Author Topic: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...  (Read 4815 times)

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Online xrunner

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The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« on: August 31, 2017, 11:51:05 pm »
... Model railroading. I've been working on a new layout for several months (including the design part). Here's a couple of pics of where it's at right now. There's a fair amount of electronics to the new layouts. Each locomotive has it's own digital decoder and it can be interfaced to a PC. I got the track plan checked out on the table and now I'm working on the basic underlying terrain. I got one building kit assembled and highly detailed. I also added LEDs which I plan on most of my buildings having.

Anyone else into model railroading?

I thought Dave had a layout in the corner of a room he had taken from somewhere but I don't know if he ever did anything with it.
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Offline Brumby

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2017, 12:20:39 am »
I thought Dave had a layout in the corner of a room he had taken from somewhere but I don't know if he ever did anything with it.

Acquire  - he did....
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Online tautech

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2017, 01:28:55 am »
Each locomotive has it's own digital decoder and it can be interfaced to a PC.
Enlighten us......how ? RF ?
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Online xrunner

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2017, 01:37:58 am »
Each locomotive has it's own digital decoder and it can be interfaced to a PC.
Enlighten us......how ? RF ?

It's called DCC - Digital Command Control. Instead of a DC voltage to the track rails a command station sends a digital signal to the tracks which also has enough amplitude to power the motor of the engine, it's an amplified digital signal. Each engine can have a microcontroller board installed to enable this capability.

https://www.nmra.org/beginners-guide-command-control-and-dcc
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Offline Brumby

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2017, 02:13:45 am »
I read through that article - and while it does give a very cursory outline to the tech ... it doesn't give any meat for an EE audience!

Having said that, though, ideas are buzzing around as to how I might do it......
 

Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2017, 02:50:11 am »
Nice. It's crossed my mind to get into.  I always thought it would be cool to have decorative shelves with cool backgrounds along the walls with tunnels going through different rooms of the house and stuff and just have them run all the time.  It could even act as a sort of clock, where I know a train will pass by every hour or something.  Could automate the heck out of it with sensors and switches and stuff.  :D Would also be entertainment for the cat.

 

Online tautech

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2017, 03:29:55 am »
I read through that article - and while it does give a very cursory outline to the tech ... it doesn't give any meat for an EE audience!
This ^
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Online xrunner

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2017, 03:37:40 am »
I read through that article - and while it does give a very cursory outline to the tech ... it doesn't give any meat for an EE audience!
This ^

Oh for crying out ... research DCC for model railroading of you want to learn more LOL.  :-//

Google is your friend.  :clap:
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Offline Brumby

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2017, 04:10:18 am »
I was hoping that someone familiar with the technology would know of some good resources and save the rest of us from such searching.  One article to give a basic understanding of the mechanism (from an EE perspective) is all I was after.  At least I know that there is a system that has been developed - and has some industry-wide acceptance.

Certainly, if I wanted to really get into it, I would do my own digging.
 

Offline Gromitt

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Offline NANDBlog

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2017, 09:17:07 am »
Please no. This is the second model train thread recently. I loved these, when I was 16. This got me into electronics, I'm quite sure. But I just dont have the space!!!  Dont make me fall back and thinker with model rails again! Please!

Too late. I went checking if I can fit a Z scale anywhere.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 09:18:59 am by NANDBlog »
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2017, 09:32:18 am »
Each locomotive has it's own digital decoder and it can be interfaced to a PC.

Things have moved on; you may be interested in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Java_Model_Railroad_Interface
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Online tggzzz

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2017, 09:35:27 am »
Please no. This is the second model train thread recently. I loved these, when I was 16. This got me into electronics, I'm quite sure. But I just dont have the space!!!  Dont make me fall back and thinker with model rails again! Please!

Too late. I went checking if I can fit a Z scale anywhere.

