• Electronic Display Signs on CR Coaches

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

  by RenegadeMonster
 
The 800s and 1800s bi-level cars all have the electronic display signs.

But I noticed their is no consistency on what they display. Some only display the "T" logo. Others just scroll the date and time and some display; "Next Stop _____", "Now Approaching ____," "This Stop is _____" and "Final Stop" while being blank when not displaying this information. While others will continuously scroll the date and time and show stop information. I have even seen some display what appear to be corrupted date and time information with numbers in the 80's and 90's with occasional special symbols like ">" being thrown into the time display. The exterior displays all seem to show the same things as well, but sometimes will just have the trains destination on at all times or get stuck scrolling "Now Approaching ____" for ever to add to the combinations seen inside.

What should a properly set up display sign show? And what controls them. At first I was thinking it probably had to be the control car being a 1800s to display full information, but that's not so. It seems that any control car engine configuration can be set up to show stop information. But there is no consistency to how it is set up. Anyone have any more information on this or know if they plan on improving these in the future?
  by StefanW
 
My understanding is that the PTIS equipment on the 1800s is the only "supplier" of the data other than date & time. Any 800 and/or 1800 series coach in the consist that is not the active control car is the "consumer" of the data from the active 1800 series coach.

The wrong / corrupted information on the LED signs in the rest of the consist I believe are due to the inability of any other coach in the set to carry the data from the 18XX control coach back to the other cars. I believe the LED signs & systems were designed to operate when the consist is entirely made up of 1800 and/or 800 series coaches. Any other coach type between the active control 18XX coach and other 18XX/8XX means the data won't pass through.

Examples:
18XX-8XX-8XX-8XX-8XX-loco -- fully operational LED signs in all coaches
18XX-6XX-16XX-5XX-8XX-loco -- only the 18XX coach would have a chance of working LED signs; the 8XX might have date & time but that's it
16XX-6XX-5XX-8XX-loco -- same thing - the 8XX LED signs might have date & time

Also I believe the reason why the date & time is often wrong on the "marooned" 800-series coaches (and why the LED signs often display garbage) is because the sign controllers in the 8XX coaches are "dumb" and rely on the 18XX coach for time synchronization and resetting. If a coach with an LED sign goes for a long long time without talking to an 1800 series, and without a power-cycle/reboot, the LED controller can get messed up. (No I don't think it uses Windows OS.) :-D

When the Rotem coaches first showed up I remember hearing that the LED signs were there not so much for use "now" but instead more for "later" when eventually all the old non-sign-equipped coaches have been retired. Obviously that's years away so it's been recommended to Keolis that they just shut off the signs entirely. I'm not sure if that's possible or going to happen.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
The differences are all because ASA computer firmware revisions are all over the map on the cab car fleet. And not just on the 1800's; the 1700 rebuilds don't show very much consistency either from the early units to more recent returnees from Alstom.

It's not a hard fix, but somebody has to be assigned to play editor on the consistency and cull together all the customer feedback. Really deep-dive nitpicky stuff right down to whether to insert a colon between "Now Approaching", etc. and the station name because the capital letters make the visual separation of task-related info and place-related info more important. It's mind-numbing to split hairs that far, but it really does matter for accessibility...and matters even more that each train has complete consistency with every other train in how it's treated. Then the changelog has to vetted so they're sure they got it right this time, and uploaded to all cab cars.

There were a couple such format & grammar inconsistencies on the Green Line ASA when it first debuted that were eventually smoothed over through firmware revision. But commuter rail ASA starts off a much, much worse mess of inconsistencies and a much tougher audit with how many different firmwares revs there seem to be scattered throughout the cab fleet.
  by RenegadeMonster
 
Interesting,

Though, yesterday I was on a set made up of 18xx, 3xx, 6xx, 3xx, 8xx, loco that had full stop information. Only car number I remember for sure on that set was 361, which was between the lead bi-level and the quiet car bi-level.

Pretty sure I have seen full stop information without a 18xx in the lead before as well.
  by StefanW
 
RenegadeMonster wrote: Though, yesterday I was on a set made up of 18xx, 3xx, 6xx, 3xx, 8xx, loco that had full stop information. Only car number I remember for sure on that set was 361, which was between the lead bi-level and the quiet car bi-level.

Pretty sure I have seen full stop information without a 18xx in the lead before as well.
I admit I could be wrong! There may have been upgrades / improvements since the time that the Rotems first showed up.
  by RenegadeMonster
 
StefanW wrote:
RenegadeMonster wrote: Though, yesterday I was on a set made up of 18xx, 3xx, 6xx, 3xx, 8xx, loco that had full stop information. Only car number I remember for sure on that set was 361, which was between the lead bi-level and the quiet car bi-level.

Pretty sure I have seen full stop information without a 18xx in the lead before as well.
I admit I could be wrong! There may have been upgrades / improvements since the time that the Rotems first showed up.

My guess is F-Line is probably right on with it having to do with the ASA computer firmware revisions on the Cab Car.

I want to say 90% of the time the trains I take only have one bi-level, 8xxx car. Either second from the engine or first car behind the engine in their configuration. While most of the time they don't display stop information, sometimes they do.

I have also seen trains led by the 18xx that only show date and time including when riding in the 18xx car and other times the full stop information in both the 18xx and the 8xx separated by single level cars. It is for sure not a 18xx leading when you get the garbage date and time.

