Wednesday, April 28, 2021

April Update


There has been quite a lot of activities this month recommissioning the layout is substantially complete. In addition I did some maintenance on my MT4's, have been working on the grade crossing project for Dazzy Jay, attended three Ops Session at Wayne's and my Granddaughters run some trains.


Loco LeMaistre and Huntington have been cleaned in the same manner as the decks.  Once agin thanks must go to Peter J who came to help.

There are a number of turnout issues mainly around solenoids to be addressed. I found the AWOL paperwork in a box packed by the insurance contractors. I forgot I asked the session operators to make notes on the failure 18 months ago so the paperwork has written notes on it!.  I need to recreate it soon.

The following locos needed attention on the workbench as they failed to operate.  Wheel and pickup cleaning and some rewriting of decoder settings from DecoderPro seems these measures have addressed the issues.

I have a new issue with the control system relating to my shunt locos in Huntington - they don't want to respond to the throttle - they are all small diesels however the mainline larger locos work fine - perplexing.

MT4 Maintenance

When I was cleaning the wheels ready to reprogram them I remembered an issue we encountered many times was the pony trucks not tracking properly and occaisionally derailing.  Fellow modelers have weighted the pony trucks on their locos and solved the problem so I took the opportunity to wrap some thin rosin core soler around the pony truck axles to add a small amount of weight.  We will see if it has made a difference in the next operating session where they are scheduled to run.

Dazzy's Grade Crossing

I indicated last month that I was building a grade crossing for Dazzy.  I have completed the code for the cossing lights which works fine.

Well the circuit I proposed to use for detection failed as I could not get reliable detection with the required 30cm gap between the IR LED and Photo diode.  I changed the circuit to use a photo transistor an cranked up the IR output of the high capacity IR LED's I sourced from RS Components - see circuit diagram below.  This worked first time but in later trials I deemed it not to be reliable enough.

Bench Power Supply set at 5V

IR LED (In tube LHS) and Phototransistor (in tube RHS)

Ruler Match for 30cm

Well I went looking and read about modifying the standard robot IR avoidance module as described by Rob Paisley here.  Now I owe Uncle Larry and apology - on MRR Show 202 I said my solution was better - wrong!  I just didn't realise what Rob Paisley had documented as a solution using the same technology that Uncle Larry has suggested and I have on hand.

Normally the sensor is used to detect using reflected IR however in this instance we need to detect when the IR beam is broken.

Benchtesting IR LED on LHS and Sensor on RHS.

After a bit of tweaking of the sensor sensitivity resistor it worked like a charm using a remote IR LED.

I modified te code I had written and incorpoated Dr Geoff Bunza's "RR_Crossing_Bell_FreeRun_PB" published by MRH Magazine back in December 2016.

Detector modules and sound modules added

Placing the detector modules about 40cm from a normal capacity IR LED things work ok.  See the circuit diagram & video of operation below.

Ops Sessions

This month I attended three sessions, one at Peter J's and te other two at Wayne's.


I attended along with Chris, Peter S, Rosslyn & Wayne

Rosslyn at Marysville

Wayne at Cedar Junction with Rosslyn looking on

Peter S at Marysville

Chris & Peter J at Glenbrook

Chris and Me at Grass Valley

Wayne and Rosslyn at Cedar Junction with Peter S looking on

Wayne uncoupling at Reid river

Chris & Peter J in the crew room - Nevada City to the right

Peter S at Eureka

Afterwards we enjoyed some of Mary's home made cake and other snacks along with a welcome drink.


I was lucky enough to attend two sessions this month and enjoyed both of them.

14 April

I attended along with Alan, Des, Don, Hugh and John at Wayne's and I was yardmaster at Dunkleigh Towers for the first half before getting to run some mainline trains.

Alan and Hugh at Forrest Gully and John at Lowood Crossing

Wayne and Don in serious discussion

Me at Dunkleigh Towers

Des and Wayne at Red Rock

Don, John, Hugh and Alan all at Lowood Crossing

Des at Valley Junction

Alan at Lowood Crossing

Des, Hugh and John

Don, Alan & Wayne

22 April

Barry, Chris, Des, Rosslyn and I joined Wayne for the session.

I had two Yardmaster jobs firstly Valley Junction followed by Lowood Crossing. The schedule was "easy going" so a non stressful great operating session for me.

Afterwards we enjoyed afternoon tea as usual.

Barry at Mulga Ridge

Chris & Des at Red Rock with Wayne watching on

Rosslyn at Forrest Gully

Rosslyn, Des and Chris at Red Rock

Barry at Lowood Crossing

Wayne - "Supervising"

Granddaughters Visit

Well after many requests to "run trains" in the last 18 months I was finally able to allow it due to the recommissioning work.

They had a great time and asked for more.....

That's it for now so until next time.....


