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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Track ~ Electrically Isolated Blocks

DC Block Control, Eliminated, and then Revived...

Gaps in the rails.  Originally designed for DC Block Control, DCC eliminated the need for these electrically isolated track blocks.

Power bus. A bare wire is run under the layout following the cloverleaf pattern of the track above to tie all the block wiring together.

Block Detection for Automation. Putting those old blocks to good use, they can be used to give feedback to loconet for use in running the layout automatically or semi-automatically.

Yes Sir! Running the layout automatically!


Monday, February 01, 2016

TCS Keep Alive DCC Decoders

Installing A DCC Decoder In A Poor Running Model Yields Surprising Results!

One of the advantages touted by DCC proponents is that it improves the performance of motors. So I decided to add a TCS Keep Alive Decoder to my poorest running model to see how it fares:

A Huntington Standard by Oriental Models.
It features a crappy open-frame motor and all brass gears ( usually alternating brass gears with plastic gears produce much better performance).

And wouldn't you know it, I was able to get decent performance out of it. In this short video I was able to run the car around the block with some realism:

Yes sir! Decent performance!


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Digi for the Trax

Santa Baby Was Good To Me!

Digitrax DCS 51

It's official, the layout has gone digital. Though DC was fun, playing keep-away by only using the turnouts...:

...but it's time to start implementing realistic operation. So DCC it is!

To make a quick connect/disconnect between the command station and layout I purchased these XLR Connectors. They seem able to handle any maximum amperage the command station should dish out.

Under the layout shot. The female XLR Connector was mounted to a small project box and then wired to the layout. The male in-line XLR Connector was wired to a 16awg 3 conductor cord (positive, negative, neutral) which is wired to the Command Station.

.We are now DCC ready. Yes sir! DCC ready!


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Oh No! The Rubber Broke!

Apparently, Rubber molds have a shelf life.

Half way through the casting of the street lamps needed for Grand Ave, the rubber mold decides to completely fail.

Now it could be I didn't use enough release agent. But the mold also cracked (Maybe the sun got to it? UV rays are so destructive!). So I'm sure its at the end of its shelf life.

So the next time I make a mold, I have got to make all the casting right away.
Yes sir- Right away!


Monday, November 02, 2015

Well Whatdaya Know ~ All Rubber Are Not Alike

Quality Rubber - That's The  Secret Ingredient For A Successful Mold.

      What with the Backesto Bits already to go, its time to make a mold of them all. But when I went to go fetch the left over rubber compound from the Streetlamp Project, I found it has a short shelf life and had hardened.

Anxious to move forward with this project, I stopped by the craft store to pick up some of their casting rubber~ Amazing Mold Rubber. And after some time and effort, well... I found it ain't so amazing. I'm sure its fine for most crafts, but not for precision casting. In a nutshell, it shrinks!

Recycling the box from the streetlamp project, it turned out to be just the right size for this project.

There it is! In all its pink glory. Or so I thought.

The shelf life of the resin is much better. It cast just fine and faithfully with no shrinkage. But when I compared the castings with the originals, there was about 10% shrinkage with the "Amazing" rubber.

So, I'll pay the small extra for the much better quality of the Oomoo rubber compound. Lesson learned.
Yes sir! Lesson learned!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Structures~ Backesto Bits

I've seen folks make 3D prints of small buildings, but not of larger buildings. I'm a little skeptical how they would turn out. But casting parts isn't out of the question.

Windows, doors, columns, cornices, and chimneys.

There are some seriously repeating patterns on this building. So my plan is to build one and cast many.

I first built a window with 3D Studio Max so that I could get a 3D print of it and cast that. But for some reason Max has issues with Shapeways and et al.

So the heck with it! I'm going to build them up with styrene. These things are tiny in HO scale, I had to apply the cement with a syringe!

I think I've got everything. The next step will be to make a rubber mold of these and then I can cast as many bits as I need.

Yes sir! Cast as many bits as I need!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Ain'ts Done Yet!

The 9th Annual State of the Company, Board of Directors Meeting of 
 The Dan D. Sparks Plywood Development and Transportation Co. 
A Dubiously Structured Corporation (the “Company”) 
Held on 22nd September 2015, 10:ish AM Arbitrary Daylight Time 
at the Car House Tavern, San Dollar, California.

