Author Topic: Suggested improvements for sound handling and momentum integration for RailPro.  (Read 4234 times)

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Originally posted by William Brillinger on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 28, 2015

Here is an outline of the improvements I would like to see in the sound handling and momentum integration for RailPro.
I invite your comments and perhaps if we agree on this vision or some variation, we can collectively request Ring to adopt it.

I think the ballistics feature would go a very long way toward realistic audio performance on Railpro. The rest of the options listed are intended to support this feature for tweaking loco actions on the fly.

For reference, my goal is to be able to re-create the effects seen in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=3&v=cIpHWUFu-Go

Allow for heavy momentum settings
 - Allow for Accel and Decel times of up to 120 seconds

Allow setting of throttle percentage where notch 8 is reached
 - Let users set the percentage of power above which the sound is always notch 8.
 - ie: this is the average full power setting on the layout.
 

Intelligent Throttle Response (Ballistics)

Ballistics as described on MRH in a discussion about other decoder products:

…on Tsunamis, with CVs 3 and 4 both set to 150, it seems as though the faster I throttle up, the slower the power actually accelerates.  That is, if I spin the throttle knob from 0 to 100% immediately, the prime movers really load up, and it takes a bit before the locomotives start to move, as if they're starting a heavy train.  However, if I slowly notch up to just 25-30%, the locomotives seem to move right away, as they would with light power or a small cut.  I think Soundtraxx must have built some sort of acceleration sensitivity into their decoders and adjusted the sound accordingly, much the same as how they play brake squeal when you decelerate rapidly, but don't if you throttle down gently.

That behavior may be part of the throttle's response as opposed to the decoder.  The NCE cabs have a feature called "Ballistic Tracking" that sounds like what you've described.

How I propose ballistics should work on RailPro:
 - Spin the Throttle knob up quickly to heavily load the prime mover and use heavy momentum effects.
 - If the momentum has not reached the throttle setting, backing off the throttle a tiny bit would tell RailPro to keep the current speed and spool the sound down to the appropriate auto-notch level.
 - Move the throttle knob up or down slowly to have low momentum effects and immediate response.
 - Moving the throttle down should always have low momentum effects for safety reasons.

Coast Feature  (toggle)
 - Spool sound down to idle (notch 1)
 - do not change speed
 - When released, spool sound back up to the current auto-notch setting.
 - If throttle is increased, cancel coast and spool to new notch setting appropriate to the throttle choice.

Brake Feature (momentary)
 - Spool sound down to idle (notch 1)
 - Play squeal sound until button is released or stop is reached
 - Decelerate train until button is released or stop is reached

Combined Auto & Manual Notching
 - Allow the user to increase or decrease the notch level at any time
 - Override the manual choice when the throttle is changed.
ie: the locomotive is moving at 40% power (auto notch is at notch 4) and the user manually increases to notch 6, then:
 - if the user decreases the throttle to 30% auto-notching brings the sound down to notch 3 and manual notching is cancelled.
 - if the user increased the throttle to 50% or 60%, notching does not change.
 - if the user increased the throttle to 70%, auto notching increases to notch 7 and manual notching is cancelled.

Notch Indicator
 - Display the current notch level on the display.

Improved Revving (smooth)

 - The notches do not notch up/down smoothly.  In manual notching you can outrun the sounds and skip over and entire sound causing the LM-2 to sound bad.
 - Tim says: We did not know this problem existed.  We plan to fix this in a newer revision


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Originally posted by Shawn Hogan on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 28, 2015

I would amend the brake feature to be latching. Push on/push off. The momentum settings would adjust how long it would take to come to a stop dependent upon the throttle/power setting when the brake is activated.
Shawn


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Originally posted by William Brillinger on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 28, 2015

Shawn,

The only problem I see with the brake feature being a toggle instead of momentary is if you only want to "tap" the brakes, you can't, so some might prefer this a momentary.

BrakeFeature

    Spool sound down to idle (notch 1)
    Play squeal sound until button is released or stop is reached
    Decelerate train until button is released or stop is reached
    Option to configure this as momentary or toggle

- Bill


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Originally posted by Shawn Hogan on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 28, 2015

Bill,
I see your point. I guess having only operated with "brakes" in one particular way, I didn't think of that possibility. Since the Rail Pro system is software based, would it be fairly easy to write in an either/or choice? I'm no programmer so I don't know what's involved in writing programs. I just know if it's easy to use or not!!

