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chris
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This is exactly what I’m looking to do with my garden railway Chris - you’ve made a cracking job on those platform ramps. I’m just waiting for some more pieces to turn up and I’ll have a bash at making some. I need 32 pieces altogether and I’m not looking forward to painting them like the one I put on FB the other day - it’s going to take ages 🙃

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  • 1 year later...

Throughout 2021 I was working on the electronics side of our hobby. Although I have a background in electronics I was out of date, and the Arduino revolution had completely passed me by. I've been playing catch up. But this has mainly been on my indoor projects. My first project on Amblethorpe is a passenger information display for Colwick Station. 

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It shows "live" train information, but it's of fake trains. I've not connected it up to sensors on the track so it is not triggered by the coming and goings. This is possible, but I don't run Amblethorpe to a timetable so there is no point trying to do it.

There are 3 screens each 22mm by 11mm with 128*64 pixels to play with. The type is tiny, either 6px or 5px high. They cost £6.50 per screen.

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They are dynamic, with some trains randomly delayed or cancelled. The clock ticks off the seconds minutes and hours. The destination stops scroll across the screen when required. These 3 are driven by a single Arduino micro controller, which cost £3.50. it all runs on 5 volts, and this can be pulled off the DCC track bus using a two quid voltage regulator. So the whole thing cost £25.

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I used my plotter cutter to make a hosing out of black styrene. It's a bit bulky, but I hid most of it by placing a Welcome to Colwick sign on the top.

This year I'll get round to motoring the points on the Paltyville Ridge & Peak Railroad using and Arduino to provide the control and frog juicing.

 

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That is a brilliant development!

I thought at first that you had used Train-Tech's Animated Smart Screens but your model looks much more like what an actual station display looks like. Yours is half the cost as well.

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Hi Chris, it's great to see you back posting another update.

The information board looks fantastic and you've made an excellent job of framing it. It's just amazing what you can do/achieve with these little micro controllers especially when in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing! It's mind blowing to learn you can actually couple them to track sensors for automatic updates.

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2 hours ago, Riddles said:

That is a brilliant development!

I thought at first that you had used Train-Tech's Animated Smart Screens but your model looks much more like what an actual station display looks like. Yours is half the cost as well.

Getting the text small enough for OO was the big challenge. I basically had to forge my own fonts. They are still too big for a platform monitor, but work well as a main display board. It has amazed me how cheap electronic components are these days.  I've built a panel for a mate that controls 16 points, servos as point motors, has push buttons to throw the points, and LEDs to show their positions. Can set a routes and be linked to a computer for remote operation. Whole thing cost about £60.

1 hour ago, mick said:

Hi Chris, it's great to see you back posting another update.

The information board looks fantastic and you've made an excellent job of framing it. It's just amazing what you can do/achieve with these little micro controllers especially when in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing! It's mind blowing to learn you can actually couple them to track sensors for automatic updates.

To teach myself how to program an Arduino I built myself a test track. This shuttled my tram back and forth, change a point and the signals protecting the point. Sensors detected when the tram was reaching the end of the track, slowed it to a stop and then reversed it and sent it on its way. All fully automatic, now user interaction required. I even upgraded it to run two trams shuttling back and forth alternating which branch of the point they took. 

You're right when you say its mind blowing.

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  • 2 months later...

Amblethorpe’s 2022 running season has begun. My traditional start at the switch to British Summer Time was followed.

Me and my modelling mates are going to try and for a better habit this year. We have pencilled in Monday afternoons for running sessions. If the weather is against us we can switch to my mates loft layout a couple of minutes away.

Relativitly painless start to running. Only one bond needed resoldering. ONe Accessory decodered wasn’t working so a couple of points weren’t throwing. I had a spare decoder so swapped it in. Still didn’t work. Reasoning that it was the DCC feed that was the problem I replaced the P clip connectors with Wago connectors and I was back to full control. As I did this I did manage to yank a couple of wires off solder pads, so the iron was required. Never a fun time under the baseboard outside.

At some point this summer I will have to finally do something about about a couple of sections of baseboards that are knackered. One is the last bit of original board which has been out in the garden for 12 years. The other is about 8 years old. Not sure if it was the quality of the ply or the roofing felt which has led to the extreme delaminating. 

I’ve got a 8’ by 4’ 18mm ply sheet this time last year and have plenty of roofing felt. Just got to get round to it now.

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On 14/04/2022 at 15:06, chris said:

Amblethorpe’s 2022 running season has begun...

Yay!

One bond to solder...same here Chris. Not bad considering what they have to go through.

Doesn't time fly? Baseboard that's been out in the garden for 12 years!!

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I would like to thank you for all the time and effort you put in to allow us to read and view your photos and video of Amplethorpe. I just drool at all your projects and the quality of finish you achieve. Colwick station is just a master class in what can be achieved.

