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.

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Wiring Part 1

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.

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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.

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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.

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Control panel box

I spent this weekend building the controller box. This will house the section switches and the toggle switches for the turnouts. I’m not sure how I’m going to wire the layout yet but I want to do it slightly differently from The Depot. The Depot is wired for one engine only and as there are no sections as soon as you turn on the power it powers up the whole layout in one go. As such you can’t have more than one engine on the layout.

For the Town I wanted to get more experience with sections and have the ability to keep numerous locomotives on the layout while only running one at a time. I will add various sections and use SPST switches to turn power on and off. I’m still drawing up the power plan but hopefully I’ll have it nailed down this week. It may be that I figure it all out while I work around the layout.

Here’s the construction process for the controller box:

Using my supply of various board and strips of wood I assembled the controller box.

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Control Panel

I decided that I’ve been avoiding working on the Town module for long enough. On one of my Facebook groups a new modeler asked the group for tips about the hobby. One of the tips that really struck a chord with me was: don’t get distracted by other smaller projects. I realized that I’ve been distracted for most of the year by the diorama project and had not given The Town module the attention it needed to keep it moving at a reasonable pace. I’ve seen other modelers complete at least two layouts in the time that I’ve been working on The Town.  So with no more excuses or distractions I put the weathering project away and got back to building the control panel for The Town.

Time to get back to The Town.

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Control panel designs

So I’ve started working on the control panel design. The work has to be divided up between different functions required. Firstly laying out the space available for the controller, control panel and traction extension (see diagram). Then I need to select and design the hardware solutions and then finally decide on the panel front design. Tonight I attempted to layout the space roughly and get an idea of how to install the hardware pieces to hold the whole thing together.

I don’t enjoy this work. I see it as an evil but essential task if I am to get the design right. I used Sketchup to layout the space and solve some of the issues of suspending platforms for use only during operations. When not being operated the platforms either should be removed or folded away.

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Back to the Town

I’m very excited about getting back to The Town project now that the diorama is finished. I’ve been mulling over next steps: should I start on some structures or shall I finish the track-laying and powering up? I’ve decided to finish track-laying and the goal is to have a powered locomotive navigate the whole layout. I will also build a second cassette and the exit points and a proper control panel so that I can operate the layout in full before starting any structures.

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Current Projects

I’ve put together a section called ‘Current Projects’ where I keep a diary of the various projects within The Depot universe. Presently these include The Trestle and The Town. I’m currently putting together The Town diary but I’ve finished The Trestle up to the creekbed construction. I’ll add sections as the projects progress.

Coming up in that section will be the construction diary for the cassette system, the station building, and the weathering project. It is a similar section the blog but with the posts gathered in a single place for easy reading.