Line Operations Manual

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Some of the Stellwerk simulations can be connected together so that you can dispatch traffic sent to you by other people via the Internet. Connecting simulations together so that you can dispatch traffic over an entire line is what we call Line Operation

Connecting to other simulations is usually easy; enabling this feature requires sometimes requires some configuration of your firewall and router.

Note: More detailed information about how the structure of the simulation network works is described in the article Simulation Network In Detail

Viewing / Starting / Joining

The Dispatcher Supervisor is used to:

  • View an existing line operation, to have a global overview over what is happening where on the line.
  • Join an existing line operation session where you act as a dispatcher.

Setting up a new Line operation is done from within a signal box simulation which features Line Operations. There are two options:

  • Easy mode: this will publish your Line Operation in the Dispatcher Supervisor, enabling other people to connect to you, even if they do not know you personally.
  • Expert mode: setup a Line Operation for within your own network environment. Others need to know your Internet connection details to join.

Joining an existing Line Operation can also be done from within a simulation which features Line operation. The two options are:

  • Viewing an existing Line Operation: this will actually bring you back to the Dispatcher Supervisor, from where you select which Line operation you want to join. You will find that it is easier to start the Dispatcher Supervisor on it's own. This option is included so that people can "discover" the Dispatcher Supervisor application.
  • Manually join an existing Line Operation: if you know the Internet/LAN connection details of the neighbouring signal box, you can configure and connect your simulation directly, without the need for the Dispatcher Supervisor. You will not be able to view the line operation the way you would in "easy" mode.

Things to Know and Do Before Starting

Ports

When one computer sends data to another computer via a network, the data is usually sent from, and to, specified ports. Network ports are not like physical ports you find at the back of your computer for connecting monitors and keyboards – network ports are "software addresses" that allow computer programs to be specific about where in the target machine the data is to be sent.

If you are surfing the web with a browser while simultaneously chatting using an instant messaging application, web data is sent to a different port than the data coming in from the person you’re chatting with.

The Stellwerk simulation series expects data to arrive via a specific ports – you can specify which port to use, but by default, port 55386 is used for the connection with an other simulation, and port '55387' for the passive view in the Supervisor application.

The Stellwerk simulations use port 55386 by default (TCP protocol) for connecting with neighbouring simultions. The Stellwerk simulations use port 55387 by default (UDP protocol) for publishing the track and signal statusses towards the Supervisor application (passive view).

Port Forwarding

The router in a typical LAN acts as a gateway between computers in that LAN, and other machines outside of the LAN. Normally, requests for data from outside a LAN are rejected by the router for security purposes.

In order to instruct the router that traffic destined for Post T / Stellwerk simulation should be allowed, port forwarding must be turned on. In simple terms, the router must be told to allow traffic destined for a specific port (in this case, 55386) to be forwarded to your specific IP address.

Consult your router’s manual, or visit PortForward.Com to see if your router is listed. For convenience, sample port forwarding is shown below:

Multiplayer en router settings.png

The computer to which data is forwarded is specified by an IP address. It is recommended that your computer’s LAN IP address be static – consult your operating system’s manual to learn how to configure your machine to use a static IP. Refer to the Section Other Helpful Resources for some online resources that will help you set up a static IP and port forwarding.

Firewalls

Computers should have firewalls installed and configured to provide additional network security. If you are using a firewall on your computer, ensure that the port you are using (typically, 55386) is open. If it is not, you’ll discover that no one will be able to connect to you.

Some firewalls can detect when an application needs a port opened, and will kindly ask your permission to open the port. Consult the manual for your firewall to add an entry.

Dispatcher Supervisor (Line Operations viewer)

The Supervisor is a tool which gives you a graphical overview of an active Line Operation session and shows where the trains are and which routes have been set by the dispatchers of the various signal boxes.

It gives you the following options:

  • monitor your own Line Operations or the one you joined
  • check which Line Operations are active with the ability to join Line Operations (become a dispatcher)

The Dispatcher Supervisor is a free tool that can be downloaded from the Signalsoft website.

When Dispatcher Supervisor starts, you will see the following screen:

Start screen

The start screen has the following options available:

  • Settings: port settings for Line Operation communications
  • About: information about the Dispatcher Supervisor tool and installed simulations that can be used with it
  • View Available lines: view the current active Line Operation sessions
  • Language: change which language the program uses

Settings

When you are going to use the Dispatcher Supervisor for the first time, you must check your settings first. Under Settings you must define which Port the Supervisor tool will use use for viewing the available lines. For this, you must have a port opened, using the UDP protocol, on both your router as well as in your firewall.

