Friday, November 30, 2018

Silicon Valley Lines November Ops

We now have a nice big sign for the sidewalk. That should make it more obvious when the club is open.

Since I took the conductor role for a visitor engineer at tonight's operations session, I had some time to take photos. Below is a selection.

Train 370 leaving Tracy
Western Pacific #728 as train 220 in Hemet
Train 220 in Fryton on the way back to Bayshore

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Moment of Sunshine

Heavy rain. Thunderstorms in the morning. Even some hail. Today was really wet. Nevertheless, when I walked back from lunch there was an opportunity for the sun to peek through the clouds, and produce this awesome double rainbow

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Monday, November 26, 2018


Something is different in the lobby today.

Good Morning

Riding the bike to the bus stop. It's cold, but really nice outside.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Digitizing Roco 43012 - Lights Almost Done

The red tail lights are micro LEDs mounted in the shell. There will also be a cab light, so I need a way to route power to all these LEDs and keep the arrangement pluggable. Here's my solution: a header soldered to the decoder "breakout board" and a perf board fragment with resistors to be kept with the shell. The "pins" are wire cut offs from resistor installs in other projects. Never throw anything away ....

Here's a side-view with the cab light LED installed, and tail lights wired. The cab LED reaches too far into the cab, and is visible from the outside. I'll try to pull it back a little bit and also limit light leakage into the machine room.

I might have to redo the breakout board, since I did a fairly poor soldering job on that, but for now let's see how this pans out.

Here's a short video of 601 001 demonstrating the light effects. I still have not closed the chassis and engine roof yet.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


Watching Eisenbahnromantik while prepping today's apple cake ...

Oh, it was delicious!

Friday, November 23, 2018

No work today

The shops are empty, an appropriate picture for how I didn't get much done today. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

JMRI Update

Yay, it's working ... but not quite
One of the triggers for the update orgy earlier this year was the realization that I needed to update my JMRI installation to confidently program modern decoders. I'm now running JMRI 4.12 with OpenJDK 11 from the Stretch Backports repository.

It's not helpful that JMRI doesn't work with OpenJDK 8 which comes standard with Debian 9. While it does come up, the UI hangs during startup with an apparent deadlock. Digging through my favorite search engine eventually yielded hints that these problems are known, and mysteriously disappeared in OpenJDK 9 and later.

It took me a while to figure out why the service mode programmer is unable to find the Intellibox for decoder programming. In the end it really was user error and I can't tell why the Loconet2 configuration disappeared during the update, or why JMRI would happily start up if it can open the serial port, but not actually talk to the command station.

The actually correct settings. Track occupancy feedback is working now.
I am controlling the Intellibox over LocoNet and a LocoBuffer-USB, since the serial port is unreliable, so I do need to configure Loconet2 for manufacturer Digitrax, interface LocoBuffer-USB, and command station Intellibox-I... and I must explicitly choose Loconet2 in the programmer dialog, despite setting the programmer default to Loconet2. I guess that's a bug.

Finally, all this new software has added enough bloat that the railroad computer no longer can cope and needs more memory. I got a lot of value out of those 512MB main memory I bought 10 years ago.

Update 11/24/2018:
After installing 2GB main memory, JMRI still feels a bit sluggish, but we're back to being usable. When looking through the settings again, all Defaults had reverted to the first Loconet connection. I changed them back to Loconet2 and everything is working correctly again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Fall. It's About Time!

In Uvas Canyon County Park

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Digitizing Roco 43012 - Test Run

First test run of the whole train on the Welztalbahn. Chassis and roof of the engine car are mounted only temporarily, hence the gap if you look closely. Lights are not connected yet. The non-motorized engine car doesn't have its sound decoder yet. I'm hoping that that installation will be dramatically easier than with the lead unit.

Digitizing Roco 43012 - Speaker and Motor Wiring

The ESU Loksound 4.0 decoder comes with a round 4 Ohm speaker. While the speaker is just small enough to fit into the machine room hood of the VT11.5, I have been struggling with mounting it in a way that the locomotive remains serviceable. Eventually I gave up and ordered a ESU 50321 "sugar cube" speaker. It fits much better, and sound quality is outstanding, especially considering its size.

