Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March Update

This month my has seen me: visit Traralgon, My Ops Session, Fast Clock Slaves, Model Rail Radio in Adelaide, Ops Session at Wayne's and Speedometer Construction Notes.

Visit to Traralgon

This month I had the pleasure of spending 8 days with Peter enjoying many fine wines following our daily activities including arduino projects and a day visiting fellow model railroaders following an introduction by Peter Jackson.

Peter's Speedometer Build

I challenged Peter to build a couple of projects.  With the Speedometer project I gave him the construction notes I had developed with Derek's help.

Peter offered some "improvements" to the documentation following constructing his working speedometer.

Visit to Bill Black's

We drove to Emerald to meet Bill who hosted us for lunch and a visit to his ANIMAS & LABATO SOUTHERN Sn3 layout.  The scenery was exquisite.  We spent so much time talking then visiting Alan Rocket that we did not have any time left to operate any trains - Maybe next time!

I prepared a collage of photos I took in video form which can be viewed below.

Visit to Alan Rocket

Bill arranged for us to go see Alan'd Puffing Billy layout in the nearby suburb of Monbulk.  Again some exquisite work and I was fascinated by the model of a stage coach which was totally scratch built including the spoked wheels and buckles on the harnesses worn by the horses.

The layout is DC powered.  Once again I  prepared a collage of photos I took into a video including some live running.  It can be viewed below.

My Ops Session

With Tom Barbalet coming to visit I organised an Ops Session.  It was based on my new operating regime however I squeezed in another Operator and this caused me to work overtime operating the master control panels. 

Thanks to TomGloria-Don MoysesBarryRosslyn, Wayne, Peter J, Peter S, JohnBrentonDes & Derek M for a great day,  There were a total of 50 Train movements handled by 6 Operator groups.

I learnt a couple of lessons from the session which was good.  Local control panels are proposed to make life easier for operations at Jimtown and Adamsville.

Master & Slave(s) Fast Clock

You may recall I wrote in June 2017 update about how I developed a Fast Clock. Since then I have been thinking well I need some slaves and started thinking about how to do that.  I tried sharing the signal from the Arduino to a number of displays using parallel wiring and this did work.  Further thought was that this wiring was low voltage and some slaves would have a wire running around 25 metres. Given there was power plus control signals it would need to be in a shielded cable to avoid interference.

I wanted a wireless solution!

So Google and YouTube searches started and using elements found in YouTube Libraries from Ralph S BaconJulian IlettSETISAEDUForceTronicsElectronic Ho Chi Minh and Andreas Spiess.

With my first effort I successfully made a Master and one Slave.

Whilst it worked the update speed was not correct and it did not have any of the brightness controls I wanted to incorporate.

Well getting the the multiple slaves working was not easy!  I used the idea that I would have a central transmitter and four receivers - wrong! The nRF24L01 WiFi can support six slaves however I discovered that the centrepiece is the receiver and the slaves are the transmitters. 180 degrees away from my initial thinking so I had to recast my thoughts.

So I setup the Arduino Uno R3 giao tiếp module nRF24L01 gồm 1 Master và 4 Slaves by Electronic Ho Chi Minh after translating (using Google Translate) all the code notes and comments.  This program only passed one "byte" of data and I wanted to pass and "array" of data.  However the LCD display was useful as I could check if transmissions were effective as I retained the "LED" on and off which was mirrored on the LCD.  To get the "array" data I used the principles outlined by Andreas Spiess in his #38 Advanced Tutorial for NRF24L01 and Arduino #2 Reliable Connections video.

I finally cracked it!

Model Rail Radio in Adelaide

I had the pleasure once again to host Tom Barbalet for a day so we visited Don's, Wayne's and Rosslyn's layouts.  After some lunch I hosted a Ops Session where Tom was the Engineer on the Jimtown Turn which had 8 separate movements.

Afterwards we had a BBQ and Tom recorded another South Australian Take Over Show.

It was great to see Michele Barbalet again to - she was taken on a "partners program" too thanks to my wife and daughter.

Tom & Michele

L to R Tom, Rosslyn, Peter S & Des

L to R Rosslyn, Peter S, Des, Don & Brenton

L to R Brenton, Wayne, John, Barry & Derek
After the festivities I need a big glass of red....

