Friday, April 24, 2020

Untergroeningen: Virtual Ops Session

212 074 is ready for operations
Today is the last Friday of the month, when Silicon Valley Lines usually puts on the monthly operations session. However, due to COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders the club is closed. I suggested to the membership to try a virtual operation session instead, so we did.

I emailed a track diagram of Untergroeningen to the group before the meeting, as well as a switch list. The train is rather short, only 5 cars to set out and 4 cars to pick up. I ran the engine on the layout and the group told me which moves to make. There was quite a bit of discussion and banter along the way which made this an enjoyable experience.

Before the session, I set up the Untergroeningen modules in our living room and tested the arrangement.

To my utter surprise, the throws of most turnouts where misaligned and the Tortoises needed adjustment. That took some time. One puko strip did not have power. Apparently the solder point to the neigboring puko strip had come loose. Along with the new team track feeder, this was quickly repaired.

We did the virtual meeting with Google Meet. I joined the meeting from two laptops.

One laptop was set up on top of a nearby cabinet and showed a view from the right hand side of the arrangement. I simply used the built-in camera for this view.

The other laptop was connected to an external Webcam which was mounted high above the entrance to Untergroeningen station, looking in the opposite direction.
Having a camera at each end of the station seemed to work reasonably well, even with mediocre streaming quality, and the group could see what was happening on the arrangement.

Dave took a screenshot of what this looked like from his side.

Here's the staged train in the cut on module Kurve with the camera in the front. This is an old Microsoft VX-800 web cam, which has a fairly wide-angle lens, so it works nicely here.

Less than an hour after we started, 212 074 has spotted all inbound cars, picked up all outbound cars, and is ready to leave Untergroeningen for the return trip into staging.

The tracks are not ballasted yet. I'll do that when I finished working on Untergroeningen segment 3. I need better scenery transitions, bushes, trees, and many more details for this scene to really come to live, but this is going in the right direction to become what I have in mind.

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