Creating and Editing WarrantsA Warrant contains the information needed to run a train. This includes the DCC address of the locomotive or consist, the turnout settings of the paths through the blocks of the route and the throttle commands to use at various points along the route. Among these are speed changes, when to show lights, sound horns, bells or other sound effects. For an overview discussion of Warrants, see Warrants.
There are three steps in creating a Warrant:
- Define the route
- Select a train, and
- Record the throttle commands.
When a Create Warrant menu is selected, a window to define the warrant is displayed. At the top, you may enter a System Name and a User Name. After the warrant is saved by pressing the Save button at the bottom of the window, the System name cannot be changed. The User Name may be changed anytime the warrant is edited.
Defining a Warrant RouteRoutes are created using the Define Route tab in the Edit Warrant pane.
Origin, Destination, Via and Avoid BlocksThe Origin Block is where a train given this route will start and the starting path within the origin block is the track it is on - e.g. a path named "Departure Track #3" in block named "Main Terminal". Choosing the portal of the path, e.g. portal "West Approach to #3" where the train should exit the origin block determines the direction of the train on the route. A computer algorithm will find portals, paths and blocks needed to take the train to the Destination Block and path - e.g. "Arrival Track #1" in the destination block.
After selecting the block and path where the train will begin its trip and the portal by which it should leave and similarly the block, path and entry portal where the train should end its trip, pressing the Calculate Route button will determine all the intermediate paths needed to make the trip.
Originating Location: - Consists of a text field
for the originating Block Name, a drop down menu
to choose the starting Path Name and a drop down
menu to select the Exit Portal Name.
The block may have several paths and the default path showing may not be the one where you intend the train to start. Also, Since paths usually have two portals, the exit portal showing may not be the one the train should pass through when leaving the origin block.Setting the Exit Portal determines the direction the train will take. There is no further need to specify direction, since the algorithm will only provide routes that leave in that direction.
Destination Location: - Consists of a text field
for the destination Block Name and a drop down
menu for the terminating Path Name and a drop down
menu to select the Entry Portal Name.
As above the block may have several paths and the path where you intend the train to finish its run needs to be specified. It is important to specify the Entry portal for the destination. This is needed when the layout has reversing loops allowing the path to be entered from either end.
A common mistake where no route will be found is to specify an Entry Portal or Path that cannot be reached by the direction taken when leaving the origin OBlock.Note: when a Path is chosen, only the Portals of that Path are shown in the Exit or Entry Portal drop down menus. Thus, even though the block may have many Portals, you will only see at most two portals.
- Via Location: - Consists of a text field for a
Block Name and a drop down menu for the Path
Name where you want the route to pass through.
Typically, it is not necessary to enter any block name in this field, since it is likely the algorithm will detect the route you want. This entry is used when there are many routes possible from origin to destination and you want only to consider routes passing through a particular path on this block.
- Avoid Location: - Consists of a text field for a
Block Name and a drop down menu for the Path
Name that you do not want the route to use.
This entry is used when there are many routes possible from origin to destination and you want only to consider routes that do not pass through a particular path on this block.
- More information about
OBlocks, Portals and OPaths can be
found at The Occupancy Block
Calculate and DebugAfter the origin and destination blocks and paths have been chosen, press the Calculate Route button. The "Searching for Route" text box will show some statistics on the number of routes and their length in blocks that have been found while searching for routes. The text field "Max Number of Blocks in Route" limits how far the computer will look routes. The Stop button will terminate the search for routes.
After the Stop button is pressed or the computer exhausts all the possible routes less than or equal the "max length", it presents a list of the routes that it found and their lengths. Choose a route by pressing its radio button. Pressing the Review button will display the route for you to examine in a Train Route Table. Each block, its path and portals used to traverse the route is displayed. Also you can view the route on the PanelPro layout diagram if the track icons are Indicator Track, icons.
You may inspect all the routes in this manner. Choosing a route and pressing the Select button will dismiss the dialog. and bring up the Record/Playback Script tab. If exactly one route is found, the list dialog is skipped.
Frequently, more than one route will be found and the list may be quite long - especially when the route is a repeating loop. If the list is too lengthy, there are several ways you can restrict the number of routes found.
