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John Street - BR(E) - 1960 - Members Personal Layouts. - Model Railway Layouts. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Wed Sep 27th, 2017 09:05 am
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Dave C
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At long last, after a few weeks of doing very little (it was "summer" after all - what little there was of it!), the Terminus area has now had all its track laid and the track wiring completed and things are starting to look something like the plans. A few more minor changes to the layout have been made..... but that's another story. The turntable still has yet to be finally fitted and connected - that's a 'to do' for another day. A couple of buildings, taken from the old layout, have been added (generally for effect) but will form the basis of where they will be placed when the platforms get constructed.



The hidden sidings area has been completed together with "end-of-line" warning sensors and a strip of foam rubber across the track ends in case of over-runs - of which there will no doubt be quite a few! The turnout solenoids here have yet to be connected as are the frog connections. But it's getting there.

On the subject of solenoids - nothing has yet been wired to some form of activation switching. This I am still looking into. A bit late in the day you may query - but on the old layout I used a "pen and stud" method of switching but there were times when sparks were drawn from those studs on making (or is it breaking) contact and on that I'm none too keen to replicate. Possibly all that would be needed is a diode or two across the coils. I have seen a form of electronic switching using low voltage level switching and MOSFETs (with built-in diode protection) and it is this I am looking into at the moment. I just need to build up a prototype to drive a couple of solenoids and see how it performs. More on that later.

There's still quite a fair amount of wiring yet to be finished - DCC droppers mostly around the main trackwork. At the moment I'm largely relying on the good hearted nature of the rail joiners to provide connectivity in many places. All the track sections will have its own DCC feed at some stage in the near future. At the moment I'm happy to be able to run a train or two around the layout and now that the terminus is connected, I can run the full circuit, out and back again. The first train out will be the Black 5 pulling a rake of 3-coaches (plus a truck), currently sitting on Platform 2 in the photo above - departing very shortly.

Then there's the 12 volt supplies to the building lighting circuits and a 5 volt supply to the turnout switches for mimic and, later, signal logic stuff. All yet to be built. But we're getting there.......

More news as and when,
Cheers
Dave


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 Posted: Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 09:53 am
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Dave C
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As I mentioned in my last post, I would be looking into getting the turnout switching sorted and getting away from the previously used "pen & stud" method - which, as a sideline, drew plenty of sparks when contact was made between the two parts of the device.

The CDU currently in use is one of many very similar designs easily found on the web which gives a quick burst of power and then, effectively dies - putting only around 50mA into the coil until the coil is removed from the circuit, i.e. disconnected either via the (momentary) switch or contact. So, the spark I have been seeing is probably being made when the connection is initially made and not the removal of the power and the back-emf from the coil. Or maybe I was too fast to remove the stud and it was the back-emf I've been seeing.

Over the weekend I tried out a new scheme using a pair of MOSFETs to do the actual switching of the solenoid coils. The MOSFETs are driven by a low power 12volt supply via a simple ON-ON switch (nothing momentary of this type of switch) putting a pulse onto the Gate of the MOSFET. After blowing (destroying) one device, probably due to too high a Gate voltage being applied I finally got it going and it appears to work well. All mounted onto a small piece of stripboard measuring approx 25mm x 12mm (one inch x half inch in old money!) for the one turnout motor (Peco PL-10WE).



I can't claim originality for the circuit - it came from a design by Ken Stapleton, easily found on the web.

All I need to do now is to duplicate it across all 26 solenoids, mount it all on one piece of stripboard and then mount the switches (and indicator LEDs) onto a (yet to be built) mimic board.

Other than that, I've finally been able to run a few trains around the layout - the Black 5 was the first out, quickly followed by the DMU (strange how I missed operating the trains :cry:). The problem at the moment is I need relatively long arms to reach over and manually switch the turnouts as required!

Next job, after finishing the solenoid driver switching and mimic panel will be the turntable so I can turn around the arriving locos.

So much to do; but at least now that October has arrived, we're back into the modeling season into the run-up to the "C" word in a few months, and then summer to look forward to.

