppliers, including Railcom. In manual mode, you may run the layout as normal; in semi-automatic mode, you can set up the layout so that some components function automatically while, for example, a yard or depot are operated manually.

Digital Command System (DCS) by MTH- This is another alternative for MTH trains, Lionel trains, or any other AC-operated locomotives operating on HO, O, S, or G scale track, with or without wires. Your whole layout can be remotely controlled from your smartphone, and you can even set up up to 90 minutes of automated train operation. Setup is said to be “easy” and start-up costs are quite low.

Templot – This is the best option for anyone who want to construct their own rails and turnouts. This computer application can create an unlimited number of templates for use in building tracks, turnouts, crossovers, slips, or simply portions of track to fit between others, etc., in any gauge, for any time period or prototype, for any radius.  You may use them to build the tracks you need for your layout on your workbench and to link them together on a computer screen to create your full layout’s track-plan. There isn’t a Mac version of this one; it’s only for PC users.

4.2. Sensors and Detectors 

In order for model railways to be automated, sensors are essential. They serve as the remote control system’s eyes and ears. The following might assist you in selecting the ideal sensor for any remote control application on your railroad.

Magnetic sensor– A tiny magnet and reed switch blend. The sensor’s compact size makes installation simple and prevents trackwork from being disturbed.

Infrared sensor– The ideal sensor for use in situations where determining the length of a train is crucial (such as sidings and grade crossings) is an infrared sensor. Contains an array of resistors, an infrared transmitter, and a receiver.

Photocell sensor– Using a photocell censor is really simple. Use the room’s current lights as the signal source. The sensor is activated by trains passing overhead and blocking the light.

Dual Current Detection Sensor– Excellent for block wiring-based designs. determines block occupancy by electrically sensing the presence of a train’s motor. This sensor, however, goes a step farther. The direction the train is traveling is also detected! Because of this, it is the perfect option for automated signaling systems where it is crucial to understand both block occupancy and traffic direction. Two separate current sensors are included on each mini-PC board that has been fully constructed.

Dual DCC Block Occupancy Sensor – This current detecting sensor is specifically made for use on DCC-based layouts and handles your DCC signal with care! The DCC waveform is distorted by conventional sensors’ use of a diode drop to measure current flow, making it more challenging for decoders to correctly understand orders. The DCC signal is seldom ever distorted by our DCC sensor. (Each fully put together mini-PC board has two separate DCC sensors.)

Dual 3-Rail sensor This is for 3-Rail layouts using an insulated outer rail track segment. Two separate 3-Rail sensors are present on each completely built mini-PC board.

Locating locomotives and rolling stock on a model railroad can be done in a number of ways. By location accuracy, train detection may be classified into three major categories:

  • Block detection – determines whether a train is present on a certain block of track.
  • Location detection finds out if a train is present at a particular location on the layout.
  • Proximity detection- determines whether a train is present at or close to a particular location on the layout.

It can also be divided into categories based on the information reported:

  • General- All locomotives and other rolling stock are reported in general.
  • Classifying- Only locomotives or only specifically equipped locomotives or other rolling stock are mentioned when classifying.
  • Identifying- A properly equipped locomotive or piece of rolling stock’s unique identification number is given.

Finally, it might be grouped according to the technology employed:

  • Optical- infrared or visible light detectors.
  • Conductive- react to the current or voltage of the track supply.
  • Proximity- perceptive to adjacent items.

4.2.1. Infrared Sensors

An infrared optical sensor is one of the most practical items to connect while dealing with model trains. This gadget emits a number that changes according to the amount of infrared light hitting it. A light that is infrared—literally “below red”—is invisible to the human eye. 

Infra-red and visible light are both present in certain common light sources, such as sunshine and lightbulbs, however for sensors, a dedicated source is often provided such that a bright source is focused on the sensor. The number recorded decreases significantly when a train or other item passes between the light and the sensor, and this may be used to determine if a train is there or not.

A light-emitting source and a receiver are used in infrared sensors to track when an item crosses or goes through the beam of infrared light.

There are two possible configurations for these:

Reflection a technique in which the emitter and receiver are placed side by side and are turned on by the infrared light returning to the receiver (this is normally the default setting when buying).

