Friday, November 29, 2013

November Update

A challenging month again for me An interstate trip to Victoria saw me away from home for a 5 days. Kaye's Dad's funeral then as the insurance company decided not to repair Kaye's car following an accident so I had to take her back to her country workplace.  Then it was time for all my medical stuff to be reviewed including 3 x 2 1/2 hr info/training sessions at my Doctors rooms, Ophthalmologist & Consultant Physician - however most things are all good.  So modelling took a back seat AGAIN for most of this month again....

Progress on the U50 decoder and lighting install just did not happen - two moths in a row - sorry Nigel G - hopefully get it all done next month....

But I did do something - I updated the firmware for  my DCC control system and throttles, worked on the ore loads, held another two shakedown running sessions and some interesting debate on recording video and sound levels for locos with Don.

Command Control System - Firmware update

I got word from Don that there was an update to firmware for the command station, wireless and wired throttles.

After downloading the new firmware I updated my operating and spare command stations,  3 wireless and 7 wired throttles.  I am pleased to report all seem to be operating OK.

Ore Loads

I used epoxy to fix two 3 mm cylindrical magnets to the underside of the load supplied with the Athearn ore trucks.

I used a Rix uncoupler to remove the load.

This has been trialed during the shakedown sessions and it would appear to be successful.  I have ordered some more Rix uncouplers as there is not enough to share around....

Shakedown Running Sessions

Here is the simple track plans to explain some of the locations

Top Level

Bottom Level

Monday 25 November

On Monday 25 November a very long time friend and SARMA Master Modeler Don - The guy our group holds in high esteem - came over with his long time mate Des for their first "run" on the Hallett Cove Southern.  Don ran the PFE and Des ran the empty ore train from Huntington to Iron Hill then loaded the empties.

Don took some video the ore train action as part of our "learning experience".

Wednesday 27 November

On Wednesday 27 November Barry, Chris, Rossco & Bob (my regulars) were joined by Ken, Grahame & Gordon (all first timers). Bob & Gordon, Chris & Ken, Rossco & Grahame worked in pairs.

The operations included running the following movements:

  • PFE - Icing at Hornertown
  • PFE - Hornertown -> Stirling
  • PFE - Stirling -> Shasta
  • Flintston Local - Hornertown to Flintston
  • Flintston Industrial Shunt
  • Flintston Local - Flintston -> Hornertown
  • Ore Train - Iron Hill -> Huntington
  • Steelworks shunt
  • Oily - LeMaistre Loco -> Stanvac
  • Nappy Valley Wine Train - Adamsville -> Huntington

The Ops session took around two hours followed by: hot dogs, cheese, crackers, chips, soft drink, red wine and some friendly chatter at the table.

Thanks to all that came to "stress test" the system and apart from some usual minor glitches the DCC power system worked - no overloads that shut the entire system down, if someone ran against a point or derailed over one - their part of the system "shorted" and shutdown and everyone else kept moving! - I'm so happy about that!  Tom B all that design and planning paid off.

The bonus is the guys seemed to enjoy themselves and are happy to come back again!

I am now thinking if I can do better with some scheduling it might be time to think about the somewhat deferred grand opening - perhaps in the first couple of months of the new year.

Debate on Loco sound levels and Videoing

How loud is too loud? Should a loco be audible across the open room? Should the local operator hear it and no one else? Do the settings for one type of decoder suit another brands / type?. If there are 10 locos running what is the balance? - All part of the mix when trying to find a solution.  There is NO correct answer it comes down to personal taste and what seems to work in each environment.  That said I think we have learnt a few things during Don's testing that I share below.

When making videos some things matter too! How old is the camera? Does the AGC (volume automatic gain control) stuff up the sound levels? What happens when the recording frame rate is varied? What should I do when I want to put the video on YouTube? The outcome of the trials are that it seems to be that the current technology for a video camera which is available relatively cheaply eg a Cannon costing around $AU220 ($US200) - is much much better than stuff that cost a lot more 5 - 10 years ago, the old stuff does not seem to make the grade. 

Sound levels set in the Loco decoders - we have found that 10% - 25% of max will provide the ability to distinguish between loco and wheel clicks in the recording with the added bonus of hearing more than a "screaming engine".

I guess since receiving video test footage amounting to around 130 Mb by email and about 2Gb directly, during the last 10 days from Don M, as we tried to establish some optimal sounds levels for operating enjoyment and video recording - we finally think we are in the right space now.

The conclusions seem to be have a "current technology camera", to record at the highest density you can (we are using MP4 format at 50 frames per second) then sample down and save versions to suit various needs. The disadvantage is it is time consuming. If anyone wishes to share their views feel free.  Bear in mind this is not commercial quality video lighting & sound - just good hobbyist stuff to share!

That's it for this month.

Thanks again to those that continue to help me achieve my ambitions and hello to all my followers!

Till the end of December.


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