Cheers for now
Dave

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 Posted: Sat Oct 14th, 2017 07:18 pm
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Dave C
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What a couple of weeks there's been recently; not a lot of time to get anything really sorted in the train room. I seem to have been pfaffing rather than getting anything constructive done. There seems to be so much to do - and all of it required at the same time to get the next stage functioning.

The layout itself is up and running - which is good. A couple of decent running sessions have been had - if only to get a feel for it all.

The next stage is to get it electrically sorted. The connectivity of it all! A bit overwhelming at this stage.

The point solenoids are connected to a tag strip - and they operate ok using the old pen and stud method. These terminations will next connect to the MOSFET driver board and thence to the mimic panel where the points will be controlled by their respective switches as per the picture in the previous post. The CDU has been modified with a smaller reservoir capacitor plus the addition of a 12volt regulator for the MOSFET gate drive power.



Above, the photo shows the completed MOSFET driver board for the solenoids. All it needs now is the wiring to be added to the switches on the mimic board and to the solenoids track-side -  almost 100 separate wires! Also showing is the diode matrix for the 3-way points set in the hidden area (hopefully it'll work on the input rather than on the output as on the previous layout). As an aside, the photo was supposed to be displayed sideways on but Windows, in its superiority, decided not to rotate it after I rotated and saved it back it in the edit suite. One of the little idiosyncrasies I love about Windows :(

The building of the mimic panel seems to be the stumbling block at the moment. A backing-print of the layout is (more-or-less) prepared and this will be stuck onto a piece of hardboard as a rear panel and then spray varnished over to protect the inks. The various switches and LEDs will be fitted onto/through this following the appropriate drilling. Then a sheet of clear perspex will cover the LEDs and have holes created for the switch levers to poke through. Getting a method of mounting the mimic panel is a bit of an issue - but it's being worked on and should be ready when I can get some wood cut to length to support it all; some strips have already been cut and grooved with one still to cut (and one to re-cut due to it being cut 3mm short).

Then there needs to be some further thought on all the wires that will need to go between the mimic board, the MOSFET driver board and the layout itself (and the logic side of it all at a later date). So long as it doesn't end up like the rat's nest as on the previous layout then I'll be happy!

That's it for tonight - a long walk tomorrow with the local walking group - around 12miles or thereabouts, so no train stuff till at least Monday.

TTFN
Dave

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 Posted: Tue Dec 5th, 2017 12:55 pm
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Dave C
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It's been a very trying few weeks since my last update. If anything could go wrong, it seemed as if we got it! There was a major power surge in the street which blew out many appliances, most of which have now been replaced or repaired by the electric company concerned. A cable fault was the cause and damage was caused to equipment in 7 properties; fortunately none of it was train related here. Then there was a leak in the main cold water feed to the central heating boiler - seems like it had been leaking for some considerable time and it was only while preparing for a new carpet being fitted (painting of skirting boards, etc.) that it came to light. And, of course, it was in a none-too-accessible place to effect a quick and easy repair - and I'm not the world's best plumber by any stretch of the imagination. Then there were the normal and all-to-frequent hospital appointments. Roll on 2018 when, hopefully, things can settle down again.

Back to railway matters.....

The next stage of John Street is on its way to being been completed - the construction of, what some might consider, a small and possibly insignificant part of any layout - the mimic board. There's still a long way to go, but it is getting there, albeit slowly.

I had this idea of wanting to have a mimic board that was of a decent size so that the switches and indicators for around the Terminus area didn't appear to be cramped together and that it could be put out of the way when the layout wasn't actually in use. I arrived at the idea of making a grooved wooden mitred frame with a hardboard backing board to hold the switches and the LEDs together with a clear perspex cover to protect the 'diagram' all inset into the grooves in the framework and the whole thing put onto drawer runners held underneath the terminus. The idea took some while to come to fruition with many hours of playing around with various ideas in the back of my mind of how to put it all together. It still ended up with the make-it-up-as-you-go-along principle! (never fails).



The photo shows the frame on its runners and the image of the terminus (and the hidden sidings underneath) under the perspex cover but without any of the switches and LEDs that will be scattered across it all.

The frame has been given a coat of varnish to give it some protection from any knocks and bangs that might come its way. Under the frame itself has been added a plywood base, partly to protect the wiring and the LED leads under the mimic board, but also to add some additional space at the rear on which to place a PCB or two.

