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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #41 ·
Some progress has been made this weekend.

A new way of mounting the servo's has been tried. I think this is a keeper. See this post on the blog for more info and images.

Also some progress has been made with track laying. The outer three tracks of the 'North Bend' are now ready, from junctions to junctions.

To create the curves I used a new tool / jig that I call the 'Rail bending helper jig'. It's two wooden blocks, both with 2 grooves exactly at rail gauge distance. The blocks smoothly slide over the rails. When one block is pressed down firmly, while the other it moved away while applying a rotational force, the tracks bands and the inner rail lengthens towards the far end. It worked quite well ... the jigs are a definite keeper.

In the mean time also a few other special 'home made' tools are available to aid with track laying.

More images and info on the blog.



 

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6,459 Posts
Couple of things, thanks for the videos but still they look more kinked to me than my own efforts, also in these videos there is not much of a curve, in fairness your radius is really sharp looks about 20 inches or so whilst in those vids the radius is more like 60 inches.

On the first vid not sure what rail joiner he was using but looked a bulky effort

Anyway the effect quite good but operationally once you are down to R4 = radius 572 mm - about 22.5 inches you may as well use manufactured curves. That said I used peco flex track to build my old tramway and there I nearly made complete loops out of flexitrack but short wheelbase trams and paving could disguise the any track irregularities.

In my view the best of the Tracksetta's is the straight one.
 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #44 ·
To underlay, or not to underlay ... that's the question.

Almost every day a few additional tracks are added to the layout. The North Bend is final now, with all 6 tracks ending at their Westbound junctions, for which the holes are already drilled in the table. Still to do:
- Station West
- West Corridor
- 'Inglenook' Sidings

In the mean time I tested some track underlay, home made from 2mm foam that is used as laminate floor underlay. Treated with brown Acrylic paint straight from he tune, it gives a reasonable result. Not particularly beautiful, yet I think it makes the track 'come alive' just a little more. Not 100% decided yet ... I give myself another week to think this over.

A few more images are available on the blog.



 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #45 ·
Just 12 more flex-rails to go, then track laying is finished. Time to start to look ahead some. Wiring is going to be an important next step. Needed are a ring circuit for DCC, for 5V servo power and for the S88 reed switches GND.

While making the drawings I ended up not so much with a ring circuit, but with a star circuit instead. With 5 main braches, each feeding 5 or 6 sub braches, DCC is fed to every piece of track via max 1 or 2 rail-connectors. Feeding every rail separately seems like overkill to me ... if needed it can always be done later.

Three more images are available on the blog.

 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Today a new milestone has been reached ... the loop is closed! Still 8 terminal tracks need to be laid, but that is a relatively easy job. It is laying accurate curves that I found the most challenging. Mainly because with Peco flex track it is very hard to adjust the individual rail positions by pushing or pulling They simply won't slide trough the sleepers, as opposed to some other brands where the rails seem to slide more easy. It is only after I started using the 'rail bending jigs' that I got the hang of it and actually started to enjoy it.

Aseries of pictures was made while placing the final rail that closed the gap. They are available on the blog as sort of documentary on the ins and outs on laying Peco flex track.



 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #47 ·
The foam underlay has been placed.

Past Friday model rail friend Richard came to help place the foam underlay, that in the mean time had been cut to size and had been painted, under the track. It was a job that needed to be done with two. One lifting the track, using two thin wooden rods, the other fumbling the foam underneath.

In the end it worked out fine. Of course all track was moved and shifted, but it's not a difficult task to carefully align and straighten it again.

A slide show of the process is available on the blog.



 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #49 ·
Past week there has been some progress, be it that it's all 'hidden' unless you'd look with a magnifying glass or look under the table.

First all 23 junctions have been fixed to the table using the metal garden wire method. I even opted for one L-shaped wire per fix instead of the U shaped wire. It means one hole less to drill per fix while a test showed that it still fixates the track well enough.





