Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Status update

That's the layout current status, more or less 70% of the twisted bone form track laid:

I also made a video to test it. It starts from the red tracks (half of the station) and comes back to the station in a continuous circulation through the gray tracks. I calculated an average speed of 72Km/h (scaled) and takes 60 seconds for this built part of the circuit:

I don't have many advances, but I spent a lot of time learning, testing and thinking about blocks, detection sections, loops, servos.... to avoid missing any future requirement!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Servo installation

I've been installing servos in the firsts switches of the main level. I'm using an Uhlenbrock servo decoder with relays (to feed frogs). Servos (also from Uhlenbrock) are not the best by far, but they come with two different supports (aluminium angles), 3 different bars and mounting screws.

Decoder is not LOCONET compatible. It is wired to the DCC loop but it's also connected to an independent power supply to avoid the typical servo initial movement if you have to cut the power from the central station to the tracks in case of derailment or short circuit.

4 different positions can be programmed for each servo and assigned to a different red or green key. Also speed and bouncing effect (for barriers) is configurable. Decoder can be configured from the station (in CV program) or directly pressing a button in the decoder.

That's the first test, the movement can be really realistic:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Preparing main level

All the hidden tracks have been laid and tested, so it's time to cover them and loose the comfort that gives you the possibility to work with the frame opened.

I tried to find a way to do it to be able to dismount it in case of "emergency". And the only possibility was to screw the base instead of gluing it. And it's been a good idea because it's faster and stronger. There is also the advantage to be able to level it. For sure it will not be easy to dismount if some day it's needed, but at least there is the possibility without breaking a lot of things.

The first thing to do is to be far-sighted and lower some notches on the top of the ribs for passing wires. Make a big hole if you preview access from the side can be needed (big enough for your hand at least). It's still difficult to know how many wires and where will they go through, so my recommendation is to drill four notches in each rib crossing like in the image:

In order to fix the base board I used metallic squares screwed to the ribs. In the base board I drilled a hole for each square and countersink it. The inox screws I'm using have conical head so once in the hole they are leveled.

These are the tools and material used:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

BR260 Broken

My BR260 started to do something really strange. It was loosing power progressively. Each day it was able to pull from less wagons. Finally at full throttle started to move slowly and after few centimeters stopped.

The design of this machine is a mess inside. The power is taken from the wheels with a soldered wire for the positive and with a screw that attach the little circuit to the chassis. And power to the motor is given by a soldered wire for negative, and through a week contact for the positive.

I can't figure out why it needs resistances, reel and other electronic stuff to run a small train... I tested the motor and it runs perfect, I also installed again the dummy and the wrong behavior was also reproduced in DC.

Finally, I removed everything and install a simple NEM connector and a Decoder. Now the nurse discharged the patient.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kato 10-352 181 Series Digitalization

The only difficulty with the digitalization is in the cab cars. Motor and normal cars are exactly like any other EMU from Kato, so I'll miss this information.

But with cab cars I got stuck from the first moment: how to open it?
The key is to begin from the roof, and not from the bottom like all other cars. First of all you have to remove the cabin roof but being careful not to bend the piece because there is the light pick up piece that brings light form the interior leds to the bonnet light. After that remove the roof, windows glasses and seats (unclipping from bottom). Now you will see a gray piece containing led that you have to unscrew to remove.

Once the little circuit with led is in your hands, it's time to prepare it for DCC. The best thing you can do now is to read this marvelous article from Akihabara Station. Thanks a lot!!!!
Basically, you have to desolder one of the led and solder it again changing the leg position. The aim is to join the same polarity legs than your common wire from the decoder. My decoder (Digitrax TF4) has a common positive, so I have to join positive led legs after the existing resistance in the circuit. The other leg of the led (negative in my case) will not be soldered to the circuit because I have three wires for connecting leds instead of two.

Let me do a break: DO NOT USE DIGITRAX TF4 FOR CAB LIGHTS!!!! This decoder has 4 accessory outputs, but none of them is directional depending. If I had searched information in JNS Forum before buying I would have known it but......

You can see the black wire is the positive common (before the resistance), green for green light, and red for red light:

Test it (always test each step of the digitalization!!!!) and prepare the place for the decoder. I choose the end of the car because seats already have like a separation wall. I cut the end of the seats piece behind this separation wall and also the frame in the same position. I also installed interior lights, soldered wires and here you see it ready to close. Closing it is also quite difficult... the light transmitter transparent pieces go out of their place easily:

And here it is with lights operational:

JR Series 181 Shioji

That's the only translated information found about Shioji (from NewHallStation):

The prototype series 181, nicknamed "Kodama (Echo) type" or "Bonnet Express", was made as a powered-up version of the earlier modern express trains, series 151 and 161. The Series 181 was first operated as "Kodama" on Tokaido Mainline. But when the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train wider-track line was laid in 1964 alongside the conventional line, making the conventional express obsolete there, the conventional line 181 express train started its second life as the express "Shioji (Strand)" and "Hato (Pigeon)" on the conventional Sanyo Mainline in Western Japan; where no Shinkansen line was yet laid. The express train with a pilot car Kuroha, equipped with a luxury compartment following the cabin, attracted many fans with its elegance.