Some may consider all this as a bit of an over-kill for something so simple as a method of switching points and having some form of indication as to which way the points have been thrown - and also with signals repeater LEDs. But, in my mind, quite a lot of time is likely to be spent gazing at this and, therefore, it needs to be relatively pleasing to look at and easy to use.  My previous layout had nothing more than an offcut of white uPVC cladding, black marker pen lines and a number of holes drilled into it for the switches, etc.  It worked; but was not over-pleasing to the eye and there was far less on that board than there is (or will be) on this one - and the underneath....words can't describe the rat's nest of wires; nothing organized about it at all! Hopefully this board will be better organised.



This photo shows the MOSFET board for the solenoids with some of the wiring added. The CDU is currently in the process of being upgraded to supply a separate 12v line for the MOSFETs - the solenoids run from the full 20+ volts.

A secondary mimic panel has also to be put together - this will be another off-cut of redundant uPVC cladding (I never throw anything away) - but it will only have switches and indicators for the three points, those away from the main terminus area, and a couple of associated signal repeater LEDs. This will be screwed to the layout boarding closer to those points affected.

Right, back to the grind. Let's see what other disasters are heading out way!!!

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 Posted: Fri Dec 15th, 2017 08:04 pm
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Dave C
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After the past couple of weeks of being not able to face yet another bout of wiring and soldering, I thought it would be an idea to do a bit of scenery work. A change is as good as a rest, as they say.

From my original idea posted in item #39 back in August of having a short length of disused track disappearing into the wide blue (or should that be, green) yonder, I have now developed this into some form of reality. The line now veers off to the left and disappears into a blocked off tunnel mouth.



This is the basis of the idea - a tunnel mouth and some retaining walls with the line closed off with some large doors. The lineside hut, to the left, is a camouflaged points motor which had to be mounted above the baseboard due to a lack of space below (at least I think that was the theory at the time!). The track has been rusted over and some preparation made for the ballast to be added which will stop it from spreading too far from the track.



It's my first go at ballasting and I don't think too bad a job has been made of it - unless someone would care to advise otherwise. Some Woodland Scenics Raw Umber painted over the baseboard ready for the addition of some "greenery".



Not for from finished, this little corner of the layout. There's even a 'gate keeper' trying to shut the tunnel doors. All that's left now is to add the "hillside" above the tunnel mouth and away to the right and maybe a couple more lineside workers to add.

Feeling relatively pleased with it so far. Constructive criticism is always welcomed.

So it's still work in progress; some static grass may get added when I get hold of a suitable static machine (without spending a fortune for one! i.e. DIY).

Next ..... finish the hillside - or back to the soldering?

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 Posted: Sat Dec 16th, 2017 06:52 am
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Ed
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Looking good Dave :thumbs


Ed



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 Posted: Sat Dec 16th, 2017 12:26 pm
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sparky
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Regarding Dave,s requirement to switch points and have an indication by way of say an LED  or signal on track.  I suppose one would need a passing contact switch ,which at the end of the throw on each direction makes a normal  swich contact .  Does anyone know of such a switch ? of all the manufactures out there maybe someone would come up with that.



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 Posted: Sat Dec 16th, 2017 10:32 pm
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Sol
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sparky wrote: Regarding Dave,s requirement to switch points and have an indication by way of say an LED  or signal on track.  I suppose one would need a passing contact switch ,which at the end of the throw on each direction makes a normal  switch contact .  Does anyone know of such a switch ? of all the manufactures out there maybe someone would come up with that.

http://brian-lambert.co.uk/Electrical.html#One   describes one method for solenoids or use
http://www.heathcote-electronics.co.uk/point-indicator.html



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 Posted: Sat Dec 16th, 2017 11:01 pm
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sparky
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Morning Sol , Much of it i can follow ,which section deals with my situation?



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 Posted: Sat Dec 16th, 2017 11:52 pm
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Sol
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Reg,using a passing contact switch, then I would go for the Heathcote method,if you cannot fit a switch to the solenoid.



