Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bad Mojo Day

Never a good idea to get up late on a Saturday morning. Too many things went wrong yesterday.

Along the way I managed to blew out LocoNet communication on the SRC16 controlling the Talheim panel.

That's it. I'm going to put all the accessory and feedback decoders on a standalone LocoNet bus, while only devices required to control trains will remain on the LocoNet bus attached to the Intellibox, i.e. the LocoBufferUSB and a UP5 panel. The idea is to electrically isolate this bus from the Intellibox to protect it from the unusual reference voltage setup used by this command station.

For the stand-alone bus, a LocoBufferUSB needs to provide the Master termination, and the RailSync lines need to be powered by 12V DC. There are several ways to do this. I'll try to learn more about this over the coming week.

Thursday, October 25, 2012



Mediterranean meat-loaf and salad. Oh. My. God. So good.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Most underground tracks are hooked up to occupancy detectors. I'm cleaning track and one of the easier ways to distribute the cleaning alcohol is to run a train back and forth over the cleaned section.  But that gets old pretty quickly, so I modified JMRI's sample script  and made a locomotive run through staging tracks controlled by a script.

This presents the first time that I dabbled in automated train control on my layout. So many possibilities ....

The video shows a trip of the locomotive through staging as seen on the main panel of the Welztalbahn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Working under palm trees

No rain this afternoon. A good excuse to work outside.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Emsingen Panel

The new panel for Emsingen is built and functional. All powered switches in Emsingen can now be controlled using the same logic I deployed in Talheim, along with routes and appropriate semaphore signaling.

The red buttons control routes and semaphores. The logic works by first pressing the button FROM where the train is coming, then the button TO where the train is going. The computer/JMRI take care of throwing the right turnouts and set the appropriate signals, including speed signaling for diverging vs. straight routes. The black buttons control the turnout at the respective location.
The story here goes that turnouts with black buttons are hand-thrown by the switching crew, while turnouts off the mainline are thrown by the tower operator.

The red buttons on the yard ladder line the yard turnouts so that the respective yard track can be reached from the switch lead.

I have not yet put together the indicator LEDs for the mainline turnouts and various control indicators. I'll do that for the Talheim panel first, Emsingen next, and finally the various turnouts in staging.

The fascia still needs some paint. Another day... I haven't run trains in a while, so the tracks in staging are all gunked up in various places and need some thorough cleaning.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Another house for Emsingen

I'm putting together yet another Faller kit to add more houses to Emsingen. In this kit I'm trying out a trick to get more depth behind the windows by adding a 0.20x0.60" styrene strip on the inside to keep the paper mask a whee bit away from the window glass.

House with the styrene strips behind on the inside of the windows
The 3D effect is surprisingly good. I did not expect that at all.

Franziska wanted to have a flower shop in the house instead of the bar that comes with the kit. I re-decorated the shadow box behind the big window with some foam flock... Well, ... at least it's clearly no longer a bar. I'll add a canope for "Franziskas Blumenlaedle" later.

Window shopping
The house placed with it's friends in Emsingen. I have at least 5 more kits to go before I'll even attempt arranging houses and where to put streets.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

oh yeah, I can see it now ...

Looking south towards San Jose from the San Antonio Rd Caltrain station
[For those of you who missed it. This is the storm carrying hail up to 1" in diameter down to Gilroy.]

Monday, October 08, 2012

Fascia fix-it

The fascia at Emsingen was one of the first I hung when I decided to keep the "operating pit". Since then I learned a few things, such as how to cut holes in an installed fascia without scratching the surface (use blue painter's tape), or to check for things that are behind the fascia (turnout motors, layout supports) before cutting a hole...

Either way, I moved the UP-5 out of the way of the turnout motor a few months ago, and now that it's time to upgrade the control panel for Emsingen, I might as well put it in a spot that is more convenient to reach. Since most operators have problems seeing the panel with the somewhat tight space in the operating pit, I wanted to install the new panel slightly tilted, so that the button and track arrangement is more visible. We'll see how well that works out...

New fascia board installed. The UP-5 is now mounted on the L-girder supporting the layout.

Testing view lines with the old panel. I can barely see the uppermost buttons when I'm standing straight, but the new tilted arrangement is much easier on the eyes for anyone shorter than me.

Scenery update

I promised removal of the ugly distant hills behind Hinteraecker in my last post on this subject. Here is the result.

Hinteraecker background
One of the items in my luggage on the return trip from Zurich was Faller's "Rathaus Ahlsfeld" model, which is to become the centerpiece of the market square in Emsingen.

I need to get cooking on building more houses, as well as potentially get creative with background flats for the town.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012