JMRI: Signaling Quickstart
The following step by step instructions describe in detail how to set up
Signaling in JMRI.
Start to use JMRI Signaling in 7 steps
Thanks to Suzie Tall.
- Launch PanelPro and from the Tools > Tables > Turnouts menu add the turnouts on
your layout to the Turnout Table.
- Next add the physical signals you installed on the layout to the Signal Mast Table:
Pick one of the available Signaling Systems,
such as AAR-2 in our
example, and stick with that. It is a bit of a faff but not too much work. (For more
information on the individual signaling systems distributed with JMRI, see this page; for more info on how this works, see the
page on aspect signaling)
- The easiest way: if you are using an accessory decoder that can drive the Signal
Masts natively and supports the NMRA Standard 9.2.1 Extended Accessory Protocol
add the Signal Mast using the 'DCC Signal Mast Decoder driver' and when prompted, input
the Aspect numbers configured in your decoder against each Aspect. Decoders like the
Signalist SC1 have different Signal Mast types
preconfigured and you just select the correct table with a CV and get the Aspect
numbers from the manual. Other decoders will need some setting up to define the Aspects
to be displayed to an Aspect number. See your decoder manual for what to do here.
- If you have more basic signal decoders (the Digitrax SE8c for example) or a command
station that does not support the Extended Accessory Protocol (Lenz for example) you
will first have to configure the individual Signal Heads that make up each Signal Mast
in the Signal Head Table and then go to the Signal Mast Table, add the appropriate
Signal Mast Type (eg. AAR-2 Triple Head Searchlight) and configure it using the Signal
Head Controlled Mast driver, adding in the Signal Heads that you have previously
- Go back to the front screen of PanelPro and from the Panel > New... menu create a
new panel with Layout Editor and draw your track plan.
- Right click on the Turnouts and anchor points on the panel where you want signals and
choose 'Set SignalMasts'. You can then choose from the list of Signal Masts that you
entered in the Signal Mast Table for each possible location. Not all anchorpoints or
turnouts will have a full complement of signals.
You will probably have some locations (e.g. in a hidden section) where you do not have a
physical signal but in the real prototype there would be one - in these cases just add a
Virtual signal of the appropriate type by using a Virtual connection type in the Signal Mast Table.
- Right click on each signal and click 'Signal Mast Logic > Discover'. JMRI will then
magically create all the required logic to set the aspect of that signal, based on the
turnouts and aspects of the next signals on all possible routes.
- Add your sensors to the Sensor Table to any Blocks that have physical block detector
feedback on the layout and assign each Sensor to its layout Block. Skip this bit if you are
not using block detection and just setting the signals manually to hold behind the
- Run the trains and watch the signals change following your chosen rules. Note that
there has been no need to refer to the rulebook and no need to create Logix or anything
like that. It is just a case of inputting your layout configuration, Signaling System
(AAR-2 in our example) and hardware.
- The nitty-gritty of using the Layout Editor is
not explained here, but you will soon get the hang of it and that is the hardest bit. It
takes less time to create a working layout panel for the average layout than it took to
type this up so that shows how easy it is to start with Signaling with JMRI.
- You might start with software signals on a panel only, gradually adding signal decoders
and model signals on the layout. When you have decided on the hardware solution and signal
System to adopt, you can build the full definitions from the start. Otherwise use the
Virtual signal type and replace them with a new Signal Masts later.
- Watch out when disabling Aspects. Not all Signaling Systems are able to deal with key
Aspects being disabled because it is not always possible to include an alternative in the
aspect mapping for some masts (e.g. when the alternative aspect has the same speed and
divergence settings). Don't be surprised if when disabling an aspect the alternative that
is displayed is "Stop". So, disabling should be done with care. If you want to disable
aspects it is usually best to configure the Layout Editor so that the offending aspects
will not appear because the track conditions will not allow it by using speeds on blocks
and so on.
- If you prefer the flexibility of the Control Panel Editor for duplicating specific
prototype panels you can still use Aspect Signaling and its Signal Mast Logic. You will
just need to add some items manually.
Magic SignalMan Set Up
Thanks to Jim Duncan.
With Dick Bronson's new SignalMan hardware all you
need to do is:
- Choose the signal system (searchlight, color light, PRR, B&O, etc.).
- Create a new Signal Mast by clicking the "Add" button at the bottom of the Signal Mast
Do NOT try to define individual Signal Heads. You do this when you assign which ports are
lit as you setup the programming on the boards in the field!
- Define what aspects the mast is allowed to display.
- Set up the signal connections:
- Choose the Block the signal protects
- Select the next signal down the line:
- If there is one route only:
- Select the next Signal down the line that each signal protects
- If there is more than one route past signal:
- Select the Turnout and Thrown/Closed state
- Select block protected for given route
- Select signal protected on this route
- Repeat for all possible routes past this signal
- Program your board to respond to the signal number sent on the control line:
- Define the ports lit for each Signal Aspect:
- Select Signal Aspect to display from pull down list in the decoder file
- Select Port (head and lamp, e.g. H1R, H2G, etc.)
- Repeat for all aspects that the Signal is allowed to display
- Load the programming to the SignalMan board.
- Connect your hardware signals.
- Open the Tools > Tables > SignalMasts menu, go through each
Signal Aspect and observe signal behavior to check your programming and connections
Hint: It's easier to reprogram the board than it is to change the wiring connections!
- That's about as basic as it gets! This will work for all of the Panel Editor
- Do NOT try to use the auto-block feature with a panel created in Panel Editor. It'll
just sit there and make you wait forever and not do anything so it's actually easier to do
all the route logic yourself!
Back to the Signaling main help page.