The Supervisor tool uses port 55385 (UDP protocol) by default for viewing available lines.

Use the Test button to check if your port setting is working.

About

The About button will open a window showing which simulations are currently installed on your computer.

Remagen, Bonn, and Bonn-Bad Godesberg must be installed and licensed in order to join. Otherwise, the user may only view.

View Available lines

When you select the View Available lines, a new window will open, showing all the currently active Line Operation sessions.

Show lines

The following information is shown per listed Line Operation session:

  • Name: as configured by the person who started the Line Operation.
  • Line: name of the group/series of simulations being dispatched.
  • Dispatchers: the number of dispatchers connected to the session. This is the number of signal boxes (simulations) already connected to the session.
  • Up time: the time that the session is running.
  • Last activity: the time since the last moment one of the dispatcher has taken action on his signal box.
  • Password: a symbol that indicates if a session requires a password to join.

The Refresh button can be pressed to update the list of available lines.

Select one of the available lines and then press the View button to see the details of that Line Operation session.

Open and Password-Protected Line Operations

Someone who organizes a Line Operation session may decide to add a password to his session. There can be many reasons for doing so, but one of the reasons could be that the organizer wants only people he invited to join in.

You can recognize if a Line Operation session is password protected or not by means of the following icons:

Icon Meaning Description
inline No password The listed Line Operation is freely accessible to join in
inline Password required The listed Line Operation requires a password to be able to join in. The person who has initially started the Line operation has to provide this password.

Viewing a Line Operation

When you have choosen to view an existing line operation, you will get a window similar to what is shown below:

Viewing a line

In this example you are viewing a line operation between Bonn Hbf and Remagen. You can see where the trains, the signal states and which routes have been set.

Note: Signals showing grey states are the first indication that that part of the line is not being operated by a player yet

On the bottom right an icon is shown which tells you your connection status with the current line operation. See below in the section Statusses of Dispatcher Supervisor.

On the bottom left you will have buttons with the abbreviation of each signal box that can be or is connected to the current line operation. In these buttons, you will also notice some colored status indications. More on this below in the section Stations/signal boxes.

The button Shunt signals toggles shunt signal visibility. Press it to show shunt signals. Press it again to hide them.

Statuses of Dispatcher Supervisor

On the bottom right an icon is shown, which tells you your connection status with the current line operation. If the icon is showing anything else than the green icon, you are likely to have a problem with your port settings or firewall. The viewer will show no data or incorrect data in that case.

Next to this status indication you will also see two letters flashing :

  • 'S' The Dispatcher Supervisor application is sending data to the connected simulations of this Line Operation (actually just asking for updated data)
  • 'R' The Dispatcher Supervisor application is receiving data from the connected simulations of this Line Operation (actually getting the shown viewing data)


Icon Meaning Description
inline Error This is typically an error state - no port forwarding detected and/or no simulation data received. Something is seriously wrong.
inline Faults Either port forwarding detected OR simulation data received, but not both. There could be a problem, but you may be able to send/receive some data
inline OK port forwarding OK, AND simulation data has been received.

Stations/signal boxes

The station buttons, or better signal box buttons, have a couple of purposes:

  1. to show if a signal box is already occupied by a player, and thus showing if the signal box is taking part in the Line operation
  2. to connect to the line operation yourself, with the selected signal box simulation. Of course, you *must* have the selected signal box simulation installed and licensed in order to be able to join in.

If you decide to join a Line operation, click the appropiate button. Your simulation will be started automatically and connect to the Line Operation session. You can only connect to a direct neighbour. For example: If Remagen is occupied, and the rest not, you can only connect with the Bonn-Bad Godesberg simulation and not with Bonn Hbf. Line Operation requires a chain of connected signal boxes, so no gaps in between.

Note: before joining a line operation you must have set the proper port settings in the simulation itself. How this is done is described in one of the sections below.

Icon Meaning Description
inline No Available Neighbours The signal box is available, but no neighbours are available with which to connect.
inline Occupied The signal box is already part of the current line operation. (Someone else has already connected to the Line Operation with this Signalbox simulation.)
inline Problem The signal box is free to join, but a valid signal box simulation is not installed, or is not properly licensed.
inline Available Indicates that the signalbox for this part of the running Line Operation is available. You can join in with this signal box simulation. Click the button to connect to the Line Operation with your simulation.

Starting Line Operations

After starting the simulator application, locate the "Line Operations" button with the green and black icon. Press this button to begin configuring Line Operations.

Line operations button en.png

You will be given a choice: do you want to start a new line operation, view existing line operations or join an existing one?

