Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Update




This month has seen some activity after our holiday and included:  Ops Session at Chris's, Rossco's Interlocking, another Grandson visit, work at Wayne's and the outcome of the JMRI Technical Issues.


Chris's Ops Session

The first Ops session for the year was at Chris's and was attended by Don, Derek, Rossco, Pierre, myself & Chris.  Chris issued us hand written instructions on lined paper and we worked in pairs and ran two trains each during the 1 1/2 hour session.  This year will be a series of shakedowns to "tune" the work undertaken so far.  We will work to eliminate any technical and operational issues that will no doubnt arise - we have our first list!

Thanks Chris for a good night and pleasant supper with Adult beverages.



Rossco's Interlocking


I have been badgering Rossco to complete the track work on his upper level on the western wall for about three years. Well the trip last year reinvigorated his mojo and he again has "the bug" to get the layout working - YES!

He had a design issue and could not get away with out a junction requiring interlocking to avoid unwanted meet ups!  I said that's not a problem "I'll trick it up"....

Well it had a bit more work than I first expected as the interlocking needed to be operated from two operator positions one in an aisle and one in a "crawl in and pop up space" in the central island.

After some design work we settled on a panel layout which had to include the ability to set three turnouts along with the interlocking features.


I decided to use one of the spare TI Launchpads I had and a 5V 1Amp wall wart to power the controller and the indications on the panels.  I will use bi-colour LED's to indicate the Route selected. Apart from interlocking the tracks I needed to make sure that only "one" Panel could have control at a time.




Route "E" is the RED line


There are 19 Control and Indication connections and seven connections for turnout operation.  Panel A needs feeders 8.2 metres long and Panel B 4.5 metres long and the controller is near the power outlet!

Some panel construction photos follow...





And finally they look lie....



Now for the control board.

The control status LED's are driven by Optocouplers (at the top) which switch their supply voltage based on the micro-controller "pin state".  The relays switch the two sets of 7 LED's that show the current route and one the DCC track feed.


I think I have designed a solution that will meet the needs.  The proof will be in the testing to be done in February.

I will probably write it up for Terry Terrance's Launchpad for Model Railroading site later when I am happy with the outcome.




Grandson Visit


During the Christmas school holidays I had another visit for some more operating of the layout. So I set up for a local to arrive at Flinston and let the shunting begin.  I worked the control panel under direction and we had a good 2 1/2 hour session!

.



Wayne's


I had a request to build a board with connections and resistors for the new Lowood Crossing Control Panel terminations.  There are 50 LED's in the Panel.


Then Wayne decided that due to all the terminating that will be required for this panel a slide out shelf would make the task so much easier to we installed one under the relay shelf.


Plenty of terminating awaits....




JMRI Issues


Last month I reported loading JMRI Test version 4.5.7 I had an error appearing on both my installation and Chris's installation.  I had to ask the guru's on the yahoo group.


I am pleased to advice that Paul B from the support group has fixed the problem and after downloading from the "daily build' page and installing a pre-release version all is working fine.  Thanks Paul B.



Till the end of February.....





-ooOOOoo-

Saturday, December 24, 2016

December Update




Merry Christmas to all my followers.



This month has seen much more activity including: Post Ops Session Maintenance, MTH Loco Speed Matching, Iron Hill Shunts, Work at Wayne's, more Blue Box / Roundhouse Kit Building, more Blueline Decoder replacements,  building Chris's JMRI Loco Roster and some JMRI Technical Issues.


Post Ops Session Maintenance

Chris came over the Thursday after the session and we addressed a few sticky turn outs, practiced the Iron Hill Ore Empties Shunt, Iron Hill Ore Loading Shunt and I adjusted some loco programming using JMRI Operations Mode Programming with locos on the layout.

Following this I looked at three cars that has been "red carded" during ops sessions - two from the previous session a long time back....

A new Athearn RTR which has 3 axles with out of gauge wheels and two tight axles

A new Athearn Gold Series - one tight axle and one out of gauge wheel set.

One of my updated cars but I must have missed the out of gauge axle that was causing the problem.
All three have been returned to service.



MTH Loco Speed Matching


I have 3 MTH PA's a PA-PB-PA set.  Having previously defined the speed curve for my passenger trains I decided a detailed review of the PS3 DCC guide especially the DCC bit (Discarded the DC & DCS bits). You have to pay close attention to the manual and if using JMRI make sure the "Throttle Speed %" on the Roster entry page is set to 100% - I found out the hard way!!!