Ops Session at Wayne's

Unfortunately I had to deal with some family matter and only spent the last half of the session there. Barry was unwell so a smaller team than usual however Brenton was visiting so Don, Brenton, Rosslyn, Des and Peter S joined Wayne for the full session and I crewed with Peter S.

Speedometer Construction Notes

It is done ready for the Clinic...

Till the end of April.....


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Update

This month my has seen more work on: my holistic operating regime, Picard Junction, my Website, Speedos, Ops Sessions and Constant Lighting.

Operating Regime

After finding a printer who not charge a fortune I received my first large format - "AO" - print.  I am also attempting to get a BO size printed as well to gauge the best format.  The "BO" pdf file does not want to play ball so a few more tweaks to see if we can make it all work!

The for those who don't know what AO is the table mats are about 34 cm x 26 cm for comparison.

It should be easier to check the scheduled trains and any opportunities for "extras" now.

Picard Junction Maintenance

The troublesome crossover has been removed.  The biggest problem is the gap on the Peco Insulfrog version was being bridged by the tires on the passenger car sets.  This was a regular cause of shorts making operations "not so much fun".

Well a new Peco Electrfrog and a Tam Valley Dual Frog Juicer has fixed the problem!

Wayne assisted with the "under the layout soldering"


This month I have updated a few areas, if you want to have a look here are the links:

Operations Strategy

Car Card and Waybills

Operations Session 1

Speedo Trial Build

I have had a go at putting some together and after the second one I think my clinic notes are just about there.  Derek is reviewing them for me.  Here are a few "snippets"...

I will be at Peter R's in Traralgon in March and I have one for him to build and test what I have come up with.

Ops Session at Ross's

We had our first Ops session for 2018 at Picardy.

Barry, Chris, Derek, Don, Rosslyn & I had an evening of fun running.

Derek & Chris running "Adelaide Yard"

Barry at "Bugle Ranges" with Ross looking on and Rosslyn at the back

Barry having crib

Ross watching on to "keep us in line"...

Look - what is going on over there....

Derek and Don with "Willunga" in the background

Barry at "Birkenhead" with Don & Derek watching on

Ops Session at Wayne's

We had our first session at Wayne's for 2018 where Barry, Chris, Des, Don, Rosslyn, Peter J and I had some fun.  Being three months since the last one I think most of us made some errors due to the lack of practice, despite Wayne's timely reminders along the way!

Thanks to Peter J's wife for a lovely cake which we enjoyed after the session.

Constant Lighting

Peter J asked for some assistance in putting together some constant lighting units for his ON30 Caboose marker lights.  He had a circuit so after obtaining the parts we had a session and built 4 units.

The seem to work OK and the LED's stayed on for a few minutes after power down.

Till the end of March.....


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Update

This month has seen much more work on my laptop whilst sitting in my armchair following on from last moths commencement on setting up my holistic operating regime.  I won a Roco Crane on eBay, got to Chris's for an ops session and fitted some track power isolation switches in Loco LeMaistre.

Operating Regime

Well last month I indicated that planning had commenced with 1066 lines of data, after finalising the planning of session it has grown to 1210 lines - I wonder how many it will be after I get to the end of session 8?

I have completed the train graph for session 1 and during compilation I had to "move" a few trains in the schedule to ensure smooth running.  Part of the process was to physically run a few trains against the clock to check that the scheduling was within a reasonable margin of error.  Well the ones Peter R ran for me were close enough!

Special thanks must go to Derek who did a significant amount of work cross checking all my data and graphing - his explicit eye for detail uncovered things I had not gotten quite right!

Now I am trying to find a print house that does not charge me a fortune for either A0 or B0 print.

I have produces an operator plan and will need five crews and a controller.

The Session 1 Train Graph is too big to show here so if you are interested in having a look here is a link to a Pdf file.  You will need to zoom in as the print is about 900mm x 1400mm, the following 3 images will assist with interpretation.

Now I need to prepare the job cards for the 39 train movements in the session.


I have finished the data entry in Access to allow the production of the first set of waybills using mail merge in Word.  They have been printed and cut up, they are arranged in car type groups ready for adding to the car cards when the car card boxes are completed.

