Matrix Controller

 

Like the “Diode Matrix” of old, the Matrix Controller lets you choose one track with each Touch Toggle, instead of operating an individual turnout. This is a complete route control system, with each touch setting many outputs to preset positions. Align selected turnouts to create open “routes” through complex trackwork. Customize operations for each Toggle to control up to eight outputs. Matrix Controllers may be linked in a daisy-chain arrangement to operate many more outputs with many more Toggles.

Each Matrix Controller can accept up to 8 Touch Toggle inputs, and provide 8 outputs to any of our Base units. Additional Matrix Controllers can be daisy-chained to control even the largest yards. An LED is next to each output to make it easier to review the turnout positions, even before they are connected to the Controller outputs.

The Matrix Controller works with any of our bases to perform any type of task. Any clear routes will show green on their Toggle, and show red for routes that are blocked.

Each Toggle input can be instructed to set any of the output to red or green position, or to ignore other outputs altogether. The ability to include or exclude individual outputs in each route allows lots of flexibility about how the Controller can be adapted to different situations.

Setup is as easy as editing a simple text file. The file is a very small file with 8 columns and 8 rows of “comma separated variables”. This can be edited in a text editor, word processor, or a spreadsheet program on any computer. Each Matrix Controller comes with a small Flash card (like a camera card), and a USB to Flash adapter that can plug into a keyboard connection. Plug in the USB adapter and the Flash card into any computer and you should be able to open the file on the card. Eight lines in the file from top to bottom represent one of the Toggles, with the 8 outputs left to right. This will work with ANY computer with a USB socket.

The really neat part in making the map file is you don’t need to think much about anything except basic route requirements. The Matrix Controller will make sure all the indications are correct for any arrangement.

Here is some technical information that may be a little hard to follow until you have a Matrix Controller to work with.

This is a sample panel for two yards on a single Matrix Controller. Note that the Touch Toggles are placed on the tracks and not on the turnouts.Matrix_Yard_1

The Matrix actions are written into a tiny text file that looks like the one shown below. Each line of the “map” text file has eight characters, each representing one of each outputs left to right, and separated by commas. Characters can be G for green, R for red, or X to exclude (or don’t care). G and R will change the associated output to green or red, while outputs with a corresponding X will not be affected. Here both Toggle and turnout location is from left to right. Each Toggle’s route is a row. Turnout positions are by column. This particular map file will work well for the control panel design above:

Matrix_Yard_Text_Map

The first four lines connect to the first four Toggles at the left from top to bottom. The fifth line addresses the Toggle in the center of the mainline; it is used to clear all mainline turnouts to “clear the main”. The last three lines connect to the next three Toggles at the right from bottom to top.  As you can see, none of the Toggles in the left hand ladder (the first four lines) will affect any of the outputs to the left hand ladder; There are lots of “X”s in the right hand side of those first four lines. Likewise the Toggles to the right (lines 6-8) have only “X”s in the first four columns. All these ”X”s make sure that none of the left hand ladder Toggles affect those on the right, and the same right to left.  In this case, each side will always have one and only one green indication. Touching the middle Toggle (with the bottom line in the map) will make sure that all three mainline Toggles turn green with just one touch.

This may seem confusing, but the full instructions will be helpful, and all will be more clear with the unit available to work with.

A Note about really really troublesome routes:

Our Matrix Controller is logically laid out with one Toggle for each unique route. Most of the time this is just fine. Some situations with multiple yard tracks and multiple mainlines (especially in large numbers) can become difficult to layout in a sensible way using a fixed number of through routes. Usually this only shows up when there are a LOT of interlocking turnouts and bidirectional tracks. When this situation crops up in a real railroad a custom computer “To/From” dual entry route selector is often used. If you find yourself mired in difficulty trying to solve one of these problems, please let us know (a sketch is always helpful). Sometimes a thorny problem can be solved with just a new perspective, but sometimes the problem is as hard as it seems.

We’d love to be able to offer a dual entry route control, but that might be intractable especially with two or more Matrix Controllers involved. Clever ideas are always welcomed.

Usually these really advanced problems can be handled by simply operating turnouts with individual turnout controls.

This product is almost complete, but waiting for final software, labeling, and packaging. It is expected to start shipping in mid-November, 2021. Pre-orders will be shipped in the order they are received.

We manufacture our products in the USA. Orders over $120 include free shipping to US addresses.

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Price: $59.80
 

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