And these are the only original photos I found (source: 休憩室):

And the model I have is from Kato:

JR Express Series 181 "Shioji" "Hato" - 7 Cars Set - Kato 10-352
Seven (7) cars set (Limited Edition)
Excellent quality and performance
Wonderful craftsmanship with realistic details
Working head and tail lights (Car 1 & Car 7)
Lights change in direction of travel
Illuminated head mark - Car 1 & Car 7
With four (4) pantographs
Car 1: Type KUROHA 181 Coach
Car 2: Type MORO 181 Coach
Car 3: Type MORO 180 Coach
Car 4: Type SASI 181 Coach
Car 5: Type MOHA 180 Coach
Car 6: Type MOHA 181 Coach (powered - motor)
Car 7: Type KUHA 181 Coach

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reverse Loop Control

It's been time to wire my first reversing loop. I saw many commercial solutions for auto reversing the polarity of the loop. Some of them work with sensors and others detecting the short circuit and inverting the polarity before this short circuit would be detected by the central (but I don't like this solution too much...). Anyway, all of them are quite expensive and in my mind I had a possible solution using cheap latching relays.

Finally, I found this fantastic page here. It's a Z-scale blog named AGP SchwarzWaldBahn 220, and there I found the exact reference of the latching relay that works perfectly also in N-scale (I wonder it also works fine in HO).

It's just a latching relay (just needs an impulse to change and keeps the state until next pulse). It can work with just one signal and inverting the polarity, or two independent signals. And it's double, that means that I can switch both rails with just one relay. The exact reference is Axicom P2 V23079 from Tyco Electronics. You can find here the specifications (photo misses two more pins if you use the two signals versions).

But how do I send the pulses? Just with the accessories module, like if it was a normal switch.
And who sends the order? Usually you would need a PC software to detect the train in a previous isolated section to the loop and then send the command to the accessories module, but as I'm using Uhlenbrock modules all this is much easier and I don't need a PC turned on to run trains. That last is a premise for my layout.

Uhlenbrock detection modules can be configured to send orders to other modules when there is a detection or an undetection. So I defined a detection section previous to the loop, and another inside the loop (at the end). This detection sections cause to send the signals to the relay and invert the polarity properly. It could have been done also with just one detection signal and send one pulse on detection and other pulse when the detection signal disappear, but I think this is more reliable and I will be able to use it from the software as a full block to stop trains if necessary.

That's the final module installed, mounted in a protoboard:

The final installation has two modules to control one loop because of the detection section inside of the loop (you have to change the polarity of 3 rails, not 2, if the detection is done isolating just one of the rails).

If someone needs more information or details, just ask me!!

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Level 0 planning

Just a short update, now I'm planning the main level. All the hidden tracks are in place and wiring ready (DCC loop, feeder connectors for all tracks and Loconet Bus).
What you see is the rural station from Kato with the platform extension pack:

I'm still waiting to receive some latching relays with double coil to manage the loop. The layout is basically a dog-bone, and the concrete sleepers track (on the right of the photo, lower level) is one of the ends of this dog-bone that must invert the polarity when any train crosses it. After I have that I'll post a video recording the available run.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Recording your layout

I wanted to record videos in first person of my trains running through the layout, and I read in "Escala N" forum about some cheap lighter-spy-cams. You can find in ebay this lighter spy cam for 14€ (including VAT and shipping in Spain). It's small enough (exactly as a real lighter) to fix it on a low profile car and it records in its own micro-sd and has its own battery. After, just plug it in the USB and extract the video (720x480 with voice) as from a memory stick:

This is the first test. The image is not good because it has been compressed for youtube and there wasn't enough ambient light, but still the result is surprising. Hope you like it!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tips for connectors and feeders

Yesterday I bought a bounch of cheap connectors to extend the dcc loop and feed the new tracks. I want to make sure that every single section of track has it's own feeder, at least in the hidden part of the layout, to avoid future problems. That's why I'm installing a lot of feeders.

I have some hidden tracks that will have difficult access when I cover them with the 0 level and it will be difficult to use a screwdriver if I need to replace or disconnect a wire.

That's why I bought this plugable connectors. They are a good and cheap solution to connect the feeders to the main loop and you can always disconnect it and screw/unscrew easily.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Hidden Yard ready

I finished laying the hidden yard's tracks this weekend. I've used Minitrix flex tracks, turnouts and point motors. This will not be the type of track used in the rest of the layout (it will be Peco code 55), but I already had this tracks from a previous layout, so I don't have to waste money....