Then a start has been made mounting the servos. The new 'vertical' mounting method is used that was discussed earlier in https://rudysmodelrailway.wordpress.com/201...servo-assembly/" target="_blank"> this blog post.</a>

The advantages are twofold:
1. There is no servo jitter because there's almost no force applied to the servo, it need not 'work' to keep it in position.
2. The spring wire (which is an unfolded paperclip) does not move around in a circle, which made it bend in the horizontal plane ... again less forces in the whole system.

A video that shows the vertical mounted servo in action is available on the blog.

 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #50 ·
Statistics

Today I picked up the drill to start the next sequence of holes for the metal rail fixation rods, when it struck me &#8230; how many holes have I drilled yet? And how many still to go?

I sat down for a minute and wondered &#8230; that must have been over 400 already? And how many screws did I drive in? And how may of this? And how many of that?

I made a list. A totally useless list, just for fun. When done I actually thought it quite interesting. Guess what is the most used tool? For the answer, read below blog post.

The 9 most used tools while creating my 3x3m model railway layout.

 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #51 ·
Pimp a Peco buffer: add lights.

Past Friday a new milestone was reached: the track is fixed to the board. From now on the electrical work can start and the majority of future activities adds to bring life to the layout.

The first sign of life are the lights that I mounted onto the Peco buffers. When I clicked 2 buffers to the track I thought them a bit dull. There is a little plastic shape on top of the buffer that resembles a light. How nice would it be if that could become a real light? Worth a try.

At the club we have a real miniaure hobbyist, who without the blink of an eye can solder wires to an 0402 SMD led. An SMD would probably look best, but I went on the lookout for a led I could acually see
.

In one of the parts drawers I found some nice red led's that seemed ideal for the job. Two tiny holes drilled in the buffer were enough to mount the led and keep it in position. I had to turn the buffer around 180 degrees, which means now the backside is actually at the front, but I bet not many will notice that minor detail. Added a 1k5 resistor and connect to 5V and there it was ... red lights on the buffers.

More pictures are available on the blog.



 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #53 ·
This weekend a start has been made with DCC wiring.

There are many nice and handy tools and parts available for wiring and interconnects, but as always I think it a challenge to find low-cost solutions that still work well (for me). With the wiring I opted to use only plastic screw terminals and 'nurse-tape'
. The tape fixes the wires and doubles as a labeling system.

Also I tried not to overdo it with the wire thickness. A star network with 5 branches avoided long leads. Max current is limited to 4 A. That made it possible to work with widely available and cheap 1 mm² wire and have an acceptable voltage drop of less than 1 V. For the track feeds I use 0.15 mm² wire.

The main branches under the table are done. The next task is to connect the 26 x 2 track feeds.

More images are available on the blog



 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #55 ·
Trouble in paradise

While I was soldering the 52 DCC rail droppers to the track (a video and some info available in this blog post) I encountered two problems.

The first was a stupid mistake I made. I had an electrical short. Inspection of the track lead to the 3 North junctions ... I had forgotten to use isolator joiners in the middle of that junction street! Bummer ... now I needed to remove some track and correct that error ... only to find out that I was one isolator joiner short! That will need to wait until later this week.

The second issue is more severe. A test drive with a loco over some junction streets (that had all isolator joiners in place
) lead to some DCC interrupt problems with a few of the junctions. I use the switches straight out of the box, so without frog polarity switching. It was not a cleaning issue with the fork contact point.

I have the idea this may be a mechanical issue with the Peco switch design. See this blog post for the details.

I'm curious if there are any Peco users that have encountered similar issues?

