Friday, May 27, 2016

A Few Words about the 21 Pin Decoder Interface and an Interesting Afternoon

The 21 Pin Decoder Interface

Here is a well written report which backs up my ongoing dislike of this 21 pin decoder interface debacle and the growing use in Australian locomotives by some of our manufacturers.

The only locomotive (Auscision 45 Class) I have bought that had this connector no longer has it.
The other aspect of 21 pin decoders that I don't like is that they are restricted to 4 outputs for lights, not enough by any stretch of the imagination.

An Interesting Afternoon

Linton Towelly visited Bylong yesterday afternoon with his latest ESU Loksound 4 diesel sound project loaded into a 442 Class. In my opinion Linton has taken a more sensible approach to the problem of notching in diesels.

As you may know, ESU has just announced a diesel sound flow template called ‘Full Throttle’ which attempts to replicate notching but which requires the use of about 4 more function buttons to achieve this. Given that most existing cabs have perhaps 8 or 9 function buttons available conveniently and that a number of these are relatively ‘standard’ it seems inevitable that the use of the higher number function buttons will be required, hence the awkwardness of using it. Of course, I have previously referred to the manual notching of ESU Loksound 4 diesel sound flow templates as playing a musical instrument and I believe now that with ‘Full Throttle’ the instrument has become a piano.

One good aspect of the ‘Full Throttle’ sound template is that it now has a working brake.

Now back to Linton’s sound flow template. Linton downloaded the new ESU ‘Full Throttle’ sound template for an EMD 645E for his NSWR 422 Class and then proceeded to remove the diesel motor sound drive flow chart that controls the notching but retaining the other aspects such as the braking.
Linton has previously produced a sound flow template for a XPT which has only 5 notches.

Expanding and modifying this template Linton has produced an eight notch template as used by most diesels. When Linton deleted the sound flow for the motor drive this action didn’t delete the sound files of the motor so he was able to use these in his motor sound drive flow.

The end result is very nicely implemented and although I haven’t driven a diesel (Linton used to drive them) I feel that his implementation seems to be much more like the real thing than the new ESU ‘Full Throttle’.

Now how does it work?

When the throttle is increased the diesel motor sound starts to notch up and will continue to notch up until it reaches notch eight unless the throttle setting is reduced by 1 speed step at which point it will hold at the particular notch running when this throttle adjustment happens. If the throttle is then reduced again by 1 speed step the diesel motor will start to notch back down. If the speed step is increased the notching will increase to the previous level and another speed step increase will have the notching increase again until of course it gets to notch eight. Now keep in mind that this may happen at very low speed steps, e.g. 2 or 3 which means that the loco can be put into notch eight while hardly moving (heavy train). The same actions at higher throttle speed steps can produce the same effects meaning that once moving at a good speed the throttle can be reduced slightly and the diesel motor sound will drop back into a coasting phase. All this can be achieved without hardly changing the actual moving speed of the locomotive and just by using the throttle, no function buttons to remember, find and press for different aspects of the ESU ‘Full Throttle’ implementation.

I should have taken a video of the 422 in action going up and down the 1 in 40 grades on Bylong with a full train but I was having too much fun driving it and didn’t think of doing a video. Linton designed this motor drive sound flow chart using 28 speed steps but tests on Bylong showed that it also worked on the 128 speed step range of the throttle.

For those who haven’t seen the videos, here are two videos that Linton posted on a couple of Facebook groups recently in which he explains what he has achieved. You may need to turn up the volume a bit.

I hope that I have explained the way Linton’s notching works correctly but I think that you will get what I mean after watching the videos.

Part A:

Part B:

In the Part B video there is also an explanation of how Linton has the dynamic brake working, very nice. The dynamic brake doesn’t actually brake the locomotive speed though but it does go through all the sound changes that the real diesels do, of course the working brake could be used to replicate some actual braking I guess.

Overall a very enjoyable and interesting afternoon with Linton.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

An Explanation of my Modified Eureka Models NSWGR D50 Lighting

Like all other QSI decoder controlled locomotives, by default the dynamo/generator and headlights, etc. come on when power is applied . This is to turn on the lights for the DC people and QSI won't step back from that (I think it is in the underlying code). The annoying thing about that is that you need to switch off the dynamo sound and lights when powering up in DCC as our steam locos didn't run with lights on during the daytime.