Monday, March 29, 2021

January - March Update


There has been some modelling activities in the first quarter of 2021 and progress made on recommissioning the layout after the flooding and installation of the new booster. I made a couple of portable speedometers, am working on a grade crossing project for Dazzy Jay,  I attended an Ops Session at Wayne's and updated part of my website.


There is so much to do.  The last operating session was on 1July 2019 when the control system failed. Whist still waiting for the new booster to address the control system failure the house was flooded.  A lot of stuff was stacked up in the layout room which has mainly been removed now.

So a dark room with only someone entering occasionally has let to spider webs, dried out CRC 2-26 on the rails and the dust has settled everywhere.

Significant rearrangement  of the control system wiring was required (see New Booster below).

Peter R assisted me with backbone cabling changes.

Peter J assisted me with replacing some of the faulty backbone wiring and has been a dynamo helping manually clean trackwork and scenery.  The upper and lower decks have been cleaned and I have recoated all the track with CRC 2-26.

Loco LeMaistre and Huntington are still to be cleaned in the same manner as the decks before operations can be considered.

Most of the locos in the control system booster area that failed seem to either not run or have some strange issues.  So the following Locos are heading to the workshop:

     ● Athearn Genesis MT-4 4349

     ● Athearn Genesis MT-4 4350

     ● Proto 2000 5600 GP9e fitted with Tsumani TSU-AT-1000

     ● Athearn Genesis SDP45 326

     ● Athearn Genesis MP15AC 2745

There are also a number of turnout issues mainly around solenoids that have not operated for over 18 months so they need to be freed up and some silicon lubricant applied and tested.

A significant amount of physical work remains before the next operating session let alone recreating all the paperwork that seems to be AWOL.

New Booster

The new Lenz LV103 Booster arrived whilst we were in temporary accommodation awaiting our house being fixed up.  It has been installed and following testing directly connected to the command station then as part of the control network it has been debugged and issues addressed.  To integrate with the existing system a Roco Z21-Booster Adapter was required.

The following changes had to be made:

Command Station moved to other end of Booster Network
Booster 4 becomes Booster 1 change Booster IN to Booster OUT and connect Booster IN to Command Station booster OUT.
Booster 3 becomes Booster 2 swap Booster IN and Booster OUT connections.
Booster 2 becomes Booster 4 and Booster network bridged to go direct to new Booster 3 from new Booster 2.
Booster 1 becomes Booster 3 swap Booster IN and Booster OUT connections.
Booster 4 connected to Z21-Booster Adapter and Booster IN from Booster 3 also need Throttle LAN connection to Adapter.
Install new Power cable to Command Station from Power Supplies centrally located in the helix.
Booster 4 Power connections to higher capacity Power Supply previously installed.

Finally the new booster is actually in and working! Still to have a maximum load trial but it is operational. Video shows repositioning a consist running through Daveyston towards Huntington.

I still need to stress test the Booster with around a dozen active locos all running simultaneously.

Portable Speedometer

I assembled two of these one for Wayne and one for me.

Thanks to Uncle Larry (Lawrence Eggering) from Creaky Chair Models for the basic code and inspiration after seeing the many versions he has produced which can be found on his YouTube Channel.

Arduino Nano with Pins soldered above board.

Buck Voltage Board set to 5V Output

20 x 4 Line LCD display

I2C two wire connection on rear

3mm Infra Red detectors

All the bits

IR Detectors Mounted through back

Inside view

LCD display mounted in front

Power Supply set for Buck Converter adjustment

Before adjustment

After adjustment

All components mounted

Powered up from the track

A quick test run

New Freight Cars

Nineteen freight cars that I built when we were in temporary accommodation last February/March had their waybills placed in the car card covers and they have been placed on the layout ready for the next operating session.

Dazzy's Grade Crossing

I offered to put an Arduino project together for Dazzy (I was thinking I have done this before however, it was using the Ti Launchpad with a totally different approach!) - oh well, a new project for me to do....  

There a four tracks and he would like two sets of crossing lights (LED illumination) and sound.  We will utilise IR technology to trigger operation based on train movement from either side.

I will use code from Geoff Bunza's December 2016 MRH article and various other ideas from which I will develop the final Sketch.

Here is the wiring design as developed so far prior to breadboarding to prove the configuration.

Any bits I needed that were not on hand have been ordered and I will develop the code and breadboard in the coming weeks.

Ops Session

I attended along with Darren (Dazzy Jay), Des and Peter S at Wayne's on 25 March.  I was placed in charge of Lowood Crossing to manage traffic and all shunting requirements.  I was kept reasonably busy for the majority of the time and I really enjoyed getting back to operating.

Dazzy, Des and Peter S

Wayne Instructing Dazzy on Shunting Techniques

Peter S

Checking the Selected Route at Dunkleigh Towers!

Watch some action from the run...

Website Update

Peter J has been working on his Eureka Valley Narrow Gauge Railroad and over the last 12 months or so have extended it to include Glenbrook and Oilville.  It is featured on my website here.

That's it for now so until next time.....