I put 7 detection sections, each one between 20 and 30 cm long: 5 in the end of each track, and two more dividing two of the tracks. This will allow me to store 3 long and 4 short trains hopefully.

TIP: If your detection section doesn't detect if just half of a car has entered (a car is between the detection and the previous section) it's because you used the wrong rail. Try with the opposite or interchange the supply wires and it will work perfect.... LOL

I used Uhlenbrock detection modules and also Uhlenbrock output modules for the point motors:

Now I'll stop until Peco track arrives, and meanwhile I'll continue practicing and doing tests with ballasting and rock painting.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Final Design

I fixed the final design for the layout thanks to some good recommendations from some JNSF members:

I sacrificed two staging tracks on le left and used them to ascend to the mountain, instead of installing switches in the main line like the previous design. This allows to run trains from the main station to the mountain independently of what's running in the main line. The only doubt still in my head is if I ascend with a double track or just one track allowing double sense of travel. In this second option I could keep one of the staging track....... will continue thinking about it.......

Here there is a render for those with lack of imagination like me:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Electrical Tip: loop and feeders

That's the cheaper and best way I found to connect the tracks to the DCC current:

* Create a loop with the main wires from the station arround the layout. In my case, I use 1,5mm gauge for this main loop.

* If you use flex track connect each one to the main loop with a feeder (0.75 mm gauge seems to work well), otherwise put a feeder at least in each meter of tracks. There is no problem with an excess of feeders, it's better than having isolated sections because of bad contacts.


And that's what I build to connect feeders to the loop. You only have to buy a sheet of baquelite with continous tracks and solder these terminals. Screw this in each point of the loop where you need to connect feeders. In the market you can find terminals as long as you need, but also can join some of them to make a feeder with so many outputs as you need.


This also allows you to isolate wires, tracks or sections in case you are searching the reason for a failure because makes it very easy to disconnect wires or place the tester directly in the metallic screws of each wire.

And for organizing wires, those auto adhesive clips are marevelous!! I also use adhesive bridle bases, this will be shown in other post.

See you soon!
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My tips for laying track

In this post I'll show how I fix the track with nails, because what everybody does is use a small hammer, but this doesn't work well (at least for me...) because it's difficult to keep the track in the exact place while the nail is going deeper, and many times the hammer hits my fingers instead.:@
Firs of all I prepared a gauge with a small piece of wood making some slots to fit the tracks at the desired space for the hidden yard:

After the track is in place I insert the nail in the place to fix and I use an old and small file which is 8 millimeters wide, so it fits between the rails:

You only have to make some pressure on it and the nail will enter smoothly because it doesn't slip from the file .

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Many people only uses nails at the beginning and end of a track section and glues it, or directly only glues the track. But for the hidden yard I prefer to use only nails because it's easier to dismount if someday it's necessary.

In this way the track will be placed exactly where you want. I hope it be useful!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Structure completed!!!!

After an insane work, I completed the whole structure. Still remains the third module, but it's just for the future because now I have enough work to complete this 2,60x1mt model ;)

I had some trouble because plans were printed something like a 5% bigger than 1:1 scale. I haven't found the error, something wrong with the printer I guess, but the following ribs' plans were printed in the right size (and that's the really important thing!).

I also prepared the base for the hidden stage yard and I've start laying tracks and connecting. I'm doing some tests with Uhlenbrock feedback modules, Intellibox and Rocrail. I'm getting really satisfied with it by the moment... In later posts I'll show how I'm planning the electrification.

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These are the materials and technique used:

* Ribs and frame: Phenolic plywood 1 cm.
* Track bed: Phenolic plywood 0,5 cm.
* Legs: 6x6 cm pine strips

Frame and ribs where fixed with cyanoacrylate glue (bought from Würth here) and the intersection between ribs with a special water resistant white glue for wood (E+D3 glue). This kit has an spray to activate the cyanoacrylate and fix it IMMEDIATELY!!! I'm not kidding, it glues immediately with your fingers, your shirt, tools, everything in contact will be fixed. So I suggest to buy the full kit or you will miss the cyanocrylate remover.... Don't put cyanoacrylate in one side and the activator in the other or as soon the two pieces get in touch it will not be possible to separate. Put cyanoacrylate just in one, joint the pieces (you have 5 minutes to adjust) and once they are well situated, slightly spray the joint. I also screwed the union between ribs and external frame. And again I suggest you to use the Würth "ASSY PLUS" screws with a special drilling end that will not break the wood and you don't need to drill before screw, and half thread to push one piece to the other instead of separate them as it happens with normal screws.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

AndRoc & Rocrail

I've been doing some tests with that great and free application. It's awesome to see you trains following your orders through your mobile..... GREAT!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

KATO 10-922 Mangattan: Interior Lights

Following the digitalization of the motor car, now it's time for the next car. I want to add interior lights with a led strip and a very simple decoder with just one output. I selected the Digitrax FL1 because of price and size.

