How it started

When I turned 14, I got a model train. I remember I started to draw an endless stream of headerlayouts on paper. Once the (cheap carton) track was laid, the driving experience often was frustrating. When driving slow, the trains would stutter or halt. To avoid that, they needed to drive unrealisticly fast.

A few years later there were other interests: newspaper delivery job, some money to spend on a stereo, a motorcycle, a girlfriend. The train was sold.

In 2014 working less meant more spare time and I renewed my interest in model railways. It is all DCC control nowadays, which seems great. But man … those prices … liquid gold! Since my interest still was mainly on the design side, the PC came to rescue. There were train sims! And they set you back just some $40,- !

I tried Train SimulatorTrain Simulator. It seemed to focus more on the driving experience, while I like to play around more with the layout. Then I tried Trainz. It suited me better, there was more room to Trainzcreate your own layouts, be it that track can only be laid ‘loosely’, not with exact coordinates. AIso the automated driving has ‘a mind of its own’, it drives trains around in ways not intended, some times even backwards.

Eisenbahn-XThen I came across Eisenbahn-X, a German program. In the mean time there also is an English version, called Railroad-X. That was it to me … a model rail sim! There is a learning curve and the program has its quirks, but once ‘mastered’ fun things can be done with it. For those interested, I published a series of tutorials on youtube. There’s an example here a the top. There is also a German EEP forum where people are friendly and always help out.

Beginning of 2014 I joined a hobby club, the Eindhovense Modelbouwvereniging (EMV). Members are very friendly and they offer their knowledge and help. I quickly felt at home. After a while it started to ‘itch’ to buid my own layout at home to tinker with. With all the support of club members available as a backup I decided to ‘go for it’ and start my own model railway project.

July 2014 the first purchase was made: 2 locs and 2 DCC decoders. They were on offer with the Grootendorst railway hobby shop. Aroco-v90n offer I couldn’t resist … hehe … I did not even have any track or a control system yet! Buying these locs brought me at the point of no return … the project is a go! 🙂


17 thoughts on “How it started

  1. I was following your old tutorials back in 2017 and learnt a lot about EEP and Lua.

    Now 3 weeks ago I found a new program called 3D-Modellbahnstudio. There is a free version and
    a professional for a decent price (15 Euro).

    I came back to your videos and tried to migrate your Random IO module. I ended up with a much simpler solution
    (basically just 15 lines of code).

    You should definately check it out.


    Posted by Magnetilo | July 8, 2022, 12:30
  2. Hello Ruud, I looked all your videos about ESU Ecos and Train Controller with great interest, fun and learned a lot of it. Based on this I also bought my own Ecos and Traincontroller Gold and build a new test track layout. I use Cobalt digital IP turnout drives which can be directly connected to the DCC bus, because they have their own decoder integrated. Now my problem :every time the DCC power of the ECos is switched off and on again some of the turnouts switch to a preference position that is not according the latest position and indicated on the Ecos ? Do you know how I can prevent this automatic switching of turnouts when the DCC power is switched on at the Ecos ?
    Thanks in advance for your support

    Armand uit Maastricht (en werkzaam bij ASML Veldhoven)


    Posted by Armand Dassen | April 2, 2019, 10:48
    • I have no idea … over here with me the ECoS never starts to switch anything at DCC power up. Could it be that the previous state has not been properly saved? Switch off the ECoS via a long press on the Off button until the screen says “Safe to unplug”, or a similar message.


      Posted by RudyB | April 4, 2019, 11:51
  3. hi Rudy was hoping you were going to make a tc video on turntables ,is it possible that we will see one ,best of regards Greg whayman


    Posted by greg whayman | July 12, 2018, 13:41
  4. Hi Ruddy,
    Thanks for your reply, but after catching up on all your YouTube videos (very enjoyable) and some of your blog (great detail), I think I’m hooked on the ESU ECoS2, like you said “appeal” it’s ability to interface is very nice.
    While the Arduino seemed complex initially (I glazed over once or twice), I am sure I can work through it and catch up and realise the benefits.
    In your videos you made some great distinctions about realistic speed, and the need not to get to the next station, so true, have fun.
    Yes my project is very large, and I cannot afford to get it wrong, so you can understand how appreciative I am for the time you have taken to share this knowledge.

    best regards


    Posted by stanley ellames | June 21, 2015, 04:55
    • Hehe, yes, that’s exactly what did it, ’sex appeal’!

