We have control - digitally
25 02 15 17:09
There are those who prefer to remain permanently in the steam age, where turnouts are operated by solenoids (or by the human hand) and signals are resolutely mechanical in their workings.
David Fenton, of Megapoints Controllers is not one of these. His hobby is creating digital controls for model railways, in particular for points and signals.
Last Tuesday he gave an enthusiastic and high-energy talk on the subject to a well-attended meeting.
His throwaway comment 'my day job is designing supercomputers' was a clue to the type of electronic trickery involved. Fortunately most of the complexity was buried well out of the way in the circuit-board, and once set up it needed only a flick of a switch to command servos to move. And not just move from A to B, signal bounce was not only on offer but demonstrated, with the option of random height and speed of bounce or, remarkably, parameters tailored to the BR region or European country of choice.
Single-switch route setting was an enabled feature, to use the jargon, and mimic boards were also available. And in case a dozen switches were not enough to play with, multiple boards could be daisy-chained together.
By the end of the meeting the tried and trusted point motor had been well and truly cast into the outer darkness of antediluvian history. The only problem for existing layouts would be the expense of changing to the new system, but for new starts the digital option certainly has its attractions. And yes, you can use the system with DCC.