Sunday, February 27, 2011

Seems some things never change! The NMRAnet saga 3 years on

When I wrote my post yesterday referring to the debacle surrounding the NMRA and the NMRAnet process I had in the back of my mind that this had been going on for a long time, what I had forgotten was that I posted on  the same broken process back in April of 2008, close to three whole years ago. In that post I referred to the process that had been going off the rails routinely for the previous 12 months. Which means this debacle must have been going on for about 4 years now!


And we still can't get a sensible word out of the NMRA process.

During that time an amazing group of people have developed the bulk of a standard series and protocol family known as OpenLCB. Their work and their efforts in the NMRAnet working group have formed the basis of the S9.x.1 standard proposal which has been butchered by the amateurs I referred to yesterday. As a part of that effort I find the last minute unsupported modifications outside of the working group process to be an abomination.

How much longer does it have to go on?

Or maybe it needs to come to a stop now, and like the DCC working group before it, fade into oblivion. Since June of 2009 the DCC community has been split in two. A US based manufacturers group which only admits established large scale commercial DCC manufacturers to its discussions, and a European group which insists that all its meetings will be in Europe and business conducted in German. If the NMRAnet working group persists, then I wonder how long it will be before we come to the same impasse?

In the meantime maybe the "OpenLCB" group on Yahoo groups is a good place for anybody wnating to know what an LCB (Layout Control Bus) really looks like.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

When amateurs dabble

When amateurs dabble in technology we see all sorts of things happen. Some are amazingly good, the Arduino would be an example of that. From small beginnings a group of hackers and hobbyists have changed the face of microprocessor learning and development. A true paradigm shift.

But for the last few months I have spent many hours working to try and bring some sanity to the NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) standards discussion over a model railway layout control mechanism they want to sponsor called NMRAnet.

The development of the scheme was to be co-operative, but never open. However in the end the brother of the Standards Manager for the organisation left the co-operative discussion and took no further part in the working group established by volunteers to develop the scheme. This same former member of the working group then had his brother modify the documents submitted by the working group to include his own favoured changes. Sadly they were generally ill-considered and had the backing of nobody in the working group.

So now we stand at an impasse, two versions of the documents will be put to the board of directors. We wonder which will survive, the original which is sound, rigorous and based on ISO and other standards, or the modified, crippled version, which removes several of the most basic safeguards to the reliability of the network.

Who knows, buyt in teh past it seems tat no matter how ill advised the changes unilaterally proposed by the Standards Manager they have been accepted. Lets hope the NMRA Board of Directors changes their minds this time.