The SVL CabCam Disk Image

Since we wrote the installation instructions for the CabCam project in August 2020, we have been fine-tuning the camera settings and made other improvements. Review the project page for the hardware we use for our camera cars and to get a better understanding about the software side of the setup.

The instructions on the project page are very detailed and several groups have built camera cars using them. We’re now making a disk image of our CabCam project available for others to use with the hope that this is an even easier way build a working camera car. The disk image comes as a 600MByte zip file with Raspian and mjpg-streamer preconfigured. Depending on your Internet connection speed, it will take a while to download. The download is available below.

This disk image is intended to be used with a Raspberry Pi Zero and the Raspberry Pi camera.

Setup and Usage

Make sure to unzip the disk image before writing the file to the SD card with a disk imaging tool of your choice.

After writing the disk image to the SD card, eject and re-insert the SD card. Edit the file wpa_supplicant.conf in the boot partition to enter the network name and password for your Wifi network. This file can be easily accessed from Windows, MacOS X, or Linux. The Raspberry Pi web site has more information about configuring Wifi for headless operation.

Finally, put the SD card into your Raspberry Pi and let it boot. The Raspberry Pi should acquire an IP address and come up on your Wifi. Give it a few minutes to do that. Many home routers have a handy client list feature listing all devices on your network with their IP address and what they identify as. The camera should identify as “cabcam1”.

Enter the IP address in your browser and it should come up with the default M-JPG Streamer Web page, which has various options for accessing the camera stream in different situations. The URL provided on the VideoLAN sub-page can be used to access the camera video as a Media Source in OBS Studio.

The image brings up SSH with the default password (user pi, password raspberry). We recommend to change the password.

The camera configuration can be changed by changing the parameters in the script in the pi home directory and rebooting the Pi.

This disk image contains software from the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Liam Jackson’s fork of the M-JPEG Streamer project under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; version 2 of the License. This software is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

Happy Holidays

While the layout is currently closed due to county Corona restrictions, club members are working on small, portable projects like this lovely scene at Peachey Brothers.

We are thinking ahead to 2021 and are discussing how to adjust our operations scheme to facilitate remote ops sessions until we can come together again as a group at the layout. A dedicated computer to run video and conferencing software is being built and installed in the dispatcher office. This will help with enabling remote ops and live streaming from the layout room with much less overhead.

Stay tuned for more updates and information about upcoming sessions.

Virtual Open House: Remote Operator Tips and Tricks

SVL Track Plan – Lower Level with Open House Loop

Join us for our second Virtual Open House on April 17th, 2021 from 10am – 3pm Pacific Time. Learn more here.

On Saturday, November 14th 2020 we had our first Virtual Open House from 10am – 3pm Pacific Time. You can sign up here.

We will break the day into sessions that should last about 20 minutes each, including 5 minute arrival and orientation, and about 15 minutes run time. Please join the Google Meet 5 minutes before your scheduled departure time, so that we can confirm session participants and start orientation on time.

Remotely controlled trains will run on a loop on the lower level of the layout. See the track plan above for the route trains will take. There are location signs mounted around the layout so that operators know where they are. Most of the signs are mounted under the upper level and are usually clearly visible in the upper half of the camera screen. Some location signs are located near the tracks.

We will have up to four remote controlled trains active on the layout at the same time. Every remote controlled train has a cab-view camera, so operators can see the track in front of the train.

Operators can control speed of their train using a web-based throttle with integrated cab view video window. Touch or click in the vertical box next to the video window to control the speed of your train. Watch the video above for a demonstration.

Some trains will have opposing traffic. There are several locations on the layout where meets might happen, so pay attention to signals and dispatcher instructions.

Watch your speed! Running a train purely on video feedback takes some getting used to. You don’t want to go too fast and cause a derailment, and you don’t want to go too slow and block everyone behind you.

When your run is complete, please make sure to stop your train, and close the browser window with the web-based throttle to disconnect from the layout.

Of course, above all: We hope you enjoy your virtual visit to Silicon Valley Lines and have fun!

Presentations on Remote Operations

Silicon Valley Lines was featured in two presentations on Remote Operations.

Saturday, September 26th at 9:00am PDT, John Abatecola from TSG multimedia released a new segment in his Model Railroading 101 series covering remote operations at Silicon Valley Lines. This video gives you some insight into how we adjusted our operations scheme to accommodate remote operators while maintaining social distancing rules at the club. We show and explain the technology we’re using to pull this all together, as well as give a glimpse into what a remote ops session looks like.

The same day (September 26th), at 3:00pm PDT, Bernhard and Dave gave a NMRAx presentation about”Remote Operations at Silicon Valley Lines”. This presentation goes deeper into the background and the technology of remote operations. We explain hardware and software setup in detail, and talk about our experience in fine-tuning operations with remote operators.