Choices line operations
  • Starting New Line Operations will start your own Line Operations to which others can join
  • View existing Line Operations will start the Dispatcher Supervisor application. From there you can also join an existing Line Operations
  • Join existing Line Operation (expert) will let you join an existing Line Operations, however requiring some manually actions from your end.

Starting New Line Operations

You will have to possibities when you choose to Start new Line Operations:

  • Begin Line Operations: this is the easy mode to setup new Line Operations
  • Begin (Expert) : here you have more control on how the Line Operations is setup, i.e. for LAN only. Other users need to know your server details to be able to connect.

Begin Line Operations (Easy mode)

To start New Line Operations in easy mode, make sure you have selected the tab 'Begin Line Operations'

Setting up new Line Operations in Easy mode

Fill in your Full Name, your Line Name and a Password (optional: if you want to protect your session with a password) Then press the Setup Line Operations button

The message "OK ... Press 'Start' should now appear, and Green border around the Start button should appear.

Start new Line Operations in Easy mode

If all your ports are properly configured, the simulation will start.

Begin Line Operations (Expert mode)

See Begin Line Operation (Expert).

Manually Joining a Line Operation

See Manually Joining a Line Operation.

Dispatching when doing Line Operations

Very little is different when dispatching with real people instead of the simulated neighbours. The ZNP801 system, for example, is no different, and operates exactly the same regardless of the type of neighbour you're communicating with (real or simulated).

Communications

One minor difference is the use of the communication panel. Calling a line operation neighbour is done the same way, but communications are handled using a specialised button panel, shown in the communication window, below:

Talking with a neighbour

Button Meaning
H Standard greeting: "Here Dispatcher <station>." Automatically sends message when pressed.
? Offers a message to determine if someone is still on the communication line: "Hello? You still there?"
Z Begins a message to a train: "Train Message: ________"
R Helps to start a repetition message: "I repeat: ________"
E A generic termination message: "Thank you! End"
X Halt sending traffic: "Please do not send trains! I can't have more trains at the moment! Thanks!"
C Clears input.
Send Sends input.

You are free to type any input in the text box, followed by pressing the Send button.

Telephone

When in Line Operations mode, each dispatcher is able to communicate with any other dispatcher through the use of a telephone. Each dispatcher has a unique telephone number. The phone numbers for Project Rheingold are listed in the Project Rheingold Phone Directory.

To telephone another dispatcher, locate the Telefon button on the communication panel, and press it. You'll be presented with a keypad.

Dial the number of the dispatcher you wish to call, followed by the button with the green telephone receiver icon. Then, press the green Ruf communication panel button. (Note: if you make a mistake when dialing the number, or wish to cancel your call, press the button with the red X.)

When the dispatcher answers, you will have a textbox with a Send button. Communication occurs much the same way as when calling your neighbours when doing Line Operations. Either dispatcher (caller or callee) may end the telephone communication by pressing the Ende button on the communication panel.

The Line Operations telephone system only works when there is a complete, connected path of simulations between the two telephone parties. Any simulation not connected between caller and callee represents an open circuit, and communication between those two dispatchers will not be possible.

Telephone Keypad

Faxes

Refer to the article on faxes.

Line Operation options while in simulation

While you are actually running your simulation you have various options with respect to the status of your signal box as a server for the Line operation and connection statusses.

Line Operation status

To view the current status of Line Operations, use the Line Operations > Status... menu item. Here, you can retrieve your current server code (if you forgot to copy it when originally starting Line Operations) or the Line Operation password, if one is defined.

Each connected dispatcher is also listed.

Status Line Operations

Warn

This button gives the selected user a warning dialog. This is intended to be used for participants that are not being cooperative or are inattentive dispatchers.

Kick

This button removes the user from Line Operations. This should only be used as a last resort, after having exhausted other means of resolving differences with other dispatchers.

Connection Status

While in a simulation and when participating in a line operation you will see the following status icons on the status bar:

Icon Meaning Description
Error Error This is typically an error state - something is seriously wrong. In some cases it means that the system is waiting for something to happen. If this icon persists, it is very likely that no one will connect to you.
Not connected Not connected This is what the icon will look like when the Line Operation session is first started - the session is active but no one has connected.
Connected Connected Indicates the number of signal boxes connected to your signal box.


If you are also running your simulation as a Dispatcher Center, you will have a second icon next to it. That icon shows the number of assistant dispatchers that have connected to your signalbox via the Multiplayer client.

Ending Line Operations

To stop all Line Operations, use the Line Operations > End menu item. Any connected neighbours will be disconnected. Rail traffic will appear not via the Internet, but from the timetable (as it does normally).

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