Roco Crane

I have had a standing search on eBay for about four years and apart from one hit from Greece with a purchase price of about 350 Euros it has drawn a blank.  Finally, one turned up in Australia with a starting bid price of $40.  The catch was "no returns or refunds" and no mention if it was working or not.  I won the auction for $56 delivered.  After following the instructions that I found on the web as none came with it I discovered that the Slewing did not work however the boom and hook worked well.

I enlisted Don's magical fingers that removed the cab and tinkered then bingo it was working as shown in the video below.

The only part missing is the boom rest on the accompanying flat car - I will just have to make one!

Ops Session at Chris's

We had our first ops session for 2018 at Chris's.  Barry, Derek, Don, Rosslyn and I joined Chris.  We had an impromptu run where Chris informed the operations about what needed to be done and we just got on with it.  All operations were by tablet or phone using JMRI and Engine Driver.

I put a short video together, so you get the idea. 

Loco LeMaistre Track Isolation

After bringing all my locos from the workshop to the layout the current draw for my booster was just too much so and during the final operating sessions in 2017 there were several overloads which was embarrassing!

I have decided that there are a few areas where more than 3 locos are stored so I have decided to isolate 7 areas which are:

  1. Diesel Shed track 1
  2. Diesel Shed track 2
  3. Diesel Shed track 3
  4. The Roundhouse (17 tracks)
  5. Arrival/Departure track 1
  6. Arrival/Departure track 2
  7. Arrival/Departure track 3

After installing the switches on the control panel Wayne and Don came over to help me identify any new rail gaps the wiring changes required under the layout.  The result was 3 new gaps at the Diesel sheds, 1 new dropper and the rest were disconnected ready to reconnected to the terminal strip.

Termination Strip

arranging the small loom

Switch terminations

The coloured head pins show dropper locations

Thanks for all the support last year and I am hoping 2018 will be a big year!

Till the end of February.....


Thursday, December 21, 2017

December Update

Merry Christmas to all my followers.

This month my has seen much work on my laptop whilst sitting in my armchair following a planning session with Wayne on setting up my holistic operating regime.  I did get to Wayne's for an ops session and Rob Paisley has a new website but that is about it....

Operating Regime

A little bit of history...  I have been manually preparing instruction sheets for each job in Word for every session since we commenced operations.  This usually takes about 10-16 hours as all car locations are logged, locos allocated and which trains will run decided - then the paperwork prepared including all car movements (switch lists) for each train....  I am hoping by implementing a holistic operating regime with about 100 trains in a cycle and the introduction of car card and waybill the overall effort for "A" session should be dramatically reduced. - That is the dream anyway, so what am I doing?  See below.

Wayne and I had a planning session and we made use of a white board - felt like being back at work....

I decided to develop an Access database to collect/store all the base data knowing that I could control data entry to valid ranges/values and then using queries create data sets for export to Excel for final manipulation.

The first task was to establish the trains list...

Then the train permanent storage locations - staging tracks


Well a track plan will help understand this along with a locations abbreviations list...

 Then we need to know the train direction/route change info

Then in each section what is the train doing?    and does it affect running time?

Looking at the list a few changes may be necessary as the fine tuning process is commenced.

Then finally we define the jobs which may be one movement (Train No.) or a combination of multiple movements.

Then Jobs the have Train No's assigned

 Putting it all together - below is the details for the Local Passenger

The next task was to calculate the running times for each of trains depending on type

Once again the local passenger was used as an example.

The far right column give the cumulative time since commencement for each train (3 trains in job) and each activity for each particular train is achieved.

I the New Year I will have a go at creating the train graphs using the 1066 lines of data produced to date.

Ops Session at Wayne's

We had our final ops session for 2017 at Wayne's.  It was an enjoyable session however one of our fellow operators had a medical incident which brought things to a premature end.  I am glad to report that following assessment at the local ED he was discharged late in the evening.

Afterwards we enjoyed a drink and we were treated to a freshly made pavlova.

Rob Paisley's Website

Rob has many good circuits and he has a new website the details of which I found on the Model Railroad Hobbyist Website - click the following link to visit Rob Paisley's new website.

If you forget this there are links on the main page of this blog and my website.

Thanks for all the support during 2017.

Till the end of January.....