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 Posted: Sun Dec 17th, 2017 11:17 am
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Dave C
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Reg, Sol, and Sparky

Thanks for joining in the discussion on the mimic points indicators. Not sure if this will help Sparky's question though, but for what it's worth.....

The method I use is with Peco points (either electrofrog and/or insulfrog) with PL15 (double) switches added - one switch is used for switching the 'frog', the other switch for the mimic indicators. It also makes use of a single wire back from the point indicator switch to the mimic board.

I use a positive supply (either +12v or +5v, which ever is your preference) to one side of the switch and ground (0v) to the other side. The switch blade then feeds back to the mimic board and goes to the centre of two LEDs wired in series between the positive supply and ground. Then depending on which way the switch is made, one of the LEDs will light. Not forgetting of course the current limiting resistors in series with each of the LEDs, as per the quick diagram below:



This diagram shows the point switch where the positive supply feeds to the top of the lower LED, lighting this one. Had the switch being in the lower half, to the 0v line, the top LED would be lit. Incidentally, it would be essential to use the same voltage throughout, i.e. to the point switch AND to the LEDs (not made clear on the diagram - too quickly drawn up!).

I have now decided to use a +5v supply to one side of the switch as the switch blade also feeds nicely into some logic circuitry (using PICAXE chips) as it gives me a logic "1" or "0" to allow some determination as to whether I get a green "OFF" signal depending on whether an exit route is fully setup, or not. But this has no effect on the wiring to the mimic LEDs - it's just an added complication that I've added over and above the basic mimic indicators.

The method I use for switching the points solenoids is taken from Ken Stapleton's 751D diagram, see previous post #42 and http://www3.sympatico.ca/kstapleton3/751D.HTM. The reason behind this was, on my previous layout, I was using the stud and probe method of switching the points and I was dismayed at all-to-often having sparks at the point of contact between the stud and the probe at the moment of contact. I think that this sort of spark would be generated irrespective of the type of (momentary) mechanical switch in use; hence I opted for the solid state method and a low voltage (+12v), low current simple single-throw single-pole changeover switch (not "momentary" type) and which now doesn't have the sparking issue. I measured the current at the switch and it was very, very low (milliamps) as opposed to the relatively high current drawn by the solenoid itself - something in the order of 2amps or more. The MOSFETs being used are rated at 7amps continuous (31A peak) and are more than capable of switching the sort of current required by the solenoids.

Yes, it's more expensive, and yes, it's more complex but I'm happier with it and without the sparks, which I am sure would, over time, cause problems with the mechanical switches themselves. My posts #42 and #43 shows my stripboard layout for a multiple of these solenoid switch circuits, (25 of them).

But I think I digress from the initial query regarding the mimic indicators.

I hope this helps. My view is there's no "right" or "wrong" way to do things, just so long as they work and they work for you.

Dave


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 Posted: Sun Dec 17th, 2017 01:10 pm
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sparky
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Thanks Sol and Dave .  Full time carer at the moment ,but will get on to the points/signals asap.
Looks like an answer there . Thanks again.



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 Posted: Tue Dec 19th, 2017 10:06 pm
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Dave C
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Decision (from post #45) made - do I continue with a bit of scenery around the disused track - or finish off the wiring?

In view that I want to get hold of some (flexible-ish) wire mesh before I do the scenery stuff, I've decided to have a go at finishing the wiring. Problem is, there's that much junk built up under the layout, it is now difficult to get to anything where I need to work - and there's very little space to move the 'junk' elsewhere in the room.

It makes sense to finish the wiring though as it will make the layout operation activities that much easier; instead of manually changing the point directions by hand, it'll be done at the flick of a switch with an immediate view of the track direction. The switch will give me an indication of direction, but an LED is far easier to see and spot an error in route selection/setup. As mentioned previously, the switches are simple change-over (not momentary) switches (SPST).

Part of the wiring has been done in the past day or so, in so far as the wiring of the frogs in the hidden sidings. I still can't switch to any of those tracks yet as the solenoids have yet to be wired. Should have done this months ago! But life is never that simple or straight forward and I'm easily sidetracked to something else.

Note to Self - "must keep focused on the job in hand".

As this will probably be my last post before Christmas, allow me to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a hope that 2018 will be kind to us all.

Dave

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