Favourite Photos...

Favourite Photos...
Reading Lines GP35 #3647

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Changes to the Shippensburg Classification Yard...

Over the past week I have been working on the changes to the Shippensburg Classification Yard.  After our last ops session it was clear that in order for the staging deck to work properly I needed to make the classification yard a little bigger, and more flexible.

Below are the changes that are currently being made:

The yard will have both westbound & eastbound storage tracks and also a longer yard lead from Harrisburg (South), this has now been extended to the south side of the Susquehanna River bridge, which has also been widened to a double track truss bridge.

The southern entrance to the yard lead now exits the via a #7 curved turnout before the Rutherford Yard turnout and will allow a much longer yard lead for cutting cars.

More soon...


Friday, 26 July 2019

Power Pickup Issues...

Over the last week I’ve been trying to solve the issue of sporadic electrical performance on my Athearn RDG SW1500 switcher, I’ve been looking at fixes that will bypass the weak points in the wheel to truck, truck to decoder electrical path.

When looking at possible solutions one stood out to me as the most direct route from wheel/axle to the decoder. By soldering on thin/flexible decoder wire directly to the brass square bush, I now have a direct connection from the axle to the decoder, this means I have bypassed the four weak points in the Athearn design. These being the brass square bearing to bronze side frame, side frame through the rivet, rivet to brass/metal tabs & finally the plastic caps for wire to decoder.

It also means that the test SW1500 is now also “all” wheel pickup too, that’s eight wheels, grouped into pairs and directly connected to each of the four LokSound - Select decoder tabs. I’m still testing the new truck combination and what level of track/wheel cleaning is required to get the best performance.

Videos to come when I’m happy with the setup & performance...

Friday, 12 July 2019

Special visitor to the layout...

Today the layout had a very special visitor drop by for a look and run on the layout. 

Kevin Lee Klettke from http://wnrr.net/ fame has been keeping in touch with me for some years now. And as luck would have it, Kevin was visiting his daughter here in Melbourne.

Kevin also met some of my operating crew, and got to have a go on the ProtoThrottle too, I think Kevin is sold on one...

It was great to have our first international visitor to the layout, and hopefully Kevin will be back again in a few years when the layout has more scenery done.

Thanks for the visit Kevin, hope you enjoyed it, and you're always welcome to drop in...


Tuesday, 25 June 2019

New Fascia's and Fascia Control Panels...

Today I spent the day reinstalling the layout fascia and fascia control panels around Carlisle Junction.  This area was altered when I installed the helix, I also had to add another fascia control panel for the east end of the Staging Yard.

The control panels are just a small wooden frame made from 1"-3/16 (30mm) x 45/64" (18mm) pine edging.

The fascia board is 1/8" MDF board cut down to 9" 27/32 (250mm) and screwed to the layout benchwork with timber stitching screws.

The fascia control panels are recessed so that operators cannot lean against the panels and activate the push buttons accidentally.

The versions installed today are black & white and will be upgraded to color once I'm happy that further changes will be made, and when the fascia's have all been painted.


Monday, 24 June 2019

Layout Monitoring...

For some time now I have been wanting to have a monitoring system on the layout.  With the addition of the completed Helix, Staging Deck and Return Loops I needed to find a solution.

I have looked at many different technologies and hardware, from webcam cameras, to mini-cube cameras, reversing cameras, and just about everything in between too.

But I kept coming back to one platform.  The security camera and DVR option.  It is by default exactly what most of us with a model railroad need to be able to achieve the ability to "monitor" our layouts from many different locations, usually via one screen.  And the security camera platform is mostly a one box solution.

I did want to get fancy and have dual mini-HD cube camera in an interlocking tower looking east & west so the dispatcher could see the action from a 1/87 perspective.

The system I ended up using was a refurbished Swann eight (8) channel - 1080P HD PVR.


The system has everything in the box needed to get you going, and is plug & play too.

The quality being 1080P HD is suburb.

The camera's also have infrared built in too, so when the Staging Deck isn't lit, the layout can still be easily seen.

The ability to spilt the screens into varying combinations is also included in the systems software.  The screen shots above are actually taken from the smart phone app that also allows you to use your phone to view too.

I will have all eight channels fed through a 23" monitor located with the dispatchers desk.

The camera's are easily mounted underneath the layout and are adjustable too.

A worthwhile investment that is already paying off making dispatching and operation of the Staging Deck so much easier.


Friday, 21 June 2019

Major milestone completed this week...

This week I managed to finally complete the Staging Deck...

The helix, staging yard and return loops are all now wired in with detection and switch motors and ready for operations.

I also started to install the camera system for monitoring the staging yard and return loops too.  The system is a Swann 8ch - 1080P DVR, it will also allow me to monitor the other sections of the layout from the dispatchers desk.



Thursday, 13 June 2019

Helix, Staging Deck & Return Loops - Complete Run...

