Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March Update

Not sure why last months update disappeared - I have put it back up....

During March shakedown activities continued with two operating sessions with 6 & 7 people and some further lessons were learnt.  One was a wiring issue where turnouts are operated from more than one location and another was the acceleration and deceleration rates of the locomotives to ensure smooth operations.

Work on a prototype for my proposed signal system has commenced. I have also weighted some of my blue box Cabooses so I have enough available and operating reliably for the Grand Opening. I have fitted the extra magnets Ore loads.

I still have some other outstanding task of completing of the U50 decoder install.

Shakedown Activities on 3 & 17 March

Well we tried some separate yard, loco and mainline operations and I continued to learn how people interpret instructions and just how long it takes to do some things.

Sample Schedule

What actually happened

Sample Instructions

3 March Activities

The roster was:

Controller & Loco Hostler - Jim
Tower Man (Master Control Panel) - Andre
Hornertown Yardmaster - Barry
Flintston Yardmaster - Rossco
Mainline Crew 1 - Ross
Mainline Crew 2 - Dave

Main Lessons were:
  1. If you want an incoming train left on the arrival road and not broken up and cars shunted you need to be very explicit or Yardmasters will just take the next step.
  2. Yardmaster in the main yard does not have time to do any local industry shunting as he is tied up classifying and putting consists on the arrival departure tracks and receiving trains and the associated caboose activities.
  3. Operators learning yards need 4 - 5  minutes to shunt each car!
  4. The Tower man needs to have easy access to scheduled movements without asking others.
  5. I let a train run early which caused some timing issues.

17 March Activities

The roster was:

Controller, Tower Man & Loco Hostler - Jim
Hornertown Yardmaster - Barry
Flintston Yardmaster - Rossco
Mainline Crew 1 - Bill-1 & Pierre
Mainline Crew 2 - Chris & Pam

Main Lessons were:

  1. The mainline Locos need the Acceleration & Deceleration rates increased - too slow
  2. There is a need for pockets for the folders with instructions - people need to put the folders down when shunting. One Yardmasters folder stopped a mainline train operated by a crew after putting his folder down....
  3. The ballast on the meat works spur (which was shunted for the first time) was too high in a couple of spots causing wheels to lift off rails!
  4. Complex yards need some info to explain functions e.g. arrival/departure & classification Vs local storage and industry tracks (see below).

Signal Logic Trial

You may be aware that I intend to install three colour bidirectional signals on the layout.

I will be using Rob Paisley's 3 colour Signal Driver printed circuit boards.  I will be using BLMA single and dual head searchlight block signals which employ common anode configuration. Rob's site has indicative configuration for incorporation of Block Occupancy Detectors (BOD's) and simple bidirectional configuration (albeit in common cathode configuration shown) for a simple loop.

I need to develop the more complex controls for Branch, Passing Loop & Junction operations.  To that end I have developed a sample track plan which will allow me to represent turnout states and BOD's states by using toggle switches.

Sample Trackplan
 Developing the track plan into a logic diagram showing nomenclature of BOD's, Turnout relationships, East and West Block Signals
 The relationships of all turnout states to BOD's & Basic Signal States were charted.
Relationships Chart
 Signal driver board - set out

The four groups of signal driver PCB's mounted on some MDF

One 3 colour Signal Driver PCB with LED's fitted for signal trail

6 of the 27 Signal Driver PCB's under construction

The production line...

27 Signal Driver PCB's mounted ready for wiring

BOD & Turnout Toggle Switches and terminal strips

Basic Power Wiring done to check all boards are operating correctly 27 modules drawing 0.2 Amps 12 V Regulated power supply in bottom right, it also includes a 5 V regulated supply for the Launchpads, to be added later.
(I did find a couple of "cold" solder joints - they are all fixed now!)

Below is the logic wiring test - the X-acto blade simulates the BOD operating showing block is occupied
Red => Yellow => Green => Green

Green => Red => Yellow => Green

Green => Green => Red => Yellow

Yellow => Green => Green => Red

Remote Operation of Turnouts

Turnouts in Hornertown can be operated from one, two or three control panels.  This has led to some "feedback" issues in the wiring which resulted in a number of toggle switches having to be "set" to the same turnout direction in order for the solenoids to operate.

I have isolated each of the solenoid feeds by including a power diodes into each feed to the solenoid coils.  Once installed in each control panels feeders things work as desired.

Ore Loads

A couple of months back I reported on how I used epoxy to fix two 3 mm cylindrical magnets to the underside of the load supplied with the Athearn ore trucks and after testing I said I will go back and add two more magnets per load to get a better result.

Before the update


Production line...
Now to see what the operators think the next time the Ore Train is run!

Grand Opening

Well I have people local and interstate attending, they are coming from Sydney, Traralgon,, Geelong.  I have asked some Model Rail Radio folks from the US and Sweden but no commitment to attend has been received from them yet!

Currently there are 17 people attending!

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 April.


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