DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through one of these links we will earn a commission.

Computer Control for Model Railroad is a fascinating subject and in this video I will show you how to get started with JMRI and Digitrax LocoNet.

JMRI Basics

WiThrottle and Engine Driver

Connect/Install RR CirKit’s LocoBuffer USB: @3:33
Install RR Cirkit’s LocoBuffer USB Driver (For Win 8): @5:47
Install JMRI: @11:45
Configure JMRI to Talk to LocoNet: @16:20
Set-up and Control Turnouts from JMRI: @20:15

Part 2: Basic Controls of Turnouts and Routes
Part 3: Control Your Model Railroad Using a Mobile Device

I used RR CirKit’s LocoBuffer USB as the interface to connect my Lenovo notebook running on Windows 8 with my old Digitrax DCS50 that was gifted by a friend of mine quite some years ago. I connected this to my test layout (that I built before to do all my prototyping) and voila! My layout was readily accessible through my computer.

I am making this series because I realized that though both JMRI and LocoNet is in the market for a long time, there is no ‘on stop shop’ for someone to just go, look and get started with computer control. One has to spend quite a lot of time and effort to figure out what needs to be done. The JMRI and Digitrax manuals, documents and clinics definitely help, but it still takes considerable amount of time to understand things, and often it’s difficult to figure out the basics. This series is made hoping that it would help those starting with the hobby and/or aspiring to control their model railroads using a computer.

Yes, I will still be confined to Digitrax and LocoNet and JMRI has certainly grown beyond LocoNet, but given it is still one of the most used combination for easy and affordable computer control for model train layouts (and the fact that I decided to use this combination for my current projects at hand), I believe it will be helpful for those starting with the hobby, or starting with or contemplating about using computers to control their layout.

Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI) was developed by tech guys who were also train guys and wanted a better, easier way to program their DCC decoders. It grew from there. Now it’s a suite of programs that can do all kinds of neat stuff.

Once your computer knows all about your layout and equipment, JMRI can perform complex tasks in seconds. You can also use it to control your trains, turnouts, and more right from your phone or tablet.

Huge thanks go out to my guests this month, John, Murf, and Ray. It couldn’t have happened without you guys!