My openBVE videos and other comments from users and myself can also be found via my YouTube channel.
Blog and Progress Updates
18th April 2019
Watford Junction to Rugby – current progress
Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone whose offered me a warm welcome back to the openBVE scene, it is much appreciated and it’s great to be back! Having looked at some of the newly updated openBVE documentation, I’m looking forward to having a play with some of the new features. Let’s see where we can take openBVE in 2019 🙂
Just a quick update on what I’m working on at the moment… As the Watford Junction to Rugby project has developed, I’ve modelled the route with features which occur in two different eras – the 1980s and the 2000s. Such features include signals, gantries, lineside location cases, insulated block joints (IBJs), axle counters, Mk1 and UK1 overhead line equipment, and so-on. The project consists of a “main” routefile at the moment, which includes all of these different-era objects. My current task towards getting the route closer to a release is to hide the 1980s-only objects from the route, leaving just the 2000s objects visible. Here’s a before and after screenshot showing an example of the changes:
The location is between Linslade and Soulbury (south of Bletchley), so I’m making good progress. I have finished inserting the commands and beacons for the UkTrainSys simulation of the Automatic Warning System (AWS) and Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS), as well as added beacons for the neutral section Automatic Power Control (APC) magnets.
.Section commands have also been added to the corresponding axle counter locations too.
More updates to follow! Take care all 🙂
10th April 2019
12th March 2014
Update on Watford Junction to Rugby project
I’m pleased to say that I resumed development of the Watford Junction to Rugby project recently. Currently I’m working on implementing new .Beacon commands which support the UkTrainSys plugin’s advanced safety system functionality.
Signalling along the entire 66.5 mile / 107.1 km route has been updated, with all aspects now comprised of animated objects with ground night lighting.
All Automatic Warning System (AWS) magnets are now comprised of beacons simulating the permanent magnets and electro-magnets of the real life system, and sections are now aligned with track circuit breaks and axle counter head locations.
All Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) induction loops are now simulated with beacons emulating the real life system in terms of induction loop spacing and frequencies.
There are four OHLE neutral sections modelled on the route, and all of these are now updated with UkTrainSys compatible beacons for the Automatic Power Control (APC) permanent magnets both before and after the neutral section, as well as denoting the start and end of the dead section of contact wire itself.
New signals awaiting commissioning (note the out-of-use covers), and modular AWS magnet objects
[Click to enlarge]
The other significant development, is that the project is now open to third party contributions, to speed up development and bring the release date closer. Ben Leahy is the first developer to contribute to the project by building objects, and I’d be more than happy to hear from you, if you think you’d be able to contribute some more high quality, efficiently coded 3D models for the route, leaving me free to concentrate on the systems and permanent way infrastructure.
Currently there’s a list of objects which need to be created and added to the route. These include:
- Station buildings from Kings Langley through to Rugby inclusive;
- A few lineside buildings, such as houses, warehouses and the like, to be positioned at various locations along the route, but especially at Roade, Weedon, and Rugby;
- A few road overbridges for the Weedon Line, as well as retaining walls at Weedon;
- Road vehicles for road bridges, and the section of M1 motorway at Watford Gap;
- Passing train objects.
If you think you can contribute any of the above, please get in touch and we can discuss options, and I’ll draw up an effective collaboration plan. Thanks 🙂
Blisworth pointwork and REBs – can you help by creating a new overbridge object for the site?
[Click to enlarge]
For more information about these ongoing projects:
Watford Junction to Rugby Project
UK Train System (UkTrainSys)
Cross-platform .NET Plugin
25th December 2010
openBVE v1.2.10 released, Cross-City South v1.31.11 update, and UkTrainSys v0.3.1.9 now available, with enhanced AWS and TPWS simulation, diesel multiple unit support, and various improvementsPosted by Anthony Bowden on 25th December 2010 at 11:15 pm
openBVE v1.2.10 released
openBVE has now reached v1.2.10, which marks the first stable release to feature cross-platform .NET support. This is great news for non-Windows users, who can benefit from the extended functionality, system simulation, and the AI support feature which new .NET plugins can provide. Please head over to the official openBVE homepage to download the latest stable release, as well as to read about the latest developments. Also, don’t forget to read the changelog, for a summary of various other changes which have taken place since v22.214.171.124.
openBVE users who also use my Cross-City South v1.31 route, should also note that the route is now updated for the new version of openBVE, and it also requires the latest version of the new UkTrainSys plugin for full simulation the class 323’s safety systems to be available, because I’ve now altered the route’s .Beacon commands to take full advantage of the enhanced realism of the new UkTrainSys AWS and TPWS implementation. More details can be found below…
UkTrainSys v0.3.1.9 now available, with enhanced TPWS and AWS simulation, diesel multiple unit support, and a few other enhancements
I’ve just released the next version of the UkTrainSys cross-platform plugin, which is now up to version 0.3.1.9. This latest release includes initial support for diesel multiple units. Other new features include the Vigilance Device reduced cycle time, far more realistic AWS and TPWS simulation, and several other improvements. Here follows some more information about the various features:
Diesel engine support:
UkTrainSys now has diesel engine support, which means that the plugin can be used with trains which rely on Simon Gathercole’s UKSpt.dll, such as Sprinters or the class 170 (although diesel locomotives are supported too, apart from ammeters and wheelslip protection – I’ll add these later). I’ve decided to recreate much of Simon’s complex diesel engine model, rather than the simple model. This means that UkTrainSys includes the requirement to hold the engine starter button down until the engines are running, as well as simulating the starter motor, and a percentage likelihood that the engine will stall on starting. I’ve also adapted the AI Support feature, so that the AI driver can start the diesel engine, even if it stalls, as well as restart the engine if it is shut down at any point.
Vigilance device with reduced cycle time:
It’s now possible to set an option within the UkTrainSys.cfg file, which enables the Vigilance Device reduced cycle time of 45 seconds, when the power notch is 6 or 7.
Firstly, I’ve now implemented a solution for the infamous anomalous multiple-arm phenomenon, which a few people have commented on, when openBVE’s AI driver is enabled for the first time in a driving session. You shouldn’t see any weird, freaky stuff going on in the cab any more, provided that you don’t look over your shoulder, at least. 😉
Secondly, when traction power is not meant to be available, openBVE’s internal reverser position is now set to neutral, whereas previously, only the power handle was set to zero. This means that regenerative braking is disabled when passing through a neutral section, for example.
