Friday, September 29, 2017

September Update

This month saw a number of activities that included: NMRA Convention, Troublesome Turnout, Control Panel fix, 4 Ops Sessions, Modelling Bench Lighting, Speedometer and JMRI / Engine Driver changes at Don's.

NMRA Convention - Adelaide

The Australasian Region NMRA Convection was held in Adelaide this year and my layout was part of the layout tour on 17th September.  I had 19 visitors on the day. They were able to see my crew operating the layout.  I received many favourable comments - thanks to my team: Controller Derek; Operators Wayne, Barry, Chris, Don, John, Rosslyn, & Vic for making it a successful day.

Afterwards we had afternoon tea that turned into pizza tea for some with a significant amount of red wine consumed!

The following day I received a phone call from a modeller from Newcastle who said they ran out of time and could the come and have look - they stayed about 1 3/4 hours.  I also had a fellow exhibitor contact me to visit on the following Saturday so I had two more visitors.

To all of you who introduced yourselves and invited me to visit if in your town - I should have written your details down - my memory for names etc is not so good.  So if you read this please drop me a line at: jim (at) hallettcovesouthern,com - it would be appreciated.

So 23 visitors was the grand total.

Troublesome Turnout

For some time, despite many different efforts to free up the remote throw, the binding continued to be too much for the Peco solenoids.   Luckily only part of the track work had been ballasted so removal was not too difficult.  I decided this "had to be done" before the NMRA layout tour.

Then I was not convinced the new tube would not get bent on insertion so time to clean it all out – a hole through the fascia was the easiest option.

It tested out ok the proof will be if it functions well on 17 September when the NMRA visitors are here as that's when Murphy will prevail!

Control Panel Fix

My first Control panel was for the Upper Level and I had not established "my standards" and some terminations had been combined in instead of being individual.  I understood the idiosyncrasies however it was not fair on Derek.  Wayne gave me a hand to trace wires so I could fix the issues.  I thought I had it nailed but there must have been a shared connection I did not pick up so after doing lots of rewiring to existing and additional terminal strips when I powered it all up - Oh S..t it was still incorrect - time to sleep on it....

Well after a sleep or two another go - the subconscious grey matter had worked out the problem and when I did some further testing it supported the theory.   More wire termination changes and hey presto all operational as it should be....

These terminations was required for the signal controls too.

Ops Session 4 September

This was the final chance to "tweak" what we are going to be doing during the NMRA Layout tour when our visitors take a look.  The schedule is not too tight so operators will be able to answer questions from visitors.

Don, Des, Barry, Wayne, Peter S, Vic, John, Rosslyn and me had fun practising I undertook Derek's role for the session as he was "at work"....

Thanks to Don for all his work tweaking the Jimtown Turn!

Below is the overview of the schedule.

Better lighting over my modelling bench

I have been struggling for some time getting a decent downward light - I always seemed to have shadows when trying to undertake the "trickier tasks".  Well I decided to get two cool white LED strips and fit them to some MDF which is attached to some draw runners so they can be moved out over the task on the bench.

The MDF mounted between some 550mm draw runners


The light seems pretty even and I now have a distinct lack of shadows.  I am looking forward to using it on actual tasks.  I soon learnt not to lean my head in when getting out of the chair!

Ops Sessions at Wayne's

With his major maintenance period over we were back into operations. Don, Des, John, Alan, Roger, Murray, Ross, & Me joined Wayne for a great session on the 13th.

I forgot to take some pictures....   and we had a debrief with wine & nibbles too....

There were a few new gremlins so a maintenance session was organised on the 19th and the major culprit was located - a solder joint on the throttle LAN had failed causing intermittent shorting to other conductors! The failure was in an area where some of the major maintenance had been done. After fixing the connection, and given what had been experienced it was decided that we should reset all XpressNet devices, PSX's, PSX-AR's and troublesome Locos.  This was completed ready for the following op session.

The second Ops session was held on 28th and Chris, Don, Rosslyn  and I joined Wayne.  Wayne had further tweaked the job cards (seems to be an on-going process) but it is getting better each time.  We had an enjoyable session.

Wayne's briefing....

The stack of job cards

Rosslyn, Don & Wayne at Dunkleigh Towers

My final train a Double Headed 20 car container train - Don looking on.

I switched Lowood Crossing, Ran the Local Goods through the system, Made up the Goods at Mulga Ridge and ran the Container Train Waverly to Camden - I had 5 minutes break in 2 3/4 hours...

Ops Session at Ross's

Derek, Barry, Chris, Rosslyn & Me joined Ross for a fun session.

I had a "Dear Sir moment" shunting in the yard...

Oops... what is the Crane support wagon doing across the tracks!

Rosslyn & Chris observing my problem...

Ross - our host 
Derek had fun too

Getting up close and personal in the aisle

The missing Roof.....

 The search for the roof commences...

Roof still MIA...

Out with the WiFi camera and take a run to find the roof!

Not here

Or here

Oh wait a minute what is that...

The lost is found

The retrieval...

Focus on "Willunga"

Looking towards Bugle Ranges

And Barry though there were no pictures of him from the WiFi camera! - wrong....

Afterwards we enjoyed supper and a chat.  Thanks Ross!

Speedometer - Arduino Based

I been following the ARDUINO WORKSHOP,   For Beginners  ...  By Beginners, hosted by Chris Heili  for YouTube MODEL BUILDERS and decided it would be nice for people in our group to be introduced to the concept.  I now have parts on order for 34 units!

Prototype Development

Now for the Promini Arduino assembly

Using a UNO board (processor removed) to program the sketch

I also tried programming using a FDTI interface

Both methods worked fine.

Prototype Testing

After reading all the information from Chris Heili and the originator Steve Spence I used a 100k Ohm resistor on the photo diode which worked fin on the bench but when installed was giving too many false positives due to the ambient light levels.  I changed them for 10k Ohm as in Chris's original design and they worked fine.  In my final design I will use a 0-100 potentiometer so both low and high ambient light levels can be dealt with.

The test site - in the cutting

Detectors installed 10 inches arart

There were some issues found apart from the ambient lighting levels, incomplete sensing loop - train stopping over sensor, tripping one but not both sensors were the main two.  The latter was fixed by introducing a reset function which activates 20 seconds after no activity following a sensor being activated.

There is a method for dealing with challenging changing ambient lighting levels and sunlight variations but it requires a different approach in the detector sensing section of the arduino sketch. If you are having "light level or interference problems" read up here.  Thanks for the link Derek.

Below is a link to a short video showing the bi-directional testing at different speeds.

Troublesome Crossing at Picard Junction

This Peco Insulfrog crossing has been a source of continuing short circuits.  Despite the "nail polish trick" just about every Walthers  or MTH Coach causes a short when each bogie passes through. Due to the number of shorts the PSX don't seem to cope that well - apart from the train stopping and starting continuously which is really annoying.

The solution is to replace with a Peco Electrofrog and a Tam Valley Dual Frog Juicer....

Materials on hand ready for a maintenance session to undertake the installation.

Don's JMRI Changes

A few months ago we set up JMRI WiThrottle on Don's laptop but experience has shown that he really needed the WiThrottle on the desktop not the laptop (files are shared between the two by Dropbox) so a session was organised to "do the swap" and get it all up and running. Don, like me, runs Roco Zentralie with MultiMausPro, Sprog, Lenz LiUSB & in addition to me he runs a Lok Programmer over his computers.

After successful testing of all the changes we had a nice BBQ and a good bottle of wine!

Ops Session at Don's this month

I was feeling sick and missed out - Sorry mate!

That's it for this month!

Till the end of October.....


No comments:

Post a Comment