However, the Eureka Models D50 has been set up so that the dynamo is on Function 1 which is the default Bell button and the NSWGR didn't have bells on their locomotives of course. So as the 'spare' function button was handy Eureka Models requested that the dynamo be placed on the F1 button and that it actually controlled the lights.

So when powering up on DCC the dynamo will come on so just press Function 1. On a NCE cab it is the Bell Button - also on NCE I have to hit the Bell button (F1) once to turn it on then once turn it off and the dynamo winds down (the DCC system doesn't know that the function is on in the D50). Now, once the dynamo is switched off and runs down, if you turn on any lighting nothing happens. You have to run the dynamo first then the lights can be turned on. So very prototypical.

The QSI Titan has 10 outputs for lighting and as such it can be configured to have separately controlled pairs of marker lights. Unfortunately not totally separate markers so that you can operate correctly when the loco/train is in a passing loop, etc. I suppose that you could add a Function only decoder to get the extra outputs.

The problem with all these outputs is that most DCC cabs (throttles) have a restricted number of Function buttons available on the faceplate of the cab. I don't know about other brands but the NCE cabs have 12 functions on the faceplate and can access all 28 functions by pressing the Shift button and the Headlight at the same time. One press gives you the next band of function numbers and another press gives you the final band up to F28. Yet another press returns to the base functions.

So you could imagine that having a headlight, maybe a rear headlight, 4 separate white marker lights, 4 separate red marker lights, a cab light, a light behind the funnel (D59s, AD60s), a light on the tender (C38s), firebox glow and maybe a couple of under footplate lights would mean a lot of buttons that won't be available on the faceplate of any brand of cab.

Now, I have been trying to work out a suitable function list for those functions (up to F12) on the faceplate of my NCE cabs.

This is where I am now after modifying the Eureka D50 lighting.

F0 - Headlight
F1 - Dynamo (NCE Bell button)
F2 - Whistle
F3 - Front White Marker Lights
F4 - Front Red Marker Lights
F5 - Rear Red Marker Lights
F6 - Rear White Marker Lights
F7 - Brake
F8 - Mute
F9 - Dimmer
F10 - Cab Light
F11 - Swap to Alternate Whistle (QSI feature)
F12 - Vacant

I am considering moving the dynamo to F12 and putting a short whistle User Sound on F1 (NCE Bell) to align with my Soundtraxx Tsunami equipped locomotives that have a short whistle. I also have four ESU Loksound 4 decoders in steam locomotives that have short whistles on F1 for the same reason. I find that to get a short whistle on the D50 requires a very crisp, sharp button press and I often get the long whistle particularly when I am doing three short whistles to indicate the D50 is about to reverse. I will test this on the D50 and see how it goes.

The QSI Titan has two available sound 'slots' for user sounds and each of these can have three sound files allocated. Why three? A whistle for instance has a start file, a looping file and an end file. This is a very handy feature, for instance a nice recording of a single stage air compressor from one of our locomotives would be a nice replacement for the D50 one which is OK but it is always fun to fiddle with things.

By now it may be noticed that I have got rid of sounds on the base functions. I have a particular dislike of sounds that can't be heard on a real locomotive from the scale 200 - 300 feet distance that our ears are from the model. I also don't like the idea of playing a 'musical instrument' while operating the locomotive. I have also eliminated the QSI F6 Start Up and the F9 Shut Down (when stopped) as the Shut Down can cause problems in the hands of the uninitiated. The F9 Sound of Power that can be triggered when moving so that the throttle is used to change to the volume (working hard, drifting) was also eliminated. While some sounds may be valid, blower, injectors and the like, they are intermittent and can be allocated to the higher functions.

My only move into the higher functions at the moment is to put Volume Decrease on F13 and Volume Increase on F14.

For those interested in diesels here are my thoughts on the same function range:

F0 - Headlight / Rear Headlight (On/Off control and auto reversing)
F1 - Short Horn (NCE Bell button)
F2 - Horn
F3 - Front White Marker Lights
F4 - Front Red Marker Lights
F5 - Rear Red Marker Lights
F6 - Rear White Marker Lights
F7 - Brake
F8 - Mute
F9 - Dimmer
F10 - Number Boards
F11 - Swap to Alternate Whistle or User Sound file(s)
F12 - Dynamic Brakes when moving

Well, at the moment this is the stage I have got to in my ongoing search for more realism in lighting and operation.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Adjusting the Lighting on a Eureka Models D50 Class - A Bit of a Re-wire.