You could always:
  • reduce the required area by a factor of 9 (!) by adopting T gauge
  • get immersed in OpenTTD, but remember to continue eating

T gauge makes it possible to do a very good scale model of the Forth Bridge:
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 09:41:46 am by tggzzz »
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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Offline little_grey

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2017, 10:52:26 am »
ahh trains, my layour is still at my parents house, but plans are being forumulated to get it to my new house.

still not got into the DCC, did you fit the units yourself or buy them pre-coded?

i have a few ideas but in the most part it might be easier to run those ideas through an arduino or something.
(thinking of running a shelf in the garage with a simple automated train running back/forth to carry parts and maybe cider about :D
 

Offline Gromitt

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2017, 11:02:36 am »
Each locomotive has it's own digital decoder and it can be interfaced to a PC.

Things have moved on; you may be interested in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Java_Model_Railroad_Interface

JMRI is exactly the thing xrunner is talking about, interfacing DCC to a PC (you need some hardware of course, JMRI is just software).
There are better software than JMRI thou, Traincontroller for example, but it's not free.
 

Online xrunner

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2017, 12:43:19 pm »
JMRI is exactly the thing xrunner is talking about, interfacing DCC to a PC (you need some hardware of course, JMRI is just software).
There are better software than JMRI thou, Traincontroller for example, but it's not free.

Right, and I have the interface that can connect the DCC controller to a PC I just have to get to the point where I can set it up. I have a lot of work to do on the scenery right now.

Also, there is another protocol that is coming but there isn't a lot of hardware available yet, it's called LCC - Layout Command Control.

Quote
Layout Command Control (LCC) s a system for controlling all the functions on your layout that don’t have to do with how fast the locomotive is moving -- things like signals, turout control, or layout lighting.

LCC is OpenLCB, just under a different name.

The purpose of LCC standard is to take the load off the throttle network with respect to signaling, turnout routing, and other aspects of operations not related to control of locomotives.

http://www.dccwiki.com/Layout_Command_Control

And no it's not addictive (see pic)  :o

The plywood board you see holds several things for the layout. There is a 12 VDC PS for various support electronics such as the Digitrax DS64s. These are mainly for controlling the turnouts from the throttle (although they have additional functions I'm not using). All the turnouts are wired back to these so they can be set closed or open according to their assigned number (in this case 1 - 17) from the throttle or a PC. The turnouts are Kato and have a solenoid that requires a short + or - voltage pulse to kick the points which comes from the DS64. They can also be programmed to hold routes, which are a series of turnout settings to configure a number of turnouts all at the same time for, well, a route.

Also on the board I have a group of Microchip CL2 constant current drivers for the LEDs that will be used for street lights and buildings, and a 24 VDC PS for that system.

Another unit which is by my computer right now is also going to be on the board is a Digitrax PR3. This is what interfaces the PC to the Loconet via those gray cables which I made up (6P6C connectors). All of that system connects back to the DCS-100 command station booster which generates the amplified digital signal to the tracks.

But, the electronics is just a part of the hobby. I'm enjoying taking time to build the scenery right now. that's just as fun as the rest of it for me. I'll post more pics as time goes on (mainly to pull in more unsuspecting innocent bystanders  :-DD )
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Online tggzzz

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2017, 03:21:47 pm »
But, the electronics is just a part of the hobby. I'm enjoying taking time to build the scenery right now. that's just as fun as the rest of it for me. I'll post more pics as time goes on (mainly to pull in more unsuspecting innocent bystanders  :-DD )

If you are ever on this side of the pond, you would probably like https://www.pendonmuseum.com/

There are several layouts; I remember being gobsmacked by a picture (in Railway Modeller back in the late 60s) of a viaduct in the Dartmoor scene. When I eventually saw it at the turn of the millennium, it was better than the picture.