I used JMRI with my Sprog III in service mode for "all but one programming step".

There is a set order to follow:

  1. Ensure Factory Default Set CV8 to "08" in service mode
  2. Ensure Factory Default  using Operations Mode Programming - Set Loco Address to 55 then set CV55 to "55"
  3. Set CV52 to "1"
  4. Set CV29 to "50" (Long Address, 28/128 Speed Steps, Forward Direction & DCC only)
  5. Set CV25 to "1"
  6. Set Loco long adress
  7. Set Forward (CV66) and Reverse ( CV95) Trims to get a maximum speed of 50 scale mph (usual value is between 90-110) - I use my Bachrus Speedometer for this
  8. Set speed steps 1 (CV67) through 28 (CV94) to match the passenger speed curve - I again use my Bachrus Speedometer.

    Note: Steps 6, 7 & 8 are easily achieved using the JMRI Comprehensive Programmer and the Speed Table Tab.
  9. Save your JMRI Roster Entry


I now have appropriate motive power will be on the front end of my SP Daylight train!



I was able to "tame" the loud sounds by minimising the volume setting the sound level potentiometer underneath to the minimum then after startup (F3) using F6 to set to the lowest volume.



Grandson Visit


I had "after school pick and entertain duties" and as the layout was operational I thought a lesson in shunting was in order well we had fun for a couple of hours and just before the end we ran the "Daylight" and to my dismay when it entered one Booster District the Booster kept going into overload - Roco Boosters are 2.8 Amp continuous 3.2 Amp peak - the two sound equipped MTH PA/PB set plus lighted consist was taking it to 2.9 Amps continuous =>Overload!  After further investigation the main problem now is the twin units draw >1.5 Amps when accelerating which is way too much when added to other loads.  Oh well new decoders for all three units will be required and will included a rewire which will await in 2017....

During the investigations revealed that the base load of 1.8 - 2.4 Amps was coming from 6 sound and 3 non-sound locos (Approx 1.6 Amps) all sitting on the Huntington Branch and 5 sound locos in hidden staging on top of the control panels point indication LED's (Approximately 40 @ 20mA - 0.8Amps).

One of the fixes was to isolate all the loco storage tracks in Huntington, the RDC pocket at Daveyston and the hidden staging tracks.

The seven tracks in Huntington now have isolation switches....

Isolation Switches 1 - 7

7 core wire at storage track end

Existing Terminations

New Terminations



Iron Hill Shunts



Following an essay written by Barry on my written instruction I decide to get smarter.  Last moth I included a draft of the new guide and I got Chris to try it out and write notes describing what each move meant to him.  I think the product is quite polished now....


We will have to see what happens when I put a new operator through the movements.



Wayne's


The track laying for the redesigned Lowood Crossing has been completed and I have been helping Wayne with some wiring.  There was only one major issue when Wayne tried wiring a Peco Insulfrog turnout that he thought had been converted to Electro frog!  Well tests soon found that the jumper wires from the stock rails to each side of the point had not been "doctored" so the point had to come out to get "fixed" in the process it was discovered the ties behind the throw bar were no longer tied to the rail and the point was all out of gauge.  A bit of handy work with the standards gauge and some copper sleepers soldered to the rails and "all good again".


Wayne is Happy with the yard just "not happy" with the problem turnout!

Wayne feeding wire for the new turnouts

Can you see the test Led's on the alligator clips to check if track is "live"

Wayne uses old telephone exchange relays to switch the frog polarity and interlocking "making a dead rail" on approach to the frog if the turnout is not aligned for travel.
Wayne & Des wiring frogs. 

Testing frog polarity.
My handiwork marking out and fitting switches

Test Fitting

Wayne & I finished all the SPDT Momentary switch connections before we called it a day!




Blue Box / Roundhouse Builds



Following on from last month were I built my first "Blue Box" for many years I continued this month as I think there were between 20 and 30 left on the storage shelf to build.

Caboose's



During a modeling evening at Derek's I built another Blue Box that has been on the shelf for about 25 years...  Proto 2000 trucks and Kadee's secured with 2-56 screws.  Another was built at Chris's whilst JMRI was "reading in" some locos with Lok Sound V4.0 decoders that "take an age"....



The steel weights needed some additional holes to accommodate the coupler mounting screws to secure the metal clips and most cars are way too light so additional lead weights to be added too.