Eureka Models D50 Class 5274 pauses at Wollar
Taking a rest in Wollar back platform road
D50 with cab light and crew
The Eureka Models D50 Class NSWGR steam locomotive is very nice and sounds good however the Chinese manufacturer changed the originally specified 8 pin tender to locomotive connection to a 7 pin JST one. This was found when the running engineering sample arrived, so short of costing a lot more to have the chassis dies reworked to fit an 8 pin JST style plug/socket the final production has the 7 pin JST.

Now what this meant was that the headlight and the white front marker lights were then tied together electrically.

I decided that there should be a way to correct this situation and what follows is how I did it.

I will say though that this is no easy exercise and you will need very good soldering skills if you attempt it.

I take no responsibility if you end up with a dead QSI Titan decoder as a result of doing this, you will see why later in the post.

I have to say that the D50 comes apart very easily but is engineered almost too well in that I needed to get a single wire for the white front marker light LED into the locomotive from the tender and there is almost no way in. But, the white 7 pin JST connector sitting in the rear of the die cast chassis has just enough wriggle room to allow a single fine decoder size wire to enter the locomotive.

To remove the locomotive body I will refer you to Marcus Ammann's web site where he shows how.

The first step once the body is off the chassis is to remove the smokebox from the boiler to give access to the front lighting. The smoke box is plastic and was made this way to reduce the weight forward of the front driving wheels so that the traction would not be affected. First, the funnel must be removed and this is plugged into the smoke box so just carefully pull it upwards. Note that the plug in arrangement is rectangular and is offset so note which way yours is as the funnel can go on two ways. One way makes it represent a Beyer Peacock locomotive and the other makes it a North British one, very clever.

Next, carefully pull out the handrail posts from the smokebox, they will remain on the handrail. Once all handrail posts are out lift the handrail at the front enough to clear the headlight, you won't bend the wire as it is springy. With the handrail clearing the headlight slide the smokebox upwards off the boiler then out to the front.

Removing the smokebox
In the smokebox there is a small circuit board for the front lights. This board sits in a slot on each inner side of the smokebox and is held in place with a small amount of glue. The board needs to come out so carefully use a jewellers screwdriver under the board on each side and gently lever the board upwards and it will come away. Slide the board out carefully and note that the headlight LED is wired to the board. There is just enough wire to give access to the board.

Now, as shown in the following photo, cut the trace to the middle resistor marked R4 I guess it was, sorry that I didn't take note. I simply used a scriber to cut through the existing trace which insulates it from the headlight.

Smokebox lighting circuit board - L shaped trace cut
The wire for the front white marker light will be soldered to the rear of the resistor that was just insulted from the headlight (where the R number is missing). The SMD (Surface Mount Device) resistors on this front board are 102 which is 1K Ohm. But the resistors in the tender are 150 Ohm. I think that this might have happened as 1K Ohm is normally used on a +12v common but this decoder is wired using a +5v common even though a +12v common is available on the decoder. Very odd?

The three large soldered contacts on the left hand end are for three plungers that contact a small circuit board on the chassis when the smokebox is in place. This is a clever way to get the power to the front lights and allow access but unfortunately we need to bring the wire for the front white marker lights onto this board. This will be done by adding a small plug and socket into the wire close to the smoke box to allow disassembly later if required. I made the plug and socket from a integrated circuit socket that I got from Jaycar Electronics. This IC socket strip can also be used.

Making plugs and sockets
Use a pair of transistor nippers and clip away the plastic leaving two metal pins. The pin on one fits into the hole on the other one so we just need to solder the wire into the hole on one and the pin on the other then insulate with heat shrink tubing and we have an in-line plug and socket.

Using purple decoder wire cut enough wire to run from the rear of the tender to the front of the loco, it can be trimmed later. Now solder the plug and socket into the wire with about 50mm going to the white front marker light resistor on the small front circuit board, add heat shrink tubing as per the following photo and solder the short wire to the resistor.

Now the wire needs to be threaded under the motor and gear box (yes, there is a way through just look carefully at the photos - too hard to explain) and out the rear.

Running the purple wire
The next thing is to unscrew the plastic cover and remove the small rear circuit board to gain access to where the purple wire needs to run under it so that it can exit the loco beside the white 7 pin JST connector.