Programming the "brake" button to be a push and hold could work as long as you could bring it to a stop and it would stay stopped. Again, I'm saying that based on my usage in other operating environments. Not sure what action would restart motion; perhaps tapping the direction buttons would start the loco moving again, revving up to whatever the speed setting was when you brought it to a stop.
Shawn


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Originally posted by William Brillinger on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 28, 2015

I'm sure making a momentary or toggle option would be simple enough to include in the configuration.
Restarting would simply require a "spin" of the knob since there is no hard stop on it.

- Bill


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Originally posted by TS on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 29, 2015

Hi Billy,

Reading through your list I like what I see described, I imagine the
logic to do it all might see a couple of very raised eyebrows from
Tim Ring though. Some of what you describe I can do with the torque
couplings I have so the settings would at least need to be adjustable.

On the brake, I think if this can be a part of what you load onto the
LM2 instead of the HC-2 we can go further than generic as well and
replicate the major difference in braking, being self lapping and the
other one where you had to apply the brake handle to reduce pipe
pressure and then move the brake handle to off to stop dumping air.
This might be going too much on the advanced side of course.

I think it's a great idea for this community here to come up with
ideas that we can submit as a community, we might get things higher
up the ladder if he knows it's coming from a community of users instead
of just a single user.

Cheers,

Tim
Land of OZ.

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Originally posted by kpack05 on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 29, 2015

Bill -

I agree with most of your suggested improvements.  Longer accel/deccel is definitely needed for more realistic operating.  The addition of a coast and brake function would also be enjoyable.  However, I've currently been doing this "manually" with just manual notching.  I can play the prime mover to sound like what I want while controlling the speed of the locomotive to match the movement I am looking for. 

The biggest positive that could come from using coast/brake would be smooth spooling of the prime mover.  But here's the kicker: how do you get the prime mover sound to run smoothly from one notch to any other notch?  Do you need to have recordings of the engine spooling up and down through multiple notches?  Or can it be done with the existing recordings of individual notch transitions and somehow "blend" them together?  I have no idea how other manufacturers have done theirs.  I imagine this could get rather complicated/difficult.

Things like the brake button could be similar to the diesel prime mover button, in that it isn't just a button.....it actually has some code behind it.  For example, the diesel prime mover button has code written into it that allows the prime mover file to be played correctly.  Try loading a steam engine sound and playing it through the diesel prime mover button....it doesn't work right, I've tried.  The brake button could have parameters that could be adjusted, such as rate of braking, and choosing the sound to play (or not play, which is what I would want), volume, and momentary or continuous as with any other function button.  Seems like it would be pretty straightforward.

I do really like the notch indicator.  That should absolutely be added.  Also the combined manual and automatic notching is golden.

One more thing I'd like to add:

    Dynamic braking across consists - tap the button on the lead and turn on the dynamic brake button on all locomotives.  I'm fine with just the sound, but could possibly be turned into an actual function button.  Easier though just to control the locomotives by hand.

-Kevin

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Originally posted by William Brillinger on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 30, 2015

I have added Kevin's Dynamic Braking item to the list.
I have also reconsidered the rest of the list and conclude/agree, some of these items are redundant given the Combined Auto & Manual notching item.

So here is the revised proposal - more discussion welcome.

Allow for heavy momentum settings
 - Allow for Accel and Decel times of up to 120 seconds

Allow setting of throttle percentage where notch 8 is reached
 - Let users set the percentage of power above which the sound is always notch 8.
 - ie: this is the average full power setting on the layout.

Intelligent Throttle Response (Ballistics)
removed – not needed given Combined Auto & Manual Notching

Coast Feature  (toggle)
removed – not needed given Combined Auto & Manual Notching

Brake Feature (toggle)
 - Play squeal sound until button is released
 - When stop is reached, automatically deactivate this button
 - Spool sound down to idle (notch 1)
 - Decelerate train until button is released or stop is reached
removed spool down and decel points - not needed given Combined Auto & Manual Notching, in some cases you wouldn’t want notch 1 even though the brakes are squealing.

Combined Auto & Manual Notching
 - Allow the user to increase or decrease the notch level at any time
 - Override the manual choice when the throttle is changed.
ie: the locomotive is moving at 40% power (auto notch is at notch 4) and the user manually increases to notch 6, then:
 - if the user decreases the throttle to 30% auto-notching brings the sound down to notch 3 and manual notching is cancelled.
 - if the user increased the throttle to 50% or 60%, notching does not change.
 - if the user increased the throttle to 70%, auto notching increases to notch 7 and manual notching is cancelled.

