Friday, November 29, 2013

November Update

A challenging month again for me An interstate trip to Victoria saw me away from home for a 5 days. Kaye's Dad's funeral then as the insurance company decided not to repair Kaye's car following an accident so I had to take her back to her country workplace.  Then it was time for all my medical stuff to be reviewed including 3 x 2 1/2 hr info/training sessions at my Doctors rooms, Ophthalmologist & Consultant Physician - however most things are all good.  So modelling took a back seat AGAIN for most of this month again....

Progress on the U50 decoder and lighting install just did not happen - two moths in a row - sorry Nigel G - hopefully get it all done next month....

But I did do something - I updated the firmware for  my DCC control system and throttles, worked on the ore loads, held another two shakedown running sessions and some interesting debate on recording video and sound levels for locos with Don.

Command Control System - Firmware update

I got word from Don that there was an update to firmware for the command station, wireless and wired throttles.

After downloading the new firmware I updated my operating and spare command stations,  3 wireless and 7 wired throttles.  I am pleased to report all seem to be operating OK.

Ore Loads

I used epoxy to fix two 3 mm cylindrical magnets to the underside of the load supplied with the Athearn ore trucks.

I used a Rix uncoupler to remove the load.

This has been trialed during the shakedown sessions and it would appear to be successful.  I have ordered some more Rix uncouplers as there is not enough to share around....

Shakedown Running Sessions

Here is the simple track plans to explain some of the locations

Top Level

Bottom Level

Monday 25 November

On Monday 25 November a very long time friend and SARMA Master Modeler Don - The guy our group holds in high esteem - came over with his long time mate Des for their first "run" on the Hallett Cove Southern.  Don ran the PFE and Des ran the empty ore train from Huntington to Iron Hill then loaded the empties.

Don took some video the ore train action as part of our "learning experience".

Wednesday 27 November

On Wednesday 27 November Barry, Chris, Rossco & Bob (my regulars) were joined by Ken, Grahame & Gordon (all first timers). Bob & Gordon, Chris & Ken, Rossco & Grahame worked in pairs.

The operations included running the following movements:

  • PFE - Icing at Hornertown
  • PFE - Hornertown -> Stirling
  • PFE - Stirling -> Shasta
  • Flintston Local - Hornertown to Flintston
  • Flintston Industrial Shunt
  • Flintston Local - Flintston -> Hornertown
  • Ore Train - Iron Hill -> Huntington
  • Steelworks shunt
  • Oily - LeMaistre Loco -> Stanvac
  • Nappy Valley Wine Train - Adamsville -> Huntington

The Ops session took around two hours followed by: hot dogs, cheese, crackers, chips, soft drink, red wine and some friendly chatter at the table.

Thanks to all that came to "stress test" the system and apart from some usual minor glitches the DCC power system worked - no overloads that shut the entire system down, if someone ran against a point or derailed over one - their part of the system "shorted" and shutdown and everyone else kept moving! - I'm so happy about that!  Tom B all that design and planning paid off.

The bonus is the guys seemed to enjoy themselves and are happy to come back again!

I am now thinking if I can do better with some scheduling it might be time to think about the somewhat deferred grand opening - perhaps in the first couple of months of the new year.

Debate on Loco sound levels and Videoing

How loud is too loud? Should a loco be audible across the open room? Should the local operator hear it and no one else? Do the settings for one type of decoder suit another brands / type?. If there are 10 locos running what is the balance? - All part of the mix when trying to find a solution.  There is NO correct answer it comes down to personal taste and what seems to work in each environment.  That said I think we have learnt a few things during Don's testing that I share below.

When making videos some things matter too! How old is the camera? Does the AGC (volume automatic gain control) stuff up the sound levels? What happens when the recording frame rate is varied? What should I do when I want to put the video on YouTube? The outcome of the trials are that it seems to be that the current technology for a video camera which is available relatively cheaply eg a Cannon costing around $AU220 ($US200) - is much much better than stuff that cost a lot more 5 - 10 years ago, the old stuff does not seem to make the grade. 

Sound levels set in the Loco decoders - we have found that 10% - 25% of max will provide the ability to distinguish between loco and wheel clicks in the recording with the added bonus of hearing more than a "screaming engine".

