The plan for all layout ideas is that DCC will be the plan from the start.
The initial cost is higher, but the ease of wiring, and the simplicity and much better ability to operate wins it for me.
Being able to control the layout with a computer running software like JMRI or similar appeals to me. Especially as some of that software has Android apps.
So likelihood is a computer control module, plus JRMI, plus the Android app will give good operation potentially for at the very least West Cromwell Road as that is a relatively small layout plan.
It might be a bit more complex for the Chilmark layout, but will still be far simpler and easier for me to manage than a traditional DC layout with all the isolation, switches and what-not!
I’m a geek, so getting more technology involve is always going to appeal.
I’ve recently been thinking that the points and signals could be controlled with an Arduino board, leaving the DCC to control just the locos, this might make it far cheaper decoder wise. As potentially one Arduino board could do the entire West Cromwell Road layout, though probably two or 3 might be needed. They’re cheap (£15-20) and theres lots of documentation about them on the internet (especially as they’re popular for robotics).
Then theres devices like the Raspberry Pi. An ARM SoC device that’s very small and cheap. This is aimed at the educational market in a similar vein to the BBC Micro computer. The aim of the project is to encourage better education of children in schools, and to promote teaching of programming skills.
I’m waiting till they’re released to get hold of one and test it for using XBMC on it to use as a media computer. The size and silent nature of it, and of course the cost, appeal for various reasons. The only question is how it copes with various video codecs. Will be fun to have a play I’m sure.
Another option is also a cheap internet tablet hack-up, with a small touch screen attached. Something like this I feel could prove beneficial on a model railway layout also, and not needing a full spec PC or laptop.
Lots of exciting things to think about.
Other whacky ideas I had was for the Chilmark layout to be dual-layer. By that I mean storage underneath the main area of the layout to save space. And a cassette stack that can go up/down to use the storage area. Whether it is workable is another matter entirely!