Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:46 am

RenegadeMonster wrote:Was on the set with control cab 1808 tonight. The one where I saw it was repeatedly scrolling "Now Arriving At Swapscott" this morning.

It was a Rockport Bond train, but tonight 1808 only displayed "Lowell". Not Rockport. Also, Car 815 was only displaying the "T" logo. I noticed there was a 200s, 600s and a 1600s between the 1808 and 815. I wonder if the 1600s was why the info wasn't being piped through. Though it appears this 1600s had its cab controls disabled. There were no horns on the roof.


If there's an 18xx at the back, it's got an ASA computer. The only bi-level cabs that still lack it are the last 5 K-car non-rebuilds still in-service: 1706, 1711, 1713, 1716, 1720. And those remainders will all be purged by Memorial Day for rebuild. I can confirm from riding in one 2 weeks ago that at least a couple of the MBB 1500's have had ASA very recently installed. They will pump the audio to all cars and to the displays on any screen-equipped cars in the set, even though they themselves did not gain screens during the new ASA install. If they're now knocking out the last flat cabs on the southside, that must mean the cab-active 1600's up north are going to be next for completing the ASA installs across 100% of the cab fleet.

Presence of any cab-deactivated 1600's running mid-set shouldn't affect the computer, because their controls were outright unplugged making them electrically indistinguishable from a trailer. Any 1500's/cab-active 1600's/1700's/1800's running mid-set in trailer mode won't upset the computer in the active cab, either. All cabs in the T's fleet are designed out-of-box to run in trailer mode when their controls are switched off by pushbutton, and many of them (most often the spare 1500's) do run midset on daily basis depending on where equipment's short on a given shift. When they're mid-set, their electronics are all pass-thru just like all other trailers and won't pre-empt any signals from the running cab's computer.
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby BandA » Sat Apr 08, 2017 10:08 pm

Is there a published specification for this "ASA computer" and the train signal cabling?
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Apr 09, 2017 12:51 pm

BandA wrote:Is there a published specification for this "ASA computer" and the train signal cabling?


Not really. Train control cabling is rote-generic and heavily regulated by the FRA for universal compatibility. You've got the air brake cable like any freight or passenger train would have, the HEP electricity cable for any passenger train, and data cables for essential systems in each coach (remote door controls, PA speakers, conductor radios at the control panels, electric signal for turning on/off the right set of marker lights on the rear car/loco running at the terminating end of the cable, etc.). For push-pull trains only that data cable doubles as the pipe for passing the train signaling one-way from cab to loco through all cars in-between when running in push mode. It's 'dumb' by design, as something that simple that works on pass-thru ensures near-universal compatibility and easy troubleshooting of the most mission-critical interconnections.

That's pretty much it...same general near- universally compatible setup everywhere ever since the 'modern' push-pull era was perfected in the first 5-10 years after the end of steam. Any car--freight, passenger, or dead-tow FRA-compliant DMU/EMU--are by-law universally compatible on brake signal. Any loco equipped with HEP output (excludes most freight) can provide electric power to 90% of the continent's coaches except for a couple outlier systems with a voltage difference (Canada: VIA Rail, GO Transit, and ???). The vast majority of coaches can work the same pass-thru data for PA/comm and doors just fine, which is why hererogeneous fleets and leasers are no impediment to most commuter rail systems. And cab cars are more often than not compatible, although national fragmentation in signaling & PTC limits their portability by region and leaves lots of little asterisks.


The ASA computer takes advantage of what's already there. Audio is just the regular PA signal as if a conductor or engineer were speaking, and the monochrome dot matrix LED's are so extremely low-bandwidth they just slip a few digital bits through what's already there. That's how every untouched old coach is able to take the ASA audio, and how the display signal can pass through a bunch of old cars to show info on any of the bi-level screens. Putting the source computer in the cab car is simply so it doesn't require a duplicate computer installation in the loco for pull mode, and so leaser locos (which are more frequently borrowed than leaser cabs) can work in the mix. With all this talk of firmware glitches in this thread, you can easily see what a cluster that would be to have completely different ASA sources outbound vs. inbound--loco vs. cab--each with their own potential set of bugs. Most commuter rail agencies prefer that cab car- only ASA setup as a result. Amtrak, being a majority pull-only system with only a handful of P-P corridor routes requiring a proportionately tiny systemwide cab fleet, would probably prefer having its ASA live in the loco-only if it opted to implement its own system.

