Friday, June 30, 2017

June Update

This month has seen activities that included: MTH PA/PB's woes, Top Level Signals, helping Chris, Fast Clock prototype, the Monday Night Crew, Two Ops Sessions, Peter's Sound Modules, Pierre in training, Arduino Course and Prep for my next Ops Session.


The lost postage continued - they found the package at Granville NSW but then it went missing for another two weeks....  I had to telephone to follow up before they actually found it again.  It is interesting I signed for delivery but no record of that is shown....

Received by Australia Post 04:30pm Thu 04 May at LIVERPOOL NSW

With Australia Post for delivery today 09:01am Tue 13 Jun SOMERTON PARK SA

Not bad for a normal 1-2 day delivery time.....


I now have the new motors ready to install.

I hope there are not any more issues whilst installing them.

Top Level Signals

I have recommenced working on the signals and finished off terminating the detection and signal mast wires around the layout with the exception of those around the helix.  I have mounted the control board and terminated the incoming wiring. I have commenced installing wiring for the turnout state loops with the control panel.

Signal Wiring

The final local termination boards which are above Hornertown East.

Control Board

The double sided board has been placed in position above the master control panels..

Direction sensing, passing loop and junction control pc boards

Rob Paisley's Three light signal boards
Wayne & I installed the detection and signal mast wires from the helix area through to the control board for termination.

Signal Head wires

Direction Detection wires

Direction Detection wires terminated
Signal Head wires terminated

Now to get the 24 turnout status wiring loops installed after Wayne helped me run the 48 wires.

We will also need to test each cable run for proper connection status to minimise the "gremlins" as we move forward.

Chris's Staging Lighting

During the initial operating sessions at Chris's we had issues seeing what is happening on this level the ongoing use of torches was deemed inappropriate.  It was decided to retrofit LED lighting in the low headroom space.

The issue has now been addressed including me getting some wounds along the way from sharp stuff from the level above...

Chris's Winter Woes

I guess there are lessons about living in a climate with temperatures and humidity that change significantly during the year.  It would appear significant reinforcing of the larger panels is required during construction.  The roof panels fitted perfectly in summer - a bit different now....

More work required here.....  Perhaps Jim Gore's upcoming book may have some pointers....

Fast Clock

Barry has been "thinking ahead" for his proposed layout, and, after initially thinking "working to the clock" at Wayne's during op sessions was B.... S... he has now realised the value.  He has been talking to me about utilising some old computer screens for the purpose.  After some thought I decided it would be a lot easier to use some 8 x 32 LED modules.

Below is an outline of the development work undertaken and "where it is at" so far.

The push buttons utilise “Debounce” methodology an example can be found in the provided in the Arduino IDE.  This had to be done to ensure proper operation as our simple button press is too slow for the microprocessor which cycles at 16 MHz (16 million cycles per second).

The basic wiring diagram is below.


The clock upon power up will display “Pause” and the default start time of 06:00 and fast clock “Rate” will be set to 4:1 with a low brightness intensity. After changing the Time, Brightness or Rate press this button to commence operation or pause operation after commencement.

+ Time

Pressing this button will either increase the “Start Time” or “Run Time”.  If the clock has been “running” for two minutes then adjustments are made to the “Run Time” otherwise it will be to the “Start Time”.  The adjustments are in 15 minutes per button press. Each button press will be registered when “Pause” is displayed which will happened after ¾ of a second after each press.

- Time

Pressing this button will either decrease the “Start Time” or “Run Time”.  If the clock has been “running” for two minutes then adjustments are made to the “Run Time” otherwise it will be to the “Start Time”.  The adjustments are in 15 minutes per button press. Each button press will be registered when “Pause” is displayed which will happened after ¾ of a second after each press.


Pressing this button will cycle through the 16 brightness levels available. The brightness will stay at the last level selected until the clock is powered down.


Pressing this button will allow the fast clock rate to be set at 2, 4, 6, 12 or 30 times normal time.

Generally, a rate of up to 6 will be used for Op sessions and the 12 & 30 used for testing minute/hour/day roll over operation of the clock which will run for about 5 days before the dreaded “stack overflow” – this should not be a problem in practice!

Below is a link to a short video that covers what has been done.

I also tried sharing the control data over multiple screens and it seems to work OK.  I think if this was implemented then the control cables would need to be screened cables to avoid interference from other adjacent cables.

The proof of concept appears to provide a workable outcome.

Monday Night Crew

We still have "modelling nights" where we all get together and progress our individual projects.  The last one was held at Barry's other regular locations are Derek's & Rosslyn's.  They are always followed by supper.

Barry, Derek, Chris, Rosslyn, Don, Pierre and me (L to R)

Ops Sessions at Wayne's

Wayne had two sessions for us this month, first was the additional night time session to introduce the session swap discussed last month then our usual monthly daytime session.

Night Session

Rosslyn introduced Vic Tilling (see his video channel here) to our group and they joined Barry, Chris, Derek, Wayne and me for a interesting session.  Derek & I worked together (derek as engineer and me as conductor/guard) as did Rosslyn & Vic while Chris & Barry undertook different duties.  All the trains Derek & I operated were the first time I had run them in all the time I have been going to Wayne's.

We had an enjoyable evening followed by supper and Vic has been invited to future operating sessions on Wayne's and my layouts.

Daytime Session

Don, Des, Rosslyn, Vic, Barry, Chris and me attended and again we had a very enjoyable session - I think we are all improving in how we are operating and conforming to the layout rules. We did have one cornfield meet towards the end on some hidden track - a solution to prevent future occurrences is being worked on!

(L to R) Des, Don, Vic, Wayne, Me. Barry, Rosslyn & Chris

Des & Don looking and discussing some details

Don showing Vic some finer points of the MultiMaus Throttles

Wayne & Chris at Dunkley Towers

Barry intently watching his train between Hartley Vale & Lowood Crossing

Rosslyn intently watching his train leaving Valley Junction

Barry at Eden Park

Des & I playing tag.

Pierre back in training

Pierre has been over for two separate coaching sessions this month.  I am pleased he is making the effort to overcome issues he has identified and asked for assistance with how to improve.

Sound Module Prototyping

Peter Jackson is coming for a chat today - June 30 - on options for the addition of sounds to his layout.  I have information obtained at the Narrow Gauge Convention from Prof Klyzlr. Over the coming months a final decision will be made on the type and brand of the sound modules to be installed which will be operated by an arduino based control system.

Arduino Course

Wayne, Derek and I attended the first two sessions of the Arduino course at the local library.  Whilst we learnt a few things we were quite disappointed with the very unstructured approach by our lecturer and the organisers for not having any course evaluation mechanism.  The last session had to be rescheduled and Wayne and I had a previous commitment so we missed out on attending.

Prep for 3 July Ops

I have 3 days to clear off the layout and get ready for an ops session on 3 July.  It has come around quicker than I thought looks like a busy weekend getting things ready and preparing all the running sheets as I have 2 new operators and a guest coming in addition to the normal crew.

That's it for this month!

Till the end of July.....


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