Thirdly, I’ve also expanded the range of optional
Data values which can be recognised via
.Beacon 50 commands. UkTrainSys can now be informed of an upcoming terminal station, and this instructs the UkTrainSys AI Support implementation to leave the reverser alone after stopping, so that UkTrainSys and openBVE aren’t continually squabbling over their respective desires where the reverser handle position is concerned.
.Beacon 50 can now also be used to instruct the AI Support to lower the pantograph or stop the diesel engine upon the next station stop, after the doors have opened.
.Beacon 50 can also be used to inform UkTrainSys of an upcoming neutral section, now. As UkTrainSys will implement a tap changer in future, and a tap changer can take over 30 seconds to run down to notch 0, this beacon can be placed quite some distance ahead of a neutral section. When this neutral section beacon instruction is encountered, UkTrainSys begins monitoring the train’s speed, along with the distance to the neutral section, and decides when exactly to return the power handle to notch 0. UkTrainSys also checks to see if the tap changer is enabled or not, and if it is, the time taken to run down the tap changer is taken into account.
Lastly, the AI guard and related beacons, have been expanded to accommodate multiple stopping points at a station, and UkTrainSys selects which beacon to act upon, depending upon how many cars the player’s train has.
Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS):
For this release, I’ve also significantly increased the realism of the Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) implementation. With Simon’s previous generation of plugins written for BVE 4, the TPWS simulation seemed to be realistic to the end user, but it didn’t always work in a way which truly reflects how the real TPWS works. Thanks to openBVE, as well as openBVE’s API and documentation, I’ve been able to create a TPWS simulation which works just like the real thing, while also being backwards compatible with routes which were written with Simon’s BVE 4 plugins in mind.
For example, the implementation of the Overspeed Sensor System in Simon’s plugin, was a simplification of how the real OSS works. Simon’s plugin recognises the optional
Data parameter of a single
.Beacon 44002 or
.Beacon 44003 command, as a maximum permissible speed. If the train’s speed exceeds the set speed which is encoded in the .Beacon command’s
Data parameter, then the TPWS issues an OSS brake demand. This simplified system works well enough, however it doesn’t take acceleration or deceleration curves into account, for example, and it’s not how the real system works. My OSS implementation, works exactly like the real system.
UkTrainSys recognises a track mounted OSS as comprised of a pair of induction loops (beacons) – the arming loop, and the trigger loop. Where Simon’s plugin expects to read a set speed from only the trigger beacon, UkTrainSys can read a unique frequency from each beacon’s optional
Data parameter instead. The permissible OSS set speed, is now determined by the distance between the induction loops, just like in reality. Furthermore, UkTrainSys implements a pair of on-board OSS timers, and the OSS timeout period can be set in the UkTrainSys.cfg file, to suit a passenger or freight train – there is no need to edit a route file to accommodate both types of train. Each timer acts independently of the other, being armed by different arming frequencies, and this allows for realistic nesting and interleaving of induction loops, as well as realistic system behaviour when travelling backwards over induction loops.
The Trainstop Sensor System (TSS) implementation has also been made more realistic. With Simon’s plugins, a single beacon acts as the TSS installation, but with the real system, a pair of induction loops form the TSS – as with the OSS, there is an arming and trigger loop. UkTrainSys recognises TSS arming and trigger induction loops based upon frequencies specified via the optional
Data parameter of the .Beacon commands. When the plugin encounters a TSS arming beacon, one of two TSS detection states is activated, and only if a TSS trigger beacon with a suitable frequency is encountered while the arming beacon is still within “detection range”, will the TSS be functional. If a TSS trigger beacon is encountered without an arming beacon having activated the system, then the trigger beacon is ignored, as with the real system. Again, this means that induction loops can be nested and interleaved, and prototypical reverse direction behaviour can be simulated.
Automatic Warning System (AWS):
I’ve not only improved the realism of the TPWS simulation, but I’ve also implemented a more realistic implementation of the Automatic Warning System (AWS), as well. With Simon’s previous generation of BVE4 plugins, and the routes designed for use with them, a single beacon command is used to represent an AWS magnet. The new UkTrainSys AWS simulation also supports this legacy behaviour, but UkTrainSys can also now respond to an AWS permanent magnet, together with an AWS electromagnet. Both are defined via separate .Beacon commands, with a distinction between the magnetic polarity of the magnets defined via the optional
Data parameter. This allows for a fully realistic AWS simulation, using only one beacon type, whether associated with a signal or a speed restriction.
A beacon representing an AWS permanent magnet, plus a beacon representing an AWS electromagnet
[Click to enlarge]
When UkTrainSys encounters an AWS permanent magnet, the AWS is primed, the AWS sunflower instrument goes black, and a timeout period is started. If an energised AWS electromagnet is detected within this timeout period, then an AWS clear is issued (i.e. the bell/bing sound, and the sunflower instrument stays black). If no electromagnet is detected within the timeout period, then an AWS warning is issued when the timeout period expires, just like with the real AWS. This also allows for a slightly more realistic simulation of the AWS when travelling at very low speed over an AWS magnet associated with a signal showing a green aspect. At very low speeds, the AWS can be primed by the detection of the permanent magnet, but the timeout period can expire before the electromagnet is detected, which leads to an AWS warning being issued, even though the signal is green (Simon’s plugins also simulate this). However, with UkTrainSys, if you don’t cancel the AWS warning, it will actually clear itself when the electromagnet is detected, with the overall effect being an AWS warning horn followed by the bell/bing sound (assuming the electromagnet is detected before a brake demand is issued).
UkTrainSys also supports AWS suppression magnets, which are used on bi-directionally signalled lines. By inserting a suppression beacon before or after a permanent magnet beacon, an AWS inductor can be made to work in either a forward only direction, or backwards only direction. Should openBVE support networked tracks and bi-directionally signalled lines in future, this can far more easily allow for a fully realistic simulation of AWS under those circumstances.
