RailCom - Bidirectional Communication
For 25 years digital technology in model railroading has been a one-way road: a dense flow of data run from the command stations to the decoders. And nothing run back.
This has changed only due to the development of RailCom� by Lenz Elektronik.
The efficient transfer of information between decoders an command station - also known as biderectional communication - represents an appropriate completion of DCC standards.
All new Digital plus locomotive decoders RailCom-able and factory set for RailCom operation.
The RailCombus Feedback System
RailCom not only facilitates the identification of a locomotive (i.e. the detection of the locomotive address), but also provides other data (e.g. speed, CV content, etc.). To facilitate the processing of this data by appropriate software at the PC, we have developed the convenient RailCom detection system and associated components.
The RailCombus creates a circular connection between all RailCom detectors. At any point, the data on the bus received by the RailCom detectors (LRC130) can be transmitted via the USB gateway to the PC. The data rate on the RailCombus is 1Mbit/s and the data of up to 1,000 track sections (or 256 LRC130) can be transmitted.
Connecting RailCom detectors is incredibly simple which is why they can also be easily integrated into existing layouts. By means of USB, the RailCom data are transmitted via the gateway LRC135 to the PC where they can be further processed with appropriate software.
Open Structure for Superior Connections
The RailCombus was designed as an open system. Therefore, other manufacturers can also offer hardware (e.g. gateways) for other DCC digital systems and facilitate the use of RailCom data in software for model railway controls.
The RailCombus can be used with any DCC system that is able to create the RailCom cutout.
RailCom & Digital plus
The larger a model railway layout becomes, the more important it is to keep a good overview. As in real life, 'Digital plus' recognises the status of points and tracks and sends this information to the command station which, in turn, sends it to the connected input devices via the XpressNet. Status feedback is particularly advantageous if a model railway layout is controlled with a PC via the 'Digital plus' interface. There is no need for the PC program to query the status itself as it receives this information automatically. This procedure saves time and improves the program's response speed.
Status information does not indicate what caused a certain status. In case of blind sections, however, it is interesting to know not only which tracks are occupied but which trains occupy them. This is where RailCom comes in.
RailCom comprises a transmitter module (installed inside the locomotive) and an address display. This display also supplies the monitored track section. All new Digital plus decoders are RailCom-able, locomotives with other decoders can be retrofitted with the transmitter LRC100.
The Advantage of RailCom Technology
- No additional components need to be installed on the outside of the locomotive
- Data transmission is not impacted, regardless of where the RailCom-able decoder is installed inside the locomotive
- No extra space is required for RailCom electronics as components are already integrated in each 'Digital plus' decoder
- No additional wiring
- No separate programming of a transmitter
- Suitable for small gauges as well
- Transmission of information independant from location and/or status of the locomotive
- No annoying receiver component in the track
Only the command station LZV100, the command station LZ100 (from version 3.5 or higher) in combination with the amplifier LV102, or the amplifier LV102 on its own satisfy the technical requirements for RailCom. This is because RailCom requires a "blanking interval" in the data flow to the track that can only be created by the amplifier which forms part of the LZV100 or the amplifier LV102. Older amplifiers, such as the LV100, LV101 or LV200 as well as the amplifier component of the compact, are unable to create this blanking interval and are therefore unsuitable for RailCom operation. When using RailCom, a conventional, analogue locomotive cannot be operated in the digital system.