Sunday, 8 July 2012

4 Months since the last post.. Whats been happening?

Good Question!

I made a minor benchwork change down the centre of the layout which has given me more storage space underneath the layout. I replaced the centre legs with horizontal hardwood ply bracers, which gives me a clean run down the centre:

Consequently I had to move the detection system above the layout, which has now been fully wired and tested:

I used ethernet cable to wire the local detector circuits (which are installed adjacent to their blocks on the layout) back to the central detector circuits show above. There are approx 31 sensors on the layout, which has left me around 10 spare. These will be used for local control panels to detect input by the crews (eg. turning a key in a lock to request control to the switches)

I have also mounted the laptop underneath the workbench which gives a lot more space for the network controller to work in. its a fairly simple mount which also allows me to easily remove the laptop if required.

Whilst building this I went and bought a VESA mount on ebay which I have mounted to the brick wall behind the laptop. This allows me to attach the 22" Samsung monitor to the wall which is part of the dual-screen system for the network controller. The panel is designed to fit on a 1920x1080 display, which leaves the lower monitor for a train graph, which can be updated in real time.

The In-Progress train graph
The completed Network Controller's desk, with Wireless KB and Mouse
Along with these projects I have also completed the track work in all towns, which leaves me with Staging and Mendota (frmr. Steino) Yard to finish:

Meriden (Former Meridian) with extended width to support a bit more scenery

Earlville (Formerly Spencer) again with extended width baseboards

Plano Branch (formerly Theta Branch)

Plano (Formerly Theta) with new branch line loop and third track that leads to Plano Branch

Other End of Plano, with 2 Industry roads

Extended Width Staging with dead auto racks 
The next step is to complete staging, and finish with Mendota Yard. Once these are completed, the next step will be to terraform the scenery and install the facia on each level.

So thats it for now, there are a couple of more things on the list for the future so will try and keep the site updated..

Sunday, 18 March 2012

TCS M4 Decoder install in a Budd Car.

I have managed to squeeze a TCS M4 into a Kato Budd car, underneath the floor. This keeps the interior unobstructed whilst allowing excellent running qualities of TCS decoders in this model.

The M4 installed in the floor well of the Budd Car. The chassis was milled to allow 4 decoder wires (for lighting) to pass into the front of the car, where there is more room.

The motor decoder wires and decoder power wires have been soldered in discreetly below floor level. 
The floor installed on top. The plastic spacer that was once underneath the  floor was cut up and used to fill this hole so it cannot be seen from outside the car.

The strip LED mounted in the roof of the car. Using two 1k5 resistors brings the light down to an acceptable brightness. The strip LEDs are from a supplier on eBay, at ~$15.00 for a 5m roll they are good value and are useful in all manner of projects.

The car with the plastic spacer installed above the decoder,

Progress Report 18/03/2012

So its been 3 months since I last posted on here- just letting you know the layout is alive and well, and now has a complete circuit of track which I have been test running and tweaking as required.

Nothing much visually has changed, however there are several projects underway, apart from the completion of the mainline.

-The rear workbench has been completed:

Completed workbench with LED strip lighting on the bottom shelf. The laptop on the end wall is where the CTC Panel will be located.

-All mainline points now have Tam Valley controllers attached, and have been configured on CTI Electronics' CTC Panel. 

-The initial CTI order has been placed, which will allow block detection and train routing without signals. I am in the process of building the block detectors, using a schematic off the Marbelup Valley Railway ( The owner Richard has been able to assist me with this schematic as he also uses CTI on his layout, and has this circuit schematic on his site.

The prototype detector

The same detector with the LED lit up, indicating that the track is occupied.

-This weekend I have begun building the initial mainline track sensors - there are 31 to complete, and after ordering all of the parts the cost per sensor is $7.00. It is taking longer than I anticipated, however the commissioning of the CTI system will be done in stages to ensure reliability. So far 4 detectors have been installed, and I am using ethernet cable to feed the signals back to the centre of the layout where all CTI modules will be installed. This allows me to send back 4 signals per cable.

Two detectors installed at staging.

-By May 2012, all non-mainline track except the main yard should be complete. This will hopefully include all other block detection and point motor controllers.

I've also been building my loco and rolling stock collection. I have purchased 3 passenger trains for running during operations:

1. Kato Metra Set (Seen here with Strip LED interior lighting, and an extra intermediate coach)

2. Kato Amtrak commuter set, with a Con-Cor baggage car (could not find stock of the Phase IV Kato model anywhere)

All Coaches are using Strip LED's with 1k resistors. 
The baggage car required pickups, whereas all Kato stock has Phosphor-Bronze strips for Kato's own proprietary  lighting kit.

3. Kato Budd Car. This car has been fitted with a TCS M4 decoder and interior lighting. I have tried to install the decoder below eye level, which proved to a be a delicate but worthwhile effort. I still have another car to do, as they will run as a two car set along the branch line.

I will attach some more install pics in another post.

I have also purchased a couple of unit trains, thereby completing the traffic required for the layout except manifest and mixed freights. I am in the process of commissioning the autorack train, and have a spine car and reefer train on order. To haul these trains I have recently taken delivery of 10 Kato BNSF locos, which I am in the process of fitting with decoders and Micro-Trains couplers.

So I have quite a few projects that will keep me busy over the next few months, with the hope of starting to terraform some scenery in July. will see how we go.