A summary of the advantages of the new UkTrainSys TPWS and AWS implementation:
- Acceleration and deceleration curves are taken into account when traversing a TPWS OSS;
- TPWS induction loops can be nested or interleaved;
- Passenger and freight trains can have their own OSS timeout periods set, with no need to edit a route file to accommodate either train type;
- A single beacon type can be used to represent all kinds of track-mounted AWS installations;
- By defining the AWS permanent and electromagnets separately, a fully realistic AWS simulation can be achieved;
- AWS suppression is supported;
- The above features allow for fully realistic behaviour while travelling forwards or backwards over AWS inductors and TPWS loops;
- It’s more fun when the simulated systems work in the same way as the real systems, with the same advantages and disadvantages of the real systems;
- Lastly, it’s more future proof. Should openBVE support networked tracks or bi-directional signalling in future, I think the best way to ensure compatibility or ease of code maintenance, is to make the simulated systems work with the same principles, trigger events, inputs, outputs, and variables, as the real-world systems.
- Placing the TPWS related beacons is a little more difficult, but it’s really no big deal if the documentation is read, and you have a calculator, as well as the ability to type in a few numbers (which any openBVE developer has to be able to do anyway). 😉
- UkTrainSys can interpret the new frequency-based beacons in new routes, and it can interpret old speed-based beacons in existing routes (UkTrainSys is fully backwards compatible with legacy beacon commands in these routes), but Simon’s BVE 4 plugins won’t recognise the induction loop frequencies (or magnetic polarities) when encountered in new routes designed for openBVE and UkTrainSys.
- Two beacons now make up an AWS magnet associated with a signal, but it’s only slightly more trouble than using one beacon.
UkTrainSys configuration files for openBVE trains
I’ve also released a set of configuration files which can be used with a variety of DMUs and EMUs available from trainsimcentral. If you are a Linux or Mac user, and want to enjoy some UK diesel traction in openBVE, then you can simply extract the latest UkTrainSys.dll into any of the supported TSC train folders, and then extract the appropriate configuration files into each folder. If you are a Windows user, then you might like to experiment with the new fully realistic AWS and TPWS implementation within the UkTrainSys plugin (on existing routes to test the backwards compatible legacy behaviour, and on either Cross-City South v1.31.11 or the AWS/TPWS test route available below, to test the new simulation). I would certainly appreciate any feedback. Please bear in mind that the guard’s buzzer sounds might play more times than they should – UkTrainSys expects the buzzer sound file to contain only one buzz sound, whereas these trains may contain two buzzes in the relevant sound file.
For more information and the latest downloads, plus complete documentation and example code snippets, please visit the UkTrainSys project page:
UK Train System (UkTrainSys)
Cross-platform .NET Plugin
[v0.3.1.9 now available]
AWS and TPWS test route for use with UkTrainSys (or any supported train class), and Cross-City South v1.31.11 update
As with the enhanced neutral section and Automatic Power Control feature included in the last UkTrainSys release, for this latest version, I’ve prepared a test route so that the new AWS and TPWS implementation can be tested. I’ve also updated Cross-City South to v1.31.11, and the openBVE route files now utilise the realistic AWS and TPWS simulation features of the UkTrainSys plugin.
The AWS and TPWS test route is around 7 km in length, and demonstrates a variety of AWS and TPWS installations. Each signal is held at red until a preset time, and you can either drive safely or commit SPADs to test that AWS and TPWS are working correctly. There is also a signal and a permanent speed restriction located near to each other, which requires the co-location of a TPWS OSS associated with the signal, plus another OSS associated with the permanent speed restriction. The OSS induction loops at this location are interleaved, and you can test how this works when the signal is red or otherwise. You can also practice driving at normal and extremely slow speeds over AWS magnets, to see how the dual magnet detection works, especially when a signal aspect is green. There is also a single track section, which is equipped with AWS suppression magnets, and you can drive forwards and backwards along the route to test this feature, as well.
Updated AWS inductor screenshots – Cross-City South v2.0 and Watford Junction to Rugby
While coding the latest UkTrainSys updates, I updated the AWS magnet objects which I’m using in my work-in-progress routes. As UkTrainSys now recognises both AWS permanent magnets and electromagnets separately, I thought I’d separate out these parts of the existing AWS magnet into their own respective object files, so they can be easily assigned to beacon or freeobj structure indices, as appropriate. Here are some examples…
In the first screenshot, is an AWS permanent magnet associated with a fixed distant signal, which has a protection ramp on both sides, as this is a stretch of bi-directional line. In the second, the same applies, except an AWS electromagnet beacon is also in place. In the remaining screenshots, are permanent magnets associated with permanent speed restriction advance warning boards, which have only one ramp, as these tracks are uni-directional. These objects will be included in the UK Railway Infrastructure Object Library, however you can actually download and use them now, as they are included with the AWS and TPWS test route (see above).
Also, here are some examples of full AWS permanent and electromagnet installations on the Watford Junction to Rugby route:
West Coast Main Line Video
Lastly, anyone with an interest in the real West Coast Main Line, might like to take a look at a video which I uploaded to YouTube recently, which features the Old Linslade and Leighton Buzzard areas – two locations I’m modelling in my representation of the Watford Junction to Rugby section of the WCML. Those of you who noticed or commented on the Train Operated Warning System I demonstrated in my last openBVE video (the rotating orange lights with audible warnings), can now watch the real system in action.
This footage was filmed in October 2004 to assist me with developing this part of the route (only in standard definition unfortunately), but you’ll see a couple of class 87s which were still in service at the time. Also featured, are ubiquitous Pendolinos, class 321 EMUs, as well as classes 58, 60 and 66 diesels, and class 90 and 92 25kV AC electric locos. Don’t forget to change to 480p resolution for the best image quality.
Lastly, I’d just like to wish visitors a happy and peaceful Christmas, and say thanks for all the interest shown in my work so far. 🙂
26th November 2010
UkTrainSys plugin update; enhanced simulation of neutral sections and Automatic Power Control, neutral section test route released, and new screenshots showing improved Brecknell Willis Highspeed pantograph models and new sunset backdropsPosted by Anthony Bowden on 26th November 2010 at 9:25 pm
Firstly, I just wanted to say thank you for the positive reception with which the UkTrainSys cross-platform .NET plugin has been received; this was very nice to see! Based on feedback, I’ve now updated the UkTrainSys plugin, so that the AI driver will operate the Driver Reminder Appliance en-route. I’ve also implemented an enhanced neutral section and Automatic Power Control simulation, but first, a little background information might be in order…
Neutral section (phase break) installations
For those who don’t know, a neutral section (or phase break), isolates different phases of the power supply being fed to the overhead electrification system from each other. This is accomplished by inserting a short length of insulated material into the contact wire, which the pantograph head can still slide across at speed. In the UK, I gather these insulated sections are typically comprised of glass-fibre rods with ceramic collars threaded on to them, with the total length of the neutral section itself, being only around 4 metres.
