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· Just another modeller
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*** Continuing the theme.

The Control Panel.

This panel is if anything reminiscent of the old days of DC - however in place of switching track sections it allows me to connect any one of three computer based programmers plus DCC or DC to any one of 5 distinct track sections.... plus prviding accessory and turnout control.

I need this flexibility to select sound programme - the flexibility of switching is because I really need to keep a loco linked to the computer while doing complex sound file creation and tuning, and in the past, a customer might drop in for a bit of help, meaning that I'd have to stop programming, losing sometimes hours of work, to help him. (You can't not help, can you!).

With the new panel, I can move the loco in question to any part of the test layout and then leave it connected to the sound programme while tuning a customers loco with a smile!

The idea was to make it a totally stand alone panel that works with the new test track.

For simplicity it will sit on my desk extension below the test track itself. It will be connected to the relevant hardware and track sections with a series of plain old RCA plugs (Digital) and Mini-Din Plugs (Tortoise and point position LEDS. There are probably more accessory switches than needed for lights, but there was space on the panel, and better more than less!



The basic Panel frame is a mixture of 12mm customwood shapes with simple edge rounding with a 3mm round-over router bit... The panel itself is 5m customwood (MDF).

Nothing special there except to note that if you take ALL nuts off standard switches etc they will easily fit through 5mm MDF far enough to secure with a nut. Paint is my standard shop fittings blue and Gray... nothing special there other than I add a "flow aid" to the acrylic paint and it brushes on beautifully smoothly. About 3 coats used on each part for a good surface.



The LEDs are our own new product - available in about 3 weeks with luck. They are a 3mm LED in a rather nice chrome surround. The ones I used were pre final spec and I needed to add resistors, however the stock will come with a resistor already in place and 250mm red/black wires, so can be used on any power supply between 9 and 15 volts quite happily with no work other than connecting them!

To make it pretty, each of my 3 PC programmers are indicated with Blue LED, DCC (via NCE PowerCab) with Green, and DCC off/DC on with red... The Point indicators will all be our own red/green bi-colour LEDs and accessory lights will be green.

By the way...

The LEDs are "on" courtesy of a 9 volt battery. Its helpful and motivational to be able to test - and see the panel look, as you go without the hassle of connecting a real power supply... and a 9 volt battery isn't enough current to burn things out badly if you make an error up so its a good easy & safe test!!

As I often do with such things, I drill for them slighty tight then ream with a rat-tail file so they simply screw into the 5mm customwood face.

The DPDT switches are our own - same as supplied to you with MASTERswitch.



The Rotary switches are 3 pole 4 position and choose between DCC source. The lower LED marked "off" is actually to turn off the DCC for that section and connect DC to it. (accomplished by a relay behind each Rotary switch)

The Printed Panels are made on the Computer. ANY competent drawing package will work fine - I happen to have Adobe pagemaker so used that, but there are many others.

I printed them onto 120GSM paper and laminated with a semi gloss lamination pouch.

Each panel was cut out by hand then they were temporarily placed on the panel to mark for drilling - this ensures that all holes are in the right place. I couldn't find my sharp punch so used a gentle tap on a fine X head screwdriver - I must say this made an excellent drill reference mark!



After the panel was marked up, the holes were made in the laminated paper panel with a punch set (using some pine as a block to punch on).

The basic wood panel was drilled for the switches then the paper panels were sprayed with permanent contact glue and they were put in place - dead easy as there are so many reference holes.



Wiring to the stage you can see now was accomplished over Boxing day and today - about 4~5 hours so far... Nothing special except a lot of use of heatshrink, both to insulate individual terminals and to act as "wire ties" to group similar purpose cables together.

There area LOT of wires in this panel because of the complex switching need - what you see now is about 50% of the final total... (There are 8 more wires to add to each rotary switch, plus the rest of the panel needs doing!

However I should stress that you should not be put off by masses of wire. What you can see is many similar joints, and its really not complicated - for example each rotary switch just repeats the one alonside it, so its lots of wire, but not lots of complexity!