But that's only a side attraction. The main scene has been gradually constructed since the 50s. The buildings are all faithful copies of local buildings (many including the interiors), all the figures are individually sculpted (e.g. a youngster balanced on their mother's hip[1]), and it is fun to play "crop spotting from 500ft" :)

The pictures on the museum website really don't do it justice; better ones are at https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=pendon%20museum

[1] https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikingman/33224282336/
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Online rdl

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2017, 06:18:42 pm »


Mixing model railroading with electronics and computers has been around a long time. I remember first reading about TMRC in Steven Levy's book, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution

http://tmrc.mit.edu/

https://www.wired.com/2014/11/the-tech-model-railroad-club/

 

Offline fourtytwo42

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2017, 07:03:23 pm »
I have been mixing electronics and model railways (railroading) for almost as long as I can remember :)

I started in OO (HO) when I lived with my parents but space constraints forced me to N (much harder to get running properly, especially UK steam outline) but I recently solved a further space constraint imposed by my better half by building what I call a stacker (picture enclosed) controlled by a simple hex switch on the control panel (2nd pic) it is entirely automatic!
An interesting project consuming some 1500 lines of PIC assembly code (not for the feint hearted) but may give someone short of space inspiration. 3rd pic is ful layout plan. Final pic is Riccarton junction station.

Apart from the Stacker this railway is largely manually controlled, I have had fully automatic railways having many processors and individual train speed control before the advent of DCC but found the hours of debug time exceeded those of running a railway :) It all depends what you enjoy most.
 

Offline Cubdriver

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2017, 07:05:42 pm »
Nice. It's crossed my mind to get into.  I always thought it would be cool to have decorative shelves with cool backgrounds along the walls with tunnels going through different rooms of the house and stuff and just have them run all the time.  It could even act as a sort of clock, where I know a train will pass by every hour or something.  Could automate the heck out of it with sensors and switches and stuff.  :D Would also be entertainment for the cat.

If the cat is anything like the one my aunt had when I was a kid and playing around with HO scale trains, YOU'D provide the entertainment for the cat, as he watched you put rolling stock back onto the rails for him to poke and derail again the next time it went by...   |O :-DD

Beyond this comment I'm not delving much more deeply into this thread lest I reignite THAT interest from 40 years ago too...

-Pat
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Offline daybyter

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2017, 07:54:32 pm »
I had to give away my HO rr, when I moved into a smaller appartment.  Later I saw some very small Z scale layouts

http://www.zettzeit.ch/SKA.html

and had the idea of fitting a very small layout into a tin box I got for christmas a while ago (filled with gingerbread then).

A while ago I found some great H0 videos on YT:



and started a circuit to control the Z scale via an arduino PWM signal, because I liked the smooth start of the trains in the video so much (Z trains are often way too fast, which looks not very realistic in my eyes). Maybe I could play some engine sound later from a SD card that matches the speed of the train. But that's not much more than an idea at the moment.
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2017, 08:38:54 pm »
... but found the hours of debug time exceeded those of running a railway :) It all depends what you enjoy most.

Fettling is an integral part of most hobbies.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Online tautech

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2017, 08:55:48 pm »
... but found the hours of debug time exceeded those of running a railway :) It all depends what you enjoy most.

Fettling is an integral part of most hobbies.
Nice choice of terminology.  ;)
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Online bd139

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2017, 10:56:39 pm »
This thread is killing me reading it. I spent the 1980s and early 1990s playing with model railways. I had a relatively large OO gauge layout that was 18x2 feet that spanned the length of the garage. I made all the points and trackwork myself with SMP kits and ran lots of 1970s/1980s British diesels up and down (mainly Lima). Never finished it - got most of the track down and the scenery bulk work done and...

Then came university, alcohol, cars and women and I sold it all to fund my lifestyle. By '99 it was all gone, I was living in a student squat, dating a drug dealer, driving a dodgy looking Mercedes 190E and trying to scrape together enough cash from skip diving crap to pay for my engineering textbooks and pizza and beer on tap.

If I've learned anything in life, stick with the trains (or model rockets, ham radio, radio control stuff!)

Back on topic, I saw DCC when it came in and it went on the "ooh that's nice, once I've done my engineering degree and landed a nice job I'll get me some of that". There was another company at the time putting NiCd batteries in OO/HO locomotives and using 433MHz RF modules and PICs to decode commands. That looked quite sexy. I reckon you could affordably DIY that now.