      With a large lay out like yours I’m not sure if I’d use the ‘el cheapo’ Arduino servo drives though. Your goals may very well differ quite much from mine. To me part of the fun and challenge was to see if I could use Arduino’s for DCC servo and S88 detector feedback and also to find the cheapest possible solutions for anything (apart from the ECoS that is 🙂 ).

      On my small layout all goes well, but there have been troubles on the way. Please have a look at the threads where the servo issues are discussed. With your large layout, you might want to strive for the highest possible reliability and use well known products to safeguard that? A possible candidate for turnout switching (with electrofrog) could e.g. be Cobalt motors:


      Posted by RudyB | June 21, 2015, 07:22
  5. Hi Ruud,
    regarding the DCC ESU Ecos choice detail, found it but in an earlier blog, thanks


    Posted by stanley ellames | June 20, 2015, 12:07
    • Hi Stanley. Wow, that is quite a plan you have there, running 50 trains! I’d be curious to hear or see some more as soon as there is some progress?

      I read you already found the ECoS ‘rationale’ in an earlier post:

      I had planned to write some more on the pro’s and con’s of a few different systems, but I never came to that, there was always too much other ‘work’ to do.

      Actually, now that I’m using TC, a ‘full fledged’ CS with an extended user interface as the ECoS is not really nessessary anymore. As a simpler and less expensive alternative I might opt for a SPROG 3 in that case. Still the ECoS is nice to have in combination with TC. TC offers so many interesting ways to drive manually, through the automated traffic … and an ECoS makes for a very nice ‘throttle’!


      Posted by RudyB | June 20, 2015, 15:01
  6. Hallo, Hoi Ruud,
    Firstly, thank you so much for both this blog and your YouTube channel, I was so impressed I actually subscribed (first time ever) it is very informative and enjoyable to watch and read, well done.
    I am looking for exactly what you are doing !! a good level of model railway automation which is both straightforward and reliable.
    I have pondered this problem for a number of months, and as my layout will be large, with more than fifty locomotives (already acquired) and over forty points in the viewing area, which is over seven metres in length, I need a solid control system, as you have presented – train controller gold.
    I’m currently catching up on your blog and videos, but I have a small question: and not from a cost perspective, but why ESU Ecos ? if you have answered it somewhere, I will find it.
    I too got a train set when I was young, and also I now have time for this unfinished business, the only difference is I never sold any of it, just kept it for sentimental value.
    Again thank you, trust you are having as much fun as I am.
    best regards


    Posted by Stanley Ellames | June 20, 2015, 06:29
  7. Hoi;

    Dank je, dit werkt, ik kan ermee uit de voeten.

    Groet …


    Posted by Dieter | January 18, 2015, 21:09
  8. Hallo;

    Dit is de moeite waard om te volgen, u heeft hierin best interessante zaken opgenomen.
    Alleen is mijn Engels niet zo geweldig en laat zich dit draadje ook niet vertalen met Bing o.i.d. naar het Nederlands.

    Misschien 2-talig uitvoeren ?? …

    Groet …


    Posted by Dieter | January 18, 2015, 18:03
    • Hallo Dieter, kan de webpagina’s vertalen. Links taal English kiezen en rechts Dutch. Het webpagina adres (url) in het linkervak kopieren en op translate klikken. Komt wel een robot taaltje uit, maar is toch redelijk leesbaar.


      Posted by rudyb2014 | January 18, 2015, 18:43
    • Hi Rudy! I wondered if you have an email address you can be contacted at? My father is very keen to watch your videos on Train Controller software that you have posted on YouTube, I think there are about 55 of them. He has difficulties using YouTube due to poor vision and would like to know if you are able to supply him with the videos (obviously at a cost) either in hard format or send them to him digitally? He finds youtube very difficult to navigate.


      Posted by Claire Fennell | June 13, 2020, 11:58

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