Friday, August 29, 2014

August Update

Well a number of things have happened this month: A great operating session on 4 August; troublesome track relaid, I had to give in at Flintston, Huntington Panel improvements, Pierre undergoes further training; the ambient detector circuit fails under test in the layout room, an improved detection circuit and Parts 1 & 2 of the 3 part video series of the Grand Opening is now available for viewing.

Ops Session 4 August

Well most things went down in some sort of planned order but a few "on the fly" reassignments were made due to timetable inconsistencies that arose due to a number of reasons....

The plan was:

L to R Chris, Bob & Bill1

Derek & Rossco

Every is busy!

Chris (Hornertown Yard), Bob (Mainline Operator) & Bill1 (Flintston Yardmaster).

Ross - Huntington Yardmaster

Derek putting his upper lever control panel training into practice.

Discussion over supper.

I think it may take years for the "usual operators" to be really comfortable to do a number of different tasks during scheduled operating sessions.  We had a few derailments on a section of track between Helix Junction and Hornertown Yard. The designer of the Flintston Yard - Bill1 - was convinced by other operators that the cross over should be a double slip! I must say I had been hearing about it for  a while but resisted the push until Bill1 agreed. It was evident the lack of industry names on the Huntington Yard Panel was not helping operators too. When signals are introduced it should reduce the number of operational problems caused through inadvertent or "poor communication" errors.

Troublesome Track

I ripped out the offending track resurfaced the baseboard and relaid a new section of track which was ballasted and placed back into service.

Wetting down and start of ballast removal

Lifting the old ties

Ballast just about all up

Curve eased and leveled

Regraded joint

Regrading complete and painted to seal

Trial fitting of new track

Ballast & ground cover applied
I did not allow enough drying time for the painted ties and it rubbed/washed away!

Wetting agent then glue applied

Flintston Yard Changes

After "caving in" I forked out for a new double slip, solenoids, accessory switches and Rossco got the trackwork job!

Chris assists

Well major structural members underneath so solenoids must go into building

Happy with the outcome

Huntington Panel

Following the lack of industrial names feedback, at the next maintenance session Chris applied the labels I had printed.  This is no longer an issue!

Pierre in training

He will probably want to give me a "clip under the ear for this" but here goes....    Pierre was my Mentor then Boss ( When I was a level 3 manager in a corporation of about 1300 core staff with about 4000 outsourced staff it had a lingering Master & Apprentice ethos being engineering based) over a period of about 8 years. I always looked up to him as a "guru" and I aspired to be "as good as him"...  Now the boot is on the other foot...  When he was approaching retirement he showed and interest in model railways so it was agreed when he was ready I would "mentor" him..  Well I got a totally green prodigy who knew "bugger all" really. He knew that trains moved goods and people but as for "how" it is done he had not gotten a clue.  So I found myself not being the Apprentice, but the Master, with a challenge of how to educate this "newbie" in a timely fashion.

This month I had pleasure of commencing the training and it has been interesting as he has gotten to the point where his throttle control of locos (shunter, freight & passenger) being different is maturing as he has realised that the operational characteristics (acceleration, top speed and braking) are different.

I "let him loose" in Huntington yard with a shunting assignment well he discovered things like "why is the loco in the siding at the wrong end of the cars?".....  What are these vehicle descriptions - I have always been told pick up that car or those cars so I do not know the difference between a gondola or box car let alone a cover hopper for grain or a covered hopper for chemicals!

Pierre shunting empty ore cars

Pierre learning how to use the yard panel
He discovered that apart from focusing on the immediate movement he needed to appreciate the whole so as to minimise the total number of movements to achieve the required car placements.

I introduced him to the Inglenook Shunting Puzzles website - Thanks Prof Klyzlr.

We we had had the fourth training session now and I am seeing some confidence and competence emerging. When we get together next the plan is to "chew the fat" over a top shelf bottle of red wine that has been "put down" for about 15 years - here's hoping it has matured well!

Ambient Light Detector Rework

When tested on the workbench and in the lounge room the circuit worked fine however when placed in the much lower light levels of the layout room it failed!  So back to the drawing board - well a breadboard powered by 3v batteries really. Thanks must go again to Rob Paisley who seems to always have an answer on his electronics for model railroad website. I got the idea from on of Rob's circuits see here. On Google (your friend) I found a link to one of his pages that provided the basis for a solution.

The upshot is I developed a circuit using the same ambient light detector that worked.

Here is a video showing the new circuit working

I made a hobby board for testing running on a 3V power source.

When connected to detectors and a LaunchPad the concept was proven.

The circuit was also tested on Wayne's layout which is under fluorescent lights and it just worked like a treat.

Putting it all together the sensor circuit and microprocessor resulted in the circuit below.

Full use of the microprocessor was achieved by adding another module.

Then it occurred to me that the voltage drop at 3.3V with light detectors some 20 metres away from the detector unit would probably be a problem.  After discussion with Wayne it was decided that raising the voltage in the sensing circuit to 12V  would go a long way to eliminating the issue. I set to work to update the circuit to enable that. I also added isolated outputs for trains travelling East or West outputs to each half of the circuit.

Now the design of a Printed Circuit Board is about to commence - Wayne is going to do this - Thanks Mate I look forward to seeing the design and prototype ready for testing.

Grand Opening Video

Last month I said it would be available this month.  The editing has been proceeding and it looks very much like 2 x 15 minute videos and another of about 7 mins but we are considering adding some "Bloopers".

The links are below.

Part 1

Part 2

I hope that Part 3 will be available next month.

A BIG thank you must go to Don for all the work required to put this together for me.

That's it for this month.

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

Till the end of September.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Remembering Pam - Benmoor & Waitaki River Railroad

Benmoor & Waitaki River Railroad

Roz from Oz and I wanted to let the Model Rail Radio Community where Pam got to with her layout which had been the subject of discussion from time to time since Tom visited and recorded the "South Australian Take Over Show".

It is of note that Pam had packed up the vast majority of her locomotives and rolling stock to ensure it was safe while Ros & Pam were to have there much debated trip to the US in July 2014.

City and Passenger Station

City Streets

Loco Facility

Main Yard


Steel Works

Control Panel

RIP Pam - you are sadly missed by many.