Edit: they still exist! http://www.micronradiocontrol.co.uk/
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 10:58:26 pm by bd139 »
 

Online xrunner

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2017, 12:31:35 am »
If you are ever on this side of the pond, you would probably like https://www.pendonmuseum.com/

Very nice thanks.

Beyond this comment I'm not delving much more deeply into this thread lest I reignite THAT interest from 40 years ago too...

Oh don't be afraid!  :-DD

I had to give away my HO rr, when I moved into a smaller appartment.  Later I saw some very small Z scale layouts
and started a circuit to control the Z scale via an arduino PWM signal, because I liked the smooth start of the trains in the video so much (Z trains are often way too fast, which looks not very realistic in my eyes). Maybe I could play some engine sound later from a SD card that matches the speed of the train. But that's not much more than an idea at the moment.

I got to get me a Z scale going here too, just looks too cool!

Back on topic, I saw DCC when it came in and it went on the "ooh that's nice, once I've done my engineering degree and landed a nice job I'll get me some of that".

DCC is what got me hooked again about 4 years ago. I had some N scale rolling stock from my childhood in a box and all I wanted to do was set them up on some track for display. I found a local hobby shop that had track so I went in there. The guy showed me all of the new stuff, and that's all it took to hook me back into it.  :palm:

Here's a traffic light I hand made from aluminum tubing, styrene, and 0603 LEDs. I made six of them. I wrote an arduino program to simulate a three way traffic stop with all the lights changing the proper way in sequence. I need to get that going again - now what did I do with the code?  :-//
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Offline Brumby

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2017, 03:00:40 am »
Beyond this comment I'm not delving much more deeply into this thread lest I reignite THAT interest from 40 years ago too...

Oh don't be afraid!  :-DD

You are evil.   >:D
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2017, 03:27:09 am »
I had a modest HO gauge train setup, which started out with a Tri-ang set and grew from that.

My layout was on a 6' x 4' piece of chipboard which made it "portable".  This, and the fact I lived 4 doors down from my (primary) school meant it was a candidate for inclusion in the school's hobby display at their annual fete.  I would go home with 3 other kids and we would carry it up the street to the school.  I'd then set it up and guard it for the duration.

When not in use, it could be stood on edge, since there was no high profile scenery - and this became a problem.  As the years passed and the interest waned as other things took to the stage, the board was relegated to the garage - and one day, after a particularly nasty rain storm, water had seeped across the garage floor ... only stopped by the sponge that my train set baseboard became.  I only discovered this some time later and the resulting mess was very disheartening.  I had tacks used to secure the track to the board rusted in place and crumbling wood fibres everywhere.  The board was tossed and the track was mostly rescued - but some of it was not looking too wonderful.  Since that day, it has been packed away.  It has been well over 20 years since any of the rolling stock rolled anywhere, so I would want to check things out before running anything.

I would also need to redesign a layout.  After it's last use, I came across some bargain track at a garage sale ... that I just couldn't pass up.  It had at least 4 yard long straights plus some other pieces - and I don't know where that all ended up.  But I am also going to have to have a serious look at some of my original track.  I did a stupid thing.  Having some problems with good electrical contact with the rails, some bright spark suggested I give then a rub with some fine sandpaper.  Being young and not knowing any better ... I did.  This worked well - for a very short time, since I had removed the plating on the tracks and the tarnish I had to deal with before had been replaced with rust.  Some things we learn the hard way.


Will I ever resurrect the set?  I don't know.  My kids have never seen it run - and I'm not sure if they even know I have it ... and now there are grandchildren on the scene - but they are a bit young yet.
 

Offline Cubdriver

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2017, 06:11:48 am »
Beyond this comment I'm not delving much more deeply into this thread lest I reignite THAT interest from 40 years ago too...

Oh don't be afraid!  :-DD

You are evil.   >:D

 :-DD :-DD

Yeah, huh?  I think I have a box of rolling stock, locos and track kicking around somewhere, but it hasn't seen the light of day since the early 80s.  At present I have far too many irons in the fire to even think about excavating it.

-Pat
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Offline Cubdriver

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2017, 06:12:57 am »
And that traffic light is amazing, xrunner!  Nicely done.

