Interfacing With ISE’s Fast Clocks

The idea of a clock that runs faster than real time to compensate for the compression in our model world is nothing new.  The idea has been with us since at least the 1960s.  It provides a way to schedule our operating sessions, providing a sense of real time passage and urgency without needing literally thousands of feet of track to represent the vast distances covered by our prototype railroads.  Aside from being a display on the wall, guiding operators’ train movements, fast clocks have remained an isolated system, our model world unaffected by the passage of scale time.  Think about all the things in our daily lives that are linked to the time of day and you’ll quickly realize how odd that is given all our other technological advancements, and how much potential is in that idea.  I believe fast clock integration is one of the huge, unexplored areas left in the hobby today for added realism.

In this article, we’ll show you how to build an inexpensive device that allows you to synchronize items on your layout to fast clocks by using MRBus, the networking protocol that connects the Iowa Scaled Engineering Networked Fast Clocks, in conjunction with the popular Arduino prototyping environment.

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Is the ARD-LTC2499 as Accurate as an Agilent 34401A?

The ARD-LTC2499 was designed from the beginning with the intent to get as close to perfect accuracy as one could with an out-of-the-box Arduino Shield, while still keeping the cost affordable for mere mortals like us.  We chose one of the best 16-channel ADCs on the market and matched it up with a high-performance voltage reference.  To see what the accuracy really was, I borrowed Nathan’s 34401A meter and put them both to the test.

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Pausing Time: Using Fast Clock Hold Mode

Have you ever been in the middle of an operating session and disaster strikes?  A train derails, shorting out the DCC system, taking with it a power district, or even the entire layout. The problem is eventually fixed, but in the 5 minutes it took to restore things to the way they were, your fast clock kept ticking away. With a 3:1 ratio, all trains are now  suddenly 15 minutes late.

Wouldn’t it be nice to simply press a button on the fast clock to pause time, then with a single press, restart the time right where it left off?

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