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1.2 Getting Started Overview

Based on Dave Honan's tutorial of 2004.

1.2.1 A Note About Internet Feeds

An important note for new users: Most territories equipped with Radio Code Line do not have internet feeds. However, some advanced ATCS Monitor users have set up monitoring stations (servers) which serve the data via the Internet. Be sure to say thank you to those who have, since lots of time, money, and effort go into this! Those same people will probably be willing to help you set up your own feed if you are in radio range of a territory that is interesting, so don't hesitate to ask for help.

1.2.2 Install ATCS Monitor

  1. Download and install ATCS Mon by going to the Files area of the ATCSMon Group: (Note: There is an underscore after ATCS.)
    • Click on "Application"
    • Click on and download "ATCSMonNNN.exe" (where NNN is the current version)
  1. Run "ATCSMonNNN.exe" and install. Some browsers give the option to Run after download. Others will have to find where they downloaded it to and double-click it to kick off the installation.
  2. Accept the default options as you click through the installation.
  3. Run ATCS Monitor from the desktop icon, or Start->Program Files->ATCS Monitor. In Vista, it's Start->All Programs->ATCS Monitor. You should immediately see an active Metrolink layout. Never seen one before? Here's a brief explanation.

1.2.3 Download Data Files Needed

You probably would like to monitor something other than Metrolink, so go to the Data Files area on the ATCS Monitor Yahoo group (Yahoo login required) and download the files for the territory you want to monitor, provided that a server exists. Files are organized by railroad and subdivision:


Note: If you are not seeing the file extensions like .mcp, .mdb, .lay, .ini, or .zip, go to WindowsExplorer for some remedial education on working around the problem Microsoft created starting with Windows 95 when they moronically decided to began hiding file extensions.

1.2.4 Place the Files in the Correct Folders

Unzip the file, then move:

  • the .mcp or .mdb file to the MCPs folder (typically C:\Program Files\ATCS Monitor\MCPs\)
  • the .lay file to the Layouts folder (typically C:\Program Files\ATCS Monitor\Layouts\)
  • (if provided) the .ini file to the ATCS Monitor (program root) folder (typically C:\Program Files\ATCS Monitor\)
Tip: This video can be of help in placing these files if you get confused.

1.2.5 Import the MCP/MDB File

Now you need to Import the files containing MCP data into your local database through the MCP Information window under the Configure menu:


A window will pop-up showing all the MCPs that are currently in your database. Click the Import button and navigate to where the .mdb or .mcp files are stored on your hard drive. (The program will default to \Program Files\ATCS Monitor\MCPs\; however, the files do not need to be stored there.) Choose the file you want to import and click Open:


Tip: After the file has been imported into you ATCS Monitor database, the .mdb or .mcp file is not needed anymore, unless you decide at some later date to re-import the MCP data. As information, the .mcp or .mdb file contains the information that "describes" to ATCS Monitor how to translate the data about the control point (from either the MCP or BCP transmissions) into something that can be displayed on the Dispatchers Display.
Tip2: If you get stuck, here's a helpful video on setting up the MCP file and the dispatcher's display.

1.2.6 Load the Profile and Start Monitoring

If the monitoring kit contains a profile (.ini file), after placing and importing the files as described above, run ATCSMon, choose File->Load Profile from the menu, and choose the .ini file you just placed. The profile will automatically load up the correct dispatcher display and connect to the server after you click the Play icon in the toolbar. Select View->Dispatcher Display menu and you're all set!

Note: Some downloads do not contain profiles. Read on to learn how to create one.
  1. NeedIni

1.2.7 Creating a Profile (.ini file)

If there is no .ini file included in the kit you downloaded, simply create your own! It's easy:

Tip: If you want a little more help, this video might be worthwhile.

1.2.7a Check for Server Listings

There's a database of Servers on the ATCS Monitor Yahoo group (Yahoo login required). For each server available, there's information on server address, coverage, status, et cetera:


IMPORTANT NOTE: If there is no server listed in the database for the area you wish to monitor, then there is no way for you to receive data over the internet to populate the layout with trains and signals. Even if there is a server listed, you may only get data for a portion of the area shown on the layout. Read on for more information about how to use servers.

1.2.7b Configure the Profile

  1. From the Configure menu, choose Options.

  2. Go to the Display tab, click Browse, and choose the appropiate .lay file. (See note below)

  3. Go to the Data Source tab and choose Network Connection.

  4. At the bottom of the Data Source tab, you'll need to set up the connection info:

    • Br-04.gif

    • Click Add.

    • In the IP Address or Hostname field, enter the address of the server (e.g.,; this information is provided in the ATCS Servers database. If there is no server listed in the database for the area, then the profile you are creating will not help you receive data over the internet, it will only help if you are FieldMonitoring using a radio and sound card. If there is a server listed, keep in mind that you may only get data for a portion of the area shown on the layout.

    • Br-02.gif

    • In the Port Number field, enter the port number for the server (e.g., 4701, also from the ATCS Servers database). (Note that some servers offer feeds on more than one port; if you want to monitor multiple ports on one server, simply set up an entry for each one.) You can also choose to add a description of the source (e.g., CSX BR Sub) and whether you want the connection enabled (this just affects the check box in the server list and can be activated later):

    • Br-05.gif

    • Click *OK*

  1. Go to the Display tab and Browse for the layout file you'd like to use for this profile. Normally it's the one included in the zip file you downloaded and saved to the Layouts folder in an earlier step.

    • Click OK to close the Options window.

  1. From the File menu, choose Save Profile As... and type an appropriate name (such as CSX Blue Ridge Sub Server).

  2. To load the profile in the future, merely choose this .ini file from File/Load Profile.

  3. Click the Play button to begin monitoring:

    • Br-07.gif

    • You should get a data flushdown from the server, and clicking the lightning bolt icon will show the servers you are connected to:

    • Br-08.gif

Note: In the Display tab, you may wish to uncheck the "on top" option (checked by default) to avoid the potential annoyance of having the display sit in front of all your other applications. Also, the "Reset clear routes..." option allows routes to remain green after a train has knocked down the signal prior to the AK/BK section. Play around with this and see how it works for your liking.

1.2.8 Desktop Shortcuts To A Profile (optional)

Do you want to avoid manually loading a profile every time you open ATCSMon? Do you have one particular server that you watch incessantly? It's easy to make a desktop shortcut that will automatically load any profile you choose.

Using Windows Explorer, browse to the location where ATCSMon is installed (the default location is C:\Program Files\ATCS Monitor\), right-click on ATCSMon.exe, and select Send To -> Desktop (create shortcut). Navigate to your desktop, locate Shortcut to ATCSMon.exe, right-click on the file and select Properties. Under the Shortcut tab, the Target line will display the application path (such as "C:\Program Files\ATCS Monitor\ATCSMon.exe"; simply append the name of the profile to the end of that path ( "C:\Program Files\ATCS Monitor\ATCSMon.exe" yourprofilename.ini). Lastly, go to the General tab and edit the shortcut name appropriately (perhaps something along the lines of ATCSMon - yourprofilename) to avoid confusion with the original shortcut created by the program.

1.2.9 Understanding the Dispatcher Display

See the section on UnderstandingDispatcherDisplay to understand where the trains are, what the signals mean, and the meaning some commonly used symbols.

1.2.10 Troubleshooting

See the section on troubleshooting the ATCSMonitorApplication if you are not seeing what you expect to.

-- BrianSwan - 29 Oct 2006 -- Numbering: BillTheOther - 02 Dec 2008