- Specify a maximum number of blocks to use in a route by entering a smaller number in the Max Number of Blocks in Route box. The computer will only list routes with this number or fewer blocks
- Specify an intermediate Via Location block and path that must be included in the route. The computer will calculate the route with this "must include" restriction and present you only with routes through the specified "Via" block and path.
- Specify an Avoid Location block and path that must not be in the route. The computer will not list any routes containing this "must avoid" block and path
Sometimes the dialog message "No Route found from "Origin Block', path ..." etc. is displayed. Responding Yes to the question, "Show the search tree?" will open a window with a graphic description of all paths beginning at the Origin block, path and exit portal. Trace what you believe to be a likely route by clicking on the nodes. Each node is a block path and will display its path and block name and the entry and exit portals it uses. At the end of each branch, the leaf node will be the point where the route could not continue. Normally these leaves are spurs. However, these are also the places where you may find an error or omission that you made when defining the OBlocks, OPaths and Portals. As you trace the attempted routes you may find that you have forgotten to enter a path or mis-labeled the correct portal to a path. A common mistake is to incorrectly specify the path or portal that must be used to leave the starting block or to enter the destination block.
Another possible reason is the search depth was reached before the route can be completed. In this case, increase the maximum number of blocks to use in a route by entering a larger number in the Max Number of Blocks in Route box.
Creating the Throttle Command ScriptWhen you are satisfied with the route and have selected it, the Record/Playback Script tab will be displayed for you:
The route is shown in a table. For each OBlock. the entry portal, path and exit portal are displayed.
The bottom half displays six
outlined areas; Choose Engine Consist,
Select Type, Settings,
Learn mode, Run Parameters, and
Test Run Train. More about the use of these areas
will be discussed below.
The first thing to do is to choose an engine to power your train.
Choosing a TrainThe Train Name field is used to provide a name that can be displayed by an indicator track icon as the train travels along the warrant route. If you have defined an JMRI engine roster, the train names are displayed in the Engine Roster drop down ComboBox. Selecting a name from this list will fill in the Address text field and assigns the engine to power the warrant.
Alternatively a DCC address can be typed into the Address text field and it will be used whether or not it is found in the JMRI Engine Roster. Chose or enter the address of the train positioned on the "Origin" block of the route.
Learn ModeThrottle commands are created by recording the commands you send to a train while operating it manually from a throttle in Learn Mode. The Prototypical button must be chosen from the Warrant Types box.
Learn Mode ThrottleIf a train has been assigned, that is, has a valid DCC address in the warrant, then a throttle can be acquired by pressing the Start button. A screen throttle will be displayed. This throttle will operate the acquired train and all the throttle commands will be recorded until the Stop button is pressed. It can be inconvenient to use the computer screen Learn Mode throttle. Under LocoNet a handheld throttle may "steal" the screen throttle address and its commands will be recorded. For all other systems a walkaround WiFi throttle can be used to "steal" and record commands. Whatever throttle is used, start and stop the recording with the buttons in the Learn Mode box.
Be sure that the train is located on the path of the Origin block of the route and note the direction of you intend the train to take. If needed, the first command you make on the learn throttle should be the engine direction toward the exit portal of the Origin block.
The learn script should be done with a completely
clear route - All turnouts should be set for the
route, all blocks unoccupied (except the origin), all signals
should be set for clear running and no changes made during
the recording period. The recorded
speeds and elapsed times should be for unrestricted
Once the Start button is pressed and
recording has begun, the Route Pane is replaced by
the Throttle Commands Pane.
In normal operation, when the script is played back, the train will follow the commands as recorded. However if a track condition ahead of it is detected that requires a speed change, the warrant will modify the recorded speed accordingly. When the warrant makes such a speed change it "ramps" the change in small steps to give a more prototypical smooth look to the change. When decreasing speed it calculates and issues these step-wise speed changes so that the required speed is achieved just at the point where the speed limit must be enforced. When increasing speed it begins a similar "ramp up" when entering the block permitting the speed increase. Warrant Speed Changes has details about how warrants modify recorded speeds.
Note: The train should not be moving when the recording is stopped. When play back of the warrant ends, the train might continue to run without a warrant to control it! After recording a script, check the ending throttle commands to see that the speed is set to 0.0
When the route has been traversed and all throttle commands are done, recording is completed by pressing the Stop button. After this, the throttle commands can be edited and additional run parameters set.
