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