Sunday, 5 July 2015

Platform Announcements for Garahbara

The latest project for Garahbara is to build a Platform Announcements System for passenger departures and arrivals.

I needed to find some platform announcements, and with assistance from the guys at the Railpage Model Railways Forum here .They pointed me at the DVA5 software that generates platform announcements for you. It's limited to mostly New South Wales and Sydney stations and destinations, however served my purpose well.  You can generate the .wav files and play them manually via your computer (or whatever device).  But I wanted more.  Don't we all?

Now that I had the announcements, how to get them to play accordingly......... without having to manually find, and click on .wav files!

So what can JMRI offer me (which I already run)? So I went hunting through JMRI.

Under JMRI Panel Pro, there are a number of "tables".  (Click "tools" -> "tables") and create an "internal turnout".  Name this turnout the announcement name.  eg.  Train departing platform 4".

Next, setup a "Logix".  Add a new "state variable" and the trigger being the "internal turnout" you just created.  Then add an "action" to the "logix", where you play a sound file when the state of the "internal turnout" changes. A "Logix" continually monitors the status of the "turnout" and will trigger the "action" when it detects a change.

To trigger the announcement, use  JMRI DecoderPro or PanelPro, go to "turnout control" and trigger the turnout.  The announcement will play.

This is a very brief explanation, so I'll put up a detailed "Tutorial" page at some stage.

But I still wanted more!  I wanted to trigger these announcements without having to go back to the computer, and click on stuff.  JMRI has a WiThrottle. JMRI Engine Driver at  JMRI Engine Driver. It uses your phone/iPad/Tablet as a DCC throttle.  So for the cost of a wireless router ($45, I could have used the one in the house, but it doesn't reach as far as the train shed), and $38 for a DGTEC Android tablet (on special at Woolies), I had my WiThrottle. (or you can use your existing phone).

The JMRI Engine Driver (WiThrottle) also list all the "turnouts"  defined in PanelPro's tables.  DigiTrains WiThrottle lists PanelPro's turnouts as well.

Et voila!!!  Wipe across on the tablet/WiThrottle to "turnouts", press the relevant announcement and Bob's ya uncle. :) Wipe back to the WiThrottle for the train, and "TOOT"  off ya go!

But I wanted more!  Yes...... more than the free set of steak knives?  I wanted to trigger a series of general announcements, or random/timed announcements, such as "All buses leave from outside the station" or "Book your baggage in at the parcels office".

JMRI tables also have "routes" where you can list "turnouts" to be set, and a timed interval to set each turnout on the list.  List all your general "announcement turnouts" in the "route", and trigger them at say, 10 minute intervals. WiThrottles also list "routes", so you can trigger the "route" as well.  A "general announcement" will play every 10 minutes, or whatever interval you like.

I've also got it working using JMRI Virtual Sound Decoder, where the announcement can be triggered from a Function Button on your throttle.  eg.  F1 = headlight and, F10 = "arrival announcement",  F11 = "departure announcement" etc.  But the "how to" on that, is almost an encyclopaedia on it's own!.

This is what I've done so far.  Wadda ya reckon?  You may need to turn your volume up a bit.