At either side of the neutral section, are a pair of track mounted magnets, called APC (Automatic Power Control) magnets. Whenever an APC receiver on an electric train detects these magnets, the APC system flips the state of the air-blast/vacuum circuit breaker (ACB/VCB) between the pantograph and the on-train traction equipment, interrupting or connecting the supply from the pantograph and overhead line.
Thus, when a train approaches the first pair of magnets prior to a neutral section, the ACB/VCB is commanded open, such that there is no power being drawn from the overhead line when passing through the neutral section (this prevents the pantograph from drawing an arc and accidentally connecting one of the power supply phases to earth – the neutral section cantilever/support tubes are earthed so that the two separated phases aren’t connected in the event of an arc). When the train passes the second pair of APC magnets after the neutral section, the ACB/VCB is commanded closed again, and power from the overhead line can be taken.
See the illustration to the left, for an overview of the installation. The yellow arrow indicates the direction of travel; the red line indicates which parts of the contact wire are still live, even if the Automatic Power Control system has opened the train’s air-blast/vacuum circuit breaker, and finally, the blue line shows the location of the neutral section itself.
Updated UkTrainSys cross-platform .NET plugin (v0.3.1.3), with enhanced neutral section and APC simulation
Anyway, an updated version of the UkTrainSys plugin is now available together with the class 323’s 3D cab (version 0.3.1.3 – downloads can be found further down), and I’ve made some improvements to the simulation of electric trains. Firstly, I’ve modified the pantograph behaviour – when the pantograph is rising or lowering, pressing the Up/Reset or Down button has no effect until either operation is completed. Pressing the Up/Reset button when the pantograph is already raised, will just re-close the air-blast/vacuum circuit breaker (ACB/VCB) if it’s open.
Secondly, and more importantly, I’ve significantly improved the simulation of neutral sections, and Automatic Power Control. Now, the APC magnets and the actual neutral section itself can be declared separately. This means that every time the correctly defined APC magnet beacon is passed, it will flip the current state of the train’s ACB/VCB. This however, does not affect the actual availability of line voltage from the contact wire.
What this means, is that if the ACB/VCB is tripped open by an APC magnet, but your train stalls because you weren’t travelling fast enough, you can now manually re-close the ACB/VCB by pressing the pantograph up/reset button. If the train’s pantograph is not within the separately defined 4 metre long neutral section, you can take power from the overhead supply once again, and move the train backwards or forwards as appropriate, so you can try to build up enough speed in order to coast through the neutral section without stalling, this time. If the train’s pantograph does stop within the neutral section, then line voltage is not available, even if you try to re-close the ACB/VCB. In this case, you have to hope that your train is on a gradient, such that if the brakes are released, the train will roll out of the neutral section due to gravity. If this isn’t possible, then you have some explaining to do!
There is a more interesting aspect to this, though – with UkTrainSys, you can now drive backwards through a neutral section, not just forwards, and still have the full simulation experience. On a unit like the 323, (I think) the APC receiver is located on the bogie beneath the pantograph, on the second coach. The beacon receiver on an openBVE train is located at the front of the train, however – where the driver is (thereabouts). If travelling forwards, then when the front of the train passes an APC magnet beacon, this triggers a point-based event, and a check can then be performed, which will only carry out the ACB/VCB operation when the train is so many metres beyond the beacon; i.e the distance between the front of the train, and the location of where the APC receiver is supposed to be. But what happens if the train is travelling backwards? The location where the APC receiver is supposed to be, will pass the APC beacon before what is now the rear of the train (where the driver and openBVE’s beacon receiver are located), will pass the beacon, and hence trigger a beacon related event. This obviously won’t work properly, as the action triggered by the beacon, won’t happen until it’s beneath the driver’s position, which is too late when travelling backwards.
So, the UkTrainSys plugin now includes what I’m calling the “Offset Beacon Receiver Manager” (OBRM). Whenever the UkTrainSys plugin passes an APC magnet beacon while travelling forwards, the plugin stores information about the beacon in an array. The stored information includes the beacon type, it’s location, it’s optional data, and an offset distance which equates to the distance between the front of the train, and the location of where the APC receiver is supposed to be. The OBRM continually checks whether the train is currently travelling forwards or backwards, and whether the APC receiver location has passed the actual beacon location, taking direction of travel into account. When the trigger point occurs, the OBRM issues a command to the APC system, rather than doing this via the SetBeacon() method. The only other thing to mention, is that jumping to a station clears the encountered beacon history, so you actually have to drive forwards over a beacon for it to be stored by the OBRM.
This means that you can drive an EMU like the 323 through a neutral section backwards, but it also means that a Driving Van Trailer (DVT) with an electric loco pushing a rake of coaches from behind, can respond to the APC magnets at the correct time and location, whether travelling forwards or backwards, too.
Short neutral section test route, for use with UkTrainSys and the class 323 with 3D cab
I’ve prepared a short test route so that you can try this new feature. The route includes two neutral sections; the first on level track, and the second on an incline. Using the class 323 with the latest version of the 3D cab update and UkTrainSys plugin, you can drive through the neutral sections and play with the new behaviour.
On the first run, just pass through a neutral section as normal – it should seem pretty much identical to the neutral section experience in Network West Midlands, using Simon Gathercole’s BVE 4 UKMUt plugin.
On the second run, you can do things differently though – approach a neutral section slowly, and let your pantograph (where the APC receiver is located) pass the first pair of APC magnets, such that the VCB is tripped open, and then apply the brakes and come to a halt. You’ll note that the Line Volts indicator extinguishes, the VCB indicator light illuminates, and that you can’t take traction power – your train appears stuck. However, when the 323 has stopped, you can now reset the VCB by placing the reverser to Neutral and pressing the ‘2’ key – you should hear the VCB closing with a thud. Provided your pantograph is in contact with a live section of overhead line, the Line Volts indicator will illuminate again, and the VCB indicator will extinguish. Now you can take traction power. But what happens if your train is so close to the dead section of overhead line, that you can’t accelerate enough to coast through the neutral section, without stalling? You have to go to the external view by pressing ‘F2’, so you can see what side of the neutral section your pantograph is on, and choose whether to move the train forwards or backwards, such that you can take a “run up” at the neutral section, next time.
