Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March weathering madness

This month has been having another weathering contest.  I had sat out the February contest but this month I am in.   Between doing some DCC decoder installations and working on my contest entry I have not done much with the layout this month.

The theme for this months weathering contest is runner packs which was defined as any group of 3 to 4 cars, they don't necessarily have to be the same type.

My entry is going to be this 3 car set of Trainworx 46 ft general service drop bottom gondolas.  I heated and dented the side panels prior to the other standard weathering processes.

This months contest is particularly interesting because everyone seems to be entering different types of cars.  Here is a direct link to the thread for this weathering contest, it's worth a look.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Controlling power to staging yard tracks

Back in September in the post Control center for the staging yard I briefly mentioned  the circuit I built to turn each of the sidings in the staging yard ON and OFF simultaneously with the routing of the turnouts.  In the post I want to give more details on this.  I'm running DCC so why do I need to do this ?  At this point I've not really gotten my head around the JMRI / Panel Pro stuff and I would like to do some automation of some parts of the layout in the future.

This is the pair of circuit boards I made to switch power between each of the tracks of the yard.

The smaller board is a diode matrix and the larger one contains the latching circuits and relays.

This is the schematic drawing for the larger board, the 5 track power routing board  I realize this is 1970's technology but it works.  It's a larger version of one I built for the Peninsula Ntrak staging yard several years ago.  More recently I have written some code and successfully bench tested with LED's the same function with an Arduino Uno micro controller.

To make this work with an Arduino I will need to build a special shield board with the necessary relays, circuits to drive the relays, and terminal strip connections.  When I get a chance to work on that, I'll be sure to share it in a post.

The diode matrix is something that also is worthy of more explanation and that will be another future post.