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Monday, September 26, 2016

New Auxiliary Control Panel

A Quick and Dirty Control Panel for the New DCC Turnout Controls.

The old DC NJ International Turnout Machines are being replaced by Tam Valley Depot Singlet DCC Decoder and Servo Drivers. So as a result a new control panel is required for the Fascia Decoders.

Control Panels are way easier to make these days with a computer and printer compared to the old mask and paint method.

This new panel is drawn with the free vector graphics program Inkscape. This time I included labeling for the electrical isolated blocks as well as a letter designation for each of the four city blocks.

The drawing was then printed out and glued to 1/8" Masonite Board. And then drilled to accommodate the Servo Decoders. Done! Easy peasy. Well... except now comes the wiring!

This new auxiliary panel provides a manual way to control the turnouts since primary control of the layout will be controlled by the computer. But I know computers, and my experience with computers has taught me that a manual alternative would be a wise thing. Yes sir! A wise alternative!


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!