In the end... it'll all be self contained and when the back panel is fixed on, all you will see is a row of RCA and Mini-Din plugs with luck!

Please feel free to ask any questions...

NEXT post in this thread - the transition from Peco standard look to a much better appearance BEFORE laying them - for both track and points.

Regards and best wishes to all for the new year

Richard
 

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QUOTE you should not be put off by masses of wire. What you can see is many similar joints, and its really not complicated
Indeed. It's just that it breeds faster than rabbits


I have never considered using 5mm MDF as a base for a control panel. I shall remember that.

David
 

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David, I use 5mm MDF for my panels - stronger than the 3mm of course.
I do like the look of the new 3mm LED's ,Richard.
 

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Very nice piece of work Richard. I like the overall shape and matching colour scheme. I like the look of those new LEDs. As you say though the design is very specific to your own requirements and would not necessarily be a standard to follow for a normal layout control panel.

Incidentally, I use 3mm acrylic sheet for my control panel face so can keep the bottom locking nut on the switches and get the serated edge locking washer on under the top nut.

I know what you mean abour heat shrink. I have used almost 10 metres in my control panel.

NOTE TO SELF:- I must get some pictures taken of the finished article and get them posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
*** I previously posted on proposed mods to Peco points to remove the non-prototypical parts and make them a little more realistic. Well, I've done it and can report that it took about 2-1/2 hours to modify all seven of them.

Looking at the images I should probably have removed one more Peco sleeper, but I'll leave them as in the photo as its only for a test track after all.

Modding the Points:

I did the standard wiring Mods first - these have been covered before so I won't repeat them.

For improving the look, the procedure was dead Simple.

The only tools were soldering Iron, DCCconcepts Sapphire 179 Solder, and Sapphire FLux, Our own Sprue cutters and a Dremel + a file for the sleeper strip.

Only material was 2 strips of 1.6mm fireglass PCB sleepering, which was filed to the correct width to match Peco with a dremel sanding drum - quick and easy to do.

* Remove one sleeper either side of the throw-bar. (cut with sprue cutters + use dremel for removing the mass of plastic that holds the spring etc)
* With sharp nosed pliers un-twist the tabs that hold the blades to the tie bar and remove tie bar.
* Solder two copperclad sleepers of correct width to the rails where the removed "over-wide" sleepers were (Tin each first, then the joint takes less than 1 second per rail).
* Add a thin tie bar that has been pre-drilled for the spring wire of tortoise motors. To fix the point rails to this, take the existing tabs and carefully bend back to a right angle so they sit flat on the tie bar. Again tin them before quickly soldering together.

Take the opportunity to lessen the huge gap between stock rail and open point rail.... I'd normally make it less than 2mm but client loco's often have old style wheels, so I left it wider this time... but still much less than the huge original Peco Gap!

This is the result: (As I said - I wish I'd removed one more sleeper)







After modding, I did my usual "Pre-laying peparation to the points and the track. This is quick, low cost and I think effective - it certainly saves lots of hassle compared to doing it once the track is laid.

These are the materials:
(1) An Aerosol of Gray Automotive undercoat. Any quality Brand will do.
(2) Stain # 1 - colour not really very critical - this walnut stain was on special. Add some black enamel and some rust coloured / teracotta coloured paint to make a dark brownish tint.
(3) Stain # 2 - again colour not critical but the Cedar was ideal and on special. I added much more rusty tint than black to this one as its for the rail sides.

Both were slightly thinned - about 5% but it may not be necessary for your brand... experiment. (we want them to go on easily but cover only partly - we want the aged look which is browny-gray, not a hard brown...