I was supposed to under construction of Howey by now but due to chief director of finance having a fall and the problems it caused as put everything back, so frustrating with all this beautiful weather we have had. At least I have been able to read your progress which has inspired me more than ever.

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We are trying to develop a habit of a Monday running session.

More visiting stock today. A mate brought the stock for an early 1960s Leeds to Glasgow service. At 11 coaches I think it is a new record for longest train to run on Amblethorpe.

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It took a few laps before we could leave it to run un attended. My usual trick worked. When a coach is derailing, turn it round. Running it in the opposite direction tends to fix issues with bogies or couplings.

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It isn't in my modelling era, but could you use the Arduino and a display for a programmable locomotive headcode box?

I'm sure this will be coming as a standard feature on locomotives at some point in the future through DCC, but still maybe a few years off.

Nice to see a long train snaking though a junction there Chris.

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I'm not aware of any displays that are small enough for a headcode box in OO, but it's definitely doable in O. Could be changed via a DCC command. Great idea.

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I'm thinking about changing a couple of the junctions on Amblethorpe. I've built my junctions in the modern style with turnouts rather than using (diamond) crossings.

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The problem is that I have to change three sets of points to enable one train move, and then change them back again before a train approaches on the other line. A crossing would mean that I don't have to worry about resetting for the other line.

A friend has pointed out that rather than a crossing I could use a single slip. This can be left in the crossing position and only changed when I need a train to crossover from the down to the up line on the left hand pair.

Another junction may also be changed.

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The ladder on here also means that the down line turnout has to be changed for an up line train to reach Amblethorpe Station. This could go single slip, which would allow a train to crossover from up to down. Or a crossing could be used and the points rearranged to allow trains to enter the station, but not crossover between tracks.

I occasionally use that as a crossover, but mainly at the end of day when I'm putting trains back into the shed sidings.

May mate is going to buy me a single slip, so I guess one or both of these changes will be occurring.

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Are the points manually operated Chris? I guess they must be if it's causing you grief but I felt the same way when I had motorised points on my passing loop - it always seemed too much faffing about changing them with the handset. It's the reason I decided to spring them but I am aware that's not possible in most situations. I quite enjoy throwing the point switches in the shed by the way.

It's difficult to make any sensible suggestions for junctions when I'm not familiar with how you actually work but at least you have your Monday running sessions where you can throw ideas around. I'm sure you'll come up with something.

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All my points are controlled via DCC accessory decoders. But I control them via JMRI, so its a click with a mouse or a tap on an iPhone/iPad. Throwing them isn't a problem. Ensuring that they have thrown properly, via my car door lock motors and rickety link mechanism is more of an issue. 

My thinking is that I can remove the throwing of turnouts on the line that I'm crossing. This will mean that a movement across the line will leave it unaffected. So as long as I don't run trains into each other I can crossover the line without changing it's route.

At the moment the Monday running sessions rarely amount to more than two trains looping round and chaps chatting a lot. This means that no one is paying much attention to controlling their trains. It is wholly incumbent on the person driving a with a conflicting movement to set their route, drive their train through the conflict area and reset the route for the other trains. I should be able to change my track layout so this kind of manoeuvre only requires the change of one turnout. This should mean that adding in an extra train while two trains are looping round is easier and therefore happening more often. Trains might start to reach my two terminus stations.

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6 hours ago, chris said:

...My thinking is that I can remove the throwing of turnouts on the line that I'm crossing. This will mean that a movement across the line will leave it unaffected. So as long as I don't run trains into each other I can crossover the line without changing it's route...

Got you! I see what you mean now about the crossing.

I have a point at the rear of the shed which goes either into the through station or into the terminus station. I have it wired so that the tracks are only powered if the point is set for that direction because I was frequently running through the points while departing to the rear of the shed when they were set against me. Could something like that prevent conflicting movements on your layout? It should work even if you decide to go down the crossing/slip route.

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There is scope for that kind of setup on the route that is leaving the shed. But the one out in the wilds would require extra electronics under the baseboard or a 10 meter long cable run from the shed. I've thought about putting power cutting sensors around my two lift out sections, but never got round to doing it. Since I've got back into electronics it would be easy enough to achieve. I could inter-lock my turnouts with the lift out section so they couldn't be set that way when it is not there. It's do able, but I fear every other time I set it up the detector would fail to detect the lift out section and I wouldn't be able to set my turnouts.😅

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Teaching through photos I came across this, a scene from 9 years ago today.

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This section of baseboard has not fared well. Today it look like this!

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I have a sheet of 18mm ply ready to to replace it. After Monday's running session I plan to make a start on replacing it.

I visited an actual model shop today. First time in over 2 years. Was there for some brass tube and rod for a scratch building project and also picked up a long crossing to enable a junction remodelling.

 

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