Notch Indicator
 - Display the current notch level on the display.

Improved Revving (smooth)
 - The notches do not notch up/down smoothly.  In manual notching you can outrun the sounds and skip over and entire sound causing the LM-2 to sound bad.
 - Tim says: We did not know this problem existed.  We plan to fix this in a newer revision

Dynamic braking across consists - tap the button on the lead and turn on the dynamic brake button on all locomotives.  I'm fine with just the sound, but could possibly be turned into an actual function button.  Easier though just to control the locomotives by hand.

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Originally posted by Shawn Hogan on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 30, 2015

Hi Bill,
I like your revised list. Not being a user(yet), I should think that the opinions of those of you who are, should carry the most weight.
I'm modeling the steam era so the dynamic brake won't do anything for me but I like the idea nonetheless!

Speaking of which; is there a provision for adding an axle or wheel contact to synch the chuff? The demo video I've seen is good enough for me but I figure if we're asking for other goodies, why not throw another one in the mix?! :)

Shawn Hogan


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Originally posted by kpack05 on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 30, 2015

Shawn,

I've talked to Ring about the cam chuff synchronization in the past.  It can be done with the LM-2S because of its dual inputs.  However, with Railpro it shouldn't need to be.  You can fine tune the chuff rate on the locomotive while it's moving until the chuff hits exactly where you want it to be.  From there the chuff should be synchronized at all speeds.  Much easier than adding a cam.

That's one of the nice things about Railpro that is impossible with DCC.  You can make adjustments to the locomotive in real time as it's moving down the track.  That way you can see instantly what effect your adjustment had on the locomotive.  No more programming track, flipping it back and forth between "program" and "run", reading CV's and rewriting their value on JMRI, or any other nonsense. 

Now, I don't have any steamers myself so I haven't actually tested adjusting the chuff to synch with the drivers on a steamer.  I have however loaded the steam files onto a diesel and tested out all the functionality, including adjusting the chuff rate in real time, and it does work.  Perhaps someone with a steamer can confirm?  It should work just fine.

The few videos floating around on Youtube of Railpro steamers are unsynchronized BTW.  I'd like to see some good videos of one that has been synched so that everyone knows what can be done.

-Kevin


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Originally posted by LK&O on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 30, 2015

Kevin's point about adjusting the locomotive on the fly has turned out to be one of my favorite things about RailPro. I like to adjust momentum based on train length as I do setouts and pickups in the yard. I even sometimes do it on the line while making spots and pulls if the train length changes significantly. Fun!


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Originally posted by Shawn Hogan on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Sep 30, 2015

Wow! Adjusting on the fly, "in real time"! That is definitely the way it ought to be done. That's the best way because you can see the reaction immediately and don't have to remember where you were.
One of the reasons I haven't jumped on the DCC wagon. How do you keep track of all those CVs especially when the setting on one affects the setting on another one which is the one controlling the effect on the loco!
Shawn


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Originally posted by TS on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Oct 1, 2015

I had actually thought of a use for the inputs, and it does tie in with
steam sync. One could hook up a IR emitter/sensor (think tachometer)
pointed at something that goes round (flywheel, axle etc) and from
there, if you know the wheel diameter, gear ratio and motor rpm presto
you have a speedometer. Wouldn't that be funky on the controller
screen, actual scale speed. Steam sync could be done in the same way
essentially, not that I've thought much further about how to get it all
to work.

Tim
Land of OZ


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Originally posted by TS on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Oct 1, 2015

I think the problem with smooth notching might be the controller doesn't
realise it has to play all those file in sequence in their entirety; at
least that's what I get from your description.

Perhaps the "default" momentum might be the length of time it takes
to rev up to that notch (auto notching), so if it takes say 8 seconds
for the sound to get to notch 8 it takes 8 seconds for the power to
get to that as well.

Tim
Land of OZ


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Originally posted by William Brillinger on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Oct 1, 2015

The issue is that in manual notching mode, the RP currently will cut off the sound if the next notch is requested to soon.
Tim did indicate that this issue would be fixed.

I don't think notching/revving should be tied to momentum directly as a loco can glide away nearly silently if it's not under load.

- Bill