Still here

Just a quick note to those wondering where I have gone. Still here but taking a break from the hobby to deal with life events. Over the last few years I’ve been getting automated and off-shored out of a job and finally had to take the time to deal with it. Therefore the last few months my hobby time have been spent (and will continue to be spent over the next few months) re-training in new technologies – programming languages, frameworks and tools. I’ve also gone back into full-time work which, as a freelance web developer for the last 15 years, is a big change. I’m not yet sure how this new situation will impact my spare time but even with more time available I’ve nevertheless decided that model trains will have to take a back seat during this transition.

Although I’m itching to get back to the hobby taking break has been nice. I felt under constant pressure to produce something and do a good job – sometimes to the detriment of actually enjoying the hobby. The time away from this pressure has allowed me to reflect and therefore I’m hoping that I will come back revitalized.

The control panel was finished and works admirably. I made one small error whereby I broke the thread on one of the switches so that I can’t secure it to the panel (switch E), but all else works fine. I drilled holes in the plexiglass to match the holes in the backboard. The layout sits on a shelf right now waiting for me to get back to it. Not sure when that will be. I may have to do a small project just to get back into the swing of things. I’ll know more next month when I start my new job.


It’s been a while since my last post. I was so exhausted by the wiring project that I decided to give myself a break and focus on other things. I normally obsess over the details of the hobby and it was nice to really just take some time away from it to do other things such as become a better drummer, go for a drive, hikes, bike rides etc. Only one time did I spend a weekend do ‘train’ stuff and that was a weekend of train-chasing in the Sierras.

Continue reading “Trees”

DC Wiring Part 2 – Powering the track continued

Well I finally finished the wiring to power all the track. The two separate sections (the branch line and the traction freight line) are controlled from their own SPST switches. The crossovers required a little thought and in the end I came up with a couple of schemes to wire them up. I created a third bus not connected to either of the other two sections. The crossovers will always be on and are directly connected to the throttle. In order to control the frog poles I connected them to a DPDT switch and simply flip the switch to power the correct frogs for either direction.

This diagram demonstrates the general idea of how the crossovers are powered. I used just one DPDT switch to power all three crossovers.

Continue reading “DC Wiring Part 2 – Powering the track continued”

DC Wiring Part 2 – Powering the track

Having finished isolating track the task was now to start powering the trackwork. There are going to be three independent DC systems:

  1. Powering the sections.
  2. Powering the turnouts.
  3. Powering any lights and accessories around the layout.

Before starting wiring I decided to clean up some of the track. I polished down many of the solder joints but importantly I filled in the gaps in the PCB ties and the gaps in the rails in the crossovers.

I used Woodland Scenics Foam Putty. It was the easiest to control of the three that I tried. I will be using it to build the ballast profile around and between the track so it didn’t matter if some got between the ties. Once hardened I polished the top of the ties and used my Dremel to remove any foam that got in between the rails.

Continue reading “DC Wiring Part 2 – Powering the track”

DC Wiring Part 1 – Lay track and isolate sections – Crossovers

Back to the project afer a short break. I continued to lay missing sections which I then isolated followed by the turnouts and finally the crossovers.

The nice thing about working on small modules is the ability to turn them around and work on them from the back. It allows me to get in very close. This will be particularly important when detailing the track bed. Here I have turned the module so that I could work on the back side.

Continue reading “DC Wiring Part 1 – Lay track and isolate sections – Crossovers”

DC Wiring Part 1 – Lay track and isolate sections

Now that the control panel has been designed and fitted I have begun the wiring. The steps are basically:

  1. Lay missing sections of track.
  2. Isolate rails .
  3. Connect sections to the control panel.
  4. Wire up the crossovers and connect them to the control panel.
  5. Add the turnout motors and connect them to the control panel.
  6. Add three docks to the exit points for the removable cassettes.
I had previously left several sections to be laid with rail while I focused on the turnouts and the crossovers. I have begun to lay those sections. It sometimes has meant removing rail and adding new ties but the goal is to lay the rail in complete and isolated sections wherever possible. The various tracks that will comprise a single wiring section will be powered by a single bus connected to an on/off (SPST) switch.

Continue reading “DC Wiring Part 1 – Lay track and isolate sections”

Control Panel

My brackets arrived from Shapeways and I waited no time to fit them. They are made of very tough plastic that called strong white and flexible. From the Shapeways site:

This material is incredibly versatile, and can be used for a wide variety of applications, from iPhone cases to jewelry, remote controlled quadcopters to wearable bikinis. When thin, it’s flexible enough for hinges and springs. When thick, it’s strong enough for structural components.

There was no doubt that the brackets were going to do a good job. My task was to sand them down so that the controller attachment slid nicely and easily into the board attachment.

Continue reading “Control Panel”

AC system

I managed to set up the internal AC electrical system which provides power to the DC adapter/s and the lighting system. I built the lighting system a while ago but had housed the switches in an ugly box that protruded from the front. I removed this and have now located the switches on the control panel.

I’ve covered the lighting system in the past but as a quick reminder here are some pics of the process:

Power comes into the module using this adapter which itself connects to the mains.

Continue reading “AC system”

New control box and diagram

I had decided a while ago that I was not going to settle for second best when it came to The Town module. I’m not in a hurry to get things done and I really want to make sure I’m 100 percent happy with each stage before moving on to the next.

I wasn’t happy with the first box that I built. I felt it was unnecessarily bulky for such a small layout. I decided that I wanted to keep the design of the box very simple – just the basics – a firm flat surface for the switches with a couple of angled supports to join it to the main board. I did a new design in SketchUp to get a feel for what I needed and then built a foam board demo.

This is my first attempt. I added a couple of hinges on the inside so that I could pull the cover forward to do maintenance. The biggest issue then became how to join the box to the main board. Continue reading “New control box and diagram”