Rear loco circuit board before rewiring
It was at this point that I decided to add a cab light - just to make it all a bit more complicated. If you don't want to do this then skip the next part.

If a cab light is being fitted then follow the next part.

For the cab light I needed a blue common wire so as can be seen there is a connection on the rear circuit board. I soldered a short piece of blue decoder wire to the contact with the existing blue wire and threaded through the hole as per the photo following.

Rear loco circuit board rewired with a blue common for the cab LED
The rear circuit board can now be screwed back in place making sure that the purple wire exits next to the white 7 pin JST connector.

Rear view of loco - Blue common wire and purple front marker light wire
The cab has a removable floor and cab seat moulding that will just slide out the back of the cab so remove it.

In the cab I used a 0603 SMD warm white LED that I obtained from ebay with leads already attached.

I glued the LED onto the inner roof in line with the rear of the cab sides. I don't know if this is the correct place or not as I couldn't find any photos showing the placement. I then glued the leads across the underside of the roof to the front corners (one corner each), then down the corner to under the floor. Be very careful not to get glue on the chassis as you don't want to glue the locomotive body to the chassis.

Once the glue has set I very carefully soldered the blue common to the correct LED wire.

Locomotive cab light wiring
I then soldered a purple wire that I had painted white bands on to the other LED wire. I then insulated the solder joints with some 'liquid electrical tape' from Jaycar. Once the insulation had dried I carefully curled the wires and pushed the floor and seat moulding back in place.

The locomotive body can now be reassembled.

The mounting of the smokebox is a reversal of taking it off but getting the handrail posts back into their respective holes can be a challenge as on the drivers side there are five in a row very close together. It can be done but you just have to persevere when four are in and the fifth is difficult and suddenly three come out! Refit your funnel the correct way as mentioned earlier.

Now it is necessary to make up two sets of the plug and socket in-line connections as made earlier for the purple wire at the smokebox. These will go into the purple wire and the purple and white striped wire (for cab light) but inside the tender out of the way. There isn't enough room for them between the locomotive and tender below the running board, I found out the hard way.

OK, that was the easy part, now comes the interesting soldering challenge.

Please study the following photo and note that there are three wires soldered onto the tiny contacts on the QSI Titan decoder circuit board at the rear of the JST connectors, one at the lower left (tender front and two at the middle of the back JST connector.

Extra Titan decoder wiring for the lights
The problem is that the Chinese manufacturer has only wired the JST plugs connecting to the Titan decoder with just the wires needed and because of this there are no metal contacts inside the JST plugs to plug the wires into. The other problem is all the wires are black!

Here is a wiring table I have drawn up that shows both the default QSI Titan decoder connections and the wiring additions and changes that have to be made. You MUST study and understand this wiring diagram.

QSI uses the term Port for the outputs that control lights, etc.

Please note that the QSI Titan decoder has a +5v and a +12v common. The D50 LEDs are using the +5v common not the +12v common normally used.

I initially tried to reprogram the marker lights to change the way they operate, e.g. by default the red rear markers are on when moving forwards with a train, but when trying to reprogram them I found an anomaly with the rear white lights that would be on at times when it shouldn't. It might have been my programming or QSI may have made a non-standard change to the programming. The way I fixed this was to rewire the white rear marker lights to a different lighting output Port.

View of rear circuit board in tender showing White marker light connection - W
The wire for the rear white marker lights connected to the W contact on the small circuit board at the rear of the tender is black as is all the wiring in the locomotive as it comes. This is very confusing but I have seen this previously in other locomotives from a variety of Chinese manufacturers.

This black wire goes to Port 2 which is on Pin 4 on the front JST connector, Pin 1 is at the bottom of the left hand (front of tender) JST connector in the photo above labelled 'Extra Titan decoder wiring for the lights'. From memory the black wire goes under the Titan decoder to a resistor and the black wire then goes to the front JST connector to Pin 4. I cut the black wire on the decoder side of the resistor, removed the heat shrink, soldered on a red wire as that is what is the default colour (see wiring diagram) and slipped on some heat shrink to cover the exposed solder joint. This red wire (about to be the wrong colour!) was then soldered very carefully to Pin 8 (this is also Port 8) on the decoder circuit board inboard of the rear JST connector. Now these contacts are only about 0.5mm wide with about a 0.5mm gap to the next contact so you must use a fine point on your soldering iron and solder it quickly, you may need some extra non-corrosive flux to assist as the flux in the core of the fine solder you will use will burn away quickly.

