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Railfan Technology > How can I track trains from my computer?


Date: 05/05/20 20:34
How can I track trains from my computer?
Author: tviano

Hi,
I know I can track Amtrak train locations from their website, "Track My Train," but how do I track other railroads? I know there's a software "out there" that can do this, but the name escapes me and if I remember correctly, it was somewhat difficult to use. Any hints, suggestions or shout-downs welcome! Thanks in advance!



Date: 05/06/20 08:47
Re: How can I track trains from my computer?
Author: sarailfan

If there is radio code line in place, ATCS Monitor is the software you need, though many areas you will also need a radio to supply the data feed for the software. Otherwise the best bet is to familiarize yourself with the local sidings and defect detector locations, and monitor the railroad voice communications to figure out what's where. I find in most areas it takes 20 to 30 minutes of radio monitoring to have a good handle on what trains are where, so be patient!

Posted from Android

Darren Boes
Lethbridge, AB
Southern Alberta Railfan



Date: 05/06/20 09:52
Re: How can I track trains from my computer?
Author: Arved

Ralfan cams. Virtual Railfan, RailServe, Railstream, etc. Google is your friend.

Arved Grass
Fleming Island, FL
Arved Grass



Date: 05/06/20 21:44
Re: How can I track trains from my computer?
Author: ironmtn

sarailfan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If there is radio code line in place, ATCS Monitor
> is the software you need, though many areas you
> will also need a radio to supply the data feed for
> the software. Otherwise the best bet is to
> familiarize yourself with the local sidings and
> defect detector locations, and monitor the
> railroad voice communications to figure out what's
> where. I find in most areas it takes 20 to 30
> minutes of radio monitoring to have a good handle
> on what trains are where, so be patient.

Just to clarify further, with ATCS Monitor you can monitor traffic on many routes via an internet connection. No radio rig to pick up codeline radio signals, which drive the track diagrams, is necessary. You didn't say where you were located, and what routes / lines you are interested in. Whether there is an internet data feed for a route territory just depends on whether the route has CTC; and whether the codeline data for switches, signals and track occupancy, as used by the dispatcher, is routed by radio signals (rather than satellite or fiber optic cable, for example, which cannot be monitored). Also whether members of the ATCS Monitor community have created the route software for that territory, and set up antennas on that route to receive the codeline radio signals. And finally whether they have also set up a server to then route the data to the internet. It just depends on the territory. You don't have to figure that all out -- it is packaged with a territory that you download. Territories with internet data feeds tend to be in the East and Midwest, and tend to be near urban areas, but that is not a hard and fast rule. For some Western routes, for example, there may be internet coverage near urban areas, but only radio coverage away from the city.

It is not an exclusive choice, if your chosen route can be monitored, to do it by a special radio rig, or by internet. You can do either, or both. I enjoy ATCS Monitor, mainly for a number of Midwestern territories, but some elsewhere too, and almost all of mine have internet data feeds. If you need mobile coverage when you're out railfanning, you can do that with a radio rig. But if your desired territory has an internet data feed, there is relatively inexpensive software that will forward the ATCS Monitor session that you have running on your home computer to your smartphone, or to your laptop or tablet (if you have internet data connectivity for them). You can see everything just as if you were sitting by your PC at home. Sorry, nothing for Macs -- Windows only.

You will not see train ID's the way that you do on Amtrak / VIA train trackers. You will only see routes being lined up and train occupancy of track sections, without identification. But that is still very valuable when you are out trainwatching, or doing photography. That has saved many a good photo that I would have otherwise missed (because I left a location too soon) more times than I can count. And by the same token it has let me know that there is no traffic coming for a while, so I can move on to another location, or head home. A valuable tool.

You must join the ATCS Monitor group to obtain the software, and then to download route territories. You must request membership, and there are some conditions and rules. It may take a little while to join up - it's an all-volunteer operation. But very much worth the effort. Feel free to PM me - glad to help as I have for other TO members. Getting into it, there is a learning curve, so don't be shy about asking for help. There are others here on TO who can also assist. More information at the foll;owing link. It can be a little techie at first, but be patient and study it a bit, ask for help, and you'll get it down. Well worth the effort.
Link: http://atcswiki-beta.greatlakesnetworking.net/index.php/Main_Page

MC
Muskegon, Michigan
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/06/20 21:50 by ironmtn.



Date: 05/09/20 12:37
Re: How can I track trains from my computer?
Author: tviano

Now that is perhaps the most thorough response I’ve ever received anywhere!! Thanks a bunch! I’m definitely checking this out today.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 05/09/20 13:52
Re: How can I track trains from my computer?
Author: tviano

Oh, and for the record, I’m on the Left Coast. I’m all over the rail cams (and even traffic cams that have tracks in their field of view!) I’m interested in West and Southwest rail traffic.

Posted from iPhone



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