(4) The brush for coat # 1 - an old cheap shaving brush - anything softish is fine.
(5) the brush for coat # 2 - a coarse cheap kids brush - this was appx 50P for ten at the local stationers(I use them for flux too)



The whole procedure takes 3-1/2 steps:

(1) Spray the whole of the point or track with the Gray Aerosol. a couple of quick passes from 4 angles should cover it perfectly with a thin even coat (paint at about 300mm from can to track is about right). As soon as painting is done, clean the rail head with the end grain of a pine block. If its stubborn, wet the pine with white spitir or thinners.

(2) When totally dry (overnight) mop all over with the soft brush and stain # 1 - Not too much on the track but just slop it on and dab as well as brush.

This takes about fifteen to twenty seconds per metre or point, no more! There is no need to be careful, but keep the stain well stirred as the paint settles out. As soon as staining is done, clean the rail head with the end grain of a pine block. If its stubborn, wet the pine with white spirit or thinners.

(3) When totally dry (overnight) use the cheap kids brush to quickly paint the rail sides - do get a little on the chairs and any on the sleepers doesn't matter at all.... Rust creeps everywhere when its vibrated off chairs and rail by passing trains and we DON'tT want it to look neatly painted!

This takes about a minute per meter of track or per point, no more. - no need to be too careful, but keep the stain well stirred as the paint settles out. Not too much on the track but just slop it on and dab as well as brush. Again, as soon as staining is done, clean the rail head with the end grain of a pine block. If its stubborn, wet the pine with white spirit or thinners.

Here are the images.... Showing bare track, gray sprayed track, stain # 1 and Stain #2 stages...









(4) Well... there is NO step 4 - just clean the rail heads properly, not forgetting the inside of the railhead, and you are done. I think it makes a BIG difference (I hope you agree) and it certainly saves a LOT of time once the track is laid!

regards

Richard
 

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Richard, I have one reservation about pre-painting flexible track - laying curves. My previous experience is that when the sleepers are flexed to follow the curve, the chairs move and expose the unpainted rail behind. Does this happen with your method or is the paint thin enough to seep behind the chairs so that the underlying rail is also painted?

David
 

· Just another modeller
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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
QUOTE (dwb @ 29 Dec 2008, 21:51) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Richard, I have one reservation about pre-painting flexible track - laying curves. My previous experience is that when the sleepers are flexed to follow the curve, the chairs move and expose the unpainted rail behind. Does this happen with your method or is the paint thin enough to seep behind the chairs so that the underlying rail is also painted?

David

Thats one reason for slightly thinning the stain mix - it will generally seep enough to cover the area, and if bare NS rail does show (and it will where I cut/file/slip on joiners) touch up takes no time at all... just reapply the stain to the area... it has enough grip on the rail to coat any tiny area.

On joiners I'll paint them with a little of the gray (using a fine brush) which will also be quick, followed by stain...

There is a second option of course to save doing touch up - cut and fit the track ready to lay, then paint as per the above... I would do this if radii were tight-ish as the action of bending can of course cause bare areas where the clips run on the rail... I haven't bothered about it this time as the test track is close to straight so there will be very little to do anyway.

Thank you for raising it - I should have thought and covered that point in my post.

Kind regards

Richard
 

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Hi Richard,

That track weathering method looks really good. Did you experiment with any other 'base' colours ??
I was thinking of trying beige as a base coat rather than the grey but am not sure if this would give comparable results. Looking at detailed pictures of actual track the general rail colour seems to more akin to beige with rust and dirt 'weathering' depending on how much TLC it has been given. That way I could maybe just use the wood stain on the sleepers with a bit of dry brushed rust and matt black on the rails themselves.

This is the sort of thing I mean.



Following your point mods I've had a look at my N Gauge points and I think I can certainly reduce the great 'blobs' of plastic which seem to be designed solely to hold the Peco point motor. As I'm using Seep, which are fixed independantly of the point, I can do away with most of that part and simply insert some ordinary sleepers in the spaces left. One question, however, can I remove the centre spring if using Seep motors? Don't think I can do much about the actual tie-bar though as it is pretty slim already . Maybe just cut off the ends in line with the sleepers.

