CS452 - Real-Time Programming - Spring 2015

Lecture 19 - Trains

Public Service Annoucements

  1. Kernel 4 due in class on 18 June.
  2. The exam has three start times. The end times are 26.5 hours after the start time.
    Answers to questions asked from 19.30, 4 August to 22.00, 4 August will be answered on the newsgroup, whether they arrive by e-mail or on the newsgroup.
  3. You can download data from the terminal, such as the track graph, by putting a file onto the terminal program's output.
  4. You can upload data to the terminal by sending its input to a file.

Calibration I

Where is a train?

For your project you choose landmarks

You then know when the train is at a given landmark, and find a way -- most likely by integrating velocity -- to know how far it is past the landmark at any given time. To do so, you need to know each train's velocity for a full range of operational parameters.

1. Calibrating Stopping Distance

The simplest objective:

Sequence of events

  1. Train triggers sensor at t
  2. Application receives report at t 1 = t + Δ 1
  3. You give command at t 2 = t + Δ 1 + Δ 2
  4. Train receives and executes command at t 3 = t + Δ 1 + Δ 2 + Δ 3
  5. Train slows and stops at t 4 = t + Δ 1 + Δ 2 + Δ 3 + Δ 4

Questions you need to answer


  1. The sequence of events above has a whole lot of small delays that get added together
  2. Knowing where you stop is very important when running the train on routes that require reversing. Knowing how long it takes the train to stop is also important.
  3. Clearly, knowing when you stop is equally important.

This is very time-consuming!

Now make a table

Sensor 1 Sensor 2 ...
Speed 6
Speed 8

There are enough measurements in each cell of the table that you can estimate the random error. (Check with other groups to make certain that your error is not too big.)

Based on calibrations I have seen in previous terms you will find substantial variation with speed setting and train, little variation with sensor.

Group across cells that have the `same' value. Maybe all have the same value.

Hint. Interacting with other groups is useful to confirm that you are on track. Of course, simply using another group's calibration, with or without saying so, is `academic dishonesty'.

Measuring the time to stop

A good measure of the stopping time is possible only when you have a good velocity calibration.

2. Calibrating Constant Velocity

At this point there are a few places on the track where you can stop with a precision of a train length or better. However, suppose you want to stop not sitting on a switch.

To do this successfully you have to be able to give the stop command anywhere on the track.

Calibrating Velocity

An implicit assumption you make is that the future will closely resemble the past.

  1. You measure the time interval between two adjacent sensor reports.
  2. Knowing the distance between the sensors you calculate the velocity of the train Subtraction removes the constant part of delays. Note that on average the lag mentioned above -- waiting for sensor read, time in train controller, time in your system before time stamp -- is unimportant.
  3. After many measurements you build a table

Using Resources Effectively

The most scarce resources

The most plentiful resource

Any time you can use a plentiful resource to eliminate use of a scarce one you have a win. For example

Practical Problems You Have to Solve

  1. The table is too big.
  2. The values you measure vary randomly.

The values you measure vary systematically

How Long does it Take to Stop?

Try the following exercise.

  1. Choose a sensor.
  2. Put the train on a course that will cross the sensor.
  3. Run the train up to a constant speed.
  4. Give the speed zero command at a location that stops the train with its contact on the sensor
  5. Calculate the time between when you gave the command and when the sensor triggered.
  6. Look for regularities.

3. Calibrating Acceleration and Deceleration: short distances.

Trains often must travel short distance, starting with the train stopped, and finishing with it stopped. When doing so the train spends its whole time either accelerating or decelerating. Your constant speed calibration is useless because the train doesn't travel at constant speed. Simmilarly your measured stopping distances are not useful.

Creating a perfect calibration of the train's position while it is accelerating is hard. But there is an easy and precise calibration that covers most of the moves the train makes where you need a good calibration It's the subject of this section.

Most of the your train project can get away with ignoring acceleration and decelleration. The one place you can't is when you are doing a short move, giving a speed command followed by a stop command before it gets up to speed. How far will the train go? How long will it be before the train is fully stopped?

Short moves are common when the train is changing direction, which you need to increase the number of possible paths from one point to another.

The general idea is to give the train a carefully timed series of commands knowing how far and for how long the train moves during the series of commands.

A procedure to calibrate short moves.

Write a small application that performs the following sequence of actions.

  1. Place the train on the track in the sort of location where you expect to make short moves.
  2. Give the train a speed n command, where n is big enough to get the train moving reliably.
  3. Wait t seconds.
  4. Give the train a speed 0 command.
  5. Measure how far the train travelled from its initial location.
  6. You how far the train will travel for the chosen values of n and t.
Experiment with different values of t and n until you have a reasonable set of distances you can travel.

You now know how far the train moves for a given sequence of commands.

  1. Position the train that distance ahead of a sensor.
  2. Read the time and give a speed n command.
  3. After t seconds give a speed 0 command.
  4. When the train triggers the sensor read the time again.
The distance between the two readings is the time it takes to make that short move.

Together with knowing when and where the train will stop if given the speed 0 command when running at a constant velocity, this will provide most projects with all the calibration they need. But you can do better.

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