Thats what we will do:

First of all, remove the shell with the help of a plain screwdriver. It's just clipped, there aren't screws nor tabs.

After that, unscrew both bogies (bogie=chassis or framework carring weels) removing the screw of each one from the bottom. This also frees the white plastic cover simulating seats. Under that cover you will see the metalic strips which take the current from the tracks (through the bogies).

 Now cut that plastic piece to make room for the decoder. That's not strictly necessary, but doing it this way your decoder will be hidden from the outside of the car. Be careful not to cut the hole where the bogie screw is fastened.
Remove the metallic strips and fix them to solder the feed wires of the decoder (red and black). Calculate where to solder them so it fits with the hole yo previously cut in the white piece.

Now you can mount the metallic strips, the white plastic piece and screw the bogies with the decoder in place. Fix the led strip inside the shell and solder to the decoder.

Finally, program the Id. of the decoder with the same number than the motor car's decoder to light all the cars with just pressing F0.

Digitrax TL1

This is a really simple one function output decoder. It's really cheap and small, perfect to install in those cars where you want interior lighting.

I only miss the possibility to set up the output intensity like Uhlenbrock decoders, but on the other hand you can set up special effects (strobe, blinking, ...) and the frequency for that effects.

It has also transponding possibilities, but only if you use Digitrax stations. I deactivated it since I'm using Uhlenbrock Intellibox.

These are its main characteristics and configuration possibilities:
  • Single 125mA (250mA peak) function output for lights or other functions
  • Function can be turned on/off using F0, F1, F2, F3, or F4
  • Supports both 2 digit and 4 digit addressing
  • Programmable from DCC compatible equipment
  • Configurable Strobe feature lets you simulate flashing lights like FRED, Strobes, Mars Lights, etc.
  • Compatible with Digitrax DCC Transponding Systems
  • Approximate size: 0.461” x 0.31” x 0.161” (11.7mm x 7.8mm x 4.1mm)

TABLE I:  Function# for TL1's function output 
Function # CV61 CV64 CV61 CV64 
F1  02 00 00 00  
F2  02 01 00 01 
F3  02 02 00 02 
F4  02 03 00 03 
F0    03  00 01 00 

TABLE II:  CV49 Values for Configurable Strobe Effect Selection 
00 Normal on/off 
01 Simulated FRED 
02 Simulated Mars 
03 Slow Strobe 
04 Single Pulse 
05 Double Pulse 
06 Medium Pulse 
07 Mostly on blinking off

TABLE III:  CV62 Values for Setting Effect Rate 
00 (Slowest) to 07 (Fastest)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Inicio de la infraestrctura (2)

Aprovechando las vacaciones, he podido armar la infraestructura de media maqueta. Todavía no la he encolado porque faltan algunos retoques y un poco de lija en algún punto, !!!pero parece que el Wintrack funciona a la perfección!!!

Lo próximo es fijar todas las maderas con cianocrilato y algún tornillo, pero antes prefiero esperar a tener también la cama de las vías para comprobar que todo encaje. Me parece demasiado raro que todo cuadre tan bien a la primera.... :S

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Inicio de la Infraestructura

!Fase de construcción iniciada! Después de un año haciendo y rehaciendo planos y bocetos, y habiendo dibujado mas de 18 variantes distintas de la versión mas o menos final de la maqueta, estoy construyendo por fin la infraestructura.

En primer lugar quiero agradecer a los foreros de Plataforma N y de JNS Forum por el montón de consejos que me han dado y el cariño y paciencia con los que se han mirado mis planos y los han corregido o aportado sugerencias.
First of all I would like to sincerely thank to all the collegues from Plataforma N and JNS Forum for the big ammount of advices given and the patience and affection demostrated when looking at my plans and correcting them or giving suggestions.

Siguiendo los consejos de los mas experimentados tanto en maquetas como trabajando la madera (gràcies Edu!!!), estoy utilizando madera contrachapada fenólica de Okume de un centímetro de espesor, tanto para el marco como las costillas. La base de las vías es también contrachapado fenólico de Okume de 5 mm.
De momento he calculado las costillas justas, cada 32.5 cm exactamente, y ya reforzaré si lo veo necesario con alguna costilla mas o algún tirante o escuadra.

La maqueta la construyo en tres trozos, para que sea mas o menos sencilla de transportar en un futuro. Los 2 primeros trozos que construyo miden 131 cm x 102 cm. He utilizado el Wintrack 8.0 para hacer los planos e imprimir las plantillas de las costillas a tamaño real.

Seguiré posteando los avances.
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