Looking forward to seeing further progress on the test track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
*** Hi Trevor - its each to his own on colour but I do think the gray is the best base as it allows constant subtle variance - To change look, better to vary the stain colour to change the image rather than the base. Remember too that in steam days rain/atmosphere acidity was higher in the atmosphere so a redder rust covered by muck and grime is actually correct compared to todays railway which is a deader brown look in most places....(Actually too, my pictures look more red than the rail sides really are...)

If you use a non-red stain such as a walnut and add black, only a little orange-ish colour plus a touch of white to soften the tint you'll get a dirty beige - but having the grey background really does help look less "painted" than a beige background will...

As to the rail tint, you really DO need to do the rail sides but its actually very subtle in reality - as it all totally dries the colour settles into a more brownish as time passes - once ballasted and dry brushed with powders to reflect area and traffic patterns, all the colours soften markedly.

Experiment - each of us ends up finding our way in our own way on these things... There's no wrong or right, just the CME's preference :)

Richard
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
QUOTE (Lancashire Fusilier @ 30 Dec 2008, 13:57) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Fantastic work on the panel and points Richard. Nice catching up with the post now I have internet access. Panels are porn for me sadly


*** Cheers Paul... I can feed your habit with those new panel LEDs very soon


Richard
 

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Hi Richard,

I really like the look of the layout and it has given me ideas how to mount a lightweight layout in HO here if it is attached to the wall why not use airspace ?

The control panel is to say the least impressive


Look forward to seeing more of it
 

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Richard, as I am re-building panels as I write, what size hole should I leave for those new 3mm LEDs with Chrome surround? This question is in addition to the e-mail I sent to you recently about these.
regards
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
***Hi Sol

I drilled a 3/16 hole then slightly reamed it with the end of a rat-tail file (turning it like a drill). This gave me a suable "screw fit".
The clearance hole is 5mm.

Pricing will be finalised as they land, but they'll be quite reasonable. I don't have the shipping papers handy but colour wise Red, Green, Yellow, Blue and I think from memory they may have also shipped the White I asked for....

Richard
 

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Richard, now I understand re 3/16th plus a bit of reaming - screw fit for what though? Is the LED surround a screw in? What is the clearance of 5mm for please.
It seems I have lost all abilities to work things out today , is it because it is the last day of 2008 ? PM is coming as well.
 

· Just another modeller
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Discussion Starter · #59 ·
QUOTE (Sol @ 31 Dec 2008, 09:50) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Richard, now I understand re 3/16th plus a bit of reaming - screw fit for what though? Is the LED surround a screw in? What is the clearance of 5mm for please.
It seems I have lost all abilities to work things out today , is it because it is the last day of 2008 ? PM is coming as well.

***LOL. The chromed brass bezel forms a neat flange to sit on the panel face and the LED has a threaded shank and the usual lock washers and nut.

I prefer to just use the thread to screw them into the material of the 5mm MDF panel, however if you use a 3mm panel then just drill a clearance hole and use the washers/nuts.

Richard
 

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QUOTE (Expat @ 30 Dec 2008, 23:23) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Thanks Richard. I will, as always, be guided by those who have done it themselves. What sort of paint do you add to the stains ?? Acrylic, enamels or powder ??

Any thoughts on my N Gauge point mods. ??

*** The paint added to the stain should be the same basic type as the stain itself - in this case its enamel based which thins with turps/white spitir so I used some enamel type paint. I prefer the way this flows to acrylic or water based stains which I don't like using for this purpose as they aren't as good at gripping the rail/slippery Peco plastic/undercoat.

You should be OK with the N points - remember the code 55 is buried in sleepers though, so you may need to just modify existing sleepers.

Either clip or file way excess or replace sleepers as suggested and yes, just modifying the tie bar would still be a big improvement. If your seep motors are the latching type there is no need for the spring (and they will work better without it).

Do one and test it. If U are happy, remove all springs.

regards

Richard
 
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