Lights, camera, action… connecting the JMRI software to the layout

With all five lines of track wired up to the LDT RS-8 feedback module I’ve got to the point where need to install the JMRI (Java Model Railroad Interface) software, and get it talking to the layout.

Installing the JMRI software for Mac OS X
Installing the JMRI software for Mac OS X

The attraction of the JMRI software for me, apart from the fact that it’s FREE, is that it can be run on a Mac, which is what I work on every day (See My Day Job). Once I had downloaded and installed the JMRI software the next thing I had to do, because I’m using a Mac, is to install some Virtual COM Port (VCP) drivers. I downloaded these from Future Technology Devices International Limited (FTDI) as suggested on the JMRI site.

Installing Virtual COM Port (VCP) drivers for Max OS X
Installing Virtual COM Port (VCP) drivers for Max OS X

The VCP drivers allow the Mac to communicate with the Lenz LI-USB interface and through that to the LZV100 Command Station. The Lenz system doesn’t come with any Apple Macintosh drivers. It worked like a charm too! As soon as it was installed the USB indicator light, on the LI-USB, came to life.

Launching JMRI's DecoderPro
Launching JMRI’s DecoderPro

To test everything was working, I put my Hornby Class 60 on one of the tracks and launched the DecoderPro element of JMRI. DecoderPro allows you to program your decoders and create a roster of your locomotives. As part of the JMRI package DecoderPro also allows you to create a virtual, on-screen, throttle.

JMRI... opening a new throttle
JMRI… opening a new throttle

JMRI software connected to the layout, ready to take control of my Class 60's lights
JMRI software connected to the layout, ready to take control of my Class 60’s lights

JMRI throttle... lights off
JMRI throttle… lights off

With a simple mouse click of the on-screen throttle... we have lights
With a simple mouse click of the on-screen throttle… we have lights

JMRI throttle... lights on
JMRI throttle… lights on

Total success! Just need to create an on-screen control panel, using JMRI’s PanelPro and Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop, to display the occupied and unoccupied sections of track. At a later stage this will also be used to control points, etc.

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