Next is the purple wire for the front white marker lights, Make up the plug and socket, solder into the purple wire inside the tender and insulate with heat shrink (my photo shows the plug below the tender, later moved inside). Now, there is a 1K Ohm resistor in the small smokebox circuit board for the front white marker lights but I put another 150 Ohm into the purple wire (can't remember why now as it isn't really needed). I soldered the resistor directly to the Pin 1 (Port 4) connection at the back of the front JST connector.

The last connection is the purple and white wire for the cab light. Once again make up the in-line plug and socket and insulate with heat shrink. I used a 1K Ohm resistor in this wire to protect the cab light LED. Now, this wire is to be soldered to Pin 7 (this is also Port 7) on the inboard connection of the rear JST connector right next to the previously soldered red wire (see above photo). Here you must be very careful with the soldering, it is very easy to bridge the contacts with solder which must not happen. DO NOT apply any power to the decoder if any contacts are bridged with solder or you could "let the smoke out".

If everything is done correctly you can now put the tender back together.

With all the above wiring and Port changes the decoder has to be re-programmed to make the lights work correctly.

I have a QSI Programmer and I would suggest that you get one (or borrow one from a friend) as they make things a lot easier. The program that works with the programmer is CV Manager which can be downloaded from the QSI Solutions web site.

Interestingly, the QSI CV Manager program can be used with a NCE Command Station as there is an option to chose between the QSI programmer and the NCE command station. I am not sure if it would work with a NCE PowerCab though.

Here is my modified Eureka Models D50 file for the CV Manager which you load into the CV Manager program and then write all of the CV tab pages one at a time, it will take a while but it is the safest way.

One advantage of using the QSI programmer is that there are sliders in CV Manager to adjust the brightness of the LEDs and this is useful due to the different resistors used on the locomotive and the tender and to adjust the cab light right down low if you have fitted one. If you use the resistors as I have then this adjustment is already done in the CV Manager D50 file of mine.

Of course you will need to enter the long address locomotive number when you program that tab page.

If you use JMRI then the Eureka Models D50 is in the latest version but I found that not all the light outputs are available to program just the ones in the D50 as it comes. There are a few more actually available on the decoder as they show in the QSI CV Manager. I used the Rear Cab Light set to Port 8 (CV 115.118.0 set to a value of 8) but it is one of the missing light outputs so doesn't appear in the JMRI Eureka D50 file. I believe that Dave Heap did this D50 JMRI file so perhaps he could add the extra lighting outputs in case someone wants to do some more light outputs.

As there are now two wires running between the locomotive and tender they can't easily be separated (in-line plugs are out of the way in the tender). Using a button die set purchased from Jaycar in 2014, I used a 2mm button die to cut a thread onto the end of the metal drawbar post on the tender for about 1.5mm. I unscrewed the post from the tender prior to cutting the thread. I then screwed on a 2-56 nut (of course a 2mm nut will work) one of several that I have had for many years, this nicely keeps everything together.

Well, this is a complicated rewire so, good luck if you decide to take this on.

Eureka Models D50 5163 drifting down grade towards Cox's Gap

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Some New Signals and Another Shapeways 3D Printing Deal

A week or so ago I received an email from Shapeways about another deal, this time to save US$10 off your first order using a code if you follow me as a designer. The deal is available until 15 April so you would need to act soon if you want to take up the offer.

On the title of my Signals Branch shop there is a Follow link.
Apparently, you can follow a designer on Shapeways and I suppose you would get an email when the designer uploads something new.
Here are a several new items I have recently made available in my Signals Branch shop.

A HO Fine Detail Distant signal in Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) to complement the 27 foot, 23 foot, 18foot and 16 foot single arm signals already available. See the Fine Detail Signals section of the shop. These signal posts come with the signal arm and detail parts, it isn't necessary to order them separately. However the under baseboard operating mechanism is to be ordered as well and glued to the underside of the signal post base. The Short 1 Arm Signal Mechanism is the cheapest option.

