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Monday, November 23, 2020

Boulevard of Electric Dreams

Finally!  All 12 Electroliers are placed and wired.

After pouring a new rubber mold I concentrated on casting the remaining lamps once and for all.

Electrolier combination streetlamp/trolley line poles stand sentry on Grand Ave.
This whole scene is lit entirely by the Electroliers.

The remaining 8 Electroliers freshly cast and receiving their silver paint.

    For power supply I ordered this regulated 3 volt 2 amp transformer from Evan Designs. Its regulated so as to prevent voltage surges blowing out the LEDs (the LEDs are cast into the lamp, there is no changing them out!). The output voltage is exactly 3 volts and the 2 amps mean I can power up to 100 LEDs. That should be enough power for the streetlamps on all the streets. It also included a wired socket that I mounted underneath the layout for the power supply to plug into.


    All that remains to do now is install the span wires between the Electroliers to support the trolley wires. But the fact that the 3 volt dc lamps and 13.8 volts ac DCC both ground to the poles is of great concern for me. It would have worked fine when track power was DC. But since I switched to DCC which is AC, I'm not so sure. The last thing I want is a Boulevard of Broken Bulbs! So i'm going to rig up a test lamp/pole situation to try it out first so as to try to preserve this Boulevard of Electric Dreams.

Yes sir! This Boulevard of Electric Dreams!


Monday, November 09, 2020

Layout Automation ~ JMRI

The Computer Successfully Ran the Layout!

Java Model Railroad Interface is a free, open source program that works great for programing decoders, allowing the layout to be operated from a computer,  and even automating signals and other layout operation.

Last time, I installed a couple of Digitrax BDL168 occupancy detectors. Now I need to determine if they are in fact detecting. 

I'll use Loop A to test everything out. The cars can go 'round and 'round and I should get a good idea of how the program works and what to expect for the rest of the layout.

A Digitrax PR3 connects the command station to the computer:

After connecting the computer and all of the components together, I installed JMRI onto my computer. Then I drew a diagram of Loop A with its 8 electrical blocks, and assigned the proper BDL168 detection addresses to each block. Then I ran three cars on the loop to see what happens:

And it works! As you can see above the occupied blocks are red. The signal behind it turns red. When the car exits the block the signal turns yellow. When the car is two blocks away the signal turns green.

In this video I'm controlling the arched roof car that starts on the upper left while JMRI controles the two deck roofed cars behind it. JMRI does a good job of keeping the cars separated. Starting at the 1:45 mark I bring my car to a stop and the other two cars stack up behind it. Then I start it up again. Pretty darn cool.

A lot of folks have done great things with JMRI and while I've had great success with it, after spending some serious hours tinkering with this program I've decided to invest in TrainController Railroad & Co software and give that a go instead. JMRI is a powerful and versatile program but the lack of documentation on how to use the program is the deal breaker for me. After watching some YouTubes about Traincontroller I'm quite excited about it and look forward trying it.

But the important thing here is- the layout is automationable! And that was the whole point of it in the first place!

Yes sir! Automationable!