If you do stop with your pantograph in contact with the neutral section itself, then there is no line voltage, and resetting the VCB or lowering and raising the pantograph won’t change this. If you are on level track, your train is stuck there (you can cheat, and jump to another station, though). If however, you are on a gradient (the second neutral section is on an incline), then you can move the reverser to Neutral, and move the power handle to Off, and then release the brakes. Your train will now begin to roll backwards due to gravity (in reality, you would need permission from the signaller to do this). When your pantograph makes contact with a live section of overhead line again, the Line Volts indicator will light up, and you can take traction power again. If you continue rolling backwards, you’ll pass the APC magnet prior to the neutral section – this will trip open your VCB, despite heading away from the neutral section, and you’ll have to apply the brakes, stop the train, move the reverser to Neutral, and press the ‘2’ key to reset the VCB. Once done, you can take power, and go back as far enough as is required, to build enough speed in the forward direction to successfully coast through the neutral section.
Screenshots showing new sunset backdrops, and improved Brecknell Willis Highspeed pantograph models
Finally, I’ve been busy taking photos of sunsets again this week, and I just wanted to post a few more screenshots of the latest enhancement to the Cross-City South v2.0 and Watford Junction to Rugby routes. I’ve also, finally, got around to improving the Brecknell Willis Highspeed pantograph model, which now includes a full 3D pantograph head, with textures used throughout:
I hope you like the latest developments. 🙂
20th November 2010
New cross-platform .NET plugin for UK trains released, class 323 3D cab and Cross-City South v1.31.09 update, openBVE v1.2.9 development branch, .NET plugins and AI supportPosted by Anthony Bowden on 20th November 2010 at 7:30 am
New cross-platform .NET plugin for UK trains (EMUs currently), 323 3D cab / X-City South v1.31.09 updates, and openBVE v1.2.9 AI support
After the latest development branch of openBVE (v1.2.9 series) was released last month, I started work on a new open source, cross-platform plugin written in C#, which I wanted to be a suitable alternative to the plugin currently used by the class 323 EMU. Simon Gathercole’s UKMUt.dll has served me well since BVE Trainsim 4 was released, but after the latest openBVE developments, I knew the time had come to create a new plugin which could be developed to take advantage of the new possibilities which openBVE now provides. I also wanted to create a plugin which could be updated as openBVE develops, either by myself, or with help from other programmers and developers, so that the community doesn’t need to experience plugin-related problems for too long.
This new plugin is called UkTrainSys (short for UK Train System of course); it is modular in design, and aims to simulate a variety of systems that trains which run on the UK’s rail network may be equipped with. Initially, I’m working to recreate as much of the functionality found in Simon Gathercole’s range of BVE 4 plugins as necessary, although some new features are included as well. So far, the plugin features the following:
- Automatic Warning System (AWS);
- Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS);
- Driver Reminder Appliance (DRA);
- Vigilance Device;
- Traction and brake interlocks;
- Battery which can be discharged, recharged and overloaded;
- Overhead supply;
- Pantograph and vacuum circuit breaker;
- Automatic Power Control;
- Power supply and electrical system circuit breakers (more for future use);
- In-cab blower;
- Head and tail lights;
- AI guard for station stop monitoring and buzzer codes;
- AI Support which assists openBVE’s AI human driver in handling systems simulated by the plugin automatically
(including support for visible in-cab driver’s hands and arms).
Note: Wipers, windscreen rain effects and diesel engine simulation are yet to be started. I’m also planning for various other systems to be inlcuded in future, such as TPWS+ (TPWS Plus), RETB, ERTMS, random failures, and a tap changer.
Users of trains which include plugins developed for BVE 4, will likely know that when openBVE’s AI human driver is enabled, the AI driver may not always be able to operate a plugin enabled train correctly, simply because openBVE has no way of knowing what systems are simulated by a plugin, and even if openBVE did know what systems were simulated, it still wouldn’t know what to do with them. Hence, the new UkTrainSys plugin uses openBVE v1.2.9’s AI Support feature, which lets the plugin assist openBVE’s AI human driver with operating the systems which are simulated by the plugin.
When you start a route, and enable openBVE’s AI human driver by pressing Ctrl+A, while using the latest release of the class 323’s 3D cab in combination with the UkTrainSys plugin (see below for the download), you will see the AI driver’s arms and hands reach out for the controls, and interact with them whenever necessary. The AI human driver will run through the startup and self-test procedure for you, pressing the AWS reset button, raising the pantograph if required, and setting the taillights and headlights. The plugin takes the time-of-day into account, so the correct headlight setting is chosen based upon the in-game time (and updated as the day goes on). The AI driver will deactivate the DRA before departure, respond to the guard’s buzzer signal with a buzzer response, cancel AWS warnings as they occur, respond to TPWS brake demands, re-raise the pantograph if it is lowered mid-journey, and so-on. The UkTrainSys plugin’s AI Support will also respond to a new beacon type, which instructs the AI driver to blow the horn at certain locations.
The UkTrainSys plugin also has it’s own project homepage, where just the plugin, source code, current and planned feature list, changelog and documentation can be found. Train developers with an interest is using the UkTrainSys plugin, now or in future, may wish to visit the following page and read the documentation.
Note: If you have downloaded the updated class 323’s 3D cab with the pre-configured UkTrainSys plugin, remember that you should not overwrite the UkTrainSys.cfg file included with the class 323 3D cab update!