I guess since receiving video test footage amounting to around 130 Mb by email and about 2Gb directly, during the last 10 days from Don M, as we tried to establish some optimal sounds levels for operating enjoyment and video recording - we finally think we are in the right space now.

The conclusions seem to be have a "current technology camera", to record at the highest density you can (we are using MP4 format at 50 frames per second) then sample down and save versions to suit various needs. The disadvantage is it is time consuming. If anyone wishes to share their views feel free.  Bear in mind this is not commercial quality video lighting & sound - just good hobbyist stuff to share!

That's it for this month.

Thanks again to those that continue to help me achieve my ambitions and hello to all my followers!

Till the end of December.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Update

A challenging month for me An interstate trip to Victoria with Kaye saw us away from home for a week. Then my she had a car accident, a close friend lost their Dad and then a week later we lost Kaye's Dad.  So modelling took a back seat for most of this month....

Progress on the U50 decoder and lighting install just did not happen - sorry Nigel G - maybe November....

But I did do something - some more work on the railway crossing project and we had another couple of hours of shakedown running with Barry, Chris & Rossco where amongst the trains were a "wine special" and a grain train for the first time.  The run resulted in a train length reduction by two cars to make loading operations easier.

Railway Crossing

Following on from last month the Major components were mounted and ready for testing.

After installation the IR components they were tested

IR transmitter & receiver fitted into "PVC tubes"

Testing the IR circuit

The "workings underneath" the layout

Scenery added

The full details will appear on Terry Terrance's Launchpad4mrr blog in due course.

Operation after installation and wiring.

That's it for this month.

Thanks to those that continue to help me achieve my ambitions and hello again to all my followers!

Till the end of November.


Monday, September 30, 2013

September Update

A few things have happened this month some for the layout other to support family and I spend a week or so off colour but overall a better month than earlier in the year.  My wife bought me a SP Poster which is proudly hanging in out home theatre room and I finally got around to putting up the railway crossing sign, that my wife bought for me about two decades ago, over the entrance to the train room.  I have started another Launchpad project, this time for a grade crossing. I have done some more on the U50 decoder and lighting install and I fitted some acrylic sheet to protect the passenger station at Hornertown.

SP Poster

Sign over Train Room Entrance

My wife bought this for me about two decades ago and it was supposed to be installed over the entrance to my shed containing layout number 3 at our previous residence.  We the comments from family members about "when is is going to happen can stop now!

My duck under sized so I will fit "underneath when I am in a wheel chair"......

Railway Crossing

For some time now I have been thinking about a road crossing and having operating crossing lights and a sound module.  Well using a Launchpad seemed to be the answer to tie all the components together into a working system.

The Givens:

  • Crossing Globes operate on 5-10V
  • Relays Operate on 12V
  • Block Watchers used for signal logic operate on 12V but not on a common ground with rest.
  • Double track crossing
  • IR detector at crossing to detect train without resistor axles (covers situation when locos of train have exited the power block leaving nothing to be detected by the Block Watcher)
  • Grade crossing should continue to operate for a minimum of 3 seconds after road crossing is cleared
  • Signal system power to be isolated from crossing system

The grade crossing to operate when:

  • A train enters either end of either double track section that the crossing is in
  • A non resistor axle piece of rolling stock which is either stationary or moving over the road crossing

Planning where the major components might go

Designing the power supplies

then building it

 relay configuration

sound module
 Wiring scheme

Major components mounted ready for testing.

Hornertown Passenger Station

I fitted some 6 mm acrylic sheet to protect the passenger station at Hornertown it is sandwiched between the fascia and some 9 mm MDF to provide strength (for when the grand kids try and climb up by hanging onto the acrylic sheet!  This method has worked well at Huntington.

U50 Modifications

Last month I started the biggest install challenge I have ever attempted.  I removed the factory boards and did a total rewire and fitted a Tsumami sound decoder and have been replacing the bulbs with LEDs - it has been my first go at 0602/0603 smt LEDs.  I learnt that 0.25 mm wire is too strong and when bending inside the loco the tension can destroy the smt LED.  I should have used the 0.010 wire from the outset.  Do NOT fix the smt's with ACC - use Krystal Klear so when it all goes wrong it can be undone easily...  I found some figures for crew.