Beam break in which the emitter and receiver are facing one other and are triggered when anything breaks the beam (usually requires modification by desoldering and moving the transmitter and receiver)

4.2.2. Magnetic Reed Switches

Electrical switches that are activated (turned on and off or changed over) by magnetism are known as reed switches. The most typical kind has two ferromagnetic metal wires or blades, known as reeds, that are thin, flexible, and slightly spaced apart inside a hermetically sealed glass bubble. These serve as the contacts for the reed switch. Also to be observed is the fact that the change-over type has three reeds as opposed to two.

In the majority of other switch types, the electrical circuit is made or broken by physically moving a portion of the switch to open or shut contacts. Typical examples of solid-state switches are pushbuttons, momentary switches, and rocker switches.

Reed switches, however, function uniquely. Typically, they get no contact at all during actuation. Instead, they rely on magnetic forces to bring or separate their connections. A tiny air gap between the two metal blades of a reed switch that is typically open normally closed or changeover is opened or closed in response to the presence of a magnetic field. In the most basic types, this is frequently accomplished by adjusting the distance between a reed switch magnet and the glass encasing the reeds.

4.3. Power Supplies and Wiring

Power is necessary for model trains to run. The model train layout is powered by a voltage provided by a transformer and controller for model trains. A transformer makes it simple to connect the track’s output wires. A “power pack,” often known as a variable-DC power source, is what the typical model railroad employs. This generates a DC voltage on the rails that ranges from 0 Volts DC to a maximum and has the potential to reverse polarity, which makes a train go in the other direction.

Depending on the model’s size, the maximum voltage has a tendency to change. The maximum voltage for N-scale locomotives is 12 V DC, but the maximum voltage for HO locomotives is 16 V. However, in practice, the majority of “N” power supply offer a greater voltage. That is merely a rough estimate, though. Some power packs will output significantly more power, and unclean tracks can significantly reduce the effective power of the train without impairing train performance.

Historical tidbit: In the past, miniature trains were frequently powered by car batteries. This resulted in novel motor designs built around DC motors operating at 12 volts.

By adding a “decoder” to each train to supply DC to the motor and by embedding an alternating current on the track itself that is encoded with control data, DCC expands the original DC system. This enables the simultaneous running of many trains, as well as continuously lighted train illumination (including headlights on passenger trains) and more controlled low-speed operation. DCC is unquestionably preferred in any big or complicated layout. It can be helpful even on a plan that is rather tiny.

4.3.1. DC Power Supplies

The majority of individuals begin with a ready-made train set. Along with the track and train, starter kits almost typically come with a power source as well. Although better starter sets often come with a stronger transformer, the power pack that comes with your starter set is typically simply a starting point.

These tiny power sources can supply a few amps of power. That would roughly be sufficient to power one locomotive as well as a few lighting accessories or passenger carriages. Your layout’s power requirements will increase as it expands.

Volts, amps, and watts ratings will be included on every power supply. Choosing the appropriate power source for your needs requires a thorough understanding of the differences.

These electrical concepts’ straightforward meanings are provided below:

Volts, which are programmable when using conventional control, govern the amount of power your train will get. Generally speaking, different scales operate at various voltages. You may change the voltage to accelerate or decelerate the train. The passage of water via a pipe is a typical comparison.

The measurement of power is in amps. The throttle has no effect on this. You can accomplish more with amperage the more of it you have available. Amps are the force if volts are the water flow.

Simply multiplying the two quantities, volts by amps, results in watts. Consequently, an 8-volt, 10-amp power supply would have an 80-watt rating.

The majority of power supplies include labels indicating the scales they are designed to handle. It is often advised to get the strongest power source you can within that range. Even though you might never need all the amps, it’s typically less expensive to grow into a power supply than to keep upgrading.

4.3.2. AC to DC Converters

There are two types of power supplies: regulated and uncontrolled. Changes in the input voltage have no impact on the output in a regulated power supply. On the other hand, in an unregulated power supply, any changes in the input will affect the output. One thing all power supplies have in common is that they take electrical energy from the input source, change it in some manner, and then transfer it to the output load. Direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) are both acceptable forms of electricity at the input and output:

When the current flows in a single, predictable direction, it is called direct current (DC). Typically, it originates from AC/DC converters, batteries, or solar cells. For electrical gadgets, DC power is the recommended source.

Electric current that periodically reverses direction is known as an alternating current (AC). The way of delivering energy to homes and businesses via power transmission lines is AC.

