We use a software application called TrainController running on a standard PC running Windows XP. The computer is linked to the LocoNet bus and monitors all the sensors. The application works with the Digitrax DCC hardware on McKinley railway (as well as many others) and requires no programming knowledge. You can purchase it on the Internet and is the most widely used software package for controlling trains.
We describe the steps you must take to run your trains under computer control. The first thing to do is create a "Switchboard" window. In this window you create a computer copy of your layout with every point, sensor and block defined. It takes time to enter all this data, but it only has to be done once.
The next step is to create the block diagram in the Dispatcher window. If your layout isn't too complicated, it can create it automatically. This window shows the logical connection between all blocks on the layout.
You can then ask the software to take a train from any location on the layout to any other locations. It will run the train realistically, setting points accordingly and avoiding conflicts.
You can also teach TrainController about the characteristics of your locomotives and the type of train they can pull. Once the software has this information, it will be able to move the trains at realistic speeds and turn functions, like sound and lights, on and off automatically
You can have any number of trains running around the layout at any one time and enjoy the spectacle with a cup of tea.