Sunday, July 15, 2018

Digitizing Roco 43012 - Headlights, part 3

Where I started: Two bulbs. The lower bulb illuminated the headlight, the upper bulb the tail lights. I took both out and installed LEDs instead.
The photo below shows the arrangement for the headlights. A larger SMD LED in warm-white would have been cheaper and easier, but I didn't have one with the correct form factor and color temperature in my stash, so I used this pico LED instead and mounted it inside a styrene tube. At least it comes with the cables already attached. I'm still considering mounting it in the shell with the tail light LEDs.

The tail lights are illuminated individually with one pico LED glued on the tail light optics each and covered with shrink tube to minimize red light seepage into the head lights.  I didn't dare shrinking the tube inside the plastic shell, so I just glued them in place with canopy glue.
These LEDs are very bright. Once connected to the decoder, I will need to experiment with finding the right resistor value to get the brightness dimmed low enough. I cut off the arms of the plastic light distribution thingy that lead to the tail lights, so that it still fits into the shell with the new tail light LEDs installed.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Digitizing Roco 43012 - Headlights, part 2

Oh yes! That's much more convincing.

Now I just need to figure out an equally convincing way to mount the LEDs to the shell...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

VT11.5 headlights

The title page of Eisenbahn Journal March 2018 confirms, the VT11.5 has golden-white/yellowish headlights. This photo is also a great case study for weathering the unit when I'm done with the insides.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Digitizing Roco 43012 - Headlights

The model comes with bulbs that barely illuminate the headlights, even at 12 volts. If I put a 2x3mm SMD LED in place of the bulb, I get nice illumination. Good.
I think the color temperature of this LED is to white-blue'ish. A closer look at a prototype photo hopefully will help resolve that question.

When placing the same LED into the location of the bulb for the tail lights, however, enough light seeps into the headlights to illuminate everything. Looking more closely at the previous photo, the effect is visible there as well, but not as bothersome.

The reason for this behavior is that the plastic piece guiding the light from the bulb to the headlights easily picks up enough stray light. In addition, it's one piece for both head and tail lights, so it's hard to guarantee separate light paths. At the very least the top headlight in the nose must be completely dark.

One option I explored a little bit tonight was to position a LED on the chassis floor so that it lights up only a single rear light. However, it turns out that doing this naively just lights up the whole light package, i.e. both head and tail light. Even using shades or tubes doesn't help enough.

The next idea I'm going to try is to get a few tiny red SMD LEDs and glue them directly on the tail light optics in the shell. Then I just need to worry about how to connect the wires to the decoder in the chassis without causing a maintenance headache. A micro plug is likely the easiest for that, and since I have to go through the trouble for the tail lights anyways, I can use the same approach for the cab light, too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Wildlife on the commute - More turkeys

It's that time again where turkeys are easy to see on my commute route. This single turkey had a couple chicks hiding in the grass around it. 

A couple hundred feet further, there was a whole family hanging out near the trail.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Digitizing Roco 43012 - Gear Cleaning

Before I replace the motor, I need to make sure that the mechanical part of BR601 works well. Since the starting voltage is quite high, I decided to give the gears a thorough cleaning. To do that I need to strip down the locomotive to the bare chassis.

I loosely set the new motor from SB Modellbau into the motor cavity and ran it with DC. Starting voltage was 4-5V. Definitely too high, which means that the gears are not running smoothly.

I pulled out all the gears from the lead truck and set them aside.

Ah yes, here's the problem. The gear tower is all gunked up.

Everything got a thorough cleaning with soapy water. Rinse and repeat for the trailing truck.
After putting it all back together and applying light lubrication, starting voltage is around 2.5V. Progress.


Teriyaki Chicken with garlic baguette, Cesar Salad, tomato salad, and cauliflower. Yummy!
BBQ cleanup afterwards is no fun, though...

Saturday, July 07, 2018


Today I installed additional storage shelves in the garage. These used to be book shelf cases. I connected them to each other close to the floor, mounted a 2x4 across the top and anchored it to a beam in the garage. This way the shelves form a stable and fairly rigid unit. Finally, I glued small quarter rounds to the shelves so that whatever is on them can't slide or roll off.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Turkey Crossing

Very weird deers crossing the street today.

Digitizing Roco 43012 - Test run on DC

BR601 posts ]

I have started work to digitize this Roco 43012 class 601. Before I take it apart to install a replacement motor and decoder, I'm verifying that the unit works on DC. It runs, but gets going only at about 6 volts, which seems high for a straight DC model. Thus, I should probably take a closer look at the gear towers and axle lubrication.

Here's a short video of the front unit running. The noise you hear is vibration of my test rig. I need to work on that, too.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Dave Park's Cumberland West - Somewhere in West Virginia

Today it is the Western Maryland's turn to run. I'm the engineer on WM10 the scheduled passenger train of the day seen above at the Western Virgina Jct yard. It's fun to see the side by side difference between operations on the B&O using modern signaling equipment, and the venerable Timetable & Train order on the Western Maryland.

Sunday, July 01, 2018


Modern transportation is amazing. Breakfast in Costa Rica, Lunch in Atlanta, Dinner in California.

We left San Jose, Costa Rica at 7am, which meant getting up at an ungodly 4am. The departure hall at the airport was very busy even this early in the day. I don't even want to think about how busy SJO gets during the high season.

Flight and US immigration were painless. The 4 hour layover is a tad annoying, but the plane to San Jose, CA is here, so at least we won't be waiting for an incoming air craft like last time.

The flight to San Jose, CA was quiet and reasonably boring. To my family's delight Delta has seen the light and offers inflight entertainment on domestic flights for free. Yay!

Back home.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

... and retour

Two nights in Tortuguero and our trip is coming to an end. Excellent lunch at a Soda in Cariari.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Tortuguero National Park

We explored the Tortuguero Canals on an early morning boat tour ... and then had breakfast.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Tortuguero Evening View

After a long drive to La Pavona and an hour+ on a river boat, we've arrived at Casa Marbella in Tortuguero.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sloth Sanctuary

Today we learned about sloths. The two kinds of sloths in Costa Rica are 2-fingered and 3-fingered sloths (but they always have 3 toes, go figure).

The sanctuary had several sloths behind bars, so here's a wild two-fingered sloth mama with her baby next door from where we are staying.

(photo credit: Tatjana)