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Amblethorpe


chris
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I've got my first turnout working with a servo driving it. 

An Arduino is controlling the servo. It is listening and responding to DCC accessory commands and local push buttons.

The main problem was getting the servo to connection to the turnout working. I used a wire in tube system proposed by IanR 10 years ago. The wire I had was too stiff. I bought some softer stainless steel wire and that works much better. The other problem was I'd got confused with my code and was making changes to the wrong servo, so not making any changes at all.

I'm going away for a few days tomorrow, so progress will pause until next week.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update.

I got the other two servos working with the DCC accessory controller. All three are now working. They are usually controlled by DCC commands. I also have push buttons to throw them. I've actually got two push buttons for each. One panel of two buttons is next to the crossover and the other panel with two buttons is adjacent to the siding turnout. This means I can throw the both the crossover and the siding from both locations without having to walk from one to the other. I like it a lot. This is an temporary solution, which, with a software update will be able to be switched to a new system 

I needed to get the double slip  installed in Emble June. motorised. No point putting the car door locking motors back in or more DCC Accessory controllers. It was time to start installing a Layout Control Bus on Amblethorpe and transition away from DCC for controlling accessories.

I've converted my tramway over to a Layout Control Bus last year, and have started installing one on ems mates layout. This means I'm familiar with the electronics side. The bigger challenge was getting a 10 meter cable out from my controlling Raspberry Pi to Emble June and installing the servo linking mechanism.

The install went better than I expected. One of the servo linkages took a bit of time to get throwing, but the other there went in simply. I had and issue with voltage drop which mean there wasn't enough power and the Arduino switched off and on. One of the servos was working too hard. An adjustment to it's settings sorted the problem. But I think voltage drop will be a recurring problem. I'll probably change from 5volts to 12 and put in a 5v regulator on each node on my layout control bus.

It's all installed under the baseboard. I'll find out how it deals with the outdoors. A plastic food tray is offering the electronics some protection. The whole setup cost less than £20 so replacing a component or two isn't going to break the bank.

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On 04/09/2013 at 08:59, chris said:

The promised pictures.

This shows the state of the plywood boards (back in June)

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I used correx to replace the ply. This piece was salvaged from an advertising hoarding from a rugby ground (it was advertising Northern Rail!).

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Halfords aerosols were used and abused.

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The ply was removed, exposing the fence, which my neighbour ignores the hints I give him to replace it.

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The correx was screwed in place and it's a big improvement.

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This Corex lasted 9 years. It had gone brittle, so yesterday I removed it and replacing a 6 meter length.

My style has of sky has changed to a more cloudy look over the years. This has everything to do with using less blue paint and cheaper grey and white. It also looks better.

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Today I need to find my pan scrubs stash and create a 6m line of shrubs.

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My mate has printed me a ramp for my platform end. Much easier than faffing around cutting up a plastic chopping board to make them. The other end is being printed now and is a more complex design. I've painted the bathroom floor tiles for the platform surface. I should be able to instal them tomorrow.

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Looking good. (might have a H & S problem with passengers falling of platform down the steps) I was taking note of your point work and the wiring. That is something I will have to give a lot of thought to for a latter date.

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I had my station buildings on the workbench this week. They are 10 years old and two had faded badly. I removed all the windows, stripped the paint of the frames and re painted with white lacquer. New glazing was cut from acetate. I used weathering techniques to give the building a similar tone and painted the fittings a Northern Rail midnight blue. To fix it all in place before they get hit by rain and sun I gave them a light spray of clear lacquer.

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That’s the platforms and buildings of Brymouth finished. I need to add some detailing in the form of fencing along the back and people etc. around the buildings. I’m adding a small compound of cabins beside the platform end. Mainly to fill a gap on the baseboard. My aim is to have all the space between the outer track and the back scene fully scenic. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm replacing the point motors on Colwick throat. Car door lock motors are coming out and servos going in.