Electrical circuits known as AC-DC converters convert alternating current (AC) input into direct current (DC) output. They are utilized in power electronic applications when a sine-wave AC voltage at 50 or 60 Hz has to be converted into a DC output.

Rectifiers are used in AC to DC converters to convert AC input into DC output, regulators are used to control voltage level, and reservoir capacitors are used to smooth out pulsing DC. How AC is changed into DC is demonstrated in this video.

AC-DC Converter Types

  • Although linear devices are straightforward and reasonably priced, they are also bulky and ineffective. For some temperature-sensitive applications, they can be troublesome since they convert surplus power as heat.
  • Switching devices employ switched-mode power supplies (SMPS), which are more sophisticated AC to DC converters. A switching regulator minimizes energy loss by switching between the full-on and full-off states extremely fast. Switching converters are more complex but more effective, smaller, and lighter.


  • A fixed range (e.g., 85-264 VAC) or a fixed AC input limit (e.g., 115, 208, or 230 VAC only) can be specified.
  • DC output is measured in positive or negative amps (1.6 to 6,000), volts (e.g., 3 to 380), and watts (e.g., 3 to 1,000).
  • For AC DC converters, operating temperature ranges (such -20 to 70 C) are also provided.

4.4. Microcontrollers and IoT Devices

A microcontroller is a single chip that contains a microprocessor as well as peripheral devices enabling them to perceive the outside environment and have outputs with sufficient current to power tiny outside loads and does not employ an operating system.

With the inclusion of Wi-Fi and Blue Tooth onboard, microcontrollers became more affordable and powerful, and several software tools and even hardware designs were made available to the general public. Model railroads now have the opportunity to utilize all of these cutting-edge technologies since these innovations make it possible to move effective portions of the conventional layout control system to the cloud.

Overall, a fascinating new world can be discovered. As methods and tools are applied on a much wider scale across a variety of applications, the promise is improved performance at lower costs.

The world is anticipated to undergo an unimaginable shift as a result of the Internet of Things (IoT). The internet has a significant influence on a variety of areas, including education, business, transportation, infrastructure, smart cities, commerce, healthcare, and government, in addition to people’s daily lives. With the integration of numerous technologies, the internet has developed into a highly potent instrument that has assisted in raising living standards and providing a variety of safety measures.

Direct Wifi Control

A new model railroad control technique called Direct WiFi Control (DWiC) uses the idea of “the internet of things” to operate. A DWiC Working group was established in 2014 to investigate the potential application of this technology in model railroads as a result of the accessibility of tiny web server modules. The WiFi industry is well-established and successful. Despite being far more complicated than any prior model train management system, it is mostly visible to the user and smooth when performing duties like bi-directional communication.

DWiC is significantly less expensive since it does not utilize any model rail-specific components, such as command stations and boosters. A DWiC controller’s ability to remotely activate sprinklers or open a garage door makes this technology valuable outside of the model train industry as well. In terms of hardware and price, the web server/controller is comparable to a DCC decoder. On the client side, where the “throttle” can be any WiFi device with a web browser, the major benefit is present. DC, AC, DCC track power, or a battery can all be used to power DWiC.

There is a web page loaded on the DWiC controller that is specific to the particular “item” (loco, accessory, etc.). By clicking buttons, the user’s browser loads the page from the item’s web server and then uses HTML, JavaScript, JQuery, and C to directly control the device over WiFi.

Trains in the Cloud

As a backbone for their TrainDNA solution, Downer, a top Australian provider of integrated infrastructure services, selected Microsoft’s Azure-based data platform. In order to collect and store real-time data for trains that engineers may utilize to adjust the trains as needed, Downer employs an IoT platform. Whereas earlier workers found it difficult to make sense of the information in front of them, the platform has been crucial in transforming raw data into insights that are simple to digest.

Microsoft used a model train as a reference to bring the IoT platform to life and demonstrate its capabilities in person. As the carriages went along the track, the crew retrofitted 2 model trains with sensors connected by a Raspberry Pi Zero to track important data.

After the trains were given computing capabilities, it was time to show the data. Thanks to IoT Central’s developer-friendly instructions, this was accomplished in about 30 minutes.

Two tiny trains, each the size of a desktop stapler, were able to record and transmit some of the crucial data that Downer EDI would use for their life-size trains, including acceleration around track corners, speed, wheel revolutions, and the distance traveled since the last service.