Before



After

Reefer


Next was a Reefer kit that got the same treatment!

Weight check


Holes for Coupler Screws drilled in this weight too




Roundhouse Gondola



This one got the same treatment but the 2-56 tapped holes were a bit harder to do that the "plastic models". Note the price on the box $2.50!


PK screws for bogies and couplers replaced with 2-56 screws after holes drilled and tapped

Coiled steel loads held in place with double sided tape

Weight check - Should there be 4 or 6 coils tho..



50' Flat Car


Steel weight drilled Kadee's fitted and their covers screwed down and lead shot added to underside to bring up to weight.

Another 25 - 30 year old kit

Kadee No. 5's Proto 200 trucks fitted and lead shot spread.

White glue applied to hold the lead shot



50' Flat Car with 2 Vans


Steel weight drilled Kadee's fitted and their covers screwed down.






Cars from Layout 3


I have about 100 cars from Layout 3 which have not seen the light of day for about 8 years!  They need to be brought up to current standards - my old standards were a bit crude.  Thanks to the car maintenance video from the LeMasa Club I have lifted my skills and now think some of my previous work was "a bit crappy"....

Some details of the rework are below...


50' Gondolas


I have 10 or 12 Gondolas that I thought they were pretty good performers back then however I did have "a number of issues"...  Well I may have learnt a few things since then as I have reworked a number of them for weight, coupler mounting and trucks.  Well quite a few improvements were made including truck replacements changing from Athearn original bogies fitted with Kadee Metal Wheels to Proto 2000 bogies, weighting, screws to secure the couple mounting clips and coupler height fine adjustment.


Nine gondolas returning to service - covered, tarped  machinery, duct work load and empties.


50' Flat with Vans





50' Box Cars








40' Box Cars



Couplers were way low and upon examination there was a 0.030" gap under the coupler pocket so "drill the steel weight" and install a 2-56 bolt & not - problem solvered!


Can you see the light under the coupler pocket?

No light now!

Nuts on the bolt and additional weights on inside of car.

All done


Tank Cars


Set the tare

Car weight far too light.

Add led shot to get correct weight.

Mask the holes and secure tube for to simulate top section fixing.

Add the lead shot

Apply white glue

White glue coating all lead shot.

Original weight fitted
After glue dried remove tube and reassemble car check couplers heights and tucks before returning to service.  I think there about seven tanks cars that have been "fixed".



Ready for Service



All cars pictured are being placed into service - about 45 cars
.


Five loaded gondolas 




Bye Bye Blueline Decoder - Hello Tsumani


Another Blueline decoder bit the dust and wa replaced with a Tsumani TSU-1000 that had been purchased a year or more ago.  I stripped the loco down before I went overseas with Rosslyn. I think I only have one more Blueline left to replace now and another TSU-1000 is sitting in the draw ready.


After fitting the new decoder the loco was sped matched for freight service  however trials on the layout have shown there is binding in the swivel mechanism somewhere so the second articulated truck not swinging correctly causing derailments - has been taken back to the work bench for attention in 2017.




Nappa Valley Cars


I finally un-boxed the Athearn tank, box cars cars, caboose and delivery truck that I purchased a few years back fitting Kadee's and adjusting coupler heights.




These vehicles will join the two passenger coaches and tank car already on the layout.



Building Chris's JMRI Loco Roster


Chris's locos have mainly been programmed by Don so I needed to get them all entered into a local roster on his JMRI system I have established for him.  This will allow us to "tweak" CV's as and when needed.  This month I completed the "Reading In" of all the current settings after identifying what actual decoder was in each loco.



Oh I nearly forgot I replaced the USB Wi-Fi adapter with an old router like I did at Wayne's for easier and more reliable operation of the WiThrottle system.



JMRI Issues


Since loading JMRI Test version 4.5.7 I have an error appearing on both my installation and Chris's installation.  I have been trying to work it out but had to ask the guru's on the yahoo group.


I got a prompt reply from Paul in the JMRI development team:

"The error message in this case is caused because the Roco MultiMaus
doesn't actually support the XPressNet instructions required to
configure a consist, so we have to construct consists using Operations
Mode Programming.

Somewhere along the lines we missed a check to see if we were dealing
with the MultiMaus, and that's why you see the error message, followed
by two warnings, in the log."


I look forward to a fix in due course as I have a work around.



Till the end of January 2017.....





-ooOOOoo-