What the Warrant Does on Playback.The script records the elapsed times traversing each occupancy block and knows when to expect the train to enter each block.
The throttle commands of the next block will be delayed until the train enters the block. That is, the elapsed time of the NoOp command must be reached before any more commands are issued to the running train. This will be the case if the train is late in arriving at the block. On the other hand if the train arrives earlier than expected the remaining commands of the preceding block are executed in fractions of a second to catch up.
The warrant sends commands to the addressed engine in the order they were recorded with the same number of elapsed milliseconds between them. In spite of an exact repeat of the recorded throttle settings, the track speed and position of the train may not be at the same place as they were when it was recorded. Changing the consist of the train or even a temperature change between recording and playback, may result in the train not performing a throttle command at exactly the same place on the on the route where it was recorded.
If a more precise way is needed to have a script event occur at a particular location, see the section Triggering External Events From Scripts below.
Editing and Running the Warrant ScriptWarrant scripts can be tested and modified prior to saving them.
After a script is recorded, reset the train to the Origin block and press the AutoRun button in the Test Run Train box. This sends the throttle commands to the train specified in the warrant.
The Test Run Train box has four radio buttons to control the train and override the Throttle commands.
- Halt Stop the train.
- Resume Ramp the speed up to its previous speed.
- Emergency Stop Issue an Emergency Stop to the train.
- Abort Stop the train and null the warrant.
Name and save the warrant when you are satisfied by its performance by pressing the Save button. This adds the warrant to the Warrant Table and closes the Create/Edit Warrant window.
Run ParametersThis area has check boxes to modify how the train will operate when running the Warrant for a particular instance.
- Clearance to Share Route - Normally a track warrant assigns exclusive rights to only one train. This option allows several trains to share rights to a route, such as train sections following one another. Multiple "shared warrants" are still subject to ramping speed changes due to signals or rogue occupancy.
- Add Tracker after run completes - Upon completion of the warrant script, the movement of the train by a manual operator can be tracked.
- Don't Ramp Speed Changes - Suppress the ramping calculations. Instead, the Warrant makes immediate speed change upon entering the approach block to the block requiring a speed change. since 4.5.7
- Use Elapsed Time Only - Do not use block detection. Using this option allows Warrants to be run on layouts without block detection.
Changing Engine ConsistThe warrant can be edited to use a different engine. A different engine may have different speed characteristics. If the engine has a Speed Profile, it can be viewed.
The View Speed Profile button displays a table of the track speeds corresponding to the throttle settings for the addressed locomotive or consist. The speed units can be changed to scale speed.
Editing the Throttle Command TableThe Throttle Command Table has the following columns:
- ET (msec): - The elapsed time in milliseconds to wait before issuing the throttle command.
- Command: - The throttle command that was recorded (direction, speed, or button press or release). The command can be edited by choosing an item from the drop down combo box.
- Value: - The value of the command. Chose a value from the drop down combo box. the choices are dependent on the command being edited.
- Block or Sensor Name: - The block the train occupied when the throttle command was recorded. If the command being edited is Set Sensor or Wait Sensor then the name of the sensor should be entered. If the command is Run Warrant then the name of the warrant should be entered
- Track or Scale Speed - The track speed of the warranted train calculated from the throttle setting and the Speed Profile of engine consist.
Editing Recorded Throttle CommandsMost of the columns in the Throttle Command Table can be edited. Perhaps you want to touch up the timing for the horn blasts or modify the speeds. Just enter the data you want. Other values in the Throttle Command Table are changed by selecting an item from the cell's drop down combo box.
Rows may be inserted or deleted from the table using the Insert and Delete buttons to the right of the table. Note that an inserted row has 0 elapsed time from the previous command so you may want to adjust this by taking time away from either the previous row or the following row and entering it into the inserted row. Also, when a row is deleted, its elapsed time is added to the time of the following row. These default elapsed times for inserting and deleting rows are entered to keep the total elapsed time in the block constant.
Some caution should be taken to only make modest changes since new commands when executed in playback could cause dramatic events. It may be wiser to re-record the commands in a new Learn Mode session if major changes are made.