 Board Members Present: 

President:                           Dan D. Sparks
Chairman:                          Lettuceleaf M. Malone
Traffic Manager:                Robin DeRail
Finance Manager:              Count DeMonet
Director of Development:   Arnie Clever
General Manager:              David Lyman
Quorum present?                Who can tell?

Others Present:
Man of Mystery:                  Fred Gurzeler
Technology Genius:            Volkmar Meier
Company Orchestra leader:     Bill Bolton Orchestra & Surf Band

Absent:                     Effort

· Chair, Lettuceleaf M. Malone called the Meeting to order at some point.
- Secretary Mrs, Roundbottom recorded the minutes between sipping her Gin Fizz .

 · Secretary Roundbottom presented to the Board the minutes of the Sept. 2014 meeting of the Board for approval, whereupon motion duly made, seconded and toasted with another round of drinks.

Opening Message from Chairman:

 Lettuceleaf  Malone

Pompous windbags - The whole lot of them! I (Secretary Roundbottom) am supposed to be recording the speeches of these gentlemen, but between these marvelous Gin Fizz's and all this bellowing, I just can't be bothered. Truth be told they are all a lazy lot. Between Mr. Sparks racing his yacht (or whatever these moguls do), Mr Malone playing the ponies, and General Manager Lyman always loitering at the Nickelodeon and doodling cartoons all day, its amazing this enterprise is afloat at all! 
Well, I suppose I should pay attention and record these proceedings. At the very least it should be entertaining to listen how these gentlemen will endeavor to put a positive spin on such a dismal year! So if anyone is interested here you go:

· Traffic Managers Report  Provided by Chair:

Robin DeRail

Aye! The programs I instituted to remove nefarious characters and scalawags from eating up valuable bandwidth from this blog has been highly successful! See for yerselves:

Unique weekly blog hits (visitors, not page hits) from 9/22/2014 to 9/21/2015:
  • Overcrowded cars have been cleared out nicely! This blog hosted 3,294  visitors this last year (Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015). That's down from a crushing 4,930 last year, and 3,355 the year before that. They visited 5,521 times, down from 8,960 times last year and 6,621 times the year before that. That makes for an all time grand total of 42,154 visitors. I'm quiet proud of that I am! 
  •  This blog is now averaging 21 visitors per day. These viewers of quality have a much longer attention span!  Their attention has increased to over 2 minutes (2:09 minutes)! That's down from 29 average daily viewers watching for an average of only 1:58 last year! 
  • Due to the way Google displays data now, it is no longer possible to ascertain what the top 3 posts for last year were. But it is possible for an all time basis, which are:
  1. A Grand Union Intersection In Action!     2,351 views
  2. The Adventures of Bending Wood        1340 views
  3. #426 Project ~ Cleaning and Preparing Brass for Painting     936 views
So to sum up: Less loiterers, and more viewers of quality! Aye!

· Finance Committee report provided by Chair:    

 Count DeMonet

A happy side effect of reduced ridership has been less heavy coins in the fairbox for the cars to have to carry around (It takes two large men to carry one of those!). The company should be seeing some significant savings from the reduction of weight!
  • The Count reported that revenue earned took a dive to an average of $0.03 per day, down from an average of $0.05 per day last year and $0.06 per day the previous year.
  •  DeMonet continued with that the annual earnings for this last fiscal year came in at $10.18. Down from $19.43 last year and $22.78 the previous year. This now brings the grand total to $91.87. Google won't pay out until that total reaches $100, expected sometime this next "fiscal year" (Sept. to Sept.). The Board has agreed that the money will be put towards a DCC system for the layout. 

· Board Development Committee's report provided by Chair,      

Arnie Clever
  • Mr. Clever expressed his dissatisfaction that nobody listens to him and his planning has come to naught. 
  • Despite this situation however, Arnie has carried forth and has been looking into robotics and automation with promising results. Some of which shall be instituted in the very near future!

Mr. Sparks' closing speech summed up his concern that the company has been seriously neglected and it's time to roll up our sleeve and make some significant progress on the layout.

And with that, Orchestra leader Bolton struck up the Orchestra/Surf Band with a rendition of Tales of a  Raggy Tramline:

· Meeting adjourned around Noonish.
· Minutes submitted by a very tipsy Secretary, Mrs. Roundbottom.