More often than not though, it's just the "T" logo that the 18xx / 8xx cars display though.
  by KB1KVD
 
The ASA signs inside and on the outside of the coaches are generated by the PTIS system DR600 unit, which is in every cab coach. Since the rotems are the first to have the outside signs, there were numerous problem with the way the PTIS unit interfaced with the ASA sign units. Over the last few months they have managed to start getting the system working properly with firmware bumps and other adjustments.
  by RenegadeMonster
 
I haven noticed some improvements in recent months. Not so much with getting the sets the don't display stop information to display it. But rather those that do display it have had some bugs fixed.

I remember a year ago seeing "Now Approaching (stop name)" displayed where "Now Approaching" scrolls and the stop name displayed center. It kept pace with the audio message so "Now Approaching" didn't even fully appear yet on the displays before being cleared and replaced with the stop name. I haven't seen that in several months now that I think about it. Now all the info shows with ample time and repeats once.

I have also noticed when arriving at North Station in the morning these displays now say "Final Stop" during the "This is the final stop, please don't forget your belongings..." audio message that follows only on some trains now after the "Now Arriving at North Station" message.


Next up, fixing the erroneous stop information. It never fails every morning when we stop at North Station the system says and displays "This stop is Newburyport". I have also heard that or "This Stop is Rockport" as well as seen it display on the signs at Chelsea, Lynn and Swampscott on occasion.
  by octr202
 
Couple thoughts...

When the Rotems were new, if the set had a 1800 cab and an 800 trailer, the 800 would get sign info from the cab, even if separated by flats. So they've always been able to trainline the sign data, just need the right cab car on the set. Of course, that data was often wrong for other reasons.

The "destination" announcement on arrival at North Station is something I've noticed for a long time...I always thought it had something to do with the computer automatically flipping to the next train in that set's schedule. IIRC 202 used to flip to announcing Beverly until the last schedule change, when it became Reading.
  by Echo33d
 
The thing that really bugs me about seeing "Now Arriving At Lynn" or whatever on a train at North Station is not so much that it's the wrong station (because that type of bug can happen with any system) but fundamentally that "Now Arriving At" is the wrong information to put on the outside of a train! People on the platform already know what station they are at! Signage on the outside of a vehicle should show the destination of that vehicle, perhaps with some extra details like "Express" or "Local" or "via Haverhill Line," or maybe with the train number.
  by RenegadeMonster
 
Echo33d wrote:The thing that really bugs me about seeing "Now Arriving At Lynn" or whatever on a train at North Station is not so much that it's the wrong station (because that type of bug can happen with any system) but fundamentally that "Now Arriving At" is the wrong information to put on the outside of a train! People on the platform already know what station they are at! Signage on the outside of a vehicle should show the destination of that vehicle, perhaps with some extra details like "Express" or "Local" or "via Haverhill Line," or maybe with the train number.

Yeah, those would make a lot more since to be displayed on the outside of the train than Now Arriving at or scrolling the data and time. Though at least I think there is some attempt at this. I have noticed some trains that always say "Newburyport" whether they are inbound our outbound.
  by octr202
 
In my experience they hardly ever displayed destinations, just the ongoing incorrect station announcements.

Then there are the times (early on) when I saw sets at North Station signed up for "Middleboro" or "Franklin."
  by RenegadeMonster
 
Definitely starting to notice the the recent upgrades this week.

For example, most trains sitting at North Station now say "Boston" on the external displays. You don't have 3 that say Newburyport or One scrolling something like "Now Arriving at Swapscott". I have also noticed the trains that say "Boston" don't flip to the next run when the arrive at North Station. No more "This stop is Newburyport".

All inbound trains coming through Salem this week have bene displaying "Boston" on the Outside and Outbound either has Newburyport or Rockport. Well, not every train, I noticed trains led by the 1600s control cars have the garbled date and time... So definitely a good improvement.

Did notice a old bug is back though. When arriving at North station the Electronic display started Scrolling "Now Arriving At" but didn't get a chance to fully appear on the display before being cleared and replaced by a static "Final Stop". Shouldn't the "Final Stop" Not appear until it finishes scrolling the previous message / location?


Also, saw a very odd bug this morning. Can a adjacent train send send a signal to another train for the displays. Or did they just introduce a new bug? Both a inbound and outbound train were at Swampscott this morning and both pulled out at the same time. I was on the inbound and we got the "Next Stop Salem" on our displays. No audio message to accompany it. Never seen that one before and it definitely has not been a part of the programing for I think train 160, forget the exact train number I normally take.



Looks like not all the 1800s have been updated yet though. 1807 That was leading the train I was on this morning was. But we pulled into North Station next to 1808 which was stuck scrolling "Now Arriving At Swampscott" over and over on the external displays...
  by johnpbarlow
 
Fitchburg line train this AM had both of its bilevels displaying "Wachusett" upon arriving Wachusett. Display switched to "Boston" as it departed east.
  by RenegadeMonster
 
Was on the set with control cab 1808 tonight. The one where I saw it was repeatedly scrolling "Now Arriving At Swapscott" this morning.

It was a Rockport Bond train, but tonight 1808 only displayed "Lowell". Not Rockport. Also, Car 815 was only displaying the "T" logo. I noticed there was a 200s, 600s and a 1600s between the 1808 and 815. I wonder if the 1600s was why the info wasn't being piped through. Though it appears this 1600s had its cab controls disabled. There were no horns on the roof.