Today I finished off the wiring for the entire Staging Deck area, including the two Return Loops.
The video below shows the inaugural run from the top deck, through the helix, staging deck, and around the return loops, and staged ready to run back onto the layout.  This is a huge step for the layout operational as it has just expanded the operational capability for our future ops sessions.

The entire Staging Deck is detected via the LocoNet, the majority is handled by one Digitrax - BDL 168, and two PSX-AR's.  The PSX-AR's are connected to each of the return loops and the detection section on each is fed back through a layout Digitrax SE8C.
The Staging Deck is now added to the Panel Pro - Panel and is ready for operations to begin...
Next stage is to finish off the installation of the last MP5 - Switch Motors and begin programming the turnouts & sensors into the panel.

Monday, 3 June 2019

MRH - Running Extra - Article...

Today the layout made the June Edition and Front Cover of MRH Running Extra.

The article is how the build of the original practice module inspired me to build the layout, and how the module became a part of a signature scene...


Thursday, 30 May 2019

Wiring up the Staging & Return Loop BDL168...

Today I wired up the four zones for the Staging Deck and Return Loops.

I had to redesign the backing board that has the Digitrax BDL168, Accu-Lites Breakout Board and PSX attached to it so that I could also fit the PSX-AR that feeds the four blocks in Zone A to the reversing loops.

The electrical board is labelled #9, this is associated with the ID address of the Digitrax BDL168.  The PSX (bottom) feeds power to the BDL Zones B, C, and D.  The PSX-AR feeds power to Zone A only.

I also took the opportunity to fix up the other BDL168 & SE8C and moved them so that they were clear of the Staging Yard ladder and so that the BDL also faced the fascia instead of the helix.

If you're don't love wiring just a little bit, this endeavour can get real tedious really quickly...

Next step is to wire in the track feeders at the other end of the Staging Deck...


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

First train to run the entire helix and onto the Staging Deck...

This week saw another major milestone achieved for the layout.

I have connected the upper deck via the helix and into the Staging Yard.  The addition has seen another dedicated booster (NCE PB5) added that will service the staging yard, return loops and engine facility.

The helix power is fed by a PSX-AR, this provides the automatic reversing function and will also provided detection through a SE8C via the LocoNet for occupancy.

The video below shows a short local headed up by a Reading MP15DC entering the staging yard, via track two.

Hopefully by weeks end I'll have the remaining staging yard ladder and return loops connected and detection up and running too.


Wednesday, 8 May 2019

MP5 Switch Motors

This week I have been installing the new MP5 Switch Motors to the Staging Deck - Yard Ladder.

The MP5's are a small switch motor with a planetary transmission.


They are smaller than a tortoise and also have a removable wiring plug too.

The sliding transmission is also adjustable:

They are small enough that even with back to back turnouts in the yard ladder, they can be positioned almost side by side.

The operation is purely horizontal in motion for a turnout, and positive enough that I didn't have to remove the centre over spring from the Peco - Code 100 turnouts.

I have all of mine running off a Digitrax DS64 via fascia mounted push buttons, and through JMRI via PanelPro.

I'm extremely happy with these switch motors, price wise they are cheaper than a tortoise motor, and the flexibility of placement due to the smaller size and removable wiring harness has made them a great addition.


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Staging Tracks Powered...

Today was spent soldering the feeds from the staging storage tracks to the BDL168 and PSX.

I used a screwed terminal to connect each of the staging tracks to the power feed wire running to each LocoNet Sensor on the BDL168.  And another screwed terminal block for the common track wire.

When connected to the LocoNet this Digitrax - BDL168 will provide detection for six (6) Staging Tracks, Inbound & Outbound track and the staging to return loop curve.

All of the six storage tracks are now powered...


Thursday, 28 March 2019

Powering Up the Staging Deck...

Today I began the process of installing the electrical hardware to power up the Helix, Staging Deck and the Engine Terminal.

I've purchased a NCE - PB5 Booster as the second power source.  This was connected to the control bus on the original PH-PRO and then connected to two PSX - Circuit Breakers.

The PB5 feeds firstly into the PSX for the Helix and then into the second PSX & BDL168 that powers the Staging Yard & Return Loops.

I've again used a accu-lites board to connect to the BDL168 for ease of wiring.  The return loops are powered through a PSX-AR (auto reverser) that provides short management and polarity reversal when the train crosses around either of the loops back onto itself.

Next step is to wire up the track feeders for each Staging Track, the Staging Ladders and the return loops.

More soon.


Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Staging - Return Loop track work completed...

Today was the final push to get the outer & inner return loops installed for staging.

It only took a couple of hours to get the remaining sections installed around the curves and into the last straight section before joining back onto the junction turnout.

I had to install a few braces to support the return loop on the back side, because it sticks out past the fascia now, I will be adding a small corner section to the fascia, along with bump strips along the outer edge.

The inner and outer loops connected back to the junction turnout for the return loop...

Next step will be to install the PSX-AR for the return loop, and wire up the staging yard track work.