The only custom element the T (or anyone else) orders is the computer itself, and they custom-program it for whatever tasks they want it to do. But that's not "nonstandard" any more than every transit agency hires a different Wi-fi vendor selling a different in-coach Wi-fi system. It's all 95% software meant to be constantly changed, upgraded, and meshed with other technologies. T and/or Rotem may have chosen poorly on this particular ASA setup, but it isn't a strike against them on over-noodling with unproven car design specs like the complete Rotem and HSP-46 physical builds were.


Any modern coaches/cabs built in last 20 years no doubt have all-digital fiber data cable replacing or augmenting the copper cabling on the 'dumb' pass-thru data connection, and 4-year major inspections quickly overchurn legacy fleets with similar cabling upgrades since it's cheap and easy to install. New fiber generally isn't needed for something as dirt-basic as passing thru the ASA info, but it enables future enhancements like faster Wi-fi chained throughout the consist instead of isolated in each individual car's hotspot, higher-bandwidth info screens (scrolling ads, hi-res info boards like you get at subway stations now), and even in-seat entertainment like the airlines do on an Acela or old Amfleet first-class car when Amtrak gets its trackside ultra-high bandwidth Wi-fi installed across the NEC. I'm sure all the Rotems and 900-series K-cars came factory-built with high-bandwidth fiber since it's S.O.P. for any modern build, and that the 700's are getting fiber now as their cabling gets renewed. Next procurement displacing the Bombardier flats will probably overchurn whatever cars are left that don't have any high-bandwidth data transmission.

And then it's just a matter of the T (or any other agency with a newish fleet) brainstorming ways to take advantage of all that onboard fiber bandwidth. Same way experimenting around gradually introduced new data frills to subway stations after all that trackside fiber was laid 15 years ago for the Charlie/AFC rollout; it's got nearly inexhaustible bandwidth for piling on new things. Probably will see it first manifest itself onboard the CR fleet with inevitable security-cam installs on the coaches once they get a Homeland Security grant to bring Big Brother aboard for some live remote monitoring.
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby BandA » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:47 pm

How many pins on that standard copper cable that controls the doors, etc. I'm assuming the digital data is encoded in TCP/IP that is somehow superimposed on some of the older cabling, kinda like when they added ~800MHz internet signals onto cable TV ~400MHz coax.

Can't Google "ASA Computer" and get anything. There is a company with that name. This stuff is needed for ADA compliance everywhere, there should be a Railroad Presidential Conference standardizing it.
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby MaineCoonCat » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:37 pm

Does 16-2004 - IEEE Standard for Electrical and Electronic Control Apparatus on Rail Vehicles relate to this? Unfortunately without a subscription, I can't look at it..

EDIT 04/17/2017:
From Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Red and Orange Line
New Vehicle Procurement
TECHNICAL PROVISIONS
October 22, 2013
18.13.10. Terminals
A. Terminals and connections shall conform to the requirements of IEEE Std 16-2004

Other references in there also. 643 page document so I can't attach a copy here but you can find the document here..

Hmmmmmmmm...
Last edited by MaineCoonCat on Mon Apr 17, 2017 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby RenegadeMonster » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:27 pm

I noticed something odd on Fridays Commute.

From North Station to Lynn the 1800s and 800s car in the set were only displaying the date and time.

From Swapscott on we no longer had audio announcements but we now had Stop Information displaying on the electronic displays. Even odder, all the safety messages were now scrolling on the electronic displays too (no audio). I have never seen things like. "Please only exit the train at a door attended by a crew member" or "To avoid tripping when getting off the train at a high level platform beware of the gap between the platform and the train."

What would cause audio and not stop information or no audio and stop information plus messages situations. And why would it swap up mid run?
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby RenegadeMonster » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:06 am

Are there any plans to add the electronic displays to the 900s cars before their midlife overhaul?