I put together a couple of circuit boards yesterday (an extra for Amblethorpe junction) to hold the Arduino and its wiring. I've made a two of push button panels so I can have local control form both sides of the lift out section.

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This morning I've stripped out the old stuff. Should be have it all working again in time for Monday's running session.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Work on Amblethorpe continues. I found time for scenic work. Brymoth Station needed finishing off. Reinstallation of the fencing being the main part. I also made a small area filled with cabins. Work outside has been limited to short periods, with some early starts. Thus the long shadows on the photos.

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I've done a technical switch. The turnouts at Brymouth were controlled by DCC (and local Bob buttons). The problem with DCC control is that it is one way. When a Bob button is pressed and a turnout thrown, the computer isn't informed. It's not a big issue. But my other turnouts now feedback turnout position, so I'm used it it. I'd always planned to make this change so it wasn't a big job to add in the two way CMRI connection. I even managed to reuse a 8 way cable that had been the wring for the Car Door Lock motors. That saved some time and scrambling around under baseboards. 

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Three of the four CMRI-Arduino nodes are now in place. Only the junction for Amblethorpe station is still driven by car door lock motors. Remodelling that junction is next on the jobs list. I'm removing the ladder junction and putting a crossing in to simplify operation.

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The photo shows the crossing placed on top of a turnout. 

The junction is going to require more space. The turnout on the siding is being removed along with the second road. This will allow a track to pass below the crossing and join the inner track to the left of the crossing. The result will be that trains can arrive at Amblethorpe without having to throw the turnouts on the inner loop. And more importantly, I won't have to remember to throw them back again once the manoeuvre has been completed.

The track layout change at Emble Junction followed a similar logic. Operators have been far more inclined to run trains in and out of Colwick since the change. I hope the remodelled Amblethorpe approach will have a similar impact.

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Its good to see the reived railway coming back to life. I marvel at your electric skill. Thanks for all your efforts and photos, it gives me ideas. I will certainly be looking into Correx plastic sheeting.

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1 hour ago, kenbrunt said:

Its good to see the reived railway coming back to life. I marvel at your electric skill. Thanks for all your efforts and photos, it gives me ideas. I will certainly be looking into Correx plastic sheeting.

Thank you.

This year has been a year of renewals. The backlog of problems had become large after years of bodging fixes to keep things running. With friends coming round for running sessions every week, I had the reason and motivation to do renewals rather than maintenance.

My electronics are very simple. Nearly all of it is off the shelf modules requiring very little use of a soldering iron and no real knowledge of how to design electronic circuits. The tricky bit is writing the computer code to get the Arduino micro controllers to do what I want them to. If you have logical brain, it's definitely worth a try.

I've started using Foamex as well as Correx. I'm recommend Foamex, I find it easier to cut than Correx. Both are used to make signs. I got a load of Foamex when a shop closed down and there signage was removed. Might be worth asking at local supermarkets what they do with their old signs. In this age or encouraging reuse they may be keen to give it away so it can have a second, longer use.

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I've made a start on the remodelling of Amblethorpe Junction. I made good progress, although rain did stop play for a an hour or two after I reached this point.

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The rain brake gave me time to think. I decided to change the layout. Adding an extra turnout in place of that short curve will enable a short siding and it will prevent a train running onto the mainline when the turnout is set against it. 

The Peco geometry of crossings is odd. I didn't like how things ended up when I put a long turnout in place of the curve. I have a shot turnout, but think a medium one will work better. I get hold of one tomorrow.

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I should be able to back on with it on Saturday.

As ever it was the soldering of all the bonds that took the time. But a still day at 20ºc made it less painful than usual.

 

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Steady progress throughout the day. Turnouts were in by lunchtime.

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All track work was in by late afternoon.

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Servo motors and Bob buttons to control them went in this evening.

The final track work looks great. I'm happy with the appearance, it looks much better than I was expecting. The mid project addition of the extra turnout has really paid off.