Below are a few pics

That's it for this month.

Thanks to those that continue to help me achieve my ambitions and hello again to all my followers!

Till the end of October.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

August Update

This post is a bit late as I have been away for a few days with m wife to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary.  The cellar has grow after our visits to just a few wineries in the beautiful Clare Valley.

Well work recommenced this month and a few things were done in Hornertown with trees, vegetation and passenger station getting attention.  There was also some improvements to lighting at Huntington and LeMaistre Loco and some work on scenery in Onka Valley.  Lastly I have been working on my Athearn U50 installing a Tsunami sound decoder.


BJ & I had a few sessions to talk and plan then commence work on detailing around Hornertown Yard and Pasenger Station.  The photos tell the story.


BJ and I have started to add some tress and bushes to the basic ground cover.

Last of the Pedestrian barrier

It is built and undercoated and we discovered that the paint needed to match the rest of the barrier is safely locked away at Chris's house.

Passenger Terminal

A considerable amount of time has been spent cutting and trial fitting with consideration as to the final finished desired.  Again the photos show the process

Pavement trial fitting

Eastern end

Fitting the subway entrance

Scratch built steps into station building

Western end

Hand painted pavement

Wow what a difference in look - fabulous work BJ!

Waiting for the glue to dry

Palm trees added

Cutting out the perspex station building protection panel.


There were a few spots on the layout where insufficient illumination was apparent. This month I replaced the six 20W halogen globes with 9W LED globes and added a further six down lights.  I also fitted three additional 35W halogen spotlights over LeMaistre Loco


With double the amount of lights now installed with only half of the original power consumption the results are great.

LeMaistre Loco

The shadows are now far more realistic and the "dull spots" have mostly gone leaving an acceptable outcome.

Onka Valley

BJ adding some more detail to the valley backdrop.

U50 Modifications

This will be the biggest install challenge I have attempted and I'm sure I will find some surprises along the way...  I have decided to remove the factory boards and do a total rewire and fit Tsumami sound decoder and replace the bulbs with LEDs - it will be m first go at 0602/0603 LEDs.


Tsunami TSU-1000 Digital Sound Decoder Dual GE FDL-16 (U50)


Tony's Dream Speakers 1.10 Diameter and enclosures which were sealed with Micro Krystal Klear when assembled.

Before Speaker Install

Speakers in place

Decoder fitted over motor

I fitted two pieces of .030 polystyrene strip using the manufacturers board mountings to ensure the wiring can be kept away from the moving parts.  The decoder is held in place with Kapton Tape.


The assembly detailed below will be fixed inside on the roof of the body.

I joined machine pins and header pins so diodes can be inserted between the forward (white) and reverse (yellow) feeds for the marker lights to operate irrespective of loco direction. A piece of PC Board is soldered to allow plenty of space to get the +ve common (blue) wires to be attached

Decoder wires soldered to machine pins

Marker lights

Soldering the armature wire to the 0602 LED was somewhat challenging.

Wired LED glued in place behind the marker light lense.

Routing the wire was not as easy as I thought

Mars Lights

The manufacturers lens were drilled out to allow 1.0 mm long lens LED's to be fitted.  I placed the LEDs in from outside the body to get the correct alignment then soldered them together before removing to trial fit from the inside.  I had to file the top edge of the top led to allow for the wires from the emergency light to pass above them.

During testing I discovered that these LEDs are 5 mA not the usual 20 mA when I destroyed the first one.... I have limited the current to 2.5 mA and they are still quite bright.

Emergency Light

I will use a Red LED 650nm 40deg Clear 0603 (1.6x0.8 mm) fitted inside the housing then held in place with Micro Krystal Klear.
I removed the jewel and the fitting is hollow and allows the passage of the magnet wire.  I had to file the inside of the housing to allow the red SMT LED to fit.

Thanks to BJ for his untiring efforts on scenery components.

My scenery guru BJ

Chris should be returning soon following the birth of a Grandson so my time will be split between working on his new layout and my own.

That's it for this month.

Thanks to those that continue to help me achieve my ambitions and hello again to all my followers!

Till the end of September.