UK Train System (UkTrainSys)
Cross-platform .NET Plugin
[Alpha release now available]
I’ve also been working on some new backdrops for both Cross-City South v2.0 and Watford Junction to Rugby. I was happy with the daytime backdrops which you’ve all seen already, but the sky portions of the last set of sunset and sunrise backdrops were entirely hand-made (replacing low resolution BVE4-era images), and I wanted to replace these with photographic textures of a similar quality to the daytime backdrops instead. Fortunately, there as been some favourable weather during the past few days, so I was able to take some nice photographs. Here are the new sunrise and sunset scenes, shown with the 323’s latest 3D cab update, and the openBVE v1.2.9 / UkTrainSys plugin enabled AI support feature in use:
Recent openBVE v1.2.9 development branch updates
Towards the beginning of the November, openBVE v126.96.36.199 was released (now up to v188.8.131.52), and Michelle introduced a new set of experimental preprocessing directives. These take the form of $if(), $else() and $endif(), and obviously, these allow for conditional parsing of blocks of code within a route file. This can be an alternative means of achieving what can be accomplished with the $Include directive, which is handy when only a small block of code needs to be conditional.
Personally, I’m finding this very handy for such features as temporary speed restrictions (TSRs). In this scenario, I can randomly introduce TSRs at different locations, so routes can be rather more fun to drive. At the start of the file, we can declare a variable $Sub(0), which has a random number assigned from within a certain range, and then use the value stored in $Sub(0) as a condition which is used by $if() directives. If the value held by $Sub(0) is zero, then the code within any $if() block which depends upon this variable is not used, but if the value is greater than zero, then it is. By using the $else() directive, we can show something else if the TSR is not to be included, such as discarded sections of old rail, left there by the track workers after they made their repairs and removed the TSR. Spate indicators could be handled in a similar way.
$Sub(100) = $Rnd(0;1)
; Enclose the route commands related to a TSR within $if()/$else()/$endif() directives…
3000, .Beacon 44001;0, ; portable AWS magnet
3183, .Freeobj 0;0, ; 20 mph TSR advanced warning board
4200, .Freeobj 0;1, .Limit 33;0, ; commencement of 20 mph TSR
4305, .Freeobj 0;3;5, ; no TSR so show discarded old rails instead
4400, .Freeobj 0;2, .Limit 97;0, ; termination of TSR
It’s also possible to use these new preprocessing directives elsewhere in the route file. For example, a different object could be assigned to a free object index, depending upon a condition being true. You can also nest these new preprocessing directives; i.e. place $if/$else()/$endif() selection statements within other selection statements, for example:
4200, .Freeobj 0;1, .Limit 33;0, ; commencement of 20 mph TSR
4205, .Freeobj 0;4;-4, ; track workers shown based upon another $Sub variable but only if the TSR is shown
4305, .Freeobj 0;3;5, ; no TSR so show discarded old rails instead
Support for these new preprocessor directives is still experimental, and not guaranteed to be included in the next stable release of openBVE, however I’ve not encountered a problem with the feature thus far, at least with regard to the things I’d like to use the feature for, and it’s really very easy to use. Some more testing would be beneficial, but I hope the feature stays, and I’ll certainly be making use of it if it does.
Other news – Chashinai .NET plugin updated with AI support, new Network West Midlands video, and FEVF railway updates
In case you weren’t aware, the new cross-platform .NET plugin which is used by the trains which run on the Chashinai Railway, was updated earlier this month to include AI support, which is a lot of fun, especially with the Chashinai 9000 series train complete with ATS-Sn, ATS-P, ATC and TASC. As with the new UkTrainSys plugin, the updated Chashinai Railway plugin’s AI support assists openBVE’s AI human driver in operating the safety systems, so you can enable the AI human driver and even watch the startup procedures handled by the AI driver. The plugin source code is available as well, of course.
Chashinai Railway Takahagi Line (9000 series train, ATS-P, AI driver enabled)
I also wanted to quickly mention that Steve Green has posted a short YouTube video of the upcoming Network West Midlands 2010 update, demonstrating animated level crossing barriers interlocked with the signalling, together with updated objects such as a new AWS magnet, which I thought looked really good:
14th October 2010
11th July 2010
openBVE v184.108.40.206 released, new Railsimroutes.net site design, Cross-City South v1.31.07 and miscellaneous project updates, Watford Junction to Rugby screenshot featured in the UK’s PC Gamer Magazine, Genova Brignole – Recco route (as far as Genova Nervi) releasedPosted by Anthony Bowden on 11th July 2010 at 6:00 am
openBVE v220.127.116.11 released
Today sees the release of openBVE v18.104.22.168, and some interesting changes have taken place. To begin with, the handling of key and joystick buttons has been revised, and key repeat is now possible. This means that you can hold a key down, and after a short delay, the keypress will be repeated continuously until the key is released again. I’m glad that openBVE now supports this functionality, and this is great for quickly moving a power handle to the limit of it’s travel without having to keep tapping the key, or for sounding the horn in a long and loud fashion, for example. The fly-by camera has also been improved, and now, the leading vehicle (of the nearest train) is tracked by the camera, which is great for loco-hauled trains in particular. 🙂
Superelevation is now simulated differently as well; in previous versions, when cant was applied, the train would simply rotate around it’s z-axis, but now, the outer wheel is raised instead. Cant is also interpolated better now, leading to smoother transitions between differing levels of cant. I’m currently rebuilding the canted track objects used by my routes to make better use of these openBVE improvements, such that the wheels will remain on the rails when passing along superelevated track, and the cant transitions at either end of such sections:
Screenshot showing superelevation in openBVE v22.214.171.124 and Cross-City South v2.0.
Note the wheels touching the rails throughout the transition curve (scenery is not finished yet).
Cant behaviour can also be adjusted now, via the new 'Options.CantBehavior' command. Previously, cant was always applied towards the curve centre, i.e. banking inwards, and this couldn’t be overidden. Also, it wasn’t possible to have cant on straight track. Now though, cant be in either direction, regardless of the direction of the curve, and cant can be applied on straight track too. How might this be useful for simulating a real railway? Well, on the 11th July last year (exactly a year ago as it happens), I was unexpectedly invited for a visit to the preserved Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway, and this line has a curve known as Chicken curve, and one peculiar feature was that the cant at this location leaned outward from the curve rather than inwards. So, openBVE can simulate this too, now. Class 20 “chopper” (20154) was our traction on the day, and here’s a photo for fans of the class 20, which I took before we departed from Toddington:
In the cab of a class 20 loco at Toddington, on the
preserved Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway.