HO Fine Detail Distant Signal with added fine printed ladder
Short 1 Arm Signal Mechanism - Required for a Fine Detail Signal
A pair of HO Signal Ladders in FUD for the HO Fine Detail Signals and also to replace the ladders on the original HO White Strong and Flexible HO 'standard' detail signals. These ladders are quite fine but are still reasonably robust in that they will bend a fair bit. The ladders are on the Distant Signal in the above photo.
 A 7mm Scale Distant signal in White Strong and Flexible (WSF) to complement the 27 foot, 23 foot, 18foot and 16 foot single arm signals already available. See the 7mm Scale section of the shop.
7mm Scale Distant Signal - White Strong and Flexible material - Added FUD ladder
A pair of 7mm Scale Signal Ladders in FUD for the 7mm Scale signals. These are quite fine but are still reasonably robust in that they will bend a fair bit. The ladders are on the Distant Signal in the above photo.

A sprue of 7mm Scale Distant signal detail parts in Frosted Ultra Detail acrylic material to use instead of the WSF parts supplied with the signal.

Frosted Ultra Detail signal parts - Only required if you want crisper detail parts

Here is the wording from the Shapeways email:

“You've made Shapeways the place for creative people to swap ideas and share cutting edge, innovative designs. So why not invite your friends to join your community? When they follow you on Shapeways, they'll see all the mind-blowing products you're designing and sharing on the site.

And like a good friend, you know how to make someone feel welcome. In this case, by giving your friends $10 off their first order with the code: kz9p7. (Pssst, you also get $10 off for each friend who uses the code!)

Here's how it works:

  1. Invite your friends to follow you on Shapeways.
  2. Which your friends do, because how can they resist seeing all the cool stuff you're doing and sharing?
  3. And, bonus!, they can use promo code: kz9p7 that saves them $10 on their first order placed by 15 April.
  4. You get treated like a hero for introducing them to Shapeways.
  5. And, double bonus!, at the end of April, YOU get $10 off for EACH friend who used the coupon to place an order. So if 5 of your friends order, that's $50 for you. 10 friends = $100. And 30 friends...well, you can do the math.”

So follow me on Shapeways and save $10 on your first order with the code kz9p7

Of course, I don’t mind getting a few $10 credits.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Another Method for making a ‘Chuff Cam’

Sometime ago I did a post on how I make ‘chuff cams’ for model steam locomotives using Super Glue (ACC).
Erik Bennett sent me an email recently with his method so I asked him if he minded if I posted on the blog. As a result with Erik’s agreement here is his method for setting up a ‘chuff cam’ on a model steam locomotive.

Hi Ray,
I’ve put chuff cams in a number of locos, previously using a piece of 35mm film negative, cut to shape and superglued to the back of the wheel.

I saw your blog a few months ago where you described the technique of painting superglue on the back of the wheel.

Knowing how hard superglue is when it sets, I thought it a great technique and decided to try it on my next loco.
Well, I just finished a loco and it works great.

So, thank you for posting your superglue technique.

For info, I modified your method slightly and offer it here as an additional method:

I found it a bit tricky to get a clean edge when free-painting using the pencil mark method.

So I cleaned the superglue off my early attempts and cut 4 identical strips of adhesive tape.

The strips were about 3/4 the radius of the wheel in length and wide enough so that four strips gave four equal make & break sequences.
I actually used Tamiya painting tape and put 4 bits on top of each other on a pane of glass, then did my cuts.

Bearing in mind that the chuff sound is made on the break (not the make), I marked on the wheel where the break should be in relation to the pickup contact when the rods are TDC (Top Dead Centre - RP) as the wheel rotates forward.
I positioned the first strip radially outwards so its trailing edge was aligned with this mark. The longish length of tape makes it easy to align radially.

I then positioned the other three equidistant around the wheel.
Then I painted superglue as evenly as I could in the bare spaces between the strips.

I let it dry for a day, removed the tape and gently smoothed any raised edge where the superglue had interfaced with the tape.

I ended up with 4 nice tough break surfaces!  And nice chuff sounds when the engine runs, synchronised with the rods.
So thanks once again; your method is much easier than the 35mm film.

Best regards,

Thank you Erik it is nice to get feedback about the blog and I am glad it got you thinking to come up with this more sophisticated version of the ‘chuff cam’.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Free Shapeways Shipping Offer and 7mm Scale Clearance Posts with Lamps

Shapeways has announced via an email I received today that "Starting March 7, we'll be offering Free Shipping on all orders over $25 through to March 13. No code needed! Even better, you can take advantage of this deal as many times as you can from Monday March 7 through Sunday March 13".

There is nothing on the Shapeways site at the moment so the dates are probably US/EU dates so perhaps wait a day or so before ordering.