I spent some more time organizing and routing cables between power pickups and decoder. It's getting close for a test run.

Saturday, November 17, 2018


After the rather depressing, smoke-induced eerie weather the last couple days, we're all enjoying the sunshine today. The air quality still isn't great, though, and got worse throughout the day. By late afternoon it was all hazy again.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Halt fuer Rangierfahrten

Tonight I opened a couple boxes I brought home from my trip last week. Another round of ebay purchases, but this time it wasn't original paperwork...

Operators on my layout sometimes wonder how far they can pull out cars from a station track onto the main line when switching. I always tell them, "you may go until you reach the Halt fuer Rangierfahrten sign". Here's one right in front of Hochwaldtunnel.

Hard to read? Not anymore, since the original is now on the wall of the layout room.

While at it, this sign was also fun, so it found its way to me.


I attended a work-related event today. When a reflection exercise came up, it was accompanied by this picture. All I could think of was, "I do not want to be this person. What the heck are they doing?"

The railheads are clean and the tracks look reasonably well maintained. This is very likely an active rail line and crossing this trestle in the middle of the woods seems like a sub-optimal idea...

Monday, November 12, 2018

Wildlife on the Commute: Coyote Creek Trail

As I was bicycling home, there was an unexpected surprise on Coyote Creek Trail today. Too bad the light was fading already, so video quality is not the best. 

Friday, November 09, 2018


Ein letztes Fruehstueck im Cafe, und dann geht es los zum Flughafen. Der Bahnhof ist nicht weit weg. Auf dem Weg treffe ich noch mehrere Kollegen, die in der Gegenrichtung unterwegs sind. Euch allen einen guten Tag und ein schoenes Wochenende.

Ich nehme den InterCity zum Flughafen. Auf die Idee sind auch viele andere gekommen, und der Zug ist voll. Nun gut, mit meinem ganzen Gepaeck hatte ich eh vorgehabt im Eingangsbereich stehen zu bleiben.

Am Flughafenbahnhof quetsche ich mich durch die Massen.

Ich bin noch gut gefuellt vom Fruehstueck. Daher nur eine Tasse Kaffee und etwas Kaiserschmarrn als fruehes Mittagessen.

Hmmm, welche Maschine wird mich nachher nach San Francisco bringen?

Wetten, es ist die dicke Kiste dahinten?

Genau! Recht gehabt.

Das Mittagessen war gut, aber die Vorspeise war delikat.

Elf Stunden spaeter landete ich wohlbehalten in SFO.


Taken at Zurich HB from the door step of IC 1 to St. Gallen. IC 5 on the neighboring track stopped at just the right location.

Thursday, November 08, 2018


Nach einem langen Tag im Buero war ein flotter Spaziergang an der frischen Luft genau das richtige. 

More Elevator Fun

The elevators at Hotel 25hours have ... interesting ... artwork that is begging for some photo fun.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018


Meine Pizza ist fast fertig.

Guten Morgen Zurich

Monday, November 05, 2018

Up and Down

Illuminated signage in hotel elevator.


Die Oesterreichischen Bundesbahnen (OeBB) sind der letzte Anbieter von traditionellen Nachtzugverbindungen in Westeuropa. Mit der Nightjet-Marke sind sie recht erfolgreich. Um 21:40 faehrt Nightjet EN40467 mit Sitzwagen, Liegewagen, und Schlafwagen von Zurich nach Wien.

Die Nightjet-Schlafwagen nutzen das verfuegbare Lichtraumprofil voll aus.

Der Zug fuehrt ganz am Ende einen Schlafwagen der Tschechischen Staatsbahn (CD) als Kurswagen nach Prag.

Mehrere Liegewagen und ein Schlafwagen der Ungarischen Staatsbahn (MAV) laufen ueber Wien nach Budapest durch.

Es ist 21:38. Noch ein kurzes Schwaetzchen und dann geht es auf die Reise. Natuerlich mit einer Re 4/4 II.