The simulation of track inaccuracy has been overhauled, too. Previously, the familiar cab and vehicle sway was achieved with horizontal and vertical movement, but now, cant inaccuracy and bounce is also modelled, and cars rock from side to side as well as moving vertically and horizontally. While we were testing the new inaccuracy model, I found that this was an interesting way to represent the effect of travelling over more poorly maintained jointed rails. I’ve made some adjustments to the track accuracy in the newly udpated Cross-City South v1.31.07 (see below for download), and travelling over pointwork or on the jointed rail sections of the Cross-City South, should be a little more interesting now, especially when the class 323’s 3D cab is used. 🙂
Essentially, I think .Accuracy values of 0 to 2.0 are suitable for continuous welded rail, and values of 2.1 to 4 are suitable for jointed rails. I’m aware that not everyone may be sure about the new inaccuracy model, however I think it works well when used sensibly, and I would also point out that the development release has been publicly available for testing for at least three weeks, so if you don’t like it, you’ve missed your chance to give feedback prior to the latest stable release. Nevertheless, if you have any comments, please let us know. Personally I prefer the new algorithm and enjoy the representation it can give when accompanied by the sounds of jointed rails, but some may prefer the old; please give it a try with the updated Cross-City South v1.31.07 and class 323 3D cab though (see below), as this update shows what the new inaccuracy model can do. Also bear in mind that you may only prefer the old algorithm because you’re used to it, not because it was more realistic; the old algorithm had it’s limitations.
Also, BVE4 style timetable textures can now be displayed when 3D cabs are used, and not just with legacy 2D panels, although this is considered an experimental feature. The timetable texture can be shown as part of the in-game user interface overlay, or as part of a 3D cab (animated object); if the latter is not specifically catered for within the 3D cab, then the former is the default behaviour. Adding BVE4 style timetables to a 3D cab is easy to do; I would recommend simply creating an object with a four-vertex mesh and default texture applied (which is shown if there is no timetable image to display), and add this object to your panel.animated file. Then, make use of the new 'TextureOverride =' command:
SetTextureCoordinates,0, 0, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,1, 1, 0
SetTextureCoordinates,2, 1, 1
SetTextureCoordinates,3, 0, 1
States = 3d_cab\timetable.csv
TextureOverride = timetable
I’ve added the aforementioned timetable functionality to the class 323’s 3D cab, but it’s commented out by default, as displaying the timetable images via openBVE’s UI overlay makes more sense where the Cross-City South and class 323 are concerned, plus the feature is still experimental.
You can download the update here, and if you want to experiment with the 'TextureOverride =' command, please see the included ‘Readme_3DCab.txt’ file:
→ 3D cab for unrefurbished class 323 – July 2010 [1.7 MiB]
For more detailed information about the new cant behaviour, and timetable support in .animated objects, please read the official openBVE documentation. For details of all the changes introduced with the v126.96.36.199 release of openBVE, including those not mentioned here, please see the changelog.
Cross-City South v1.31.07 update
As openBVE v188.8.131.52 has been released, I’ve updated Cross-City South v1.31 to remove an obsolete timetable texture, changed some of the timetable images to make them suitable for both openBVE and BVE4, and made adjustments to track inaccuracy to take better advantage of openBVE v184.108.40.206’s new track inaccuracy model. I’ve renamed the route folders to more clearly indicate which sets of routes should be used with openBVE, BVE 4 or BVE 2, as well. I’ve also decided to finally split the openBVE routes away from the BVE 4 routes, as testing every openBVE improvement across numerous route files for 100% backwards compatibility with BVE 4 is somewhat inconvenient, and this also lets me get rid of all those pesky "detail levels" in the openBVE route folder, as these simply aren’t needed with openBVE. The new naming convention is as follows, and should be much clearer (the BVE 2 foldername is as it is, so it’ll fit within the size constraints of BVE 2’s small file selection list):
Cross-City South v1.31.05 users can download a smaller update here, which updates v1.31.05 to v1.31.07:
If you have an earlier version of Cross-City South installed, or you’re not sure which version you already have, please download the full version instead.
Genova Brignole – Recco route (as far as Genova Nervi thus far) for openBVE released
I wanted to mention that a fantastic new route has been released for openBVE, the Italian Genova Brignole – Recco route (as far as Genova Nervi thus far, and 8.1 Km in length). This is one of the most graphically excellent routes I’ve seen to date, with superb textures, and I’m impressed; the route is beautiful. There are some animated objects to enjoy, and staggered catenary as well, which is great to see; pedantic people like me will note that some registration arms pull in the wrong direction, though. 😉
You’ll likely need to read the included PDF instructions before operating the newly released ALn501 – Minuetto v2 train, but it’s well worth the effort. Incidentally, the train comes with some very detailed exterior car objects. These look very nice, although they would benefit from the addition of custom normals to smoothly shade some of the surfaces. Please note that these exterior car objects may have quite an impact on your framerate; even on my Core 2 Quad Q9650 / GeForce GTX 260 system, I get around 30fps in the external view, which is down from anywhere between 80 – 300 fps in the cab view. If you have a slow PC, you may want to stay in the cab. I’m looking forward to seeing this route develop further. 🙂
The Italian Genova Brignole – Recco route (as far as Genova Nervi thus far), available
from BVEMania (Trenomania) (see the Download section)
I’m officially announcing the Railsimroutes.net UK Railway Infrastructure Object Library today, which will contain all the objects and textures which are shared between my two upcoming openBVE route projects, Birmingham Cross-City South v2.0, and Watford Junction to Rugby v1.0. This library will be maintained by me, and all developers will be welcome to install and use this library with their own projects, without any conditions or requirement to seek permission.
The library will contain all sorts of objects, including track, catenary, signals, lineside objects, some basic scenery, and so-on, which might help to make new routes easier to develop. It will also have the advantage, that whenever I update the library, perhaps with higher quality textures or better objects, any routes which call upon the library, will also get updated. I’ll plan it carefully, to ensure that changes remain backwards compatible. I anticipate that the library will be released along with Cross-City South v2.0 initially, and then it’ll receive it’s first update when Watford Junction to Rugby is ready.
