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shaung75 last won the day on May 28 2019

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  1. I'm seriously impressed with the new 66's for the price, actually thinking of getting a couple more! Currently trying to add lighting to mine meaning its in bits on my workbench with a load of its chasis hacked away - just hope i havent messed it up!
  2. You don't belong here 😳 Oh, carry on! 🤣
  3. Well since my last post the layout has had a lot of use from both me and the boy, and it's safe to say the DCC bug has well and truly bitten The DCC++ was having trouble reading from my Zimo MX600R chip and as Digitrains is only a 20 minute drive away from me, I packed up the Arduino and laptop and took a trip over to see if there was an issue with the chip itself or my setup. Long and the short of it, they'd never seen the Arduino setup before and were impressed you could build a controller yourself on the cheap, and the chip was fine and just DCC++ can't read from it. Jeremy and John from Digitrains were brilliant and stayed open well past closing time chatting to us (Ben came too) and I ended up walking away from with a couple of Hornby sound chips and a couple of Gaugemaster chips (as I can read from all of those). As it was Ben's birthday the next day and he was getting a new Percy (he'd wrecked his old one from when he was younger), the evening was spent soldering in the Zimo into Percy, Gaugemaster chips soldered into Thomas and plugged into Gordon, and then fitting the sound chips into the Class 47 and 66. The next evening we had a good session with all of the locos that were DCC fitted and he was able to control them all with an old Samsung phone we had lying around. Happy Days! Now that the days are becoming longer, the weather better, and more importantly, I've renewed my garden waste collection subscription, work can finally recommence on the railway!!! Next week if all goes to plan (and my garden waste bin gets emptied) I'll begin clearing the way from where the track ends to the shed. I still have a few bags of postcrete left over so hopefully I'll also be able to get the trackbed laid as well - the postcrete does feel very solid though so I'm not 100% optimistic that I'll be able to use them. Getting to this stage has then got me thinking about what's going to happen inside the shed. Sadly I can't make this into an 'indoor' layout as it still needs to function as a garden shed (tools etc), so I'm just going with the fiddle yard idea. Given the space I have to play with (12' x around 4') I have two designs: The first has the advantage that it holds more trains and looks neater, but isn't going to be cheap. The second has the advantage that it won't cost as much but can hold longer trains. Given the Thomas range won't be hauling long trains (meaning I can fit more per bay), that I want to run longer diesel trains, and the fact that I'm skint, I'll probably opt for the second version. At a later stage there's plenty of room to add sidings into the loop as well. Thoughts to play with anyway...
  4. I get that, I guess I'm lucky in the fact that my job is also my hobby so if I'm not with my family and the weather doesn't allow construction on the railway, I'll be working.
  5. Thanks Mick. The main thing that's spurred me on I guess is my wife saying "when are you getting that thing in the garden sorted" - happy wife, happy life and all that The Class 66 is brilliant for the price. It's well made, weighs a tonne and has no problem pulling all of my rolling stock at the same time. My only complaint would be the lack of lighting, but that'll be easy enough to sort out and for the price I can't complain at all. Gordon on the other hand is a real disappointment - slow running is poor performing and considering it's an "Express" locomotive, the slightest bit of dew on the track and it grinds to a halt pulling 6 coaches and really struggles with 5. It's tender driven and is really light, my 1980's Thomas has more pulling power... One thing I've noticed since running DCC is it's sorted out the shorting problems on the crossovers. I don't know if it's just my DC controller being over sensitive or what, but other than Gordon slowing late at night and the flatbeds derailing because of stray grass, I've had no problems so far. The next stage is clearing out the garden to complete the trackbed down to the shed. Now that I'm self-employed and work from home I can go out whenever the weather permits. Once it's reached the shed the weather will no longer be an issue so that stage shouldn't take long at all hopefully. Another thing that's getting me excited, is that as I'm using an Arduino to control my layout I've started researching into all sorts of bits and bobs that can be done with it, ie block detection, automation, lighting etc. I know I'm getting a step ahead of myself, but this is the bit I've been looking forward too the most [/geek]
  6. As in my last post I mentioned there was a number of dead sections, so last night after the boy was in bed the soldering iron began heating up... All fixed plus a couple of extra droppers put in on the run down towards the shed. Out came the laptop, the Arduino, the Class 66 and just for fun, Gordon. All track now tested and working, which resulted in a happy Shaun One thing that did come out of the running session though is that rather than spending money on new locos and rolling stock once the layout is complete, I need to get saving my pennies on sorting out point motors - climbing over the line every time to change over tracks will become tedious quick over time.