-Pat
If it jams, force it.  If it breaks, you needed a new one anyway...
 

Online bd139

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2017, 06:19:53 am »
Indeed it is. Nice work :)
 

Offline daybyter

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2017, 12:17:14 pm »
Great traffic light!

Now you need some moving cars! (traffic...)
 

Online xrunner

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #31 on: September 03, 2017, 01:45:07 am »
Great traffic light!

Thank you.  :)

Yeah, huh?  I think I have a box of rolling stock, locos and track kicking around somewhere, but it hasn't seen the light of day since the early 80s.  At present I have far too many irons in the fire to even think about excavating it.

I'd love to see them - really. But if you have too many irons ...  :(
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Online xrunner

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #32 on: September 19, 2017, 10:12:09 pm »
I'm building a kit that replicates a fueling station. The kit does have lamp posts but of course they don't actually work. I'm going to add SMD 0603 white LEDs to the lamps. They fit nicely under the lamp. Running the wires is going to be interesting, and I'm still figuring out the best way to do that.
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Online xrunner

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #33 on: October 02, 2017, 12:39:17 am »
I finally got the LED lights all done for one area. Here's a low-light shot of it.
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Offline Brumby

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #34 on: October 02, 2017, 12:51:23 am »
Looks great.

That's the sort of thing that makes soldering 0402 LEDs fun to do!
 

Offline Cubdriver

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #35 on: October 02, 2017, 01:19:04 am »
Nicely done!  (Both the fabrication and the photo.)

-Pat
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Offline SeanB

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #36 on: October 02, 2017, 07:16:27 pm »
How did you wire it. the current is low enough that just fusing some 48SWG wire into the plastic tube with solvent would work, and after a paint coat look like it is just a seam in the steel pole replica.
 

Online xrunner

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #37 on: October 02, 2017, 09:32:55 pm »
How did you wire it. the current is low enough that just fusing some 48SWG wire into the plastic tube with solvent would work, and after a paint coat look like it is just a seam in the steel pole replica.

I used 30 AWG magnet wire. It's very hard to tell it's on the plastic especially when the lights are on.
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Online xrunner

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #38 on: December 25, 2017, 02:16:42 pm »
Well it's the Holiday and trains and Holiday seem to go together so here's the latest on my layout progress.  :popcorn:
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Offline TassiloH

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #39 on: December 25, 2017, 05:10:22 pm »
In case you need more inspiration or ever come to northern Germany/Hamburg:
http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/
 

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #40 on: December 25, 2017, 06:50:45 pm »
That place is on my bucket list  :-+
 

Offline ChrisLX200

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #41 on: December 25, 2017, 08:57:35 pm »
Prefer my model choo-choos to be a bit bigger - one I made years ago :)  Runs on coal, produces lots of steam and smelly hot oil!

 
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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #42 on: December 25, 2017, 09:31:16 pm »
That’s a thing of beauty  :-+
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: The other hobby I'm diving back into ...
« Reply #43 on: December 26, 2017, 09:04:41 pm »
 I've been a model railroad since before I was into electronics - there is a home 8mm movie of me running the trains under the Christmas tree when I was about 2 years old. Not by much though - one of my favorite 'toys' was a box full of wires, switches, and lights I would hook up and do stuff with.
 It was at least partly through my building and wiring of model railroads that I decided early on that I wanted to be an EE. The trains, and those Radio Shack x-in 1 kits.
 I am right now in the process of redoing my basement (it was finished by the previous owners - in horrible 70's paneling, some of it brick textured, some rock textured, and some wood) to begin construction of a decently sized double deck HO layout. I'll have about a 25x26 irregular area to work with - wish I had more, but everything else about this house was something I was looking for so I have to live with the garage eating up another 20x26 area that in a normal ranch style house would be part of the basement.
 In the meantime, I am designing my own turnout controllers to drive servo motors, and signal controllers that will all interface via a modified version of Bruce Chubb's CMRI system - basically a protocol for serial comm over RS-485.

 


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