UK Railway Infrastructure Object Library
[Now in development]
Next, as you may have noticed, I’ve decided to increase the version number of my upcoming Cross-City South upgrade for openBVE, from version 1.4, to version 2.0. I think I’m making enough changes and enhancements to the route, to justify a version 2.0 release instead. 🙂
I’ve also updated the openBVE Help and Information section to cover the installation of openBVE in Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx). It’s hard to imagine how installing openBVE via the Ubuntu Software Centre could be any easier, and installing openBVE via this method, also makes installing and running the latest official openBVE release with Mono, easier too. I’ve decided to remove the instructions explaining how to run openBVE with Wine, as I’m experiencing problems with the version of Wine available for install with Ubuntu 10.04, relating to GDI+ (and the problem isn’t just occurring with openBVE, either). Perhaps something to do with a Beta release of Wine being supplied rather than a stable release, I don’t know. Running with Mono is much easier though, if you can live without plugin DLLs.
openBVE Help and Information updated for Ubuntu 10.04 users
I was lucky enough to have one of my screenshots published in the July issue of the UK edition of PC Gamer magazine, where I also gave a brief overview of the work being undertaken on openBVE 2. I will admit that it was nice to handle such a press enquiry! Here’s the screenshot which was chosen for the article, shown amongst screenshots of various simulators, such as Railworks, X-Plane, Sail Simulator, Space Shuttle Mission Simulator, and others:
The Watford Junction to Rugby screenshot chosen to appear in simulation
article “The Realists”, in the July 2010 issue of the UK edition of the
best selling PC Gamer magazine.
Incidentally, I also want to apologise for the lack of progress with my routes, and for posting so many screenshots and not delivering anything, which I feel that some of you are not impressed by. This is mainly due to me working on openBVE 2, which means that I don’t have much time to devote to the routes at the moment. openBVE 2 is a priority though, and a fantastic experience for me, so I hope fans of my routes will understand. Besides, both routes will run even better in openBVE 2, anyway. I know that the routes look more-or-less finished already, but they’re not – there are such issues as missing track in places, performance optimisations which still to be carried out, and an entire missing station to deal with at Rugby, to name but a few examples. I don’t make a habit of releasing junk and expecting people to be happy with it, so the projects won’t be released until I’m satisfied that a decent standard of quality has been achieved; that doesn’t mean they have to be perfect in every way, just not a disappointment.
New Railsimroutes.net site design
As regular visitors will have hopefully noticed, I’ve redesigned the website, as I felt it needed an update, and I also wanted to put some updated website design skills into practice. The site was last redesigned in 2007 with a theme called “Modern”, characterised by a metallic grey colour scheme and smoothly shaded backgrounds, where Windows users would have been greeted with the Tahoma font throughout, and it was designed to be XHTML 1.0 and CSS Level 2 compliant. However, the content of the site wasn’t reorganised very much since the time of the previous “Retro Blue” design, and over time it became somewhat cluttered and untidy in my view.
This latest redesign is the fourth incarnation of the site, with a new theme called “Clarity” (hopefully it might live up to it’s name ;)). The new design is meant to be clearer, better organised, and easier to read. The site has been completely rebuilt from scratch; PHP is now used as well as HTML, and much of the site is XHTML 1.1 and CSS Level 3 compliant. I’ve tested the new site using Firefox 3, Internet Explorer 8, Opera 10, Chrome 5, and Safari 5, and everything works well. The site also works just fine in Internet Explorer 7 and earlier too (tested as far back as IE 5.5), but if you use one of those older Microsoft browsers, you might notice a minor rendering issue around the style selector dropdown box in the footer of each page. Essentially, I’m not happy having to devote much time to dealing with the quirks of browsers which aren’t properly compliant with more recent web standards, partly because it’s just annoying, but also because catering for them can lead to such browsers outliving their welcome (IE 6 springs to mind!). So, if you use Internet Explorer 7 or earlier and want perfect rendering, I would recommend upgrading to Internet Explorer 8 if possible, which is just fine.
I’ve also decided to reorganise the content of the site somewhat. The navigation bar has been expanded with the addition of Gallery and Help links, and the Projects and Downloads section has been overhauled to place emphasis on active projects, and non-help related information. Much more background information and history concerning my route projects is provided now, and information and downloads should be easier to find when they’re ready for release. You’ll also find a "What I’m currently working on" infobox at the top right of this page, which you can check to see what I’m up to, between blog posts. 🙂
I’ve taken the decision to remove some old sections of the site which never received much of my attention, and I’ve moved my old BVE 2 and 4 add-ons into their own de-emphasised legacy add-ons section, as they’re not really reflective of the quality of work I’m now producing; the emphasis is now placed on my upcoming openBVE projects instead. I’ve also introduced a sitemap, as a couple of people have indicated that some information was harder to find, previously.
I’ve also used a different selection of fonts this time:
- Windows 7 and Vista users will get the Segoe UI font throughout (along with the rather nice Consolas for code snippets), giving the best appearance.
- Windows XP users will also get the Segoe UI font, if Windows Live Essentials applications have been installed (for example, Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery or Writer), or if Office 2007/2010 has been installed. XP users will also get the Consolas font with Office 2007/2010, or this can be downloaded free from Microsoft’s website. If neither Windows Live Essentials or Office 2007/2010 have been installed, but the free Microsoft Powerpoint Viewer 2007 is installed, then Candara (along with Consolas) will be seen instead. If none of these have been installed, then Trebuchet MS (along with Courier New for code snippets) will be seen, which are fonts included with Windows XP.
- Others will likely see generic sans serif and monospace fonts (although these look very nice in Ubuntu Linux, for example).
Incidentally, I experimented with CSS3’s @font-face declaration for embedding fonts, so that a consistent text style would be seen regardless of which fonts are installed locally on someone’s computer. This does indeed work fine, but I haven’t yet decided upon a set of fonts which I like, and which are also released with acceptable non-restrictive licencing terms, so that I can host the fonts on my own server without issues. I’ll explore this again in future, however.
More observant visitors will have noticed that I’ve also renamed the site slightly. I’ve dropped the “UK” part of “Rail Sim Routes UK”, and the site is now called “Railsimroutes.net” instead. The site is still available via two domain names, railsimroutes.net and railsimroutes.co.uk; I have no plans to retire the .co.uk domain, although you might want to update your bookmarks if you still use it.
Anyway, I hope you like the new Railsimroutes.net design. 🙂
Tags: Animated Objects, Artwork, Cross-City South, Functions, openBVE, openBVE 2, openBVE Community, Screenshots, Site News, Watford Jn to Rugby
Posted in openBVE, openBVE 2, Site News | 34 Comments »