 

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2,693 Posts
Rudy,

Can I suggest a couple of techniques which might help you:

1) Wiring live frog turnouts: http://www.mrol.com.au/livefrogwiring.aspx

2) Attaching droppers: http://www.mrol.com.au/Articles/Hints%20an...erGlobules.aspx
The method you appear to be using to attach droppers is going to result in some nasty looking solder globules and melted plastic which really spoil the whole finish

Generally, my recommendation is to attach droppers which laying track and then connect them up underneath as you go, rather than the 'classic' approach of doing it the other way around.
My suggested approach will ensure that continual checks are possible and the moment something shorts, you will know which dropper caused it and it will be easy to detach the dropper from your screw terminals without having to touch the track.
 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #57 ·
Thanks for your reply Graham.

Yes, your method of attaching droppers at the underside of the track indeed avoids visible solder blobs. It requires though that they are attached during track laying. I did not have that choice anymore. To me this layout is a learning process. With the next layout all these kinds of learnings will be incorporated. Richt now what I do is add a little paint to the blobs to camouflage them some, it helps.

Yes, I could have opted for frog switching, but I didn't, since I have no rolling stock that could cause shorts with the wheels. I did not count on the switches having this mechanical issue where a small force on the fork causes it to lose contact. Next layout will be built with frog switching I guess!
 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #58 ·
A full track test drive.

The one missing isolator joiner has been acquired and has been placed and the final 10 DCC rail droppers have been soldered, completing the track. Time for a full track test run!

At the East junction street of Station South some loco light flickering is clearly visible. It is due to the bad point contact the Peco junctions make, which is a mechanical issue (not pollution). They are electrofrog junctions, but they are not (yet) wired that way. Mounting the servo drive helps, because that exercises an extra force on the point. Time will tell if this is a reliable solution.

When driving becomes frustrating because of stutter or halts at the junctions, I'll be forced to add the frog switching. Not a pleasant project, but not an impossible one since the track is only fixed to the board with some metal flower binding wire.

Next sub-project: mount 19 of the 23 servo drives (4 are already done).

Link to the test drive video on the blog.

 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #59 ·
LiPo and DMM

Yesterday I didn't feel like crawling under the table, where still a lot of work awaits with mounting the servos. There still are some other half finished projects to work on ... coach lighting being one of them.

The wires were still sticking out, and also I did not like the use of 2 AAA batteries, since I would have to open the wagon to replace them when empty.

For the wires a couple of male and female standard gauge PCB pins came to rescue, they could be used as a mini-connector that hangs vertically in between the wagons.

For the batteries I found a few 3.7V LiPo accu's. They are a replacement part for a quadcopter. These batteries can stay inside the wagon while charging them via the wires that will stick out somewhere.

While browsing for the batteries I came across a digital multimeter for just 10,-. Although I already have a DMM, this one had some functions that my other has not. I could not resist and ordered one. Can this be any good quality? I'll have to wait and see.


More info and some images on the blog.



 

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RudyB
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #60 ·
Corrosion and ATF.

Today I again made a few test drives over some junction streets. With ultra low speeds there's a lot of light flickering and loco stutter, or even complete stops. Not good.

Using a standard eraser gum I polished 4 junctions and just some 20 cm of track. The image shows the result ... terrible amount of corrosion and/or black dust came off just these 4 junctions! (The visible top of the gum represents just 2 junctions, the other 2 had as many dirt at the invisible bottom side of the gum).

Apparently this is the amount of corrosion and/or black dirt that gathers while it lies in stock at the supplier, for an unknown period. Maybe when trains run around, corrosion build up is less because it is polished off by the wheels, and possibly also a polishing wagon? Anyhow ... the cleaning helped a lot. Alas will have to be repeated often I bet, after periods of no use.

I have read quite a bit about a 'wonder potion' called ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid). Everyone who used it, is very positive. There also is a lot of scepticism, but interesting enough that comes only from people who never used it themselves.

I think when I am at the point that the servos are mounted and trains can really drive around ... I first will polish all track thoroughly and then apply some ATF. I'll post here about the results. Does anyone here have good or bad experiences with ATF? Or with other cleaning methods?

 
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