Saturday, October 28, 2017

October Update

This month saw a number of activities that included: Car Card Box construction, more with the Arduino Speedometer, a chat with Tom on Model Rail Radio, A Maintenance session at Chris's, Four separate Ops Sessions, Block Detection with Current Transformers and attempted changes to Don's WiFi.

Car Card Boxes

Well the previously cut MDF sections have returned to the workshop for cutting to length for the four types of box assemblies.

Following the "cut to length" the assembly commenced.

The front and rear sections were drilled for easy placement of the brads to hold the sections whilst the glue dries.

Outcome from the first work session.

Sanding and painting awaits...

Speedometer - Arduino Based

Last month I said I had been following the ARDUINO WORKSHOP,   For Beginners  ...  By Beginners, hosted by Chris Heili  for YouTube MODEL BUILDERS and I put my prototype on the layout for our Ops session.

The Power Supply to be mounted under the lower level

7 segment LED display in the fascia of the upper level

Feeding the power supply to the Arduino under the top level

jerry rigged for trial

When setting up for the Op Session on 16 October I realised the trial install did not have the final version of my code which allows for an auto reset if a false trigger or stationary loco in front of a sensor.  I had to remove it all and update the program!

What I discovered during the op session is that whilst the train speed is detected and displayed some strange results occur as the remainder of the consist passes with some really spurious results showing up!

Derek came up with a link to Bobot's Trains where he had dealt with the problem.  I modified his code to suit the 7 segment LED displays we are using and it seems to work very will.

I will run a clinic next year where I will take everyone here through construction of the first speedo!

Ops Session 16 October

This was my last Op Session for the year and Derek was at the helm and I worked Hornertown Yard.  Thanks to Barry, Chris, Des, Don, Ros and our two guest operators David & Brenton.  David and Brenton work in the locomotive workshops at Port Augusta.

Here is the schedule.

I forgot the photos as I was actively working the main yard and was kept busy... We had a fun night with only a few mishaps but I did get a few red cards and maintenance tasks!  The country boys know how to enjoy themselves  most left between 10:30 and 11:00 pm but they lasted until 3:00 am (as well as their designated driver - Don) and the cellar now has a "bit of a hole" in it.

Model Rail Radio

I missed the show in September as I got the times wrong....

Called in to show and was surprised when Tom said he was coming to Adelaide for a wedding in March 2018 and would like to go visit a few layouts on the Monday after the wedding.  I have set up an operations session here so Tom can exercise his skills.  I am sure Chris, Rosslyn & maybe Wayne's layouts will visited before a meat pie for lunch then arriving at my place.  My session will deliberately start late so a BBQ can be enjoyed by all those who attend.

Maintenance at Chris's

I spent time fixing the "clunk clunk" of the turntable, sorting out a couple of "garden tracks" and reprogramming the stop settings.

Cleaning the Turntable "rack" was one aspect - there were quite a few pieces of debris embedded in the pit and the gears under the bridge had significant build up causing them to bind.  Well an hour of cleaning with a fine screwdriver and toothbrush did the trick!  It runs like a new one again.

The first track next to the roundhouse somehow was way out of alignment and had been ballasted - It just had to come up so wet water some time, lift the track nails and then the track which was cleaned of ballast and relaid.  Chris wanted a second track so it was installed and the turntable reprogrammed accordingly.

The "garden tracks" 

Chris has commenced ballasting and the basic "grass" ground cover.

Chris is looking forward to Tom Barbalet coming to see his progress in March.

Ops Sessions at Wayne's

Three Ops sessions this month one evening and two daytime.

9th October

Our usual Monday night crew and Des had an evening running session as one of the two evening sessions to "swap the pairs of sessions" experienced as Wayne has two groups operate each month so without these session each group would only see sessions 1 & 3 or 2 & 4.  The advantage is Derek can join us because he still working towards his retirement.

L-R  Barry, Chris, Don, Me, Des, Derek & Rosslyn

Wayne - our host.
We had a pleasant evening even though we experienced some electrical issues that were investigated in the lead up to the next session.  A nice supper and beverages was had with some people getting home quite late.

11th October

Don & I arrived a couple of hours before the session, devoured some pies from Wayne's favourite bakery then tackled the electrical issues.  We were able to recreate the problem and investigations revealed that the majority of Wayne's locos have Viessmann T125 decoders and they come preset for the old style 3 pole motors and have a very high current draw "to get the old stiff motors working".  by simply changing CV9 to "0" it reduced the startup current of 3 simultaneous starting locos by over 1 Amp.  The problem disappeared after we changed about 40 locos....

L-R  Ross, John, Me, Don & Alan
John enjoying Crib taking the load off his legs!

Wayne watches on and "mentors"

Alan and Ross at Lowood Crossing

26th October

Barry, Des, Don, Peter S, Rosslyn and me joined Wayne for a session that nearly did not get underway!

