Sunday, January 24, 2021

Palisade Ranch is shaping up

It's been a few posts since I have directly mentioned any progress on the current layout expansion and a lot has been done since then so I thought it was time for an update.    Almost all of the land forms along about 4-1/2 linear feet of the layout under construction have been completed.  The building of the mountain side that the tunnels go into will be done after the track has been installed and tested.

Bridge abutments have been made and installed for the two bridges near the Palisade Tunnels.   I did something a little different in finishing these bridge abutments and the details of that will be in a future post. 

Much of the scenery along the back edge of the area is almost done and the concrete trestle has been installed.   The front edge will have to wait until I can get some more tempered hard board for the fascia. 

The track assemblies for both those bridges have been finished.  The bridge in the photo below will have Micro Engineering bridge track with guard rails.  The other bridge will use Central Valley bridge ties put into a section of Micro Engineering track.

Monday, January 18, 2021

A layout video of sorts

Having always enjoyed seeing layout videos I wanted to create some for my own layout.  What has kept me from doing this was that I could not find a video editor that was easy enough for me to use.  Over the past several years I had tried several both purchased and free and I found them all rather hard to learn and tedious to use. 

As a sort of new years resolution I was determined to try again to find something I could use.  After looking at a few more editor programs I found something called Shotcut.  It was a free download but what made it work for me were the many tutorial videos on youtube that are presented by many different people.  After finding some presenters that spoke in an understandable way and did not go too fast, I was able to go back and forth between the program the video tutorials until I caught on.

Not having any good videos of the layout right now I put together as a first project a short slide show of still photos including captions and some background music.  This allowed me to practice working with most of the same functions that would be in an actual video.  When this current layout expansion is done and the main line is opened I plan to get some videos.  So here's the link to the video slideshow:


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Electrical considerations for a lift bridge

When adding a removable section of tracks to span a gap in the layout such as the entry door to the layout room some thought has to be given to a few problems. 

How will any needed wiring pass through the bridge ?

My train room was built in the back half of a garage that is about 70 years old.  The concrete floor was in poor enough condition that I elected to build a raised floor which ended up being about 9 inches above the concrete garage floor.   Anticipating that layout wiring may need to span across the doorway I included a 1 inch diameter electrical conduit that connects each side of the doorway.  This conduit travels down the wall on each side and under the ramp that leads from the garage floor at the door up to the raised floor if the layout room

A pull line had been left in this conduit when it was installed so it was easy to pull in an 8 conductor, 18 gauge cable at this point in the layouts development.  Each end of the cable was terminated on a terminal strip.  A new pull line was also pulled in at the same time so future cables can be installed the same way.


How are the tracks on the bridge itself connected to track power ?

In this case there are 2 tracks that go across this bridge with each being connected to a different DCC Specialties PSX-1 DCC circuit breaker.  While there are special door hinges used for electrical door locks that could be used, these are quite expensive so I am just using 4 flexible wires.  These wires are 18 gauge but are made up of many smaller strands and that is what makes them more flexible.  The ends are connected to terminal strips so can easily be replaced if movement eventually causes any of them to break.  

What prevents a train from approaching the bridge when the bridge is open ?

At the end of the bridge that does not have the hinge,  there is a magnetic switch within the frame that the bridge fits into and it's activating magnet that is within the end of the bridge itself.  The bridge has to be fully closed for the switch to activate.   

The magnetic switch controls this group of 5 single pole relays.  4 of the relays control track power, 1 for each rail of 2 tracks.  When the track is installed, it will have an additional isolated gap a few feet from either side of the bridge.   This will stop a train from approaching the bridge when the gate is up.  The 5th relay will be to control a warning light outside the door indicating that the gate is lowered.


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Adding wifi throttles to the layout

I had been considering adding another utility throttle when the Digitrax LNWI caught my eye.  The LNWI is a Wifi module that connects to the Loconet and will allow a smart phone with a throttle app to be used as a throttle.   These cost about the same as a wired UT4 throttle and will support several smart phone throttles.

There was nothing to installing this new module, I just plugged in the power and connected it to the existing Loconet and it was ready to go.  There are several free throttle apps available and the one I am using is called WiThrottleLite.  It worked the first time I tried it, no problems.  I found the WiThrottleLite app very easy to use and it also has a flashlight function built in which may be handy when uncoupling those cars in the shadows.