Track SpeedsRecording the track speeds in the Speed column was added in Release 4.9.2. On playback, if possible, the warrant uses track speed to make the throttle setting. For this to be done, a speed profile is needed for the locomotive/consist running the warrant. The feature helps compensate for changes in the size of the train or different address of the power, by attempting to produce the same track speed. Lacking a speed profile, the recorded throttle setting is used. In Release 4.9.4 the scripted throttle setting is not modified by the track speed. (i.e. the above is a 4.9.2 feature only)
On the right of the Throttle Command table is a button labeled Track Speed or Scale speed. Pressing the button will display the last column of the Throttle Command table (estimated layout speed of throttle setting) in terms of one of four kinds of units - millimeters per second, inches per second track speed or miles per hour, kilometers per Hour scale speed.
The DCC address used in the recording is the "standard power" of the warrant. To base the track speeds on a different address or roster entry, select that entry and press the track/scale speed button. Warrants recorded before Release 4.9.2 can be upgraded this way.
Triggering External Events From ScriptsExternal animation or other events may be triggered by the "Set Sensor" command. To do this insert a row, then select Set Sensor from the list of items under the Command column. Next select the action (active or inactive) you want from the Value column. Lastly, enter a sensor name in the Block or Sensor column. Also enter or adjust the elapsed time when to trigger the setting of the sensor. On playback when this command is executed the state of the sensor will be set.
Script Synchronization With External EventsAdditional synchronization can be done within a block. For example stopping a train at a water tower or over an uncoupling device or for any reason where using the elapsed time of a command is not precise enough. To do this, there is a Wait Sensor command. Insert a row and follow the same procedure as was done with set Sensor. On playback when this command is executed the script is suspended and the current movement of the train is sustained until the sensor changes to the specified state. When that happens the script continues to execute according to the recorded times.
For example the "Wait Sensor" might be an optical
sensor named "sStopTrain" positioned to detect specific point.
The "Wait Sensor" command is bracketed
with speed commands, the one before
with a very slow speed and the one after with speed 0.
Sensor "sStopTrain" is set inactive and then the script
is set to wait until it goes active.
The script will then have the train creep at the current
slow speed of 11.4 mm/sec until the sensor detects the
trains desired position. Then the
script continues to set speed to 0, which stops the train.
Following that, the scrip must wait for
another sensor named "sStartTrain" to go active before it
The script and train will stay stopped until the second "Wait Sensor" command triggered from an external event allows the script to continue.
Automatic Sequencing of Warrantssince 3.11.1
It is possible to start another script from a script. To do this, insert a row and select the Run Warrant in the Command column. Enter the name of a warrant in the Block or Sensor column. This command launches the second warrant. Note that a train with the address specified in the second warrant must be present in the starting block of the second warrant. Otherwise, the second train will start running in uncontrolled places.
This feature can be used to loop a train repeatedly by using the same warrant name. If a script terminates with the destination block equal to the origin block, it will repeat for the number of times entered into the Value column. If a negative number is entered the script will repeat indefinitely until an abort command is manually issued. Another possibility would be to use warrant "from A to B" and warrant "from B to A", where warrant "from A to B" runs warrant "from B to A" and warrant "from B to A" runs warrant "from A to B" and each Warrant specifies the same train ID and the same number of repeats.
Running Trains on Dark BlocksThe Learn mode and Run Mode functions can be used on blocks that do not have detection sensors. However, without detection, other than the initial setting of turnouts, the warrant cannot reset the turnouts or modify its speed while the train is en route. This means there is no protection from rogue trains fouling the route or from turnouts being changed while the train is en route. Therefore, run trains with caution over Dark Blocks.
Note that entry into a Dark Block is detected differently than an Occupancy Block. Obviously, entry into an occupancy Block is recorded when the occupancy block detects occupancy. However entry into a Dark Block can only be recorded when the previous occupancy Block shows no occupancy. That is, the elapsed time for entry into a Dark Block is recorded by the tail of the train entered the dark, not the head.
Save etc.At the bottom of the Create Warrant pane the Status field displays messages when doing test runs from the AutoRun button. Below that are three buttons that let you:
- Save: - Saves the warrant so it can be shown in the list of warrants on the Warrant Table. A permanent copy of the warrant is saved when the panel is saved to the Configuration file.
- Copy: - Makes a copy of the warrant.
- Cancel: - Cancels any editing that may have been done.
Back to Warrants Help.