We all accompanied Wayne into the shed and after a few minutes the house main switchboard shed circuit breaker threw, it is a new ELCB (more sensitive) type, and we were all standing in darkness. The offending circuit breaker is at the head of a sub main to two sub boards one at each end of the shed (workshop & train room).  None of the five downstream circuit breakers had activated.... A simple reset and see if it was an aberration was done but no, after a couple of minutes we were in the dark again.

Wayne and I started the search for the source while the rest had a story telling session outside...

All five circuit breakers were isolated and returned to service one at a time until we found the offending circuit - it had to be the last one we tried...

With the others off we turned of / removed all ?six? devices on the circuit and the second to last device activated was found to have caused the fault - a laptop power supply feeding a booster.

A spare power supply was jerry rigged and we were ready to go albeit 40 minutes late.

The session went quiet well and we had a fun session and after the unusual start I forgot to take photos.

Block Detection

I thought I could design a system that would be a lot cheaper than using NCE BD20's.....

Learning how to use ADC's with an Arduino to increase the sensitivity was the plan.  I did some research and got the ADC working using a variable resistor to simulate inputs.

BUT, I am yet to master how to use a Current Transformer to do the trick...  I have been studying "The N Scaler" but have not gotten there yet!  I will have another attempt sometime in the future...

Don's WiFi Changes

The WiFi signal in the shed can be a bit touch and go at times so having an "extender" available I set about setting it up and the plan was I would have it all up and working before Chris and Rosslyn arrived for a BBQ lunch.  Well Murphy as at work and despite my best efforts I could not make it work properly.  I am convinced the extender unit has a problem as this is the second location where it has failed.

The idea was to combine the JMRI stand alone network with the household network so one network serviced all.

Well I stopped work for lunch and while the others enjoyed the afternoon chat I was buried in the shed but to no avail so after 4 hours I had to reinstate what was there when I arrived.  Time will tell if Don wants to buy a new extender or live with what he has....

The "Loaded BBQ"

Tab watched on as we devoured our lunch.

At least the food and wine was great!

Till the end of November.....


Friday, September 29, 2017

September Update

This month saw a number of activities that included: NMRA Convention, Troublesome Turnout, Control Panel fix, 4 Ops Sessions, Modelling Bench Lighting, Speedometer and JMRI / Engine Driver changes at Don's.

NMRA Convention - Adelaide

The Australasian Region NMRA Convection was held in Adelaide this year and my layout was part of the layout tour on 17th September.  I had 19 visitors on the day. They were able to see my crew operating the layout.  I received many favourable comments - thanks to my team: Controller Derek; Operators Wayne, Barry, Chris, Don, John, Rosslyn, & Vic for making it a successful day.

Afterwards we had afternoon tea that turned into pizza tea for some with a significant amount of red wine consumed!

The following day I received a phone call from a modeller from Newcastle who said they ran out of time and could the come and have look - they stayed about 1 3/4 hours.  I also had a fellow exhibitor contact me to visit on the following Saturday so I had two more visitors.

To all of you who introduced yourselves and invited me to visit if in your town - I should have written your details down - my memory for names etc is not so good.  So if you read this please drop me a line at: jim (at) hallettcovesouthern,com - it would be appreciated.

So 23 visitors was the grand total.

Troublesome Turnout

For some time, despite many different efforts to free up the remote throw, the binding continued to be too much for the Peco solenoids.   Luckily only part of the track work had been ballasted so removal was not too difficult.  I decided this "had to be done" before the NMRA layout tour.

Then I was not convinced the new tube would not get bent on insertion so time to clean it all out – a hole through the fascia was the easiest option.

It tested out ok the proof will be if it functions well on 17 September when the NMRA visitors are here as that's when Murphy will prevail!

Control Panel Fix

My first Control panel was for the Upper Level and I had not established "my standards" and some terminations had been combined in instead of being individual.  I understood the idiosyncrasies however it was not fair on Derek.  Wayne gave me a hand to trace wires so I could fix the issues.  I thought I had it nailed but there must have been a shared connection I did not pick up so after doing lots of rewiring to existing and additional terminal strips when I powered it all up - Oh S..t it was still incorrect - time to sleep on it....

Well after a sleep or two another go - the subconscious grey matter had worked out the problem and when I did some further testing it supported the theory.   More wire termination changes and hey presto all operational as it should be....

These terminations was required for the signal controls too.

Ops Session 4 September

This was the final chance to "tweak" what we are going to be doing during the NMRA Layout tour when our visitors take a look.  The schedule is not too tight so operators will be able to answer questions from visitors.

Don, Des, Barry, Wayne, Peter S, Vic, John, Rosslyn and me had fun practising I undertook Derek's role for the session as he was "at work"....

Thanks to Don for all his work tweaking the Jimtown Turn!

Below is the overview of the schedule.

