The second window that opens along side the Communications Manager when the app starts is the Main Window. The Main Window shows the current state of the connected node, together with key current configuration data in EEPROM. Tool buttons open additional windows for specific configuration tools.
Messages about Configurator operations and status appear in the Message Window. From time to time text output from the MASTER node may also appear in the Message Window.
Operations Mode Slider
The Operations Mode Slider allows you to switch between Configuration and Normal modes. In Configuration mode, the node only responds to configuration and system messages,and does not run the layout object loop. In Normal mode, the node processes all messages and runs the layout object loop.
Consequently, many regular layout functions do not work while in Configuration mode, and that includes most testing functions in various layout object tools. Configuration mode prevents a node from responding to ordinary operational messages that might interfere with the configuration process. In order to run any test of a layout object, the node should be in NORMAL operations mode. Feel free to switch modes as needed or convenient; just remember to put nodes in NORMAL mode for regular layout operations.
About Configuring Nodes
Clicking on a configuration tool button will launch a new window containing the relevant tool. The use of the various tools is covered elsewhere in this Guide. However, there are some things to be aware of generally:
- Configuration data is stored in non-volatile EEPROM on each node. Most configuration tools do not save to EEPROM automatically! You must click the tool’s Save button in order to write new data to EEPROM. In order to load and activate the new configuration, you must REBOOT the node.
- When configuring a node, you should setup basic hardware first. Basic hardware configures the port resources layout objects need.
- Relays are hybrid devices, consisting of specially wired relays and logic for manipulating them. They require DNOU8 ports, and can be set up after basic hardware. Relays can be used for power management, or anything else you want. Turnouts can be linked to relays to control a frog power feed, or a reversing loop relay. Stall motor turnouts (Tortoise) and coil motor turnouts (Atlas, Kato, Peco, etc.) are controlled through relays.
- Scene Objects are groups of outputs and objects that can be activated or deactivated simultaneously, or in a linear or random pattern. One use of the random pattern is to mimic how lights come on at dusk and off at dawn.
- Control Objects are used to read digital inputs—buttons, switches and digital sensors attached to DNIN8 ports —and send messages causing other objects to act. This is for your Control Panel(s). Digital inputs can also be specialized spot detectors, such as photo interrupters, reed switches, mechanical tilt switches and some IR/photo detectors. Control objects also support a virtual port allowing layout objects, such as blocks or turnouts, to control other layout objects.
The Debug Slider turns debug mode on or off. In debug mode, all message traffic is displayed in the Message Window. The current Operations Mode will affect the amount and types of traffic generated and displayed.
This feature is only useful when troubleshooting an issue with support.
The COPY button copies the current contents of the Message Window to the system clipboard. Open Notepad and paste the clipboard contents, then save the Notepad file.
Configuration data is only stored in the non-volatile EEPROM on each Node. Accordingly, you should periodically save your configuration data to files on your PC. The system currently supports a single backup file for each node, overwriting the file each time the configuration is saved. To save multiple copies of Node files, copy them to a different location giving them unique file names.
Saving and Loading Configuration Files
Node configuration files are in human-readable JSON format. They are stored in the ./data subdirectory with the name “node_ID_CFG,json” — e.g. “node_00_CFG.json”, node_01_CFG.json” and so on. Configuration files are stored in the application’s .\user subfolder.
To save a Node’s configuration, simply click . To backup the configuration file or save multiple versions, copy the target data file to a different location.
To restore a configuration previously saved, connect to the Node whose configuration you want to restore, then click . WARNING: the load configuration function will overwrite data stored on the Node and replace it with the configuration data from the file.
If you want to clear your configuration and start over, or a recent change has resulted in undesirable behaviors and you cannot tell which change is causing the problem, a factory reset will restore EEPROM to factory state.
You may want to use Reset EEPROM before loading an existing configuration file to ensure that the device configuration is completely reset.
To reset the device, click , then click OK on the confirmation message.