Virtual Open House: Remote Operator Tips and Tricks

SVL Track Plan – Lower Level with Open House Loop

On Saturday, November 14th we will have our 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!

Fall 2020 Virtual Open House

Hi everyone!

With the ongoing work and success around our camera cars, as well as interest from our presentations, we’ve decided to take our Fall Open House virtual! On November 14, 2020, you’ll be able to take a train for a spin around our lower level loop at SVL, all from the comfort of your home!

Trains will be available from 10am – 3pm Pacific Standard Time. If you are interested in running a train, please sign up via the survey here. Note we are asking for an email and a preferred time slot so we can invite you to a Google Meet to coordinate with you when we start running trains. Tips and tricks for remote engineers can be found here.

If you prefer to just watch, click through to the live-stream of the Open House on Youtube.

Note: As mentioned above – this is a remote Open House. Our layout is still closed to the general public due to Covid-19 restrictions. Only a limited number of members will be allowed into the building to help monitor trains, so please do not come down to the club.

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.

Photo Shoot at SVL

Dan Munson at work

In preparation for the NMRA convention next year, well-known railroad photographer Dan Munson visited several Bay Area layouts this weekend, including Silicon Valley Lines. Dan, with help from Doug Good, spent several hours with us this morning photographing the layout.

Even with COVID-19 raging in the Bay Area, over the last few months several club members had worked socially distanced on expanding and finishing scenes to put our best foot forward. The layout looked great and the effort was well worth it.

We’re very much looking forward to the results from today’s photo shoot.