Better lighting over my modelling bench

I have been struggling for some time getting a decent downward light - I always seemed to have shadows when trying to undertake the "trickier tasks".  Well I decided to get two cool white LED strips and fit them to some MDF which is attached to some draw runners so they can be moved out over the task on the bench.

The MDF mounted between some 550mm draw runners


The light seems pretty even and I now have a distinct lack of shadows.  I am looking forward to using it on actual tasks.  I soon learnt not to lean my head in when getting out of the chair!

Ops Sessions at Wayne's

With his major maintenance period over we were back into operations. Don, Des, John, Alan, Roger, Murray, Ross, & Me joined Wayne for a great session on the 13th.

I forgot to take some pictures....   and we had a debrief with wine & nibbles too....

There were a few new gremlins so a maintenance session was organised on the 19th and the major culprit was located - a solder joint on the throttle LAN had failed causing intermittent shorting to other conductors! The failure was in an area where some of the major maintenance had been done. After fixing the connection, and given what had been experienced it was decided that we should reset all XpressNet devices, PSX's, PSX-AR's and troublesome Locos.  This was completed ready for the following op session.

The second Ops session was held on 28th and Chris, Don, Rosslyn  and I joined Wayne.  Wayne had further tweaked the job cards (seems to be an on-going process) but it is getting better each time.  We had an enjoyable session.

Wayne's briefing....

The stack of job cards

Rosslyn, Don & Wayne at Dunkleigh Towers

My final train a Double Headed 20 car container train - Don looking on.

I switched Lowood Crossing, Ran the Local Goods through the system, Made up the Goods at Mulga Ridge and ran the Container Train Waverly to Camden - I had 5 minutes break in 2 3/4 hours...

Ops Session at Ross's

Derek, Barry, Chris, Rosslyn & Me joined Ross for a fun session.

I had a "Dear Sir moment" shunting in the yard...

Oops... what is the Crane support wagon doing across the tracks!

Rosslyn & Chris observing my problem...

Ross - our host 
Derek had fun too

Getting up close and personal in the aisle

The missing Roof.....

 The search for the roof commences...

Roof still MIA...

Out with the WiFi camera and take a run to find the roof!

Not here

Or here

Oh wait a minute what is that...

The lost is found

The retrieval...

Focus on "Willunga"

Looking towards Bugle Ranges

And Barry though there were no pictures of him from the WiFi camera! - wrong....

Afterwards we enjoyed supper and a chat.  Thanks Ross!

Speedometer - Arduino Based

I been following the ARDUINO WORKSHOP,   For Beginners  ...  By Beginners, hosted by Chris Heili  for YouTube MODEL BUILDERS and decided it would be nice for people in our group to be introduced to the concept.  I now have parts on order for 34 units!

Prototype Development

Now for the Promini Arduino assembly

Using a UNO board (processor removed) to program the sketch

I also tried programming using a FDTI interface

Both methods worked fine.

Prototype Testing

After reading all the information from Chris Heili and the originator Steve Spence I used a 100k Ohm resistor on the photo diode which worked fin on the bench but when installed was giving too many false positives due to the ambient light levels.  I changed them for 10k Ohm as in Chris's original design and they worked fine.  In my final design I will use a 0-100 potentiometer so both low and high ambient light levels can be dealt with.

The test site - in the cutting

Detectors installed 10 inches arart

There were some issues found apart from the ambient lighting levels, incomplete sensing loop - train stopping over sensor, tripping one but not both sensors were the main two.  The latter was fixed by introducing a reset function which activates 20 seconds after no activity following a sensor being activated.

There is a method for dealing with challenging changing ambient lighting levels and sunlight variations but it requires a different approach in the detector sensing section of the arduino sketch. If you are having "light level or interference problems" read up here.  Thanks for the link Derek.

Below is a link to a short video showing the bi-directional testing at different speeds.

Troublesome Crossing at Picard Junction

This Peco Insulfrog crossing has been a source of continuing short circuits.  Despite the "nail polish trick" just about every Walthers  or MTH Coach causes a short when each bogie passes through. Due to the number of shorts the PSX don't seem to cope that well - apart from the train stopping and starting continuously which is really annoying.

The solution is to replace with a Peco Electrofrog and a Tam Valley Dual Frog Juicer....

Materials on hand ready for a maintenance session to undertake the installation.

Don's JMRI Changes

A few months ago we set up JMRI WiThrottle on Don's laptop but experience has shown that he really needed the WiThrottle on the desktop not the laptop (files are shared between the two by Dropbox) so a session was organised to "do the swap" and get it all up and running. Don, like me, runs Roco Zentralie with MultiMausPro, Sprog, Lenz LiUSB & in addition to me he runs a Lok Programmer over his computers.

After successful testing of all the changes we had a nice BBQ and a good bottle of wine!

Ops Session at Don's this month

I was feeling sick and missed out - Sorry mate!

That's it for this month!

Till the end of October.....