ATCS stands for Advanced Train Control System. The software monitor allows you to monitor in a graphical form, the train movements on a particular section of railroad that has this system installed. You can view signal indications for absolute signals, switch alignment, and whether or not a train is occupying a section of track. If you have a newer Mac which employs the Intel chip set, purchase a software copy of 'Parallels,' and then after installation install a copy of Windows 7 on your Mac. However have found as a purist, much easier to purchase a net book or a recent off-lease used laptop for use on ATCS. Keep the Mac pure, don't despoil it with the Microsoft OS. This is a user group for ATCS Monitor, a Railroad data, CTC monitor and display for railfans, monitoring enthusiasts, and the industry. Our purpose is to provide a forum to share experiences, advice, tips and ask questions on the use of the software. Currently supported protocols are ATCS, ARES, Genisys, SCS-128 and EOT. Note to prospective members: Upon requesting membership, a questionnaire.
|ATCS Monitoring - maintained by the |
National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) - Harrisburg Chapter
The Harrisburg Chapter of the NRHS maintains a network of ATCS receivers and internet servers covering much of the NS Harrisburg Division. This system allows railroad enthusiasts to view train locations, switch and signal settings and train routing on a graphical display in much the same way as a railroad dispatcher. Using a freeware (no cost) program called “ATCS Monitor” users log into the Harrisburg NRHS’s router to receive the data in much the same way as one would receive railroad radio transmissions via an Internet scanner feed.
What is ATCS?
How is ATCS Useful to Railroad Enthusiasts?
The biggest limitation to receiving ATCS radio signals is that they are in the 900 MHz region. This makes them nearly line-of-sight. The signals are easily blocked by hills, buildings and even heavy vegetation. The railroads solve this problem by placing their equipment on high mountains and/or tall towers. Their high locations give them a clear, line-of-sight 'view' in all directions for many, many miles. Most railfans don't have that advantage. As a result, the typical railfan only has ATCS radio reception for a few miles of railroad in any direction.
Railfans work around this problem by pooling their resources and tying their receivers together by way of the internet. The railroads have one site that covers many, many interlockings. Railroad buffs have many sites, each of which only covers only a few interlockings. However, when you combine the reception of a bunch of railfan sites together, you can begin to cover an entire rail line almost as effectively as the railroad's mountain-top location.
Why the Harrisburg NRHS Became Involved
In order to receive data for this display, we sought out volunteers to host servers in order to receive signals from as much of the area surrounding Harrisburg as possible. Over time we continued adding servers to the mix to solidify coverage of the Harrisburg Terminal and Harrisburg East territories (with some incidental coverage of the Port Road thrown in for good measure).
A Service to the Railfan Community
As a service to railroad enthusiasts, the Harrisburg Chapter of the NRHS makes this data feed available to the railfan community at large, making it possible to view this display in your home. All you need to do is install the ATCSMon freeware and log in. If you are reasonably computer savvy and are interested in viewing this display on your computer, check out http://www.atcsmon.com/ for all the basic information. This site also has a link to the “ATCS Monitor Wiki” which serves an online User’s Manual for the program and a link to the “ATCS Monitor Yahoo! Group” which is the repository for the software and hosts the ATCSMon discussion group. Be sure to read the “Beginners” section of the Wiki before you begin.
Instructions on how to install and use the ATCSMon program are beyond the scope of this page. Please DO NOT contact the Harrisburg NRHS with questions on using the program! After searching the ATCS Wiki for information, direct all such inquiries to the ATCS Monitor Yahoo! Group.
We're working to make railfanning in Central Pennsylvania more enjoyable!
We hope you will enjoy using this service. If you would like to support this and other activities of the Harrisburg Chapter of the NRHS, please consider joining or making a donation. You can join our group here or you can make a donation here.
Thank you for your support!