It appears that when you are placing an order shipping simply won't be added.

So if you place an order and then realise that you wanted something else any other orders will have the free shipping as well.

This is a good way to save about AU$20 on shipping (US$15).

Of course I won't mind if you buy something from my Shapeways Signals Branch shop.  ;-)

Now what do I want?

New Addition to the 7mm Scale Range

7mm Scale Clearance Posts with Lamps have been added to my Signals Branch Shapeways Shop since my last post, these are printed in Frosted Ultra Detail material and have been designed so that a 3mm LED can be inserted into the bottom of the baseboard mounting to have them lit.

View from below

3D drawing

Shapeways Frosted Ultra Detail Render

Of course these clearance posts with lamps are also available in HO on my Signals Branch Shapeways Shop.

Sorry for these types of posts, the 3D designing and printing has kept me sane over the last 12 months.

I will get back to the usual type of posts soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Back again after my longest break in posts

I felt I had to take a break from posting on the blog so please accept my apologies. At home here we are coming up to 12 months since we lost our lovely daughter Kirsty and the last few months have been difficult for Chris, Bonnie, her boys and myself.

I have tried to keep my interest in the hobby going more as a distraction than anything else, the layout has had nothing done to it since March last year, but it will return to the blog.

So inevitably I have been working on some 3D printing stuff as the mental exercise works well.

As mentioned in previous posts I was working on several projects that have now been made available on my Signals Branch Shapeways Shop.

With apologies for the repeated photos, these items are:

  • NSWGR A Frames in HO and 7mm Scales (point rodding supports from lever frames).
7mm Scale A Frames (HO track behind)

HO A Frames - Still to be glued in place
  • A range of Fine Detail HO signals in Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) and so far I have single arm 16ft - 30 inch arm, 18ft - 30 inch arm, 23ft - 36 inch arm and 27ft - 39 inch arm signals, more signals and arm types will follow as I find the time to draw them up.
HO A Frames and high resolution FUD signal
  • NSWGR 1924 Derail in HO, a track arrangement at the end of a siding where it meets a main line to prevent wagons from fouling the main line. The plan below is also available on my Signals Branch Blog in the Links section.

  • NSWGR 1936 Catch Point in HO, a more complicated version of the Derail with a moveable rail and a catch point indicator (a ground signal). The plan below is also available on my Signals Branch Blog in the Links section.

  • NSWGR Catch Point Indicator in HO and 7mm Scale that can be made to work from a rod to the moving catch point blade.

7mm Scale Pilot Model Test Print
  • A range of 7mm Scale signals in White Strong and Flexible (WSF) and so far I have single arm 16ft - 30 inch arm, 18ft - 30 inch arm, 23ft - 36 inch arm and 27ft - 39 inch arm signals, more signals and arm types will follow as I find the time to draw them up.

'Proof of Concept' trial 7mm Scale 23ft signal
The above 7mm Scale signal  doesn't represent what is available as more detail has been added along with a couple of minor corrections.

More information and instructions for the above items can be found at my Signals Branch Blog.

Now a Possible Challenge for the N Scale Modellers

I have recently received a 3D print of a NSWGR 23ft signal as a 'Proof of Concept' trial.

The signal would be a challenge to assemble as it requires drilling some holes with a 0.3mm drill bit (smallest drill bit I know of) and using 0.008" (0.2mm) phosphor bronze wire from Tichy Train Group (Part #1100 - 10 lengths) as the operating wire. The modeller will have to have a steady hand and good eye sight.

One thing became obvious and that is that the counter weight lever on the post is probably going to have to be static with the operating wire coming up from the mechanism below to the arm. The reason for this is that holes to be drilled in the lever for the pivot and operating wires would mean that the lever would have be thickened too much and would look very wrong. The amount of movement it would go through would be quite small and also the holes being 0.3mm and the operating wire being 0.2mm the slop could cause operating difficulties. I am not sure how this can be got around for bracket signals, I will have to think about that.

The trial signal arm is pivoting on a brass pin and the usual method of printing the pivot shaft with the signal was not good as the shaft broke easily, more to think about.

Of course the signal could be made non-working.

Anyway at the moment the possibility of adding N Scale signals to my Signals Branch Shop at Shapeways is a reasonable bet unless I run into some problem I can't solve.

Now just to show that it can be made to work here is a video:

I hope that this post has been of some interest.