  7. As some may have noticed, my enthusiasm for this project really hit a low point last year. Not because I had gone off the idea of having a railway in the garden, more so that I spent more time cleaning the track than we did actually using it before something went wrong. Well, now that we're up and running with DCC (see my other thread on DCC++) my enthusiasm has returned. The boy and I actually had a bit of a running session together today - he was using Gordon controlled using my phone, and I was using the Class 66 with my laptop. Don't get me wrong the running session didn't go smoothly, but I didn't really expect it to when nothing has really been done on the layout in over a year. Things could have been worse though - all that was really wrong was a few rail bonds had come lose creating a few dead sections and that was it. Happy days, getting back on the wagon!
  8. I've had some success this evening - changing the values in PacketRegister.h to be more sensitive did two things: I was able to read all values on the messed up Gaugemaster decoder and subsequently write back default values. I was able to write to the Zimo 600R chip So for me I know that I now have a working DCC system to now use in the garden (yay!), all built for £20 plus parts I already had. There is still the issue of not being able to read the Zimo chip, however as I can write to it I'm not too fussed - it's just a decoder to avoid in the future for me. Happy days
  9. So back in 2017 when I originally started this thread, I ended up giving up with DCC++ after I baulked the decoder as I didn't really have a clue what I was doing with DCC. Fast forward to 2019 - I have since acquired a few more loco's and decoders, but still no DCC system to control (or money to buy one) so I thought I'd try revisiting DCC++. So, doing more reading into DCC I decided to give it another go, armed with addition information... Initial setup and testing works great on the main track with a brand new decoder - I can fully control the loco on the main track using JMRI and the default address of 3. I can even get the system connected to my phone using 'Engine Driver' app and can control the loco's using that. Great! The problem I have now is writing to the decoders on the programming track. When I try to read the decoders using DecoderPro it returns an error of 'No acknowledge from loco', making read/write impossible. I know something is happening on the programming track as the loco judders. Trying to troubleshoot... http://jmri.org/help/en/html/tools/programmer/messages.shtml - suggests more power. Increasing the voltage has no effect. Other forums have suggested that the DCC++ isn't reading the current drop for the acknowledgement signal. I thought this could be the case as the Current Monitor screen in PanelPro is reading 0.00%. However, when I put the baulked decoder on the programming track it reads back values (albeit junk), so that would suggest that something is being detected by DCC++ Another suggests the ACK_SAMPLE_THRESHOLD default is set too high (30) in PacketRegister.h - to try: setting value to 15 https://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?threads/dcc-issues-with-d-h-10c-resolved.106064/ has other things to try... So that's where I'm at. If anyone has any other suggestions then let me know, I'm all ears
  10. When I saw the release of Hornby's latest range of Class 66 locos, I knew I was going to be £70 lighter. This particular number, 66731, is a regular runner on the REAL Leasingham Poacher line (well, the Lincoln - Sleaford line anyway)
  11. Thanks Mick. Things are still operational once in a while as and when the boy pesters me. Thankfully he has Percy (the little green engine) that he wore out the worm screw on (which I removed) and he's happy to play with him for hours just freewheeling him around. I'm still having issues with locos shorting out over the peco points which really dampens the spirits in carrying on sometimes to be honest - especially when you have to spend ages cleaning the track and setting up the electrics only to have everything short out after 20 minutes. Construction hasn't moved on really in any way shape or form in 2018 at all other than adding in the droppers back in May. This has been for a few reasons really; #2 child is a demon and much more demanding than #1 when he was her age, so being able to work on the layout whilst she was in the garden during summer was almost impossible. I also want to get the shed sorted before taking the track down there - it's a bit rotten in places with a leaky roof and don't want to spend time building the layout if it's just going to get ruined. I haven't had chance to sort the shed out this year, because #2 child is a demon... I'm really hoping 2019 is going to be a good year for the layout. I have a lot more time at home now as I gave up my job being the Web Developer for the Wildlife Trusts to be a stay-at-home dad and a freelance Web Developer in the evenings. Frankie (#2 child) looks like she's getting more independent and not so grabby of EVERYTHING now, so come Spring/Summer time I should be able to get out in the garden with her more. I'm going to have a read through other posts on here to have a catch up on old and new threads to get me motivated again :) Shaun
  12. Great to see you're still at it Tony. Happy New year to you too!
  13. Been a long time posting (again), but hope everyone had a good Christmas. We've had a new arrival...
  14. I meant to post this the other day, but result! All lines are working as they should. Huzzah!
  15. Sadly no trains run this weekend but work has progressed slightly. I've now finally got round to soldering up all of the rail bonds that I've been putting off, and added in a few droppers while I was at it. This now (in theory) should bring the inner line back into use, sorts out the few dead spots and makes the layout DCC ready. Once tested we'll know for certain....
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