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Note the floating turnout blades. This was taken prior to the addition of point motors which hold the blades in position.

 

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One heck of a lot of progress over the past few posts Chris and it's good to see it all coming back together. Definitely worth all the effort when you consider the enjoyment we get from our layouts. The weekly sessions with your mates appears to have spurred you on no end whereas with my own layout....well, the less said the better at the moment.

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11 hours ago, mick said:

One heck of a lot of progress over the past few posts Chris and it's good to see it all coming back together. Definitely worth all the effort when you consider the enjoyment we get from our layouts. The weekly sessions with your mates appears to have spurred you on no end whereas with my own layout....well, the less said the better at the moment.

I've always put up with the fact that things on my railway didn't work perfectly. I put this down to the fact that I was outside and that makes perfection impossible. As long as I could get things working then I put up with the bodging around every session.

This year I've tackled a lot of the issues that I have put up with. I've continued to work on problems until they are fully fixed. Nearly fixed hasn't been good enough.

The weekly running session have given me a deadline to fix things. If something was annoying, or preventing a train running along a particular route, I sorted that. Each session I wanted something working that wasn't working last time. 

The upshot is that I've got a lot done.

Still plenty more jobs on the list.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My original design for linking a servo to a turnout is not hitting the reliability levels I'm after. I've come up with a new design and that is working out better. I'm retro fitting the new mechanisms to the turnouts that are proving to be unreliable. I'll probably do a separate topic on this somewhere else in the forum.

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The new mech is on the left, original on the right.

Put in a shift yesterday fixing my leaning fence. The posts always leaned a couple of degrees. The weight of the baseboard shelf has exerted a force that has increased the lean. The two posts that were affected support the board next to my lift-out section and Colwick Station board.

I'd thought of some complex structures, but tried a simple "temporary" solution. This has worked and will probably become permanent.

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Aluminium T girder from a dead greenhouse. Screwed at the top, wedged against flagstones at the bottom.

There were further adjustments to the baseboard between the two posts. This is 400mm wide board and it sagged in the middle, even though there is a support there. I added an 10mm thick plastic strip between the shelf bracket and the board and that fixed the droop. An extra T girder brace was also added beneath for extra support.

I'll need to keep an eye on it in the rain to ensure that water still drains off.

The movement of the fences post means that the lift-out section and Colwick Station both now need tweaks. I'll get that sorted today.

 

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I had to attack a fence post with an orbital sander.

Bracing fence posts and levelling baseboards meant that colwick station's tracks no longer aligned. About 5mm of post was removed with the sander to give space for the stations rear wall. A notch was removed from baseboard too. The result was baseboard alignment. 

I've always left the last few sleepers off Colwick pin-less and wiggled the tracks to alignment. With the baseboard now aligning better than it ever has, I've pinned those sleepers in place.

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All the work means that the run up to the buffers is now level and aligned. This evening's running session may be the first time I've run trains into Colwick and nothing has derailed.

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I also tweaked the alignment of tracks on the lift out section, which didn't take long.

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On Sunday I tackled the lift up section in the shed. I replaced the alignment dowels and realigned the tracks. This will allow me to run trains along the three tracks in both directions without derailment. Which will make returning trains back  into the signings a lot less traumatic.

Turnouts

There was a fault with my new point motor system. The design of linkage was difficult to install and resulted in poor alignments of parts. This created too much friction. Servos were struggling to throw to the required position. Servos have internal feedback. They try to reach their set position. This means they keep drawing current. 3 or more servos all drawing current at the same time is a too much power draw which can cause a reset of the local controller.

I've replaced the badly installed mechanisms with a better design which is both easier to install and has reduced friction. I did 5 replacements. The servos are a lot happier.

By late afternoon I'd completed my jobs list. Amblethorpe's  track and turnouts are better than they have ever been. I celebrated with an impromptu running session.

 

Edited by chris
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