Sunday, 31 December 2017

Posing for the camera

At the Euskirchen exhibition, I asked Peter to use his camera to try to replicate some of the source photos I have of the real Freshwater. After some manipulation, here are the results:

It shows some irregularities, and focal length differences, but the main one is the position of the buffer stop in the horse box photo. It is positioned correctly according to the OS map, but does not match the photographic evidence.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Still working on Camford Junction

The Camford Junction group was hard at work on Camford Junction again last night. Progress is slow, but it is progress, nevertheless.

There was much discussion and head-scratching trying to work out the best shapes for baseboards for the curved ends of the fiddle yard that will allow for the 4 tracks, with a minimum radius of 36 inches, and with the tracks crossing baseboard joints as close to right angles as possible. We also want to provide a few inches of straight track at the joins to the straight baseboards at the front and rear of the layout, and increase the spacing of the tracks to allow for overhang of long coaches and wagons.

Meanwhile, droppers were being added, and connected together on baseboards 3 and 4:

And I pressed on with joining up droppers with relays and frog switches for the TMD area on baseboard 2:

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

What a load of old bull-rushes

With another deadline about to whoosh past (exhibiting at Andover this weekend) it is about time I added a bit more scenery to the layout. I picked up a couple of boxes of Noch laser etched bullrushes to add to the plumber's hemp rushes I had already planted along the river Yar and the brook that runs along the rear of the station. I found some more on eBay, and in the end, I have almost 150 bullrushes to plant. They do not go far, as you need to group them to look effective, and even then, they are hardly visible. This photo shows about a third of them.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

And then there were two - 2

Having had a successful weekend running 'Freshwater' on 'Freshwater' at Abingdon, I have now turned my attentions to a second Dapol A1X Terrier locomotive, carefully copying the process that worked with number 8 'Freshwater'.

The chassis is etched nickel-silver, available from the 2mm Scale Association along with suitable wheels and gears and 'muffs'. A Nigel Lawton motor provides the power, and a CT electronics DCC decoder fits in the cab. Some extra lead weighting has been added inside the tanks.

Having got the chassis working well enough on analogue DC, I fitted the DCC decoder, and now it runs very nicely on the rolling road. It is not so good picking up from the tracks yet, but I have still got to fit the rail-top pickup scrapers and the DCC stayalive capacitors that Freshwater has.

This locomotive will become number 13 Carisbrooke, and will be lines southern olive green with BRITISH RAILWAYS in sunshine lettering, if I can find a supplier for the lettering and nameplates.

And then there were two - 1

For exhibiting 'Camford Junction' at our show in Basingstoke back in March, I had cobbled together various modules purchased on eBay, controlled by an Arduino, all screwed to a piece of wood and joined up with a bird's nest of wires. This provided the five analogue DC controllers to drive the trains on the layout. By pretending to be a Merg DCC Control Station (CANCMD) it allowed Merg hand-held throttles (CANCAB) to be used to control the trains. It also meant that JMRI, running on a laptop, could also provide on-screen throttles, and by hooking up a WiFi access point, Android and iPhone throttle apps could also be used to drive the analogue DC trains.

Having performed faultlessly all weekend, I had to tidy it all up, and put it into a proper case for protection. This has taken longer than the original build.

I have also been thinking about the problem of failures and rectification of faults during an exhibition. With a club layout, there will always be some concerns amongst the membership about the reliability of new technology. For Camford Junction, I have tried to make fault rectification as simple as possible, by standardising and separating things. The layout is powered by several identical laptop-style 12VDC power adapters. We will have a spare one that can be used to replace any one of these in the event of a failure. So far, I have used only two types of Merg CBus modules, the CANSERVO8 module to control up to 8 point servos, and the CANACC8 module (modified for 12V DC power) to operate a standard 8-relay module widely available from eBay, to switch track sections between controllers. We will carry a spare for each module, which can be quickly swapped if required. It will be necessary to plug in the laptop to load the configuration data into the new module for its new location.

The new control box is a different matter. If one of the other layout modules fails, it will disable a few points or a few track sections, but if the control box fails, the whole layout will grind to a halt. Repairs under exhibition conditions would also take some time. The simple answer was to build an identical spare. Fortunately, the total cost of all the modules in the case is reasonably low, but it did require a lot of drilling holes, crimping, and soldering. The end result, twins:

The next step will be to add a Raspberry Pi (a very small Linux computer) into the control box that will run JMRI and provide WiFi access, instead of having to plug in a laptop.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Freshwater on Freshwater at Abingdon

My Freshwater layout was at Abrail last Saturday. It has had a busy few weeks, but this is the last booked exhibition at the moment.

Today was also the first time the little Terrier has earned its keep, running nicely all day with just one minor hitch, when the coupling rod came off a crankpin, bent and threw out the quartering. It was soon fixed though. Finally, I seem to have overcome the current pickup problems, with a combination of 'Simpson Springs' on the axles, rail skates, and 'stay-alive' capacitors for the DCC decoder.

The layout also came second in the 'Best Layout' competition. I was quite chuffed, especially as the layout is obviously unfinished, and there were several fine layouts at the show.

And also some video:

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Camford Junction survived the weekend at the Basingstoke exhibition. We had trains running to and fro on all four main line tracks, and could even control them from mobile phones - no mean feat for a non-DCC layout. There were some glitches in the track alignment still, and lots of paint, flux and glue to remove before we get faultless running, but it went better than expected. The yard area is still to be wired up, but was used to display an impressive collection of locomotives and stock. A number of buildings, huts and other lineside bits and pieces are appearing, although ballasting and groundwork will need to be completed first. We also need to start thinking about fiddle yards to complete the layout.