Also noticed something odd with ASA recently. Any train with a control cab that is a 1800s and has a 800s car where the Conducted likes to make manual announcements, the auto audio announcements will not fire if the conductor has his key in and the PA prepped and radio for him to talk. I'd imagine this would probably happen from the 1800s as well. The auto message still scrolls on the electronic display however.

On my train home the conductor almost always leaves his key in and the PA prepped. So we never hear any auto announcements. It's unusual now if we get one random one that comes though before Salem.
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Jun 03, 2017 6:39 am

The LED boards aren't hard to install and the pass-thru data cable already handles the information, so the 900's will almost certainly get an in-house installation. They'll only have to wait until enough 700's are back to ease the car shortage, since it's probably 2-3 days of downtime to rotate each car through and test. Might be a job they lump in with the new WiFi upgrade contract the T recently signed with an outside vendor, since they'll be switching out the in-car WiFi transmitters that are now several years old for new higher-bandwidth units.

Displays in the 900's may be a secondary priority to getting the cab-active 1600's equipped with the ASA computer to complete the fleetwide installations. Having whole-train remainders without any working ASA is a bigger accessibility issue than having individual cars without the displays, since the audio pumps just fine through the old cars so long as there's an ASA cab car attached. ASA has appeared on a couple of the Old Colony-assigned 1500-series cabs, so that's definitely going to be in the cards for the rest of the cab flats. They did not install displays on those 1500's, but that's not needed for accessibility compliance if there are display-equipped bi-levels somewhere in the consist. So it's doubtful they'll bother installing displays in all the trailer flats.
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby jboutiet » Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:08 pm

BandA wrote:How many pins on that standard copper cable that controls the doors, etc. I'm assuming the digital data is encoded in TCP/IP that is somehow superimposed on some of the older cabling, kinda like when they added ~800MHz internet signals onto cable TV ~400MHz coax.

Can't Google "ASA Computer" and get anything. There is a company with that name. This stuff is needed for ADA compliance everywhere, there should be a Railroad Presidential Conference standardizing it.

Search for "27 point MU connector".

Also see here, pages 16.21 and 16.22.
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby BandA » Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:49 am

Thank you, looking at it.
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby sery2831 » Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:10 pm

RenegadeMonster wrote:Are there any plans to add the electronic displays to the 900s cars before their midlife overhaul?


No

RenegadeMonster wrote: noticed something odd with ASA recently. Any train with a control cab that is a 1800s and has a 800s car where the Conducted likes to make manual announcements, the auto audio announcements will not fire if the conductor has his key in and the PA prepped and radio for him to talk. I'd imagine this would probably happen from the 1800s as well. The auto message still scrolls on the electronic display however.


The 800/1800 and the rebuild 700s do not have PAs with keys. You have to hold two buttons for a few seconds to acivate it and it will work for a while then time out and turn off. I HATE these! The PA heads with keys, we have found it disables the PTIS signal into the car that has the PA in PA mode and not set to OFF. When it is keyed into PA the PTIS announcement sometimes comes out of the IC speaker. It is possible to key these into the PA position without having the key in place, that is how all the cars used to be prior to the PTIS.
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Re: Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

Postby sery2831 » Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:13 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Displays in the 900's may be a secondary priority to getting the cab-active 1600's equipped with the ASA computer to complete the fleetwide installations. Having whole-train remainders without any working ASA is a bigger accessibility issue than having individual cars without the displays, since the audio pumps just fine through the old cars so long as there's an ASA cab car attached. ASA has appeared on a couple of the Old Colony-assigned 1500-series cabs, so that's definitely going to be in the cards for the rest of the cab flats. They did not install displays on those 1500's, but that's not needed for accessibility compliance if there are display-equipped bi-levels somewhere in the consist. So it's doubtful they'll bother installing displays in all the trailer flats.


WHAT? Every control car has a PTIS head unit. No blind cars will have head units installed. There is nothing installed in blind cars to make the PTIS function, it's just a simple PA broadcast.
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