Case Study

CAN in peripherals of model railway

The new Central Station 60213 from Märklin Digital, the hardware for which was designed and manufactured by Kontron, uses CAN as a uniform field-bus for connecting peripherals. With the launch of the station, CAN command semantics have been laid open for users and third party suppliers. The platform, which was introduced in September 2008, is a model railway control system containing over 37 individual components from the leading digital railway system. In addition to existing components it contains a new graphical control interface for adjusting signals and points.
The control station is the central interface for the entire model railway, even for older locomotives. For complex layouts there is cascading and distributed control via mobile control units (company’s Mobile Station 60652). The station has two integrated throttles for independent and simultaneous control of two locomotives. Depending on the decoder type, the locomotives register automatically, are selected from an integrated database or are set-up manually. The information on the locomotive can be transferred from smart cards via a reader. Operation is eased thanks to the user interface that incorporates all the familiar digital control elements associated with Märklin. A physical display panel monitors the points represented with red and green buttons. The intuitive interface enables users without any technical knowledge to understand and use the system.
The station is operated via touch screen and soft keys and is based on processor technology that is also used in PDAs (personal digital assistant). The hardware platform is based on the Marvell PXA270 processor with typical power input of 500 mW. Graphic performance is sufficient for 3D games and video playback, enabling a graphic interface with a resolution of 800 pixels × 400 pixels without time lags. The operating system is a modified Gentoo Linux system. System interfaces allow connection of all the digital equipment developed from the company since introduction of digital technology 24 years ago. The system supports company’s proprietary S88 and 6017 busses as well as four CAN-based field-bus interfaces. It also provides USB and Ethernet interfaces.