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I've run in to some problems with the train detection on my layout and I'm considering other options. I need a 100% reliable means to automatically operate 2 passing loops and station passing loops which will allow 3 trains per line.

I don't know whether to use PC control or my via my DCC control (Powercab). I'm happy to try either but it has to be reliable. I've made attempts already with IR detectors etc but, through no fault of the equipment used, I just can't get it 100%.
 

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I can make suggestions for alternative detection methods but as I have no experience of any of them, I certainly can't promise 100% reliability.

1) Use a current detector such as that available from LDT. This will only work with DCC.
2) Use a short section of rail which only gets power when shorted by the wheels of a train.
3) Use reed switches triggered by magnets
4) Use DCC modules designed for the purpose. If I remember correctly, Steve Jones of www.electricnose.co.uk uses Lenz units to provide feedback to his Railroad & Co software. Using this he shuffles DMUs along a partitioned track in his fiddle yard.

David
 

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For detection I use "old fashioned" reed switches & magnets, although many people don't like them. Magnets on locos triggering reeds mounted in the centre of the track & magnets on the last vehicle of each train triggering reeds to one side of the track - that way you can get 100% failsafe block working, although only for trains left in rakes.

Which ever form of electronics you use should be reliable - the more likely cause of failure will probably be mechanical, such as point/point motors.
 
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